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5 Tactics Marketers Use to Understand their Customers

Ben Allen  |  April 17, 2017

The more you know about your customers, the better you can market to them.

Standard practice is to build a fictional representation, or persona, of your target market as a single person to help achieve effective marketing. However, developing a clear understanding of your customer through hard data can be hard to obtain.

Use these five tactics to master your target market and improve your marketing efforts.

1. Combine Data

It’s easy to make assumptions about your target market, but they can often be incorrect. Hard data is the best tool for determining what marketing tactics to pursue.

For businesses, gathering data can be difficult. The first source to look at is your website’s analytics. By using tools like your site’s flow map, exit pages, and bounce rate, you can paint a picture of how your customers behave, at least in relation to your site.

That’s a great starting point, but you are limited to their behavior only on your site. Unless users spend all day on your website, they have different patterns and habits you may not know.

Gathering data from other sources is essential as well. Whether it’s a free tool like Google Trends, or a purchased one from a data aggregation company, the more data the better. With that information, you can learn how people search in your market and how they interact outside of your business.

Combining the two sets of data can let you identify patterns for you to capitalize on. That way, you can see a pattern in customer behavior and use that to better attract and convert more traffic. These patterns can include search trends, what type of content works best, and what is involved in their buyer's journey. You can then predict future trends and choices they’ll make that you can profit from.

2. A/B Test

A large part of learning about your customers is simply studying what their preferences. Your customer may prefer a particular format your content comes in or color of the background on a page. By finding your customers' preferred habits, your understanding of their thought process and lifestyles grow.

Only through experimentation can you discover those preferences, which means A/B testing. A good approach is to start with big changes that you think could have a drastic improvement with. Even if the A/B test fails, you can learn more about your customers from the data you get.  

Remember to check your work and tests multiple times in different scenarios. For example, let’s say you A/B tested to determine if people preferred blog content in video or text formats. Before you rush to change each piece of content on your entire blog to video, run a few more tests to back up your results.

As you A/B test different things, look at how it could impact your buyer’s journey. If the changes you’re testing involve how your audience finds your site or how you guide them along the journey, take note of your results. Your goal is to find how your current buyer’s journey model compares to the thoughts and opinions of your target audience. There is no single buyer’s journey for every customer, but A/B testing your marketing campaign tactics can give you a better idea of how your customer would like to engage with your business.

3. Interview Your Customers

The best way to learn about your customers is to talk to them, have a one on one, face-to-face interview to gauge their authentic reactions to your questions.

Ask them a variety of questions to find your flaws and strengths. Focus on topics like how they found your business, why they went with you instead of a competitor, and what hang ups they had during the decision process. You can even discover new pain points they feel during the buyer’s journey that you can address.

Do this enough times, and you’ll find both what you are doing right and where to go next with your marketing. If multiple people mentioned the same hang-up or flaw, it’s probably being felt by most visitors, so fix it immediately.

Another approach is to send out surveys to all of your customers at the time of purchase. While you won’t be able to get highly detailed information as you would from an interview, surveys can give you a larger amount of data to work with.

Be sure to connect with your customer service department, if your buiness has one. They know what type of problems and issues your customers have with your product and can be a good guide of where to improve. Customer service also has a great understanding of your target market because they interact with them on a normal basis. That means they can help refine your personas and maybe correct some of the flaws in your marketing.

4. Be Where They Are

Do you want to know more about what your customer like and dislike? Learn more about your customers by being where they hang out, especially online. 

Common interests and themes can help build your buyer’s journey and identify outside influences on it. As people look to make a decision and go through their journey, they are also living life. Priorities shift, significant events happen, and trends rise and fall in a heartbeat. By being where your buyers are, you can better identify those changes and know how they could impact your marketing.

This is especially significant with younger generations, as they are more connected to their favorite brands and sites than their older consumer counterparts. Social media is huge in this, as many consumers spend huge chunks of time on them and openly share their thoughts and opinions. By being where they spend their time, you understand what they like and can notice trends as they happen. If your business relates to that trend, you can quickly and profitably capitalize on it.

5. Analyze Your Competitors

Unless your business is the first of its kind in an entirely empty market, you probably have competitors. They are wanting to attract the same group of consumers and might be taking a different approach marketing to them.

Do your competitors have a different understanding of your target market or do they focus on different pain points? Analyzing their marketing strategy can give you clues and insights about your customers that you might have missed. While you can’t see the data or thought process that went behind all of their decisions, you can compare their choices to your data. Then, if you find something you think is working for them, you can adopt it to your strategies.

By growing your understanding of your target market, you can better attract them to your brand. It should be a constant priority to grow that understanding so that, in turn, you catch important changes in their culture and improve your marketing efforts by becoming more relevant.

Got a question that needs answering? Have a tactic for learning more about your customers that weren't mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below.


Ben Allen

Ben Allen

Contributor

Ben Allen is a content creator and digital marketer who is passionate about helping small businesses succeed. When he isn't working, he writes about education, social issues, and video games. Read more of his thoughts by following him on Twitter.

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