The goal of marketing is to engineer connections between your brand and its audience. The more people you reach, the larger your potential market. That means communication is key. As part of the process requires a degree of persuasion, you have to choose the right messages. At the same time, if you’re not paying attention to your customers’ needs, you run the risk of alienating them. How much of marketing is listening?
Pay Attention to Your Audience
First and foremost, you have to know your audience inside and out. Not only do you need to know who might be most interested in your product or service, you need to know what they really want. The better your understanding of their complex needs, the more boxes you’ll be able to tick for them. When you can meet a variety of needs, your customers will develop stronger connections with your brand.
Part of paying attention to your customers is knowing where they spend their time online. It’s easy to type your brand name into Facebook or Twitter and read what people have to say about you. It’s just as easy to browse through Google or Yelp reviews to gauge the customer experience. Both are necessary to develop a fundamental understanding of what your audience thinks about you.
For your customers, perception is reality. That means what they think about you matters more than any single factor. If you can keep a constant grip on those perceptions, you can be ready to adapt.
How to Listen to Your Customers
You can’t get inside the heads of your customers, nor can you observe them 24/7. Instead, don’t be afraid to ask for their feedback. According to a report by Gartner, 95% of businesses actively collect customer feedback. However, only 10% actually use the collected information to improve the customer experience. What does that tell you?
The more you listen to your customers, the better off your business will be. Of the 10% of businesses who leverage feedback to improve the brand, only about half bother telling customers about it. In an age where no business is completely safe, don’t be afraid to let your customers know how much you care about them. Show them you’re listening!
So how can you be sure you’re getting enough feedback? You can start by including a customer experience with every transaction. If folks are buying online, attach a survey to be completed after they buy. For a new product launch, don’t be afraid to hold a few focus groups. If you’re thinking of entering new markets, pay close attention to how folks in that area shop. Your audience isn’t always going to give you the feedback you need. Sometimes you have to ask for it!
How Much of Marketing is Listening?
When it comes down to it, how much of marketing is listening? You have to be in tune with your audience to provide the best customer experience. And since their needs are ever-changing, you need to keep a constant eye on them to be able to adapt effectively. That means a significant portion of successful marketing is listening, as well as acting on what you hear.
Focus on closing the feedback loop with targeted, personalized communications messages. Avoid boilerplate, “one-size-fits-all” messages and seek to make real connections with each individual customer. Let your users know how you’ve improved the product, service, or experience as a direct result of their feedback and folks will be more likely to open up in the future.
When you and your audience can communicate completely and honestly, you’ll already be fostering a deep connection. Since customers are looking for more than a transactional experience, show them you’re more than just a middle man. Get your customers invested in your brand and you’ll have a lifelong customer. It all starts with mastery of the fact that marketing is listening!