How Marketers Can Better Communicate With Customers to Get More Actionable Insights
In many ways, so much of success in terms of marketing (and business in general) comes down to a very simple idea: you’re trying to get the right message in front of the right people at the right time.
But when you’re dealing with a situation where “the right message” and “the right person” and even “the right time” are in a constant state of flux, how can you make sure that this actually happens more often than not?
Simple: you need to start communicating with your audience better.
When you run a usability test or a brand perception survey, for example, you’re obviously concerned with what you’re doing right every bit as much as what you’re doing wrong. But if you’re not asking the right questions or using the right channels, you’re not going to get the information you need to strengthen the core foundation that is your brand moving forward.
If you really want to learn how to better communicate with your visitors, customers and test participants in order to gain more actionable (i.e. valuable) insights, there are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind.
In the old days, communicating with your audience to get insights and feedback would essentially be handled in one way: through surveys.
In prehistoric marketing times you would have mailed out a survey containing what you deem to be important questions for people to fill out and send back to you. Some would, some wouldn’t – but in general, it was a solid information collection mechanism at the time. In modern times, marketers are intercepting their site and app visitors and users in real time or emailing them survey questionnaires and asking them to fill them out.
The problem with this is that it’s only providing you with answers to the questions you’re actually asking. If a participant had a particularly valuable observation that falls outside of the bounds of your survey, you essentially had to depend on them to offer it up of their own free will. If they didn’t you were out of luck.
This is why social media is essential in terms of better communication.
By engaging your users on social media, you’re letting the conversation evolve in real-time. You’re having proactive communication, not reactive – and this distinction is one that is incredibly important.
In reactive communication, people are providing you information about something that already happened. Naturally, certain tidbits are going to be lost to the ages – as Roy Batty once said, “like tears in rain.“
With social media-driven proactive engagement, however, you’re having the experience WITH your users and visitors. You’re learning as they do. You’re seeing the mistakes that they’re making or the issues they’re running into as they’re having them. You’re not just a passive observer – at this point, you’re essentially an active participant.
This allows you to go beyond simple words and really see what people are seeing and what they’re feeling about your brand. Because this is all happening in real-time, you can also engage with them as they go, steering the conversation in order to get the feedback you need to gain the most actionable insights moving forward.
Customer Service as Marketing
Many experts agree that customer service is the new marketing – or at the very least, it should be. Providing ultimate satisfaction to customers is something that goes beyond your product or service and the customer service arm of your organization plays a big role in that.
But many marketers don’t realize that it can also be an invaluable tool when it comes to communicating with your customers.
Pay attention to not just the types of questions your users and visitors are asking, but what they’re actually looking for in the first place. Remember that the chasm between “what you were trying to do” and “what the customer was looking for” can be a mighty one, indeed.
However, understanding as much about that chasm as you can will clue you in on how they think and what they want, all of which is actionable insight that you can choose to use in the future.
Pay attention to their issues. Listen to their complaints. Answer their questions. Address their concerns. Even if you don’t come right out and ask someone “how do you feel about this?” or “did this work for you,” you can still learn a great deal by paying attention to the way people interact with your customer service department.
You can then use those insights to make better, more informed decisions that ripple across other areas of your organization as well.
Communication is King
At the end of the day, it’s important to circle back around to the larger idea of marketing and business in general: you’re trying as hard as you can to connect with a particular group of people in the most meaningful way possible.
Whether you choose to communicate with your audience through social media, newsletters, surveys, feedback tabs, or helpful presentations and infographics created by a tool like Visme (which I’m the founder of), it’s all about creating the right conversation that you need in the moment to learn as much as you possibly can about where you need to go.
This is the key to everything – it’s what not only sells your products or services, but it’s also one that guides people along their journey from “potential buyer” to “definite sale” to “loyal brand advocate” and beyond.
But you must never forget that your audience has an opinion. Your audience is always trying to tell you something and that level of insight is absolutely invaluable. If you do something right, they will tell you. If you do something wrong, they will tell you.
You just need to know how (and where) to listen to get the most actionable insights you can to make better, more informed decisions moving forward.
Payman is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, a Maryland based award winning Digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.