Today’s reality check – your intentions are great, but your websites and emails are turning off customers. See, the problem is they’re all about you and forgive us for being harsh, but nobody cares.
Visitors land on your website or open your emails because they have a problem to solve. Maybe they‘re seeking a pick-me-up and your merchandise caught their eye or they have a work issue that your software can fix. Whether you’re an e-commerce or service company, customers and prospects seek you out because you offer something they value.
Gartner predicts that by 2016, 89% of companies will compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. Are you delivering a memorable customer experience when you trumpet the awards you’ve won or the cutting-edge tool you offer? Probably not.
At the beginning stages of nurturing prospect relationships and turning them into customers, the most prominent message should be how you can make your customers lives easier, happier, or more stress-free.
Go customer-first in 2016
If customer experience is the modern businesses’ competitive tipping point, and each customer is different, how do you flip the conversation to resonate with them all?
It’s true that you probably cannot understand and reach every single customer, but you can group your customers into categories (called personas) representing about 80% of your customer base. (Our persona worksheet makes this step easier.)
You’ll then develop messaging around common customer actions. By reminding customers of actions they’ve taken, you get really close to speaking to each customer individually.
For example, Sole Society’s abandoned cart email includes a picture of the boot left in the customer’s cart, reminding them of their previous interest and enticing them to complete their purchase (right).
When you’re coming up with your personas, the most important thing is to note what kind of actionable behaviors they’ll take, so you can identify them.
For example, when your “busy mom” persona arrives on your website, how will you know this visitor is the busy mom? Perhaps it’s because she looks at products in your “baby six months and under” category, or reads the article “how supermoms get more done in less time” on your blog.
By anticipating these types of actions in your persona research, you’ll know how to identify each persona. From there, you’ll figure out the keywords, phrases, and tone that resonate with each audience.
You’ll soon realize the types of promotions and messages that motivate them or turns them off. You’ll find gaps in their activity, where you could offer them an incentive or a resource to make them more comfortable and engaged with your brand. You can identify opportunities to add value to their life.
How to get customer-first
Personalizing interactions with your customers is easier than you think, and you likely have the customer data handy. Examples of data sources include customers’:
- Purchase history
- Webpages visited (products/pages viewed)
- Registration at an event
- Content downloads
- Submitted webforms
- Mobile app interactions
- In-store actions
- Abandoned carts
- Browse abandonment
- Source of opt-in (an event, your website, etc.)
This list of data sources is far from comprehensive, but should get you thinking about ways to connect with customers. You can combine data sources for even greater personalization power.
Make sure you leverage data from all of your channels, not just your website or emails. Integrate your mobile app and automation tool, for example, to personalize mailings based on behaviors taken in the app. If your sales team meets with your customers, make sure their insights can be fed back into your database, so your follow up emails aren’t disjointed or repetitive.
We live in an omni channel world. When we effectively harness data from all of our channels, we can understand our customers better, be more relevant, and ultimately develop deeper relationships.
But what if I don’t have the data?
At risk of sounding like a broken record, capturing customer data is vital to knowing who your customers are and what they care about, so you can provide relevant content to meet those needs.
Customers are more willing to part with their personal information if the perceived value outweighs the perceived cost. This balance is maintained by collecting information slowly instead of all at once, and offering value in return, like an entry in a contest, a white paper, a free consultation, etc.
Progressive forms are one of our favorite ways to slowly build a comprehensive profile of your customers, without turning them off and losing the chance to collect more information in the future. They work by initially requesting a few fields of information that is perceived as less sensitive on the first interaction with a customer, like email and first name, and then requesting more information at later interactions.
Opportunities to capture customer information:
- Newsletter sign-up form
- Opt-in form to receive a case study, flier, or other type of collateral piece
- Sign-up form to receive exclusive deals or discounts
- Surveys or contests
- Engagement and capture on social networks
- Offline – captured by employees in-store, at point of sale; or at networking events and conferences
Customer-first, not company-first
Flip your conversations with customers to be about them, not about you. Take an interest in your customers’ likes, dislikes, preferences, and behavior to create irresistible customer experiences.