Long gone are the days when companies were satisfied in just selling products, regardless of who were buying them, let alone why. Then, as competition grew and customers had a greater choice of where to spend their money, businesses had to become more customer focussed. Customer service was seen as the panacea, as long as a business treated its customers well, or just better than its competitors, then everything would be OK.
Well, these days OK is just not good enough. Businesses now need to really understand their customers, they need to know what they want from a brand and what motivates them to make a purchase and this is where customer or consumer insight plays a crucial role.
What are customer insights and what advantages do they provide?
In simple terms, these are actionable conclusions taken from customer data that a business can implement to its advantage. Through analysing the data you gain an understanding of consumer behaviour such as what factors influence their decisions and when you have in-depth knowledge about your target audience you can build and sustain customer loyalty. By knowing what they want from a brand it allows you to make better informed decisions, which can save you money and increase sales.
Where can you gather customer insights?
You need to dive deeper than you would for traditional market research in your quest to find patterns in consumer behaviour, sentiments and motivation. For an insight to be useful it needs to provide new information and be actionable. This new information can help fine tune your marketing strategy, tie into a customer’s habits and influence their actions. Here are three simple examples of where you can gather valuable customer insights.
Recent research indicates that 78% of the UK population are active on social media, so it makes great sense to use these platforms to gather customer insights. You can collate information about how people react to your posts, what they think of your products and your brand. You can also gather useful feedback from supporters of your competitors.
These are ideal to find out what your customers and prospects like about your business as well as what they don’t. This can be via qualitative data, as in comments and details; or quantitative data, as with ratings. There are plenty of review sites out there and you can pick up pointers as to what your competitors are doing so well that you aren’t.
Often used for traditional research, focus groups can be conducted through a digital platform. They provide valuable information because your product or service is at the heart of their conversation. You get an insider’s view of their thought process as they answer and react to your prompts. This method gives you valuable, high-quality information to use to your advantage.
What do you do with them?
Now you’ve done the hard work you can start implementing what you’ve discovered. Begin by compiling a list of your actionable insights and use them to reshape your strategy. You can create several customer personas based on your findings and decide whether they still form part of your marketing plan and customer journey. If they don’t then you need to make some adjustments so that they do. This may be down to the product or how they perceive your brand. Great if they do fit in to your existing strategy but don’t rest on your laurels, look at ways of improving your offering.
You can also segment your target market on differences in why they buy and create marketing plans tailored specifically for each new segment. This bespoke approach should ensure a higher conversion rate and greater customer retention.
Another effective use of your customer insights is competitor analysis. By beginning to understand the mindset of your target market you can judge how they perceive your competitors and where you stand in comparison to your rivals. This will show you where and how to improve and may identify gaps in the market that you can exploit.
Data is arguably the most valuable asset a business has and in today’s ultra-competitive market the customer-centric businesses that make the most of their data to continually improve their offering will be the winners.
To find out more about customer insight, please click here.