Can we talk about the elephant in the room? Marketers don’t understand their customers. They think they do, but they often know only enough about them to serve them an ad. On the whole, they fail to see their customer as an individual, a multi-faceted human being. As a result, they’re left incapable of delivering a compelling customer experience. Let me explain.
There’s an old folktale about a group of blind men that were out for a walk together in the Indian jungle when they came across an elephant. As their senses are limited, they start feeling about (how they ever got the elephant to stand still that long, I’ll never know) and relaying to each other what they think the elephant is like.
One feels the trunk and assumes the elephant is like a snake. Another touches its leg and likens it to a tree trunk. A third inspects the elephant’s tusk and decides the creature must be a spear. The fourth determines it’s a rope because of its tail. The fifth brushes its side and declares the elephant to be a wall. Finally, the sixth feels the ear and claims the animal is a fan.
All of them are correct about aspects of the elephant while failing to comprehend the entire picture. The thing is, in the story, despite the men discussing their different perspectives of the elephant with each other, each one clung to their own assumptions and never put the pieces together. If they had, they would’ve realized the elephant’s true nature.
A thousand years or so later, this is exactly how modern day marketers behave. Falcon’s recent Customer Experience Trends Report revealed that only 1 out of 5 marketers centralizes the data that relates to their customer journey. There are so many ways to interact with your customers and learn about them today – what they enjoy, what they dislike, what their favorite hobbies and interests are, what their job is like. However, like the blind men in the story, marketers fail to put the pieces together and reveal the entire person.
Let’s take a look at why.
Understanding your customer
In today’s digitally-connected world, people communicate on social media constantly, choosing to share things about themselves and the world they live in. However, the kinds of content and information they share can often change depending on the channel or network. It’s not that there are hard-and-fast rules about content that they need to follow; the various social networks simply have their own setup and distinctive cultures that have formed around that structure. Each social community culture influences how an individual decides to represent themselves and cast an image of who they are online.
Here are a few examples:
Facebook – This platform centers around friends and family, so people typically share photos, videos, and discussions related to their daily lives and personal adventures so those close to them can share in the experience. That, in addition to a tidal wave of cat videos, recipe GIFs, news, and political conversations.
Twitter – Twitter is all about what is happening in the moment. Its limited character count also makes it ideal for quick thoughts, rather than longer conversations. For that reason, people lean towards breaking news, live events such as sports or concerts, and in-the-moment pop culture updates.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is where people go to create and develop their professional image by listing their skills and accomplishments, forging new connections, or participating in industry-related discussions.
Instagram – As a visual-first platform, Instagram has done its best to make everyone’s photos look beautiful and engaging, drawing out their inner photog. You’ll definitely see a different side to a person when you check their Instagram profile.
It doesn’t stop with social networks either. Your potential customers are also expressing themselves on forums, comments sections, and email. If you’re a business, you even have valuable information about them in your CRM database.
Too often, marketers make the mistake of creating campaigns and content, or interacting, based on a single post from a single channel, and thus missing the entire picture of who their customer is. Your customer isn’t just any one of their interests or social posts, they are all of them and more. Imagine the relevancy your marketing messages could have if you didn’t have to fill in knowledge gaps with assumptions of your customer based on broad trends.
For example, a typical marketing practice would be to create content for your social channel – say, a sportswear company. If a prospect shows interest and engages with your content, you serve them a related ad that encourages them to go to your website a make a purchase – a linear, single-faceted approach based on a single data point.
Now, imagine you are able to see multiple facets of your customer and connect them together. Say they like your sports-related content on one channel, but they share family content on another and post pictures of their visit to a nearby park on a third. By connecting this data together, you know that they are a sports-enthusiast family man living in the Bay Area. You now have a recipe for hyper-relevant content. You can serve them an ad about the upcoming big game, showing people watching with their family, and letting them know to about the newest deals on their favorite player jersey at their local store.
The ability to connect information
So, now you can hopefully see how to form a complete understanding of your customer and what you can do with that information. However, all the understanding in the world doesn’t mean much without the ability to act on it. The other side of the coin for marketers here is the ability to collect and connect data about their customers together. Up until now, the only way to accomplish this was through a lot of exporting from different platforms, assembling the data in spreadsheets, and then hacking it together. It was a cumbersome process and not entirely accessible to marketing teams. Something more elegant and efficient is required.
What if you had the ability to see topic and interest data, geographic information, interaction history, and much more all in one place?
Assembling all of this information together opens up a host of opportunities. Here are just a few examples:
- Create new campaigns based on hyper-relevant and multi-faceted data
- Interact one-to-one more confidently, drawing from past conversations across platforms
- Pick up on new trends across channels and interest groups
- Save time by knowing where to place your focus, whether it is channel, topic, region, influence, or customer loyalty
The challenge of going too niche
Up to this point, I’ve been discussing seeing your customer for who they are as an individual, and that’s more critical than ever in today’s world of personalized marketing, where customer experience reigns supreme. However, that presents a big challenge – namely, scaling the effort. It’s prohibitively expensive to conduct outbound marketing on an individual basis, so you need to refine your approach in order to maximize efficiency and ROI without neglecting the attention to detail that will increase effectiveness and cut through the noise in the marketplace.
Fortunately, as you begin to connect the data together to understand individuals better, even more insights are revealed about groups. These trends and insights can help inform broader marketing campaigns, while still providing access to the personal data that makes one-to-one marketing so effective.
All of this represents a larger shift in how marketers need to operate – you need to shift from product-centric to customer-centric. Your focus transitions from pushing product messaging out to learning about our customer and delivering an experience that they will never forget. Our study found that 78% of companies consider customer experience to be important in 2016. This means product and price take a back seat; all other things being equal, people want a great experience with your brand.
If you want to deliver an increasingly personal customer experience, you can’t fumble around in the darkness, latching onto pieces of information scrounged together from various sources. You need a way to see the whole picture.
At Falcon.io, through the power of Audience, we open your eyes to the complete view of who your customer is across social channels and data points.
Get ready to meet your customer.