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Go Beyond Data - Consumer Insights are Key to Understanding Your Customers

By Alessandra Ceresa

With so many marketers focusing on big data and analytics, it is time we take a step back and look to customer insights to drive our sales and marketing. Metrics are great, but they do not necessarily explain why a customer chooses your brand over another. To find out this valuable information, marketers need to start exploring the motivation behind customer behavior instead of strictly reading metrics that only tell part of the story.

Customer insights are not always easy to collect because of their emotional nature. So, in order to gain such insight, we must collaborate with the consumer and deepen our relationships to find out their emotions and motivations. Once we find out what customers are thinking and what drives them to purchase, then marketers can effectively strategize to acquire more leads, so that sales can close more deals.

Emotions and feelings drive consumers to purchase. These are hard to quantify, yet both are critical in understanding the human connection between a brand and the buyer. I always say that regardless if you business is on or offline, sales and marketing is P2P (people to people). Emotions go into almost every decision a person makes, therefore understanding the emotion a buyer has will allow you to better understand their motivation.

Customer insights come in two parts:

  • The intersection of the interest of the consumer and features of the brand. Basically, understanding the motivations, moods, desires that motivate a buyer’s actions.
  • The collection, organization, and interpretation of information enabling a business to acquire, develop, and retain clients.

Gaining valuable consumer insights will not only allow you to market to your customers in a much more effective way, but enable you to add VALUE to their lives. If you can become a valuable part of your clients lives, you will not only be able to acquire new customers, but retain the loyalty of the ones you already have. 

OK, so now we have talked about the importance consumer insights have on your marketing, and now I want to talk to you a little about actually obtaining this sort of data. This is when it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.

The first two strategies below are far more quantitative and produce valuable information that you can then use for your future sales and marketing. The second two require your team to get their hands dirty.

1. Focus groups: Focus groups can reveal a wealth of detailed information with deep insights into what consumers think of your overall brand. You get real responses from real people on how they feel about your brand and why they would or wouldn’t buy from you. If your budget doesn't allow for personal focus groups, online focus groups is another, more affordable option.  

2. Surveys: Surveys are a great way to reach a large audience and gain valuable feedback about your brand, new products, services, support, and more. Because  surveys are usually digital, you can gather a ton of information from both current and prospective clients. You can also send different surveys to different target audiences to better segment your buyers and learn how each audience differs. Try testing out a few different types of surveys with different questions to see which people respond best to.

3. First-hand, direct customer contact: The best way to learn about a person’s feelings is to talk to them and ask questions. Reach out to clients and leads and just simply speaking to them and getting to know them can tell you a lot about your customer. I would select customers that fit your buyer personas, however the more, the merrier.

4. Become the consumer: The best way to understand your customers is to become one yourself. Shop around like your customers would. What are you looking for? Try a few different companies, do your research, talk with their people. When you become the customer, you truly start to understand their experience, and how you, as a marketer, sales executive, or business owner can enhance your brand's customer experience.

If a brand wants to continue to grow, it is in its best interest to gain an emotional response from the customer. Connecting with your audiences and finding out what they think about your brand is the perfect way to make that emotional connection. Data simply cannot do that.

Key takeaway:

Make it a point to sit down and develop a strategy with your team. Create a survey, call customers, and become a customer yourself. This is something that everyone on the team should be a part of. Just like great customer service starts from within, so does the customer experience.

Have everyone on your team go on a shopping experiment with one of your competitors and have everyone write down what they did or didn’t like about their experience. This will give you more insight than you know.

Once you have all the feedback, look at your sales and marketing strategy and see if it resonates with what you are currently putting out there? If not, alter, and see if that makes any difference in your lead acquisition and retention?

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