Your Content Marketing will significantly improve once you begin applying customer intelligence and here is why...
People Buy because of other People, much more so than features or anything else.
Customer Intelligence can help you to understand your people.
Customer intelligence is a process of gathering and analyzing information about your clients and customers. It may include demographic details, how they interact with your business, personal preferences, and buying behaviors. We often call collect this information through the process of market research.
Marketers use this customer information to create customer personas and to build more effective content marketing strategies. Our goal is to create a deeper relationship with customers and make business decision-making easier.
All of this sounds great, but what is a realistic way to gather this information? That's the hard part after all. You are not likely to call a customer up and ask, "so what are your typical buying behaviors?" That would be awkward and probably not yield the best results.
Here are a few tips to help you gather information about your customers from business data that you have available.
This approach works best for B2B companies with relatively small client lists. However, those companies with a customer service person(s) can also follow this strategy. Once a year, schedule a call with your best customers. The purpose is getting to know the other person. There should be absolutely no selling during this call.
If you are B2B, schedule the call with the primary point of contact or decision maker. Plan to spend 20-30 minutes with this person. Pitch the call as a courtesy to the client and treat it that way. Your goal is getting to know him or her better, understand what's working well, and where there is room for improvement.
For those B2B marketers who want to dive deeper, you may also want to schedule calls with any primary users of your product/service - especially if the decision maker is not that person. It can be quite enlightening to hear from the non-executives.
If you are a B2C company, especially those selling physical products, then your customer base is most likely to be much larger. It will be more efficient for you to send an email out to those top repeat customers and ask if anyone is willing to provide feedback through an online survey or over a 10-15 minute call. An alternative method would be to host small focus groups (5-7 people) who have something in common, such as the products they purchased.
Once the laborious work of "interviewing" customers is complete, the most important step is to get that data into a single place where you can create reports on it. I find that this is where small and medium sized businesses often get tripped up. Why? Simply put, you may have reached a time when the spreadsheet just doesn't work any longer.
While a spreadsheet is an excellent way of initially collecting information in an organized way, long-term maintenance of it is difficult and ultimately creates more work for your team. For this reason, I often suggest using a CRM (customer relationship management) software.
Think of the CRM as a more interactive spreadsheet or database. You can store a ton of information in there. In addition, you can take action on that information using workflows, automation, and reporting. For example, I can filter my client contacts to identify the people with a certain buying behavior and send a special email out to them - maybe with an offer that I think they are likely to be interested in.
*We connect all of our data (Google Analytics, CRM, Social Media, etc) to Zoho Analytics to get a fuller picture of what's happening with our business and clients.
As we are living in the "age of the internet," most activities online are tracked one way or another. Leverage that data to dig deeper to further build out your customer intelligence. One of the great hacks is to use Facebook's audience analytics.
A place you may already be looking at is your website analytics - for most of us that is Google Analytics. While the audience information inside of Google Analytics is not perfect, the behavior and acquisition reports tell quite the story.
Go to Audience > Interests > Overview
This report will show you 3 boxes: Affinity Categories, In-Market Segment, and Other Categories.
Keep in mind that these are very broad-ranging groupings based on information available in a webpage’s cookie. If you would like to dig further into understanding this, then check out the FAQ from GA: About Demographics & Interests. Note that if you have not previously activated demographics or interests, then this section will be empty. This is a good time to activate it for future use.
Isn't it much easier to write an email to someone you know well than it is to a total stranger? The same concept applies to your customers. The better you know and understand them, the easier it is to write content that serves their needs and interests. It is really that simple.
When you write an email, social post, blog post, or any other piece of publicly consumed content that aims to serve your customers, you should be writing it FOR them (rather than AT them). Empathy is key to great content marketing, and gaining empathy for your customers begins with customer intelligence.
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