According to Forrester Research, we are now entering the « Age of the customer », and only businesses that can truly understand their clients will have a real competitive edge. In order to be successful, it is more important than ever for a company to have a 360-degree view of its customers. How can businesses of all sizes improve their customer knowledge?
Here are 7 tips for perfecting that skill, according to Selligent, an international marketing solutions publisher.
1. Define your customers’ preferred communication channel
Communicating with your customers is paramount. Identifying how to reach them more effectively is just as important. You will improve your communication efficiency, and will be able to set up precise measurement tools. You can also establish the most common customer path, the steps that characterize the behavior of the customer until adoption, purchase or membership. Such paths are not linear anymore; customers can quickly go from one channel to another to do their research and make their choice. Well-defined channels can help you be there for customers; at the precise moment they need you to be.
2. Analyze the data obtained through the email channel
You should take full advantage of emails to develop and maintain customer relationships. Email is inexpensive and can be very effective in terms of the business intelligence that can be obtained. Understanding customer behavior is crucial, when it comes to open and click rates and devices used –for instance, smartphones. Any email campaign should be followed by a behavioral analysis of the customer data. It is very important to understand their actions during this “exchange”. For instance, a customer will first look at the email on their smartphone, and then complete the purchase on their desktop computer. Moreover, analyzing the clicks on the different links provided in the email body will help you assess their actual interests.
3. Optimize the “relationship path” a customer has with the brand
This can help you determine the attitude of the customer towards the brand. For a business, this means identifying the critical moments within the customer lifecycle, and defining milestones that mean customers are becoming “closer” and more loyal to the brand, for instance, making cyclical or repeat purchases. You thus need to nurture customer engagement by acting at the right moment and with the right messages, whether it is by sending a “welcome kit,” a post-purchase satisfaction survey, maintaining contact through social media, or making a courtesy phone call after a service request.
4. Come up with scenarios for interactions
You need to transform identified milestones into “moments of truth” crucial to the progression of the customer relationship. Automated mechanisms (interaction scenarios) enable you to trigger individualized messages and to structure the follow-up on these communications and response actions, thus optimizing the customer experience. Each action should trigger a reaction that maintains communication channels open and ensures that the relationship progresses.
5. Use interpretation and aggregation of behavioral data – Companies can now aggregate a huge volume of data related to visitor behaviors, on the Web, e-commerce applications, social networks and mobile apps. This data can then be used and optimized by sending targeted offers or through advertisement banners, or by using remarketing techniques, which consists in capturing a visitor’s browsing information to display targeted ads relevant to the customer specific interests.
6. Use the “Test and Learn” approach
As previously mentioned, digital media enable a systematic analysis of browsing data, open and click rates. By setting up scenarios that make it possible to test 2 or more versions simultaneously (specifically A/B testing and MVT testing), you can optimize open and click rates on emails, banners and landing pages. This approach also makes it possible to compare alternative strategies: for instance what is the appropriate number of follow-up messages, or should you use several channels simultaneously or in sequence?
7. Get familiar with data analysis and customer intelligence tools
Depending on your business needs, it is possible to go further by taking advantage of tools that allow customer profiling, segmentation methods, and persona definition (customer types). Moreover, classifying and categorizing your customers as well as using the “Next Best Action” strategy can help you maximize the performance of your marketing activities. The overall idea behind this is to personalize your message according to customer needs.
The importance of knowing your customer has been well established. The action plan you put in place to refine your business intelligence will provide your organization with a competitive advantage. Furthermore, defining the customer path, which clearly identifies milestones to be reached, can help you balance out your marketing initiatives and maximize their impact. All this information should dictate the crucial next steps you have to take in order to serve an ever-evolving customer base.