As marketers, we’re all talking about adaptive messaging, cross-channel communication, and understanding personas. We want to find to find the best ways to meet and engage our customers in every channel they frequent. And that’s a noble pursuit. Yet, I’ve found that most marketers are trying to find a new media solution by using old-school thinking. Psychographics, demographics, values, and personas are all important elements of defining your customer. But to truly understand your customer and explode your brand, you’ve got to put those aside. Forget about their age, where they went to college, and whether they rent an apartment or own a house in the suburbs. To find and engage potential customers you have to really, truly, understand what they DO. You must understand customer behavior.
Knowing that you need to identify common customer behavior is much easier said than done of course. What most marketers don’t realize is that the information is right there in front of them, but it involves much more than Google Analytics. You can find those crucial, common behaviors if you start thinking about it with an integrated mindset.
Here are a few ways to apply integrated marketing concepts to understand customer behavior:
UNDERSTAND YOUR UNIQUE KPIS FOR CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR
Most marketers focus solely on the key performance indicators that have been determined by their industry. However, an integrated approach requires finding the particular set of KPIs that lead to a greater number of conversions for your brand specifically. This might include engagement on social media, repeat customers, or purchasing cycle from introduction to purchase.
A great way to do this is to educate yourself on Google’s new philosophy of micro-moments, which, as defined in a Think with Google article, are moments when “people reflexively turn to a device—increasingly a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something.” After familiarizing yourself with the micro-moments, create a moments map for your brand (identify the micro-moments your customers experience that you’d want to provide what’s sought after). To do this, go back and review the behavior of your newest customers through this lens. You may see some consistent behavior that will lead you to your unique KPIs. If your brand involves more relationship selling (or focusing on building relationships and customer retention), do the same exploration with those your salespeople define as your “best” or “ideal” customer. How did they find you? What was their first interaction?
DEVELOP SURVEY PROGRAMS THAT LET YOUR CUSTOMERS TELL THEIR STORY
Now that they’re engaged with your brand, let them tell you the narrative of how they met you, the interactions they’ve had, and the point at which they were persuaded to buy. I’ve found that customers are much more willing to tell you stories than give pieces of information they deem to be private. And by the way, don’t let the “big data” people turn your surveys into a bunch of dots to be filled out. My surveys often include a lot of blank forms for respondents to answer interesting questions and stay engaged.
UTILIZE LINKED TACTICS AND MEASURE YOUR RESULTS
A pillar of integrated marketing is the concept of linked tactics, where you utilize multiple mediums or networks to share content and promote your business. For example, you link tactics when you distribute a new blog post to your social media networks.
You probably know what time and day gets more buzz. But do you know if the order in which you post to each network makes a difference in engagement? Have you tried syndicating your blog posts? Perhaps that could be the third link to your existing blog post/social combo. Be creative, be persistent, and measure everything. I like to create a little micro test every week to see if I can boost performance. Again, I’m looking for those common behaviors my best customers exhibit.
PILOT REWARDS PROGRAMS, PROMOTIONS AND OTHER INCENTIVES
This is similar to running a beta program if you’re a software company. I’ve gotten better behavior information from a dozen customers than I have from a survey of 2,000. People want to be engaged and are thrilled to be perceived as influencers of your brand. Make them work for this accolade, and reward them for it. Develop small groups of pilot testers or betas within your existing customer base, and include a survey or other review mechanism at the end as a requirement.
Even if you strike gold with your approach and start learning more about your customers than you ever dreamed was possible, don’t get complacent. New channels open up every day. Attention spans shorten. Competition gets tougher. When it comes to learning about customer behavior, it takes creativity as well as persistence.
Brainstorm new ways to keep track of the trends that affect your best customers and remember that the nature of your customer base is constantly changing. The core concepts of discovery, measurement, and linking tactics, which drive so much of integrated marketing communications, can help keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ behavior.