There was a time when we relied largely on focus groups and surveys to learn who was buying the products and services we were touting and what they thought about the experience. Thanks to technology, today we have access to a wealth of data to help build marketing campaigns that will catch the attention of potential consumers. To some, the tools used to gather information are seen as an invasion of privacy, while others view it as smart business. For any company, big or small, the reality is that data is now accessible and a valuable tool for creating more efficient and effective communications.
In early spring, Target stores received a great deal of attention for their “data grab” practices that made it possible to predict a woman’s pregnancy, thus sending specific coupons and mailers anticipating her shopping needs. An article in Forbes detailed Target’s practices and explained that they are not the only one gathering data: “Retailers are studying details to figure out what you like, what you need, and which coupons are most likely to make you happy.”
Similarly, Safeway stores recently launched an online and mobile coupon application that gives customers discounts based on their shopping history. The program called “Just for U” tracks customer purchases through the Safeway Club Card and uses the information to create personalized discounts on specific products. Safeway’s marketing gurus recognized it was not enough to offer coupons and weekly deals to entice shoppers to choose their store over the many other options; the deals need to be personal, they need to matter to the customer.
As a small business owner lacking the deep pockets to employ an in-house statistician tracking your customer’s every move or a team of marketing experts to roll-out individualized messaging, you may think it would be nice to know more, but it just isn’t possible. While it is true that you may not have the resources of the marketing departments at Target or Safeway, you do have the ability to gather valuable information about your customers and create more targeted and effective messaging.
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics provides tools for gaining insight about how visitors use your website, how they find your site, which pages they are visiting, and how you can keep them coming back. It also helps to understand why some visitors buy from you and others don’t. Gathering data and information on your Web traffic gives you valuable feedback for making adjustments to your website and your marketing programs to help increase conversions and meet your goals.
The insight section on your Facebook brand page is full of valuable details. It not only provides the information on the number of people talking your business and the reach your posts are getting, but it also provides the demographic breakdown of those that like your page as well as the geographic location from which they are coming. You can also learn which posts generate the most response about your company and its products. Utilizing this data can help you target your marketing campaign with online and/or print ads and create messaging that will get your customer to take notice.
A monthly e-newsletter or weekly e-blasts can be a fairly inexpensive way to market. It can also provide you with valuable data and feedback. You can track who opened your emails, who forwarded them and who clicked on which links. Understanding what people are interested in reading about helps to tailor your content to get the best response and increase sales.
Knowing not only who your customer is, but what they like can help you decide where to focus your marketing efforts and how to allocate your budget. Taking the time and effort to learn about your consumers’ behavior and interests is like a courtship. If you want to generate repeat customers — and actually secure that second date — learn more about them.