This article has been contributed by Tom Welbourne.
Instead of focusing solely on generating sales and building a reputation for your brand, it’s critical to spend time understanding your customers. Knowing everything you can about their needs and wants will allow you to build close relationships with them.
Loyalty and trust are two of the most important factors a business must display in 2020. Obnoxiously pushing your products without providing initial value to your customers will not produce results or allow you to operate sustainably in the long run.
This is where a customer-driven strategy comes in. In theory, all marketing strategies should be driven by consumers. But in reality, we all know this is not always the case – especially when budgets, timelines and blurred team goals come into play.
Why Is A Consumer Focus So Important?
In today’s modern society, customers hold a lot of power.
With digital innovation making it easier to shop online, customers have the choice to literally shop around to their heart’s content – whether it’s lower prices or higher quality products they are looking for.
If your business isn’t going the extra mile to engage with its customers, they WILL shop elsewhere, it’s inevitable.
In fact, customers that actively engage with businesses during their buying journey are more likely to purchase from them.
But don’t forget, their attention span is shrinking fast!
Due to the number of distractions humans are bombarded with every day, it’s not a surprise that we can’t dedicate 100 percent of our focus for a long duration of time. That time stands at 8 seconds.
To ensure customers stay with you for longer, your online content must be engaging and provide a ton of value.
You may be thinking, “How can I provide value to all my customers?” But it is possible…
Customer-Driven Content Ideas
I’m not going to sit here and outline the specific type of content you should be releasing to meet your business objectives and customer needs. I don’t know anything about your business or your customers.
But what I do know is one type of content that appeals to all, and a content format that is proven to boost your customer engagement levels.
1. Evergreen Content
Evergreen content never goes out of date and revolves around topics that a lot of people share an interest in.
Basically, it’s content that appeals to a wide audience.
Here are some effective examples of evergreen content.
An infographic is a visual representation of some information or data, making it more engaging than a boring graph.
For example, sharing an infographic that shows female entrepreneurs that run the world will hold value over time and interest a large cross section of people.
Image source: Content Marketing Institute
b. Q&A Interviews
Whether it’s an internal or external interview conducted with an industry professional, providing knowledge to your customers is a long-lasting form of content.
Of course, the interview candidate could change career or even retire, but it doesn’t matter, their thoughts were valued at the time and can be referred back to in the future.
c. Annual Topics
By annual topics I mean content such as blogs outlining “Trends of 2020”. Although this is extremely specific to 2020, it can be looked back on and reviewed in the future.
A certain interest isn’t needed to appreciate how society has changed over time, I think anyone would find some value in it.
2. Video Content
To break the 8 second attention span of your customers you’ll need to utilise video content with your evergreen content.
Videos are one of the most productive methods of driving engagement and delivering customer value.
Not only is a video more memorable than a still image, but it’s more likely to be shared.
I’m not making this up, viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text.
Video content also introduces a far greater number of opportunities. For instance, tapping into your customers emotional capacity is essential when developing customer relationships and generating conversions.
Doing this with an image is extremely difficult.
At the end of the day, engagement will be an important factor used to measure a customer-driven marketing strategies effectiveness, and video content will only help.
As global ad spend increases, so does the potential of video marketing. It’s definitely one to utilise in your customer-driven marketing strategy.
Speaking of which, starting with your next campaign, make this your number one focus: meeting your customers’ needs and giving them a whole lot of value.
How? This customer-driven marketing strategy consists of 4 actionable steps that will allow your business to grow and succeed into the future.
Step 1. Analyse Your Niche
It’s obvious, how are you meant to know what value to provide to your customers if you don’t know who you are targeting? Here are the key marketing metrics you need to know about your customers.
a. Market Research
First, you need to complete some market research to see where your product fits in the market. This can be done through online surveys, focus groups and reading case studies online.
Although you may have the perfect person in mind, there is every chance you could be wrong, or you’re right but they hate your product. So, it’s important to conduct market research.
b. Develop Customer Persona
After you have gathered all of your niche/customer information, it’s time to pull it together and design your customer persona. A persona is your hypothetical ideal customer, which includes their age, interests, occupation, earnings, etc.
The more detail you use to break down your persona, the better your chances of gaining positive results through creating content that your customers can relate to.
Here are the basic variables you should use to identify your customer persona:
- Relationship Status
- Social Media Activity
Image source: Actiweb
Step 2. Meet Customers’ Needs
Now that you have conducted market research and know exactly what your customers want, it’s time to give it to them.
Designing a product/service around your customers’ needs, instead of marketing a product that has no relevance to your customers, is not what the average business does. In the real world, businesses create a product and then attempt to find the audience that it suits best. But why follow this tedious process, that is full of risk?
Instead, find your customers and design a product based on the market intelligence you have gathered.
Following this method is going to be successfully from product development all the way down to marketing tactics. For instance, you will be able to deliver your ads to a higher percentage of relevant people first, with no need to run multiple split tests on different ads, because you already know your target market inside out.
“There is only one boss. The customer ― and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” Sam Walton
Step 3. Up Your Customer Service
Let’s face it, sometimes there are customer issues that aren’t directly your fault. Say you run an online retail store that sells shoes, it is likely that customers may complain about the manufacturing quality of a product which is somewhat out of your control.
It doesn’t matter that there is a problem, the customer probably isn’t too bothered either, but it’s how you find a solution to that problem that makes all the difference.
I was recently confronted with this situation as a customer, where the sole of my shoes split only three months after I purchased them. I was quick to contact the retailer with the details of my issue, and I was offered a full refund or a new replacement – I was very happy!
It doesn’t take much to upset a customer and lose their business, so go out of your way to give them an amazing experience.
When it comes to online customer service, chat bots are your best bet.
A chat bot sounds technical, but it really isn’t. All it is, is a form of artificial intelligence that replicates human conversation (it speaks for you). This happens in a live chat format, which is great for responding with speed to customer queries.
There are 3 chat bots that will accelerate your customer service.
a. Facebook Messenger
FB Messenger is a popular customer service tool used by many businesses to respond to queries fast. Instead of sifting through 100’s of spam emails a day, Facebook Messenger will generate a higher rate of relevant queries.
Messaging customers via social media promotes transparency throughout your business, versus communicating formally through email.
It is really easy to start automating messages. Just open Facebook, go to Messenger, click ‘Get Started’ and go from there.
Image source: envatomarket
Just like FB Messenger, Drift makes it easy to talk to your website visitors live, but with some more interesting features.
One of our favorite features is scheduling. Drift allows you to book meetings for teams within your business. For instance, your sales team could walk into the office every day with meetings already booked.
Image source: Drift
For those who are tech savvy and want to venture further than the standard FB Messenger, adding Chatfuel to your Facebook account is a great idea.
Chatfuel offers features like automated FAQs, which are extremely useful for answering common questions that are asked by your customers. The chat bot is used by industry leading companies like Lego, British Airways and many more.
Image source: Chatfuel
Chatbots more or less fulfill the task of providing customers with convenience and you with added time otherwise spent responding to queries.
However, features like scheduling may represent greater value for your business than any other, so don’t install the chatbot that’s the most popular for the sake of it.
Just because you have designed a customer-driven marketing strategy today, it doesn’t mean it is going to generate sustainable results tomorrow. It is unlikely to flop overnight, but you must keep an eye on it.
Although customer feedback may help, it is quite often subjective. Instead, you can always rely on numbers!
Measuring the analytics and insights from your social media channels and ad accounts could identify if your customers are experiencing any changes.
More specifically, keeping an eye on your content engagement, page following and visits can tell you whether people are still interested in the content you are producing, and the products and services you are selling.
Marketing trends can be identified using two things; influencers and your competitors.
Social media influencers are often the first port of call for the promotion of new products that are trending. This could give you an idea of what your products and services don’t offer.
Tracking your competitor’s behavior can also be an effective tactic. SpyFu is a competitor analysis tool that can show you every keyword your competitor is ranking for, which could be an indicator of new trends appearing in the market.
Image source: cPro Network
Marketing is all about providing value to your customers. Your strategy should not be focused on your product/service, but on your customers’ needs.
These can be identified by conducting market research, which not only enables you to target relevant customers but reduces your ad spend in the process.
Most businesses design a product or service and then pitches it to customers, but this is wrong!
You need to find your customers and then design a product/service around them.
Dealing with customer queries or complaints is your time to show how much you appreciate your customers. Providing amazing customer experiences is what is going to generate repeat business.
When you are producing content, make sure it’s specific to your business. A great place to start, whilst you prepare more specific content, is with evergreen content. Pick a timeless topic that’s popular among the masses to engage with your customers.
If you are going to start utilising one piece of information from this article today, it’s video content.
Customers absolutely love video content (it’s proven) and it will only boost your engagement!
Maintaining your customer-driven strategy is really important. Trends appear and customer needs change, however, tracking your engagement and competitors will keep you up to date.
Remember, the customer always comes first!
About the author: Tom Welbourne is the founder of The Good Marketer – a Digital Marketing Agency in the heart of London that specialises in helping small business owners with their digital marketing.