Get your data ready.

Once you’ve defined your audience, the next step is to determine how to best collect data about them. Start by taking a good look at your existing tools and platforms. Do you have a CRM? A billing system? Customer service software? Inventory management software? Marketing automation in use? How about your website and marketing channels—do any of those platforms track customer behavior?

It is likely that you already have more data than you know being captured by various teams within your organization. The challenge is figuring out how to bring all of this disparate data together into a single repository that can be used to create a complete view of the customer. Let’s face it, with all but every state in the US moving forward on data privacy rule-making, the teeth of the resulting laws are a prescription for cleaning up and better managing all the righteous information and signals your customers share with you.

If you don’t already have your data unified and resolved, then the time is now to consider investing in a customer data platform (CDP). At its core, a CDP is where all of the information about your customers lives in one place. This gives teams across an organization easy access to reliable and accurate information about customers and better, customer preferences and behavior.

Implement data-informed marketing.

When selecting a CDP, know what you are looking to achieve. There are many possibilities with CDPs, including the ability to:

  • Identify customer segments
  • Reduce waste, redundancy, and friction in your operations
  • Better inform marketing, sales, and customer service/support leaders
  • Improve customer experiences – inbound, offline, and online
  • Maintain privacy compliance and have greater data security
  • Capitalize on programmatic media and automation
  • Accelerate product and service development

… and so much more.

Capitalize on customer journey analytics, not maps.

In employing customer journey analytics, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  • Define the archetypes of your customers, not a simple list of personas.
  • Create regularly-updated visualizations of their unique journeys, including what they’re feeling and why they’re making certain decisions.
  • Gather data from your customers on their experiences and how they interact with your brand that would help inform this process. You can do this through qualitative and quantitative research methods like surveys, focus groups, interviews, and analytics/data tracking tools – and be sure to update customer records with insights from such engagements.
  • Analyze the results and incorporate them into your visualizations by identifying pain points in their experiences with your brand, which will inform where you can make improvements and adjustments to more effectively reach and engage them as customers.

Construct your customer stories through those data shared with you.

  • Know your customers’ needs, interests, behavior, and preferences.
  • Learn your customers’ buying and spending habits, and understand your customers’ lifestyles.
  • Leverage location-based insights while respecting that all media is not digital. Outdoor media, direct mail, and cocktail napkins work, too! 🍸
  • See deeper insights into what types of content and message are performing best across unique audience segments.

Update your customer profiles consistently.

If you’re like most businesses, your customer profiles are a living document. It’s not enough to create records and profiles just to leave them be; as your business matures, your customer base changes, and your records must change too. Over time, new customers will develop similar needs and characteristics that differ from previous generations of customers, and bad data means bad experiences and bad service (and no one likes bad service).

To make sure you capture up-to-date information about the needs of current customers—the people who are actually using your product or service—interview the people who have direct contact with those customers. They may include marketing reps who handle customer outreach, salespeople or account managers interacting with clients on a daily basis, product managers answering technical questions from customers posting on forums or social media pages, and support staff fielding calls in response to billing issues or general questions about products or services.

You should also enrich customer profiles with directional insights that may be captured, either following a purchase or included as a matter of cadence such as newsletters and promotions.

These employees provide great insight into what customers respond to most positively. They also can identify common problems and potential issues that need to be addressed immediately in order to keep current customers happy and prevent prospective ones from giving up altogether. All of this information is reflected in the comments made by employees when they communicate directly with customers; if it’s not already being captured somewhere in your CRM system then it should be added immediately since it will allow field teams to more accurately forecast sales opportunities and provide better service when dealing with existing accounts.

To succeed in the digital age, you need to know your customers before your competitors do.

Your customer base is changing.

You should know that the customer landscape has changed drastically in the digital era, and even greater change is on the way. Customers want to be listened to, and they want to feel like they matter. They want to feel like their needs are being met, and they want an experience tailored to them.

This idea isn’t new — we’ve heard it a million times before. But how can you give your customers what they want without knowing who your customers are? How can you personalize their experience without knowing what matters most to them? This knowledge is often buried in data silos across your organization, which makes it hard for even the most advanced marketers and salespeople to access it. Now is the time to change that.