In their famous The Startup Owner’s Manual, Steve Blank and Bob Dorf make a rather revolutionary remark on the state of the traditional product introduction models. They state that focusing merely on product introduction without considering the ever-changing customers’ needs is the big flaw of many start-ups. They then propose that companies should conduct a continuous optimization process on their products even after they are introduced to the market.
Although Steve Blank and Bob Dorf are start-up professionals speaking in their own realm of expertise, it is quite clear that even large companies cannot stay in the market without understanding their customers’ needs. In this article I will review three ways to gain a better insight on customers’ perspectives, needs, and behavior to use them to enhance customer engagement.
1.Step out of your Company — have direct interactions
It always works. I know it’s the digital age, and I know that big data changes the destiny of any company in the market, yet this old thumb rule makes you give way to your passion for customers. Direct interactions, however hard and seemingly overwhelming, are still reliable both in respect to product development and marketing.
Whether you take my advice literally and step out of your company for face-to-face interactions with your customers, or take it metaphorically and provide social media channels to hear your customers’ needs directly and respond to them, you are making a big leap in your product development and marketing activities.
Bear in mind that the concept of trust is the overarching driver of your customer relations, and people trust you more in face-to-face interactions.
Schedule more face-to-face meetings in addition to using digital channels; step outside your company to conduct interviews with people and analyze their tastes and preferences; respond to your customers’ negative reviews sagaciously and work through their psyche to build a better trust; and make them feel special by providing a personalized retail experience.
You can also engage your customers in the actual process of product development by inviting them to work with your employees, or by providing the tools and asking them to devise their customized products.
Always be ready to engage your customers’ voice in any stage of your new product development or marketing activities.
Bear in mind that your employees might be a bit exasperated when the non-professional voice of your customers interferes with their professional background, so try to make an aura of openness among your employees.
The importance of customer interactions should be instilled well in your company’s propaganda.
2. Use Customer Data Services
If your business is one among hundreds in a ruthlessly competitive market; if your target audience has exceeded your local whereabouts and you see your business growing to be an international product/service provider, then you definitely need to have a clear and uninterrupted grasp of your customer data to keep your customers engaged.
Typically, two general categories of customer data are demographic and behavioral. The demographic data includes the information concerning the customers’ age, gender, phone number, email address, and the like. The behavioral data includes customers’ behavior in your website, their response to your phone calls or their feedbacks on your products, and their buying habits and lifestyle. The combination of the two types of data can provide you with a clear point of view of your customers’ expectations from your products and services.
Customer data management (CDM) and customer relationship management (CRM) services typically offer a toolkit to collect demographic data of your customers through various ways such as providing gated resources on your website. This way if visitors are attracted to have your content such as white papers or free e-books, videos or webinars, etc., they will have to enter their personal and professional information. Your customers’ demographic information will be used to manage a lasting relationship with them by sending newsletters or promotional emails.
Behavioral data can also be collected and analyzed by numerous service providers such as Indicative. Optimove also proposes to create a “mathematical construct” to find a pattern in the behavior of particular groups of customers based on the value, recency and frequency of their purchases, and then predict the future behavior of similar groups of customers.
Marketing Automation services can be a great help in handling repetitive tasks, eliminating human errors, monitoring feedbacks, and optimizing different functions based on the data gathered.
One reason that many companies are unhappy about their marketing activities is that they start their marketing campaigns as a separate act to produce leads without ever trying their hands at managing and enhancing the quality of the leads produced. These distinct marketing campaigns usually end while producing no quantitative and measurable results. Marketing automation makes the process much easier by identifying qualified leads and nurturing them till conversion and after.
Pardot’s email marketing automation service provides useful tools for B2B companies to compile personalized emails, schedule their sending timing, and track their leads’ response and behavior towards them.
Marketo proposes a mobile marketing platform that enables companies to identify the right people to use their apps, monitor their leads’ mobile app activity and behavior, send tailored contents to customers, and analyze the data derived from the company’s mobile marketing activities.
3. Have Faith in Brain Sciences
Neuroscience has a good potential to lead business owners and marketers to predict their customers’ behavior. Consumer behavior is the result of some neural activities in the brain, and these activities are provoked by the external stimuli from the outside world. The combination of neurosciences and marketing could explore the effect of specific marketing activities on the brain. And having a good understanding of the effects of your marketing activities on people’s minds can help you choose the best practices.
Neuroscience could make useful contributions to a company from its product development activities to advertising efforts. Research on different facets of branding includes brand perception, brand evaluation, brand relationships, brand preferences, pricing, product packaging, brand naming, green consumption, store illumination, advertising, and new product development. It is not a bad idea to learn some brand new business hacks from brain sciences.
Check out Four Visual Neuromarketing Hacks to Boost Your Branding or this blog post to find out how neuromarketing can help businesses.
These are only three suggestions for getting insights on customers and enhancing customer engagement. What other strategies do you use?