Customer Insights: Does Your Brand Need a GPS?
In life, "if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." This a quote from famed English author Lewis Carroll. What does it have to do with retailers, you ask? Well, the same holds true for retail marketing. That's why it's so important for you to tap into consumer insights to drive your digital marketing strategy.
In this article, I'll take a look at why consumer insights matter so much and how you can best use them to your advantage.
When it comes to online marketing, the retail industry is thought to be on the leading edge. And given the high level of competition in this market and the pressure to maintain profit margins, it's very easy to see why retail marketers must capitalize on every advantage possible in order to remain competitive. Fortunately, consumer insights can provide an advantage. In fact, they should be the foundation of every retailer's digital strategy.
Why? Taking the time to understand your customers and using those insights to drive your marketing campaigns will result in enormous benefits for your company. Leveraging consumer insights allows you to target the right audience before they even enter the purchase funnel.
You'll be able to prioritize which content and format is most critical to develop, which messaging is most effective at different points in the purchase funnel, and the specific mix of media that will drive the best overall performance. In turn, consumer insights can help ensure that your media dollars are spent as wisely as possible — i.e., they increase the likelihood of those consumers converting into customers.
Layering: The Key to Leveraging Consumer Insights
To take an audience-based approach to your marketing campaigns, it's important to research as much about your customers as possible. Search data provides marketers with the best understanding of consumer intent through what's essentially a large, real-time focus group. To best understand your audience though you should also layer in the data you have about your customers, your site's performance and other third-party data.
Pulling together these different data points will help you start to define a true online persona for your customers. The data should inform you about their interests, sites visited, mediums used, conversion activity, preferred messaging and much more. Ultimately, it will enable you to better define your target audience and, in turn, better reach them.
Let's take a look at a quick example to illustrate how customer insights can benefit a marketing program: Jane Smith, an online marketing manager for a sporting goods retailer, was working to develop a plan for the fourth quarter, her most important quarter of the year. To hit her overall revenue and return on investment goals for the year, Jane knew it needed to be a success. However, given the uncertain economic environment, she was concerned that performance might be down. Given that, she needed a new strategy that would help ensure she met her goals. But with limited funds and strict return on investment targets, Jane wasn't sure how best to spend her marketing dollars.
For a new approach, Jane turned to her historical data to see what consumer insights she could find that might help guide her strategy. Analyzing last year's paid search data, Jane saw that coupon and sale-related terms converted at an extremely high rate. Looking at her trends for this year, she noted that volume for those terms was on the rise. This data told Jane that her customers are very price sensitive and looking for compelling offers. That information would be important to factor into her new strategy. However, while coupon and sale-related terms convert at a high rate, they're highly competitive, so they wouldn't meet profitability targets due to their high cost per click.
So what did Jane do? She implemented an aggressive search retargeting campaign to target shoppers searching for sales and coupons. Retargeting allowed Jane to capture customers and prospects who were ready to buy and it enabled her to reach them at a much lower cost per click than paid search. In the end, this strategy helped Jane to drive incremental revenue and meet her fourth quarter ROI targets.
5 Ways to Leverage Consumer Insights
Data can help you better understand your audience and is critical to the development of an effective marketing strategy. Here are five tips for retailers on how to best tap into the value of consumer insights:
1. Prioritize. The assets and content you develop should be based on what's most relevant to your customer. Just because everyone is talking about Facebook doesn't mean the social media site is important to your audience. Make sure you understand the top destinations for your key search terms, what sites are visited before and after your site, and which of your landing pages perform best. This data will help you better understand which content is most relevant to your audience and in which stage of the purchase funnel.
2. Leverage. Fully capitalize on all the content assets you develop. Once you've determined which content is most relevant to your customers, research where else on the web they're spending their time and look to syndicate your content to those channels. It will be more effective to try and reach your customers where they spend their time online rather than trying to force them back to your website.
3. Learn. Find out how your customers are using different devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets), then tailor your advertising messaging and landing page experiences accordingly.
This knowledge will help you develop experiences based on how your customers shop and progress through the purchase path. For example, one of the main uses of tablet devices, according to Google, is shopping.
Tablets are being termed "couch companions" because they're typically used at home in the evenings and weekends to browse. Therefore, it's important to make sure your messaging targeted for tablet devices focuses on those consumers in the middle of the purchase funnel, and that the landing page experience provides the information and tools your customers need to learn more about your products or services.
4. Apply. Use what you learn about your customers' shopping behaviors on your site to not only drive your on-site merchandising strategy, but also to increase the relevancy of your digital advertising. If you know that certain products and brands are purchased more often from traffic that's driven to that page, consider featuring that brand or product in your paid search ad copy or display banners to increase the overall clickthrough rate.
5. Understand. Strive to understand the behavior of your customers by looking at their path of searches. For example, do they perform many similar searches indicating comparison shopping? If so, a site or search retargeting strategy with a compelling offer may be a good tactic to add to your program.
Creating a marketing strategy founded in data and customer insights will ensure it's relevant and effective for your audience. Remember, if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. If you look to your customers for direction, you can't go wrong; they'll tell you where you need to go.