Last week, I wrote about the evolution of online customer engagement over the past decade. I advocated that your customer – not your website – needs to be at the center of your online marketing strategy.
Most companies embrace this principle and believe they adhere to it. But time and again, I see two very basic – but extremely costly – mistakes being made.
Mistake 1: Not knowing enough about your customers’ online lives
Sure, it seems that “everybody” is online today. And maybe they are, but for vastly different reasons. Before you spend the time, effort and money with a full-scale online blitz, do some research. Assuming you know a fair bit about who your customers actually are (many companies don’t, but that’s a topic for another post), you then need to make sure you understand their online lives. There is a wealth of information from the likes of comScore, Nielsen, Pew Internet and Simmons about what different demographic and psychographic groups are doing online.
Things like gender, age, family size, profession and household income can have a dramatic impact on how many of your customers are online, what they are doing (researching products and services, shopping, looking for jobs, looking for coupons, socializing, etc.) and what types of media they prefer to consume (written, video, audio, photo).
Oh, and as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, the internet is all about rapid change, so be sure to confirm or adjust your learnings regularly (at least once / year).
Mistake 2: No knowing what your customers want from your brand
What are there biggest problems / questions / needs? How can you best meet them? Do they want information? Entertainment? Access? Deals?
Don’t assume you know. Ask.
Already have a Facebook fan page or Twitter account? Poll your fans and followers. Have an email database? Survey them.
Don’t worry that you are “bothering” them. If you are truly interested in providing more value, your customers and prospects will appreciate it. (Of course, depending on how much info you are asking for, a little incentive for responding can’t hurt!)
The proliferation of – and hype around – cheap and easy online marketing tools creates an almost irresistible urge for companies to “just do it”. And I certainly advocate for a “ready-fire-aim” approach in many cases. But it’s worth first knowing where the target is.