Marketers tend to live and die by market research. How well you know your marketplace, competition and customer is often the foundation of a great marketing strategy. It’s not too hard to know your market, and thanks to content marketing, it’s easy to see everything your competition is doing. It’s the last one -- knowing your customer -- where our traditional methods of market research are failing us.
They are out of context, lagging and do not provide the tactical guidance modern marketers require. Brands that know their customers best win, and gaining that knowledge starts with a new type of customer research.
Knowing your customer’s intention, disposition and action
Marketing journeys are not a new concept, yet many brands completely miss the ball when it comes to creating them. Why? Because they craft their customers' journeys without talking to their customers. Along with the inherent problem of not talking to customers is the fact that brands just don’t know what to ask.
To really know your customer, you need to first understand the three key things that happen during their buying journey: their intention, disposition and action. This will enable you to create the right experience along the journey. For example, there is a lot of anxiety with some purchases. If you know what is causing that anxiety and when, you can adjust experiences in those moments to help alleviate it.
Here are some basic things to keep in mind as you do this research:
• It is not an interrogation. Let the customer guide the conversation.
• It is best if you don’t mention your product, but rather talk about the category.
• Remember that the journey is a combination of stages, so you need to know these answers for each stage (ideation, awareness, consideration, purchase), not the journey as a whole.
Tracking customers across their journey
The next way to really know your customers is to make sure you have the ability to track each person across their journey. Tools such as web behavior tracking allow brands to see each person and what they are looking at and engaging with. This data can then be added to their record and used to create new offers or experiences in real time.
While this may seem intrusive, Accenture found that 83 percent of customers are happy to let you track them as long as you are using that data to create better experiences for them. This type of personal tracking will require you to add new technology to your marketing stack, but most automation tools and website optimization tools provide you with this function out of the box. The key is to make sure the tool connects to others so the data becomes actionable across your full marketing ecosystem.
Identifying personal preferences with chatbots
Beyond tracking is asking. By asking your customers for preferences and specific information, you'll gain data tracking can not surmise. This highly personal data is willingly given and opens up the doors to even greater personalization. Ask customers which types of communication they prefer, on what topics and how often, plus things like their job title and company size. While asking questions like these isn’t new, there are new ways to do it.
The old method of getting to know customers and their preferences was to use a form. However, forms serve the purpose of the business, not the consumer. Now, you can skip the form and have a conversation. Chatbots are conversational and offer a much better experience than a form. Additionally, new research found that only 14 percent of consumers would prefer to fill out a form than engage with a chatbot.
To win, brands must know their customers better and be able to leverage that data to create better experiences. With these simple ideas, you can get to know your customers in a deep and meaningful way and gain the personal data your experiences need to break through.