Staying on top of your customer’s needs in an ever-changing, unsure world will help keep you in business. Check out our guide to tracking trends and giving your customers what they want.
It can be too easy to assume that once you’ve done your research into your customers – target demographics, needs, wants and concerns – that you can continue to market your business in the same way. If a business owner does think about change, they often have a tendency to consider it as something that happens within the company, not outside of it.
However, one of the biggest factors that should spark change in your business is a change within your customers.
Nobody stays stagnant, even if they want to.
Outside forces like advancing technology, shifts in cultural and political ideology, and unforeseen crises - the current global pandemic, for instance - will all have an impact on your customers. Not to mention socio-economic circumstances and new brands offering competition.
Ready to learn more about using customer data to make maximum impact? Grab a cup of coffee and take a look at our simple tips designed to help you navigate changing requirements in your client base:
Assessing Customers Needs
The important thing to understand is that your target market may stay the same in terms of age, gender, where they live, income bracket and other unifying factors. However, their individual needs and wants can change.
They may still require the product or service you sell, but you may need to use a different message to get through to them. Recently, pivoting has become a major buzzword in business, and it may well need to be applied to your marketing strategy.
Before looking at how to track your customers and how their requirements could be changing, let’s take a look at the different types of needs they might have:
- Convenience – Is your business easy to access? Does your product make life easier, more efficient or enjoyable for your customer?
- Performance – Does your offering work well? Is it reliable and easy to use?
- Compatibility – Does your product or service fit into their lives? Does the customer need to buy special adapters, or will it work with the ecosystem that they already have?
- Budget – Can they afford what you offer or is it a luxury that they might need to save up for?
- Design – Does what you sell fit in with their overall aesthetic for their lives?
All of these factors can relate to your specific product or service. It’s just up to you to work out what the primary need is for your target market and use that as the basis for the messaging you use.
Understanding this basic underlying need will help you to craft far more effective marketing and help you to build a loyal customer base.
Now Start Tracking Those Needs
1. Develop A Good Relationship With Customers
The easiest way to find out what your customers want is to ask them. However, a brand simply coming up to a consumer on the street and interrupting their day can come across as pushy and disingenuous. If you have a good line of communication with your customers, they will happily talk to you about their lives.
If you don’t already have a lot of contact with your customers, now is the time to start building that relationship. Start by creating several points of contact – social media, direct marketing, a chatbot or live chat on your website, maybe even a mobile app.
The next step is to listen. Real communication is not a one-way street, with you always sending messages to your customers. If you send out text messages or a regular newsletter, ask questions and acknowledge the replies you get.
Offering incentives or discounts to encourage communication may also help keep you on track, as customers are more willing to offer feedback if they stand to benefit in one way or another.
By forming an honest relationship you’ll encourage communication, and this will help you to track trends and see where you can fill gaps or cater to a developing niche.
2. Talk To Your Customers Where They Are
Before you start opening up all these lines of communication, take some time to work out where your customers are most comfortable talking. For instance, older generations are more likely to prefer email or phone calls, while Millennials and younger age-groups will probably much rather have a conversation via a messenger app.
There is plenty of data to be found on the internet about age and gender demographics using the various social media platforms. You can also look at who is more likely to read a message on a mobile phone versus their desktop computer. All of this data can help to point you to which areas you should focus your energies on in order to build up communication with your customers.
Remember, there is never just one answer to this question. Just because your customers are more likely to be on Facebook doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate a regular email newsletter as a point of contact.
Use the stats on demographics to help you work things out in conjunction with your knowledge of your clients and your business. If needs be, open up new channels of communication that are best suited to speaking directly to your audience.
3. Monitor Your Web Traffic
People’s browsing habits can show you a lot about how they think and what type of need is the most important to them. Your first stop should be looking at what search terms (or keywords) are used most often to find your business. The exact words that are used and the way the words are phrased can give you insight into how the customer thinks.
For example, “top hairdressers in LA” versus “hairdressers in Venice Beach” shows two different focuses. The first is someone who believes that top-quality service is the most important thing. The second is someone who values convenience in terms of location.
The message you would use to market to each one is different. For the first type of customer, your message should be about your pedigree in the industry and who your clientele is. For the second type, you would rather push the idea that you are part of the community and love to be local.
Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy is crucial here, and just as SEO is ever-changing, your strategy should be too. By studying analytics, you can determine where you need to shift your focus and adapt your strategies accordingly.
There’s no point in ranking highly in the SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Pages) for something that isn’t really relevant to your brand or is outdated. Focus your energy on getting your rankings up where they mean the most and keep them there.
4. Analyze Trends To Stay On Target
Data is the new oil, and accurate customer data is worth barrels full. Regardless of what your business is, customer data is an incredibly valuable tool.
As an example, Amazon analyzes customer data to track shopping habits and then publishes a Trend Report that guides consumers to the most-shopped or searched for products on their site. This is a prime example of harnessing the power of customer data, but it can also be applied on a much smaller scale.
There are numerous free and paid for tools on the web that can help you track where your customers came from, how they found you, track buying trends and provide stats based on surveys and feedback. By gathering customer information, you can target repeat business, build brand loyalty and ensure customer satisfaction on every level.
You can also use customer data to pinpoint where you fall short and what you could offer to compensate for any lack. By analyzing trends you can ensure your business adapts to new requirements and remains an attractive option in the marketplace.
5. Above All, Keep Your Brand Message Consistent
Once you understand what your customer’s needs are, it’s important to keep your marketing message consistent. Don’t try to cover all of the need types by shifting the message you put out about your company. This can create confusion and muddy the waters.
Trying to hit every type of need will essentially create the message that you don’t stand for something as a company and your values are all over the place. Even if you pivot your business, your core values should remain the same, and this should be clear to customers too.
Your best course of action is to focus on the core needs of your target market and make that message really sing. You’ll resonate with them in a way that builds confidence and a brand affinity. This leads to retention and can drive sales too.
Wrapping It Up
Many brands lose out on major opportunities as they fail to recognize customers changing needs. However, by implementing the right practices and being flexible in your approach you can adapt to trends and fulfill new requirements.
We’ve covered the basics of getting started and ensuring that you know how to track customer needs in a way that fits your business model.
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