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Know Your Customer: Gathering Data to Build Marketing Campaigns

Know Your Customer: Gathering Data To Build Marketing Campaigns

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.

2. Facebook

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.

3. Email

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.

For more information about gathering data about your customers to help build your marketing campaigns, and/or marketingworx and its services, visit marketingworxpr.com.

social media tweet bird

Social Media: Turning Tweets Into Tourists

Used correctly, social media can pay off for the hospitality industry

Over the holidays, the JW Marriott Desert Ridge built a giant village out of 800 pounds of gingerbread and 250 pounds of chocolate to display in its lobby. For four weeks, the cookie town was posted on the JW Facebook page and fans were invited to guess how many gumdrops, pounds of dough, poinsettias and twinkling lights were decorating the resort. Winners received a weekend stay.

Did the campaign succeed?
Definitely, according to Jennifer Whittle, account supervisor with the Lavidge Co., which represents the resort. The goal was to increase fans on Facebook, a figure that doubled in a month. “Additional objectives were to drive traffic to the resort’s website and property,” she said, “and to position the resort as a fun place to visit.”

But still, just as with traditional advertising, marketing or public relations, it can be tough to measure how social media translates into revenue in the tourism industry.

Measuring whether this new medium is working depends on what a business wants to achieve, said Rebecca Seymann, Lavidge director of interactive campaigns. Some businesses believe that the more people who “see” them on Facebook or on a blog or in an app, the more awareness of their brand will grow, thus driving up sales.

But businesses do try to compute results. “Many hospitality businesses use social media, email, their websites and aggregators to promote special offers and then measure direct sales using a variety of tracking tools,” Seymann notes. And many use social media to respond to customer complaints as well.

One attraction of social media is that the cost of use seems minimal. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are all free. Writing the copy and getting the photos or videos for social media do cost something; as does monitoring the site. A cottage industry has grown to help businesses interpret the data from social media; but some measuring systems are still free.

“Facebook has metrics built in that don’t cost anything,” says Christine Carlson, advertising manager at Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel, which flies out of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. “And we also use Google Analytics, which is free as well.”

So Allegiant can find out how many Web users click on its Facebook page and repost the page to other fans; how many viewers like the company’s site; even how many viewers switch from Facebook to the Allegiant Web site to book a trip. But if a Facebook user looks at the company’s website, signs off and then comes back four days later to book a trip, Allegiant can’t easily track that. In its brief time using social media, Allegiant has attracted more than 50,000 fans on Facebook.

social media icons

For some hospitality businesses, such as W Scottsdale, the main objective of a social media campaign is to “engage in conversation with our fans,” according to Joe Iturri, director of sales and marketing. The hotel uses Facebook and Twitter particularly to promote W happenings to fans first. The events often involve fashion design and music. “W often gives fans insider access, like sending information to them first about our big New Year’s Eve event,” he says.

But W’s use of social media can be even more up-close and personal in pursuing contact with potential customers. When fans post messages saying they will visit the hotel soon, W’s social media rep tries to chat online with them about their likes and dislikes. “We’ll ask what wines they like, for example, and when they arrive, we have a bottle of a great wine in their room. Or we’ll find out whether they like foam or feather pillows,” Iturri says. Facebook and Twitter get top billing. Other channels used: YouTube, FourSquare, Yelp.

When favorable posts come in about a past visit, W responds, too. Or if there is a negative review on TripAdvisor, “we contact the poster and try to resolve the problem to the best of our ability,” Iturri says.

In 2009, the hotel hired a full-time social media person to answer postings around the clock, Iturri says. That employee checks Twitter, Facebook and other channels several times — both night and day — on a laptop and responds to questions and postings both favorable and unfavorable. The first person to hold the job was so successful that she was transferred to the W Hotel headquarters to start national programs.

That all might work for a national or international company, but what about the little guy — the independently owned restaurant or boutique or small resort?

For smaller businesses, social media can pay off, too, says Josh Kenzer, online marketing manager for the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. The big issue for a smaller business, though, might be the labor costs in maintaining an up-to-date Facebook page, for example, adding pictures and news regularly.

“A business owner needs to be honest about the time he can devote to it,” Kenzer says. “Here at the bureau, someone has to spend about 30 minutes to an hour a day adding new content. You also don’t want someone to post a message on your page that says, ‘I’m here this weekend and what can you do for me?’ and then you don’t reply to them.”

Social media is also not a silver bullet. “Like website management, pay-per-click, SEO and banner campaigns — and like print, radio, public relations — social media should become a regular recurring marketing activity and a budget line item that incorporates key marketing messages to target audiences,” says Seymann of the Lavidge Co.

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012