In the digital realm, customers – not businesses – set the tone of the relationship. They expect information on demand, not only during business hours. They won’t wait weeks for an answer to their questions; sometimes they won’t even wait hours. To give customers what they want, businesses must now be prescient, meeting the next need as soon as it arises.
Technology is ubiquitous, and what was once a face-to-face meeting between customer and seller is often an anonymous transaction now – yet customers still want the individual, undivided attention of companies that want their business. What bridges the gap between buyer and seller is, paradoxically, more technology in the form of marketing automation that uses data enhancement to gain insight into what customers want even before they ask for it.
Sense and Segmentation
Think about all the people living within 100 miles of your business, for example, or all the decision-makers in the industries your business serves. Segmentation is at the heart of modern marketing because it allows you to address individual concerns while speaking to groups. All the leads in a well-chosen audience segment feel the message is for them, but you’re able to scale it up to reach any number of leads in the same category. Think of segments as paints on a palette; if you don’t wash the brush regularly, the bright colors get muddy, and they grow murkier the longer you go without a thorough cleaning.
Segmentation isn’t just a benefit to you; it also ensures your leads get the messages they want to hear, so data hygiene is paramount to customer service. Old records blur the lines between segments and lead to wasted effort as you send out marketing materials to recipients who are out of your target market.
Digital Body Language
Leads sort themselves into segments not only with demographic and firmographic information, but also by the behavioral signals they send. You may not be seeing your customers face to face, but you are able to read their digital body language – the actions they take, the time they spend on a web page, the information they download, the emails they open and click through – and base your future interactions on the subtext your leads give you.
Understanding digital signals is critical to giving your customers outstanding service just as surely as reading interest on a customer’s face is for interactions in person. A download can be just as much a sign of interest as a nod or a smile. Data enhancement technology can now cross-reference behavioral data with other information sources about a particular lead and give you far more in-depth knowledge about this lead’s specific interests, how far this person is in the buying journey, what he or she needs to take the next step toward finding solutions, and what would make the customer’s life simpler.
The most successful businesses will take the insights they get from their data and use them not as a platform to ramp up hard-sell tactics, but as a way to anticipate their leads’ needs more accurately.
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