Why Understanding Our Customers is Non-Negotiable for Good Marketing Strategies
I think — or rather, I hope — it goes without saying that our customers are the most important asset we, as brands and businesses, have. That being said, I also know what it’s like in the day to day; you stick with a marketing strategy because you know it works, you take for granted the fact that you know your audience because it’s stayed relatively unchanged over time, you know what channels are best for reaching your audience.
But do you? Do you, really?
As those in the marketing world know, things change and fast. That is true of trends, tastes, behaviour, and most importantly, your customers. Who they are, where they are, what they like and need, and where the pain points lie will change over time. You need to be staying on top of these changes, and changing your marketing strategies in line with these. Sticking to what you know because it has worked in the past is a recipe for stagnation. As marketers, as brands, we need to be inquisitive, curious about our customers, and ultimately in service of their needs in order to really add value to their lives.
Adding value to them = long term increased value for us
But how do we go about understanding our customers?
Firstly, we need to understand that they are not one homogenous group. Enter ‘segmentation’. Defining your audience segments will help you to identify better marketing strategies for the individuals in each segment. We call these your Personas.
Let’s say you have an audience with a wide-ranging age demographic; where these customers spend their time, how they search, what their needs are will change, not only depending on age but on so many other factors. So how do we go about determining who your audience personas are?
Digital Persona is our answer to that question. Our Digital Persona process uses a combination of search and social data to understand how your audience engages online, what platforms they use, what they search for, what competitor brands they engage with, and ultimately what their needs are. We do this using automated tools and manual research to build a comprehensive picture of your customer personas.
[TL;DR – fast forward to the real-life case study of the Digital Persona work we did for Specsavers below]
Who are they? What age groups do they fall into? Where are they from? What languages do they speak? What platforms do they use online? What social channels, search engines, forums, publications do they engage with? What are they talking about? What are their needs, their desires, their problems? What is the customer sentiment of each group? What level of brand awareness do they have? What is their intent? Are they ready to purchase or still in the research phase?
We use our research and insights to uncover the answers to all the questions above and more, grouping like-minded behaviours and activity into unique personas.
But then what?
Having all this knowledge about your customers is great. But it means nothing if you do nothing with it. The purpose of uncovering all this insightful data is to do something with it — to improve your relationship with your customers by creating effective user journeys for them, meeting their needs, and ultimately driving your bottom line.
If we can understand where each audience persona is on their customer journey, what their awareness level is, what they need or want, we can build unique marketing journeys for each persona, making them more effective, and making your customers more likely to convert.
Persona 1 spends more time on Instagram than any other channel? Great – that’s where we need to focus our efforts through organic and paid social strategies. Persona 2 are searching for information on Google, but aren’t yet aware of the solution you provide? Let’s look at your SEO strategy and paid search. Persona 3 seem to be weighing up their options — you’re in the mix, but so are some of your competitors. Let’s help them make their decision by creating informative and useful content and reaching them on the channels they’re already on. You get the idea. Your customers are unique, so your strategies need to be too.
Ok, but tell me more… how does it work in practice?
We recently undertook a Digital Persona research project for Specsavers Ópticas — the Spanish arm of the much-loved optician brand.
There were certain assumptions about who their audience — across 9 stores in Spain — were; local Spanish audiences, European ex-pats, for example. But we needed to understand, in more depth, how these different audience segments behaved and what would get them in-store.
We analysed search data, social conversation, online forums and publications, as well as website activity, to build a picture of who these customers were. We made sure we understood their needs, pain points, online behaviour, and interests beyond eye care to create a full persona for each audience segment.
But it didn’t stop there. We then had to establish each persona’s unique customer journey. Where was each persona on their user journey, where did we need to get them to, and most importantly, how were we going to get them there?
Let’s take our Local Glasses Wearers, for example; — the largest segment of the Spanish audience — they had a far different journey to undertake than our Retired British Expats. They had a need — they were actively searching for opticians online and talking about their frustrations in needing prescription glasses on Twitter — but their brand awareness was low. To get them in-store, we needed a multi-pronged marketing approach to, first, increase their brand awareness, then to get them onsite and using Specsavers as a trusted source of information, before finally becoming their go-to choice for purchase. This would be achieved through a combination of content creation, search and social ads, offers, and more.
Our Retired British Expats had a very different user journey to embark on. They had high brand awareness, were already customers of Specsavers Ópticas, and were loyal to the brand. Their starting point was very different from the local audience, but so was their destination. We wanted to move these individual customers to become advocates in the ex-pat community. This would require a wholly different marketing approach, including PR, influencer collaboration, onsite optimisation, and an online review push.
Already you can see that the ‘one size fits all’ approach would not have worked effectively to meet the needs and customer journeys of all of our audience segments. And that’s just two of the personas, and marketing strategies, we identified for Specsavers Ópticas.
But how do we get started?
As we’ve established, we all know our customers are our most important asset. Now we just need to make sure it’s something we are actively actioning, and not just something we’re saying. Digital Persona research is a good place to start here.
If you want to find out more about your customers, more about our Digital Persona process, or more about us, get in touch and let’s have a chat!