Understand Your Customers to Drive Better Results

Most companies today have a pretty good understanding of exactly who comprises their customer base. Or do they?

It’s easy to fall into the trap that capturing some data about customers age, income and gender is enough to keep sales moving forward. However, what if you had much more data, and detailed information about their shopping habits and personal motivations? Could you use that to refine your marketing campaigns, introduce new products or capture additional market share? Much of that data is available to you by better utilizing your own resources or purchasing it from a third-party. Let’s look at some techniques you can use to grow sales and improve ROI.

Start With What You Have

Larger companies usually have a dedicated marketing staff with data analysis embedded into their department. Even they supplement their data with third-party information to give them a competitive edge. If you are not in the big leagues, first look to your own database. Make sure it is clean and up-to-date as possible. Most importantly be sure your entire team is working on the same platform and consistently capturing the same data points.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have become much more affordable and offer a wide-range of easy-to-use tools that integrate with your website. When a customer interacts with your website or responds to an email blast, you can track when they visited, what web pages they visited, if they ordered an item or only placed it in to a cart. All of these actions can be captured and attached into their individual record.

Most CRM systems can easily be set up to respond to your customers behavior using if/then scenarios. For example: If an item is held in shopping cart for 48 hours then automatically send an email to that customer with 10% off offer. Now your CRM is delivering much more actionable information and helping you form a more direct and personal relationship with each customer.

Supplement Your Data

As part of your growth strategy or expansion consider the important role and value-added services a third-party data provider can supply. If the profile of your customer is accurate you can use that information to purchase databases that can greatly expand your reach. For example, if you’ve identified that your most valuable customers have a profile that includes new home ownership or are clustered around a specific income level and geographic area, you can purchase data lists with exactly those metrics thereby targeting your best prospects only. Larger companies usually have relationships with data companies but if you are new to the process keep in mind that data ages quickly. If you want the highest quality results, make sure the vendors you choose can assure you that the data they supply is as recent and fresh as possible.

Survey Your Customers

Have you ever asked your customers what they actually want? How and when they want it supplied? Or if they purchase a competitive product and why? We live in a world where surveys seem to be everywhere—because they work! Email surveys are easy to set up within a CRM and can give you important insight especially if brief and targeted. Use them to ask about product selection, customer service and questions about purchase motivations. When you ask open ended questions, you’ll be surprised how often you’ll find answers you weren’t expecting which can provide valuable insight for improved sales and service.

Do a Competitive Analysis

Just because you know who your competitors are doesn’t always tell you why they are your competitors. Most companies have a fairly good idea of what their market share is amongst their competitors but too often they haven’t done a deep dive into why. Yes, data can give you significant insight but don’t overlook the obvious. If you’re selling a product, visit some of the stores where it’s sold. Does your competitor get top shelf locations or secure floor displays enhancing their perceived value? Sometimes it makes sense to raise your prices, not lower them. Selling a service? Go into the field with your sales reps and talk with customers to see who else they’ve considered and why.

Understanding your customers in detail is one of the surest ways to refine your product offering, sharpen your pricing and enhance your customer interactions. Start with what you have, expand your reach by using third-party data offerings and don’t overlook the tried-and-true experience of getting out into the field to make sure your insights hold up in a real-world setting.

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