What do you need to create a more effective business marketing plan? If you’re looking to grow your overall business or certain areas of your business, then you might consider how to answer this question. Refreshing your understanding of your customers and industry with market research is a good place to start. However, most traditional research focuses on the numbers to unearth generalities and trends. If you want to establish a solid foundation for your new marketing plan, then you need to look beyond these numbers alone, by applying customer insight marketing. Rather than just looking at what type of products or services your target customers are purchasing, try to get into their heads and find out WHY they make particular purchasing decisions by leveraging consumer insights. By understanding what motivates their behavior, you can better position your brand and offerings as well as improve your shopping experience to be more attractive to potential customers.
Walk In Your Customer’s Shoes
The first step is figuring out how to drill into consumer insights and gather what you need to guide your refreshed marketing plan. One of the best ways to get started is to do a little secret shopping. If you sell a product through retailers, take a trip to a few different stores and see how your brand stands out (or doesn’t) from the competition. Ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to help your product pop off the shelf.
If you own your own store, pay close attention to how your customers react to everything from the atmosphere of your location to the service they receive from your employees. If you have good relationships with established customers, consider asking them for their opinion on whether any pain points or challenges exist in their shopping experience. Talking and listening to your customers about their experiences is one of the best ways to figure out what drives their purchasing decisions.
Don’t forget about online shopping as well. As we’ve discussed on this blog before, your website can be a huge asset for personalizing your customer experience and really distinguishing your brand from your competitors. Would your customers respond more to personalized marketing messages? Perhaps they want more real-time customization that tailors the content they see online to their shopping preferences. These are all tweaks to your digital marketing efforts that you can make through your website, so if you hear your customers complaining about online shopping then you might want to consider a digital refresh.
Map Your Customer’s Buying Journey
As you’re listening to your customers and dedicating a critical eye to your shopping experience, make sure to take the time to document your findings. You can combine these consumer insights with some data-driven research to develop a customer journey map, which outlines every step of your customer’s experience from initial research of a product or service to the final purchase. A customer journey map can help you identify steps of the process where you can better engage consumers and encourage them to purchase your product.
Unlike most marketing funnels, which treat the customer experience as a linear path that moves from Point A to B to C, customer journey maps can keep track of the many different touchpoints that consumers may interact with during their shopping experience. Every person is going to shop a little differently, and if you’re targeting multiple segments of consumers it can be difficult to track what type of marketing and messaging is most relevant for each group. If this is the case, consider building a customer journey map for each of your target customer segments to better visualize the consumer insights you pick up from your research.
A basic customer journey map will outline each step your customer takes during their shopping experience, such as initial research, comparing options, committing to an option and making the purchase. At each of these stages, the map will list the primary goal your targeted customer is hoping to accomplish as well as the various touchpoints you can use to interact with them. For example, during the research and comparison stages your customers may use a number of different resources to help them make a decision. These touchpoints could include third-party reviews, news articles, case studies, conferences, webinars, even your own website. By understanding these touchpoints, and when consumers access them, you can prioritize the appropriate channels, messaging and actions you need to take in order to reach your target customers and convince them that you’re their best option.
Gathering and compiling consumer insights marketing can be a daunting task, so you may want to consider consulting a market research agency to ensure you’re getting the best data and analytics. However, if you prefer to start small you can use a number of online tools to start tracking your target customer and identifying their preferences. With a little hard work, you can figure out what makes the consumers in your market tick and how you can better position your brand to earn their business.
Written by Melissa R. MacCaull
Director of Marketing, Union Savings Bank