3 Ways to Be Your Customers’ BFF

Get to Know your Customers

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Posted: February 25, 2015 | Marketing Automation

The first step to marketing automation success, or really just marketing success, is understanding your customers. It’s about putting yourself in the shoes of your customers, and having the empathy for your customers. I’m still surprised by how many marketers have never actually talked to a customer.

Understanding your customers allows you to create accurate personas, which helps you target your customers based on specific categories. Being able to do this makes writing and sending those emails easier. I’ve put together a few tips to help you understand your customer & communicate better:

1. Have the right customer data

In order to accurately understand and communicate with your customers, you need their correct contact information. This seems simple, but there is more to your data than you might realize. Start by reviewing the existing customer data in your database. It’s easy to look at your database and believe that it’s the right information. However, even a 1% mistake such as the wrong LinkedIn profile, can result in 99% effectiveness instead of 100%. Look at your data cleanliness holistically and don’t assume that your data is clean. You need to be certain of it. Be actively aware of the bad customer data that exists.

51% of marketers cannot ensure that their data is fresh. There is a distinct lack of awareness of how pervasive dirty data is—we often see only a shadow of what’s going on. Which means that it’s entirely likely that you have significant amounts of dirty data and you can’t see the core issues. To combat this, run some tests in Marketo to determine what might be wrong with your customer data. For example, create a Smart List of everyone with a common name, such as Tom or John, and see if there’s a large number of duplicates. If you have one mistake in your database, a good rule of thumb is to assume that there’s probably ten more that you can’t find. As you dig through the list of names, you’ll probably find some mistakes that are worth cleaning up and improving.

Think of your database as an evolving, living, breathing thing. It’s a flower that needs constant tending, and even if you take care of it, it will decay over time. Know how to prune it, clean it, and when to pull it out and put in new flowers (contacts).

2. Get on customer calls

Now that your existing data is clean, it’s time to start getting new and better data about your customers. Despite our efforts as marketers to target and develop personas for our ideal target customer, oftentimes we’ve never actually met a customer. Salespeople meet customers all the time. Salespeople know their customers, and their customers’ struggles.

Get on a customer call. Spend a day with a salesperson. Understand the words that they use and what they’re thinking about. You’ll probably find it’s very different from the words you use in marketing.

The actual challenges that customers face are going to be significantly more nuanced and perhaps more subtle than what you’re communicating about. With familiarity, you can use this first-hand information in combination with your data to communicate more effectively with your customers.

3. Write one email to one customer

We’re all told to understand our customers in order to effectively market to them, but do you truly know them the way you know your neighbor, a colleague or a good friend? One way to find out is to write an email to one customer. With your new insights about your customers from meeting them and ensuring your data about them is accurate, you need to think about the personalization and the details of your communication. Then, think about that communication as you multiply your efforts by 10,000.

Sending a message to a customer is the real purpose of marketing personalization. Personalization is not designed for you. Personalization is not designed to make it easier for you to segment your database. It’s not designed for you to run A/B tests. Personalization is designed for your customer, so they have a customized experience and interaction with you. You should personalize your communications it if it will help you build trust and maintain your relationship with them.

Knowing your customer is vital to building a relationship with them over time and then maintaining it. To be successful and effective, all marketers need to know their customer. With these tips, you’ll have the tools in your arsenal to effective reach and communicate with your customers today and going forward.

For more on how to clean your database and create a relevant, personal experience for your customers, check out the Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing.

Amanda Nelson is Director of Marketing at RingLead where she leads the content marketing strategy and execution. She has spent the last three years in content marketing and community management at salesforce.com and Radian6, and has a background in account management for interactive and full service advertising agencies.

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You spend all day creating cool #marketing for your customer...but do you actually know them?

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