Do You Really Know Your Customer? I Mean Really Know Them?.
Have you ever taken the time to really look into who your customers are? I don’t mean the standard demographic profile- male, 35, university degree, income etc… That’s a given. I mean an in depth customer profile that provides you with a full spectrum view of the customer’s journey and valuable insights like:
What are they searching for?
Where are they searching?
What additional products to mine, are they searching for?
What is their decision making process?
What devices are they using to find me?
What does their product evaluation and education journey look like ?
Who are their influencers?
Sure you’ve thought about how great it would be to have this data but can’t even begin to guess at where to find it.
1. Where do I begin?
Begin where your customers begin. Today more than ever, search engines are the primary starting point for all research. Search how your customers search. Do some keyword searches around various combinations of short tail and long tail keywords for your product or service. Observe what the leaders in your industry have identified as their keyword focus. Using SEMRUSH or SEOQUAKE you can gain some valuable insights into what customers are searching for and how your main competitors are targeting your customers. One word of caution- you should really learn how to use these tools and how to decipher and translate the data before acting on it. Initial data points could be misleading.
2. What are your competitors doing?
Observe what the leaders in your industry have identified as their keyword focus. Using the same info above you can also gain insights from your competitors actions. You’re not going to copy their every move but understand their approach and see how your approach, messaging, tactics and strategy stack up. How are you different, better, and what is your unique value proposition (UVP)?
3. Test Test Test
Not enough of our clients are doing this. They’re usually so tied to one approach, message, or offering that has worked in the past that they don’t try testing at least 2 versions of each marketing piece. A/B testing on offers, wording, ads, verticals or market segments, if done correctly can result in greater leads and sales over time. It’s not a quick fix but if you can commit to trial and track each of your marketing pieces, you’ll quickly develop a much better idea of what works best to win new customers.
4. Spend some time with them- seriously!
Have you ever watched how your clients use your product and then taken any valuable insights from observations for product improvements or perhaps additional products?
If you aren’t doing this, you’re missing out on a much bigger picture and will only have limited success in growing your business and markets. This data could be used to spark anything from new product innovation to revised customer service processes.
During my tenure at Intuit, PMs used to perform ‘follow me homes’. Wait, I know what you’re thinking, it’s not that. We used to ask customers permission to watch them complete their tax returns. Product managers, developers, even marketing and sales people would observe.
The genesis for ‘follow me homes’ were that we needed to have better insight into how clients were using our products. Clients only share things in a survey that they remember but usually leave out some important points, mainly around usability.
There’s lots of other things they share too. Forms requests, layout, marketing messages and even pricing suggestions, provided valuable insight that we would have never captured otherwise.
The fascinating thing about these ‘follow me homes’ is that when they share an issue or ‘negative insight’, as I liked to call them, they did so with the earnest intent to help us improve ‘their’ product. It was never with anger or disappointment, it was a genuine dialogue with our customers.
You should always look for opportunities to gain these valuable insights. I’m betting most of your R&D currently happens within the walls of your office and maybe some tidbits you gathered from your basic multiple choice surveys.
Usability is only half the equation and is really focused around post purchase behaviour.
The real opportunities that you should concern yourself with, are the customer journey leading up to the purchase. Understand this and you’re ahead of most of your peers.
Your customers and their journeys are evolving at unprecedented rate- a moving target that requires you to be more nimble in your marketing approach- a need to constantly adjust the messaging, the mediums and the tactics.
This is where your research should really begin and is the basis for the strategy that will layout what tactics you need to employ in order to effectively reach your audience.