10 Great Ways to Understand your Customers Online
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, that the product or service fits him and sells itself” – Peter Drucker
Customer is THE KING, goes the adage.
And this is truer today than ever before.
A successful marketer is always trying to generate leads and make effortless conversions. While statistics show that sales leads often stagnate at mere 3-4 per cent each year, a good way to find what customers are thinking is to start with solid online research – one that goes beyond generic and transactional analysis.
Marketers now work across various customer platforms to draw a psychometric patterns on what customers need and how they behave online – to help define the exact needs of their customers.
Following are some proven ways of online research that can help you build a strong customer network.
Using social media platforms
More than 80 percent of internet users are active on at least one social media site and spend an average of 20% of their time on social networks. The new Social Media Monitoring techniques (SMM) and Social Media Relationship Management (SMRM) are tools in social media that help marketers gain insight on newer market opportunities and create complete customer profiles through social network sharing.
Active Users by Social Platform (January 2014)
LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages, Twitter search, Pinterest and Google Plus communities offer enormous amount of data pertaining to customer preferences and reviews. SMM tools such as Social Crawlytics and BuzzSumo can provide exact statistics of social shares of any URL.
For instance, you can draw simple inferences for iPhone 6 on Buzzsumo. While users are not happy with the display screen, many of them from Vietnam seem more curious about this product. This kind of a customer profile can be further drilled down to the level of individual customers.
Blogs help communicating with potential customers. You cannot underestimate the power of a good blog!! Here is an intercept of a business intelligence blog that predicts the shopping plans of customers in detail. Also by looking at the comments section, one can analyse what customers are seeking, are they happy or what are the prevailing sentiments.
Keyword research reveals a heap load of information about what exactly customers are looking for and the different phrases though which they find their desired products. They also tell you of product niches that you might have missed so far and your competitors who are offering those products. Keyword word search engines such as Word Tracker and Trellian’s Keyword Discovery estimate the most “often used phrases” and tabulate them against the demographics of the people using the phrases. Top keyword word search engines in the market are
- Word Stream
- Google Trends
- Yahoo Buzz Log
- Bing keyword search
A quick keyword search on Christmas yields all the things people around the world are looking for during this festive season.
If knowing what your customer thinks about your product is important, knowing what your customer thinks about your competitor is mandatory. Competitor analysis is a great way to obtain the perceptions of your customer.
Let us take an example of how Semrush helps you in competitor profiling. When an online megastore Amazon decides to watch eBay here are the following data that it can obtain and this data can be compared to your own.
Surveys and polls may sound old school but a whole set of new digital survey tools have made the process easy, interesting and a lot less tiresome. The results can be obtained real time and can be shared, analysed and stored. Some of the popular easy-to-use online survey tools are
- AYTM Ask your target market)
- Survey Money
Online discussions and Review Forums
Did you know that 79% of the customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations? Online forums are places where customers do not share just their preferences but also their grievances. Customer review forums teach you what your products has to be and what it does have to be.
The good thing about these forums is that the people posting their views have sufficnet information about them recorded on the website. This makes profiling even easier.
Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, Rockethub, Fundable and Indiegogo represent a classic entrepreneurial phenomenon where you get people to pay for idea upfront. If people are ready to use your idea then you know your product is under the right shaping else you “learn” what exactly your customer are looking out for.
If knowing what your customer thinks about your product is important, knowing what your he thinks about your competitor is also crucial. Competitor analysis is a great way to understand perceptions of your customer.
For instance, look how Semrush helps you in competitor profiling. When an online megastore Amazon decides to watch eBay here are the following data that it can obtain and this data can be compared to your own.
Paid Market Research services
A number of paid market research techniques have been doing successful rounds in the markets. These techniques deliver to you the most precise results of what you are looking for
- Survata is a self- serve survey creation tool that offers access to different groups of customers.
- Gutcheck lets you create one-to-one online videos for the consumer panels in the US. Respondents are then categorized based on age, sex, gender and other business specific criteria.
- Paid reports showcasing predictive analysis of specific industries can also help marketers to be well prepared.
Web Analytics tools
So yes, you have now collected hell a lot of data from different sources, paid and free. But how comprehensible is the information you have in hand? How are you going to use this information to strategize your marketing investments? This is where web analytics tools come to play a key role. These tools optimize web traffic and campaign ROI. The top 5 web analytics tools in the market are
Access to secondary data sources
Expert research organizations and market reports talk a lot about the latest trends and market dynamics of online customers. Paid reports from Gartner, AC Nielson, Frost and Sullivan have proved to be a good place to start with for predicting market trends.
To conclude, the World Wide Web offers numerous tools and platforms that allow marketers to conduct good quality research and analysis of their online customers and more often for free. Marketers and business owners need to take the time out to choose the most innovative ways to target customers and they are sure to find a chest full of useful resources and data.
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