5 ways to help you understand your customers

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In a world where people are constantly changing and adapting, how do you ensure that you always have a good understanding of your customers?

Their preferences and pain points may be different now compared to a year ago, so it’s important to have detailed knowledge of who they are and what they like to keep your business relevant to them.

Once you know their wants, needs, and values, you can be more confident about how you cater to your customers. And the more confident you are in the type of customers you support, the better you’ll be able to serve those customers and the quicker your business will grow.

Understanding your customers involves asking them questions and doing extensive research so that you can use the feedback and information they give and what you learn about them in improving your business processes, products and services, and the overall customer experience. 

The importance of understanding your customers

Customer relationships have evolved since COVID-19, with customers becoming more discerning of the brands they support as more businesses make efforts to stay connected with their target market. 

The HEART framework by Google has been used by many businesses to increase customer satisfaction and improve customer relationships during times of crisis or change:

  • Humanise your company
  • Educate your customers
  • Assure that company values will continue despite all odds
  • Revolutionise the key ideas of your business
  • Timeline for the future

And while this framework gives your target audience a better understanding of a business, it also helps business owners think of ways to better understand their customers as well. To use the HEART framework successfully, you need to have a deep understanding of your customers. Once you truly understand them, you won't need to find them because they’ll find you instead. 

Humanising your business requires you to have an appealing brand personality. Educating your customers requires that you use a specific language and tone that resonates with them and will reach your audience as you share important information.

If you’re confident in who your customers are, then you know they’ll stand by you because you both uphold the same values and principles. And by updating your core competencies and future-proofing your business, you ensure that you’re always ahead in providing what your customers need. 

Understanding your customers allows you to improve their experience with your business so that they keep supporting you. Statistics show that 86% of people will pay more for a great customer experience.

Once you understand who your customers are, you not only promise them a better experience, you also identify the personality traits that they shouldn’t have. This allows you to avoid unwanted customers that might hold back your business

Here’s a checklist of questions that will indicate how well you understand your customers:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they do?
  • Why do they purchase?
  • What makes them happy about their purchase?
  • What do they think about your business?

If you realise that there are gaps in your knowledge or that your answers don’t completely align with how your customers are in real life, then you need to analyse what you can do to better understand them.

5 ways for small business owners to understand their customers

Here are five ways for you to better understand your customers.

1. Build customer personas 

A customer persona is different from a target market, though they work hand in hand. Identifying your target market involves collecting and gathering information about your customers so you know their demographics (e.g. geographic location, age, occupation, etc.). It showcases the similarities between the groups of people in your target market.

A customer persona breaks down this data even further by highlighting key traits and differences that make your customers distinct from each other. 

A customer persona gives you a complete picture of your ideal customer because it offers the emotive information behind the data including their personal motivations, the values they want to see in brands, and even the type of content they prefer to consume. 

This is why it’s crucial to research and gather data about your target market in order to build a realistic customer persona. Without it, you may form inaccurate assumptions about your customers (which may further alienate them from your business).

2. Improve your marketing strategy

Aside from building a realistic customer persona, the data you’ve gathered can also be used in adjusting or improving your marketing strategies. This will ensure that you stay relevant and engaging to your customers.

Your business needs to be able to adapt to changes, including technological advancements and content marketing trends. It’s important to stay updated on how your customers are consuming content because it’s one of the best ways to reach them. It’s possible that they may have enjoyed watching videos more last year, but they may prefer listening to podcasts now. Customers can change their preferences without warning, so knowing them is important. 

According to Hubspot, content marketing is a dynamic landscape that’s only going to keep changing in the coming years. Global mobile data traffic is predicted to be seven times bigger in 2022 compared to 2017, which indicates that businesses need to adjust to mobile marketing and find new opportunities.

Google’s ranking algorithm is also becoming more discerning, which means that content is more likely to be successful if it’s customer-focused, relevant, and comprehensive (rather than keyword-stuffed, bite-sized articles).

Look for new ideas and trends that you can apply to your marketing strategy so that you can make a bigger impact on your customers (and, by extension, your business).

3. Practice active social listening

Active social listening refers to monitoring your social media platforms for mentions and conversations about your brand and then analysing the information to find new opportunities or ways to improve.

This gives you a better understanding of what your customers feel (and why they feel that way) about your business in real time so that you can keep your marketing and product development efforts on track

It also allows you to engage with customers in a more personal and approachable way. If you practice active listening, you can gain new insight from their feedback and suggestions, address their concerns and problems immediately, and build a loyal following on social media.

Without this skill, you can completely overlook what people are demanding from your brand and how you can adapt.

You can use different social listening platforms such as Google Alerts or Hootsuite to monitor the internet or major social networks for brand mentions, keywords, and phrases. By practicing active social listening, you can better understand your customer and improve their experience with your business. 

4. Use a storytelling approach when creating content

Using a storytelling approach in your content is one of the best ways to engage your customers because it can create genuine emotional connections that will make your business more memorable.

While data and statistics are certainly important in proving the claims in your content, it’s best used as supporting statements rather than as the main highlight of your story. Stanford University research shows that statistics alone have a retention rate of up to 10%, but when combined with stories, the retention rate increases to almost 70%.

And stories can be found in different mediums including blogs, podcasts, videos, and even social media images. This means that you can create a variety of impactful content across different platforms, depending on what your customers prefer to consume.

5. Conduct A/B testing

A/B testing refers to the process of showing two different versions of a piece of content (with changes applied to only a single variable) to different audiences and analysing which one performed better.

The ultimate goal of A/B testing in marketing is to increase conversion rates and this can be done in a lot of ways. By zeroing in on the better-performing method, you can best understand how your audience responds to content.

It can increase website traffic when you discover which blog posts or webpage titles garner more interest from your target audience. 

It can decrease the “bounce” rate of visitors who leave (or “bounce”) right after viewing your website once you’ve tested the most optimal type of blog introductions, fonts, or feature images. 

It can even decrease cart abandonment when you identify the best product photos and check-out page designs to display that will invite your customers to purchase.

Some of the elements you can A/B test include:

  • Copy - You can test the messaging of your headlines and subheadlines to see which performs best. You can also test the writing style (i.e. language and tone) as well as formatting (i.e. length of paragraphs, usage of bullet points, etc.) in your content.
  • Design and layout - This includes varying elements in your web page, from the copy and images or videos to the fonts and colours you use. 
  • Call to Action - You can try different messaging, placements, and even font sizes or colours to find the most effective CTA to use in your web pages. 

Understanding your customers involves a lot of research and diligent work so that you get an updated and accurate perspective on who they are, from their preferences and problems to their consumption and purchasing behaviours.

If you need further help in understanding your customers better, book a call.

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