As a seasoned marketer, one of your daily challenges likely involves better understanding your customers.
You know it has never been more crucial to do so, because the only way you can generate demand for your products or services is if you truly offer the value your customers are looking for by solving for THEIR needs.
But putting on the hat of the customer while thinking like a marketer can be puzzling to say the least. Now the influx of marketing technologies available out there makes it easier to solve this puzzle. Yet, you still have some homework to do if you want your data collection to be meaningful, because while the goal of a marketing automation platform is to help you generate more qualified leads, it won’t directly solve the problem of understanding a customer’s engagement with your brand. Here’s why…
What can Marketing Automation do for you?
A tremendous amount of things, starting with helping you build a wealth of knowledge around your customers. It is both scary and wonderful. Marketing automation does offer a myriad of benefits, and regardless of the tool you are using, a key value of it is having that front-row seat to what is happening behind-the-scenes, such as: Which keywords buyers are using to get to your site, which email they are more responsive to, and most importantly, what kind of behavior, trends, and patterns can be pulled across multiple segments of users. You get to know them better at every step of their journey, every interaction they have with your content.
Life just got easier because the data told you what is happening with your specific groups of prospects and customers, definitely putting your marketing efforts in a better place: But is optimizing your next campaign really a “done deal”?
Well… here’s the problem – Marketing Automation stopped there: it told you What, not Why.
It gave you access to better information about what customers are doing, and yes, you were able to track who downloaded that infographic … But you still don’t know why that user never responded to any offers and fell out of your sales and marketing funnel. Why is the business losing a lot of opportunities at a specific stage of the buying cycle?
Developing a Customer Persona: A Step Closer To Demand Generation
At this point, you need BIG INSIGHTS. You will need a combination of the quantitative data provided by your automation tool and the qualitative information collected from actual human-to-human interactions.
- We’ll get to that human-to-human interaction in a minute, but first, you need to capture and understand what happened. Dissect all the data captured, and put it back together to paint “the story” of your different buyers’ journey. You want to look for similarities in the level of engagement across your users and group them into segments, netting about 4-5 segments. You may choose to develop groupings of your “new visitors”, or bucket all the users who signed up for your newsletter but only purchased once, or group all the customers who are most responsive to a discount offer you sent via email…The analysis of your data will help you identify segments.
- Once you’ve identified similar behavior and trends across your groups of buyers, you are ready to develop specific personas. That step involves figuring out—for each of your segments—who they are, spelling out their motivations, trigger points, needs and wants, and taking a closer look at whether or not they are decision-makers or influencers in their market. For the most part, you will be building hypotheses based on secondary research and your expertise.
- Prioritize your prime segments and reach out to a specific sample to understand why it happened. Marketing automation can help you identify individuals who fell off at a certain point in the funnel, so you can contact them about why their journey ended, capturing their needs and trigger points. Holding interviews to validate and refine your understanding will provide you with a greater perspective on your buyer’s interest area, interest level, and stage of the buying process.
That’s the human-to-human interaction, and it is key if you want to develop relevant content that maps back to your specific personas and create better demand generation.
Marketing Automation tools will not replace the qualitative data you need to create interest and change users’ perspectives of your brand – so make sure you spend enough time and effort to collect the BIG INSIGHTS you need to know your customers.
Three things to leverage today:
- Capture “what happened” – Data from Marketing Automation or Web Analytics will help you sketch what your buyers’ journey looks like, and help you develop customer segments. Look for trends and patterns to build your segments
- Develop personas, presenting customers’ pain points, gaps, needs, and trigger events
- Select a specific group of individuals to interview them on “why it happened” to validate your insight and use those findings to optimize your next offer for demand generation