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Having a thorough understanding of your customers is the key to achieving your top business goals. Whether you’re trying to build up the customer experience, create more engaging content or increase sales, knowing your customers better than they do is really important.

The first step in finding out about your customers is to move away from the old-fashioned approach of demographics and not lump customers into one group, ie: ‘women aged 30-55’

Instead, we need to understand the individual, who they are, what are their beliefs and values and what inspires them.

By understanding what your customers care about, you can start creating content to meet their needs. As they begin to engage with your content, you can develop a deeper understanding of how this affects their lives. With this engagement, you also can see the engagement patterns of your best customers.

Some customers are very vocal about their opinions

Some business categories are highly emotive (such as Boost juice and Coca-cola) and customer feedback is easy to get from passionate consumers who are vocal about their purchasing habits. Other businesses can be not quite that simple because of more conservative consumers. (incontinent products, funeral services).

Trends can also move quickly and being on trend, especially when we are targeting young adults within premium environments, can be challenging and costly, and come with a high risk if solutions are baseless.

Methods for understanding your customers:

-Online surveys:

To keep your customers engaged during the first stages of the customer journey, think of this relationship as a two-way street.  A great way to put yourself in your customer’s shoes is to encourage and entice your customers to share their thoughts and opinions by including a customer satisfaction survey. However, don’t rely too heavily on this information. Other methods are still important.

Chatting face to face can give you some great insights into your customers.

-Face to face:

No amount of online resources can replace chatting with real people. Making the time to have face to face conversations with not only your customers but also with other people in your network can go a long way to understanding consumer behaviour.

Talking with small business owners in your neighbourhood and even your local cafe owner can offer some of the best insight into your customers.

Speaking with the everyday Aussies who interact with small businesses in their day-to-day lives can also offer interesting insight.  Think of home maintenance services,  food outlets and pharmacies. 

Building relationships with your company’s community can be a door to a deeper understanding of how and why customers use your product. It can help you to better understand their expectations of what you offer and help you in making a set of experiences better suited to them.

This can not only help to grow trust between your company and customers but also help build you a loyal customer base.

Don't forget to chat with real people

-Google Analytics:

One way to find more about what your customer like is to use the Acquisitions tab on Google Analytics.  This will help you find which social media outlets, industry blogs and professional forums your site traffic comes from. Then, apply this information to your marketing plan to find out where and when to reach them more effectively.

Getting keyword data is also a helpful way to discover the terms and descriptions that certain customers use to describe your services.

To segment customers based on keyword searches, for example, use Google Webmaster Tools to create a list of common keywords that drive people to your site. Then, group the keywords into related themes and assign to different personas based on the data you have available.

You can do this with a technique called customer journey mapping.   This method is where marketing agencies make a detailed graph of the customer journey based on the main touch points. Interactions between a customer and your brand before, during, or after purchase.

Where are your customers going?

Journey mapping helps you see how customers experience your product or service, and how they feel along the way.

For example, a marketer at 'Car Next Door' might ask: what influenced the customer to download the app for the first time? Was it related to a customer referral program?

If the customer doesn't use the app they downloaded, make a plan to contact them. You may want to create milestones, such as when an app user hasn’t logged into their account in three months, or when a regular customer suddenly stops using the product.

It’s best if your customer service team is able to call, write, or meet with customers directly to understand why they've lost interest.

In closing, lack of customer understanding makes it difficult for your company to meet the needs of its prospects. If you don’t meet those needs, your customers will go elsewhere. Customers are less loyal and far less trusting than they used to be and social media has given them the power to study their purchase decisions.

If you don’t understand them how can you possibly give them the types of experiences they want?

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