You have your demographic and behavioral data, the right targeting tools, your omnichannel digital media strategy and eye-catching creative. But in eMarketer’s Customer Experience 2018 report, researchers discovered one thing you may be missing to truly personalize your digital marketing campaigns and elevate your customer experience: customer intent. Our COO Jay Friedman, one of the industry experts featured in the report, said: “Creating the content at scale is not the problem. The problem is, what are we creating? Who’s going to think about the psychology behind how the image or the copy will move someone?” Who? Not many. eMarketer found only 11% of senior marketers in North America said they currently use intent analysis in their audience segmentation strategy: But beyond knowing search history and past purchases, you need to know your customers and prospects psychological motivations and emotional triggers behind why they want to buy (or not) from you – only then can you anticipate their needs and be right there with them at every touch point along their buying journey. Though discovering customer intent can be elusive, follow this 6-step action plan, and with some old-fashioned legwork and organizational housekeeping, you’ll learn what makes your customers tick and how to craft messaging for them that will truly resonate:
- Get some field experience: Depending on your industry, spend more time at your brick-and-mortar stores or auto dealerships. Being around consumers, observing both their spoken and non-spoken behaviors, during the buying process is a good way to learn how to improve and tie together your digital and offline marketing efforts.
- Increase consumer communication: Talk to a variety of customers, non-customers and prospects face-to-face, over the phone and through surveys on a regular basis to learn about their interests and priorities, their wants and fears, their pressures and obstacles, their dreams and aspirations. Consider even embedding surveys in the buying process to get instant feedback at every stage of the buying journey. If these sound like tough tasks, consider offering people an incentive in exchange for their feedback and time. These methods will give you a more well-rounded view of your audience and teach you how to position your product or service as the cure they need.
- Build customer relationships: Offer customer-service channels so you can dialogue with and make meaningful connections with your customers. And listen closely to what they have to say on social media. What’s your community talking about? What’s important to them? What are the trends and themes? Take note of it all, and even how they speak. Doing this will give you a well of ideas on what to address in your content marketing and what wording to use to make your audience feel you’re talking directly to them.
- Get back to the basics: Have a clear plan to reach and engage your customers and make customer service a priority by responding and resolving issues quickly. Create an effective, professional website, with an equally nice desktop and mobile experience, which positions you as an expert in your field. Let your audience take the lead and guide your business decisions. These business basics sound simple but can go a long way in making happy customers who are enthusiastic about opening up to you.
- Put your business in order: Are your systems and software fragmented? Are your corporate departments and outside partners always on the same page? If not, you could encounter this scenario: “You’ve got separate creative and media agencies, and that right there is a total killer,” said our COO Jay Friedman. “How you set up a campaign, just from an operational media standpoint, is going to vary dramatically based on the creative.” To align campaign media and creative, or successfully meet any other goal you’re striving for, ensure your customer data is accessible and all in one place, not siloed and scattered across your organization.
- Gather more data: Lastly, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in effect, third-party data may become more restricted and expensive. As a result, gathering your own first-party data and acting on it are even more important now. If you offer your customers and prospects the right messaging, incentives and experiences they want to see and need, they’ll likely continually offer more insights to enrich your business.
Now go forth – it’s time to work the plan. But know along the way, we’re here for you and happy to help you learn more about and smartly target your audience.