How a Customer-Centric Approach Paves the Way to Success
As a marketer, how do you measure success?
What signs do you look at to truly say that all the blood, sweat and tears have paid off?
Some of you would probably give me a few numbers and graphs.
The increase in the number of page visitors. The rising number of social media followers. Engagement getting better.
But will those really give you a good grasp of your success?
Truth be told, only your customers can tell you whether your marketing strategies are working or not. One trick may have worked for a top brand you know, but that’s not a guarantee that the same thing will work for your own.
This is why at the end of the day, understanding your customers will always be the best marketing strategy.
Why You Should Apply a Customer-Centric Approach
How do you apply a customer-centric approach?
The term itself tells you that this approach requires you to put your customers front and center.
What do your customers need? What pain points do they have? What solutions are they looking for?
These are the first questions you should be asking.
From there, you can craft content, messages, products and other materials that will come across as more personal. These are the types of things that would make each person in your audience say, “Hey, this is for me.”
Now, here’s the tricky part – this should not just be a marketing effort. It has to be an organization-wide culture. The customer experience has to be seamless. Otherwise, the customers will feel that the special treatment they were expecting is short-lived or shallow, and they’ll go somewhere else where they’ll feel more valued from the inside out.
Here are a few numbers for you to seriously consider:
- 90% of consumers are attracted to a personalized approach.
- 80% say that they are more likely to do business with a brand that applies a personalized approach.
Where did traditional marketing fail?
Traditional marketing TOLD people WHAT TO DO. Traditional ads would say, “This is what you need. This is what you want.”
Well, the numbers show that consumers are tired of being dictated upon. They want to make their own decisions. They want their own sentiments to be heard. They do not trust brands that intrude in their daily routine and apply in-your-face advertising. Instead, they want to build relationships with brands who actually get to know who they are, listen to their concerns, and provide solutions based on that information.
Online ads would be another perfect example of why you should start taking a more customer-centric approach.
1 out of 3 consumers dislike online ads, and now, you already know why.
By applying a customer-centric approach, you can turn things around. Traditional marketing requires you to produce generic, all-in one ads that reach a lot without assurance of conversion. A customer-centric approach, on the other hand, creates content that directly and intentionally targets each audience’s unique need. Because interest and intent are already there, conversion will be less of a challenge.
The airline industry can actually be a good case study when it comes to customer-centric marketing.
Remember United Airlines’ string of mishaps?
From dogs being placed in overhead compartments, to passengers (yes, an actual customer!) being dragged off a plane, people in the United Airlines team obviously did not get the memo about putting customers first.
Now, 67.3% of consumers see the airline in a bad light.
But look at how Southwest Airlines fares in comparison.
Just to be clear, it’s not about having better amenities. In fact, Southwest does not even have TVs or first-class seating!
But guess what. They give their customers the freedom to sit wherever they want to sit. You don’t even have to pay anything to change your flight.
The best part of it is that they keep their employees happy. And because they have happy employees, their employees happily serve the customers as well.
THAT is what a customer-centric organization looks like, and the customer satisfaction numbers serve as proof.
Why Knowing Your Customers Well is Important
Blogs are among the most used digital marketing tools today. But just because you have a blog does not guarantee success.
58% of content marketers admit that audience relevance rank higher than compelling storytelling and convincing calls-to-action in terms of their contribution to a blog’s success.
In other words, your blog could still flop even if you have a way with words. After all, who’s going to read it if nobody’s interested?
With the amount of blogging competition, your target audience can easily click on someone else’s content if your blog proves to be irrelevant to them.
But what happens when you stick to what’s relevant to your target audience?
You end up with a group of happy, loyal brand ambassadors who will not only keep coming back for more – they will even urge their own families and peer groups to do the same.
82% of US consumers prefer getting recommendations from family and friends before deciding to make a purchase. Just imagine how huge the numbers are if these people end up recommending YOU.
Did you know that loyal customer are worth 10 times their initial purchase?
The first sale could be a little tough. There’s a lot of convincing to do.
But when that’s done and over with, you skip the convincing part in the next purchases.
REPEAT CUSTOMERS ARE EASIER TO SELL TO.
That’s one marketing fact you have to keep in mind.
This is exactly why you need to know your audiences.
It was never meant to be a guessing game. Instead, it should be a conversation between you and your audience, with you doing more of the listening part.
Just look at Harley-Davidson.
You don’t just see the bikes. You see other merchandise. You see groups of people getting together regularly to celebrate not only the product or the brand – they celebrate the lifestyle.
This lifestyle was embraced by so many people that total membership for Harley Owners Groups went over one million.
Now, that’s a brand that did it right.
How Do You Get to Know Your Customers Better?
This is not going to be easy peasy.
It’s a long and tedious process.
People change. The markets change. And you’re going to have to do a lot of keeping up and adapting.
But it’s all going to be worth it.
Amazon is another brand that seems to have mastered the same art we’re aiming for here. The belief of their CEO, Jeff Bezos, says it all – “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
Of course, making the experience better means knowing what your invited guests are looking for in a party.
Here’s how you can get to know your customers better:
1. Build a solid buyer persona.
Buyer personas are basically profiles of your most ideal customers.
It does not just include age, gender, and income. A buyer persona tells you if Mary the Manager enjoys quiet breakfasts and poetry. It tells you if Sam the Single Man enjoys going to the gym every day.
Just take a look at this buyer persona template from Iron Spring Designs:
See how deeply this buyer persona goes?
Just imagine how well you can craft a marketing strategy from data like this.
You can easily create content that directly addresses people within your target audience! It’s going to be the type of content that will make them stop, read through, and follow any call to action you have.
Sure, you might feel that some of the data are not even relevant to your brand. But the more comprehensive you are, the more you’ll know the language they speak.
Here’s another great example:
Now, remember that buyer personas aren’t things you create solely from your imagination. You need in-depth research to make sure they actually describe your current customer base (the most loyal ones), and not some fictional character.
“But my target market is wide! How can I be specific?”
Well, you just have to build multiple personas. Yes, you can have more than one.
Note that your buyer personas would also have to be revisited every so often. Anticipate that your audiences may evolve, so expect to possibly tweak your current personas in the future.
2. Listen to what they say on social media.
When you think about it, social media is doing you a huge favor.
Gathering data about consumers used to be thrice as hard. But now, people use social media as their public diaries, showing you what brands they’re using, what brands they’re complaining about, and why.
Social listening is a habit that you can definitely get a great deal of information from.
Social listening involves looking at customer conversations and looking at what kind of insight you’ll get from them. Not to be confused with social monitoring, which is only limited to looking at and responding to social mentions.
When it comes to social listening, you don’t just look at what people are saying about your brand. You also look at what they’re saying about other brands, what their biggest concerns are, how they make buying decisions, and a lot more.
Chipotle can give us a good view of what we mean here.
As you can see from the graph above, quite a lot of people are concerned about food safety.
However, their customers are also talking about guac, coupons and queso.
That’s pretty good insight to start with to figure out how to proceed with your marketing.
So how do you listen in on your customers?
You can start by searching for your company name on different social media platforms. This will give you a peek at who’s talking about your brand, regardless if they post it on your own social media profile or not.
Even better, you can use social listening tools like Mention.
This is what the Mention dashboard looks like:
As you can see, it gives you a great look at who’s talking about you and why they’re talking about you.
Just imagine what you can do from here!
Not only is this a fountain of relevant data, this is also a great way to engage with your audiences.
Feedback? Respond to them accordingly. Questions? Answer them the best way you can and in a timely manner.
With 42% of consumers expecting a response within an hour, the best way you can follow through is with the use of tools like these.
Here’s an example of how amazing tools like Mention can be for your brand:
That’s a one-minute response time! Can you imagine how ecstatic the customer was, given the immediate attention given?
3.Trust in the power of surveys.
Yes, surveys still work.
We understand the apprehension, though. You probably hate filling out surveys yourself!
But that’s the trick, isn’t it? To adjust to what people like or do not like?
Check out this survey from The Yard.
It’s a single yes-or-no question, answerable with one click.
Don’t overthink your surveys.
Stop asking a hundred questions – this is the best way to turn what could have been a great customer experience into a bad one.
Get Feedback has a case study that can show you the numbers.
They did an A/B test where one email had an embedded survey, while the other contained a link leading to a survey.
Look at the results.
That’s a 210% increase in starting the engagement and a 125% increase in terms of survey completion.
Humanizing your survey will also be a big thing. Tell them why you’re asking them to answer the survey. Messages like “We’d love to hear what you think,” or “This would be a big help for us,” will make your customers feel like they’re important. It tells them that their thoughts matter.
If you have longer surveys, a progress bar may be a bit of help.
Look at this example from SurveyMonkey:
Because you have a progress bar at the bottom, people know how far they have to go.
Just make sure your questions are direct to the point and easy to answer.
And, of course, the less questions you have, the better.
Track the dropout rate as well. If more people are not completing the surveys, look at where they start dropping out and find out how you can change that.
4. Monitor the type of content your audience engages with.
Can you imagine how many different types of content your customers see in a single day?
However, they do not engage with each and every one of those.
There’s always something that stands out and makes them want to comment, share or hit like.
That’s the kind of content you need to start creating.
Start with your own content. Which of your pages are getting the most engagement?
Google Analytics is your best buddy when it comes to this.
Keep track of what kind of content on your pages they prefer. Are your videos getting more attention than your infographics?
Looking at what kind of content your competitors have and how their audiences react will also be a huge help for you and your team.
Just note that when it comes to studying your competitor’s strategies, it’s not about copying what they do. It’s about getting tips on what works for them and thinking about how you can do better. It’s also about knowing what failed and avoiding the same problem.
5. Look at the customers who are not converting.
Although much of what we’ve discussed here tells you to closely look at your customers, you can also learn a lot from people who aren’t converting at all.
Why aren’t they buying?
Why aren’t your current strategies working for them?
The buyer’s journey could give you a good idea where you’re losing leads.
Each and every buyer goes through this journey. For your current customers, they stuck with you until the decision stage.
But what happened to the others? Where did you lose them?
This is why you have to make sure you have targeted content for each step of the journey as well.
Assess what you have at the moment.
Are you losing people at the consideration stage? Then you may want to look at what strategies you have for that area. Your current content may be weak, or you may not have anything in place at all.
Experiment with different types of post. Be creative with your calls to action.
Also, find ways to track what influences your audience in every step they take. This could help you remove or improve what you already have.
When you think about it, there’s one basic principle at work here – STOP ASSUMING and START LISTENING.
Don’t underestimate your audience. They’re armed with resources now. They know that they have a lot of options. And they know that almost everything is one click away.
By embracing a customer-centric approach, you can heighten the chances of your audiences clicking their way towards your brand and not anywhere else.