Friday, March 23, 2018

Understand and Influence Your Customers.

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThySistas.comWhen you run a business, you need to be making an effort to understand your customers in the fullest way possible. This way, you put yourself in a better position to be able to influence their behaviour, and ultimately, improve your sale. Of course, this is easier said than done, but it is always going to be worth putting the effort into this activity.

Essentially, the study of customer behaviour boils down to a few key points. First of all, it is about how people feel about different brands, services and products. It is understanding how they select between alternative options, their behaviour when they are shopping, and how their actions can be influenced.    

What Are the Main Customer Influencers?

The main customer influencers can be split up into three main categories: personal, psychological and social. Personal factors relate to a person’s interests and opinions. They are determined by things such as age, gender, culture, professional, background, class etc. Psychological factors are all about people’s perceptions and attitudes when they are confronted by particular brands and marketing campaigns. Social factors refer to a person’s peer groups, their income, education level, and even their family.

So, you need to be trying to profile who your average customer is. What are their interests and opinions? Where do they come from and what are their aspirations? How do they respond to different marketing techniques? These are all questions that you need to ask in an effort to find out more about your customers. Of course, it is also important to understand that each one of your customers is different, and sometimes you need to take a more personalised approach rather than just bombarding them with general information.

How Can You Collect Customer Data?

Now that you are aware of some of the main customer influencers, you now need to look at different ways of collecting specific data about them. The best way of doing this is with a combination of different techniques, so that you get as wide a sample as possible. Modern business methods that are largely centred online have made it easier than ever to collect customer data, so these are what we will be focusing on here.

Many people choose to volunteer data on their own in the form of customer reviews, so these are all worth reading and taking on board. However, if you find that people have not been particularly forthcoming with the information they give you, try requesting more in the form of Q&A sites and surveys. You could offer some sort of bonus or prize as extra encouragement to your customers. Search engine optimisation is such a big part of how businesses promote their services to customers these days, so you should make sure to conduct keyword research and use services like Google Analytics on a regular basis.  

If you are struggling to get information from your customers, you could hire professionals such as a usability agency to get the data you are looking for. And if you feel like face to face interaction with customers is going to give you a helping hand, you could try conducting focus groups with different people.

And now we come to a big way of interacting with your customers more directly: social media. When you are using your different accounts, you should be encouraging your clients to get in touch. Make sure that you respond to all comments you receive. Rather than just using your accounts as a platform for selling, you should also be trying to ask questions and open up discussions whenever possible. Also, when you write a blog or produce any sort of similar content, it is a good idea to encourage comments and respond to them directly.

How Do You Use the Data You Have?

Once you have taken steps to collect your customer data, the time has come to analyse it closely. First of all, this can be done in quite a simple way. If you find that customers are raising similar issues with your time and time again, rather than ignoring them, you should be taking steps to address them directly. Perhaps there is something in your business which can be improved for the benefit of everyone.

Next up, you should look closely at any data that you have collected relating to your website. There may be certain keywords which you can target to get a bigger share of web traffic. If you have a high bounce rate and your customers keep leaving your site quickly, it is time to work out why this is. Your website is something that should be improved over time. After all, your competitors will be doing this, so you need to continue making life easier for your customers.

Whenever you do any sort of marketing activity, it is essential that you analyse how well it has gone. After all, there is no point spending money on promotional activity if it doesn’t get you anywhere.     

What Do I Need to Do Now?

Your customers will change all the time, so getting more information about what they are looking for and finding out more about their behaviour is an ongoing task. This way, you will put yourself in the strongest position to be able to influence them in the way that you want. It can be a difficult balance to strike as you don’t want to constantly bombard the with surveys, Q&As and similar things, as they are likely to get frustrated and may stop using your services. However, if you give them incentives to interact with you like entering them into competitions or offering them a discount code, it is likely that they will do so.

So, whatever kind of business you run, your customers are the lifeblood of it, and understanding them better should be one of your biggest and most important tasks that you put a lot of time and energy into.

Staff Writer; Shelia Ross

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