Data, data, data. Big data, little data, geographic data, conversion data – if you’re a modern marketer you know there is no dearth of data. However, it’s important to always keep in mind that there is another “metric” behind the numbers that is more important than all of the data combined – people.
People search for your keywords and discern the listings on the search engine results page.
People click on your link in an email.
People hand over their hard-earned money in exchange for your goods and services.
People keep your business running – not data.
This is why it’s critical to know your customers and to know them well. As I’ve mentioned before, doing the work to create accurate, detailed Buyer Personas will allow you to take the data you have and turn it into real people. Once you know who you are talking to, your messaging will flow – and you will begin to develop a real relationship with your prospects and existing customers.
The key element of all inbound marketing is creating a relationship with your customers. This isn’t a platitude – it’s really about taking the time to establish a give-and-take. It’s getting to know your customers and empathizing with their struggles – and working with them to figure out a solution. For example, if you do business with other businesses, freely share information that will help them be successful – even if that means giving away a portion of what you’re trying to sell. If you’re selling services it’s OK to give away some of your knowledge for free – it not only allows your customers to see that you know what you’re talking about, it brings them into a partnership with you – not a one-time buyer/seller agreement.
If you’re selling consumer goods it’s even more important to develop a relationship with your customers in a world where anything can be purchased on Amazon – probably for less. Be genuine with your customers, be helpful and be honest. Don’t hook them with “Free Shipping” only to have the fine print read “on select products”. Don’t have them place an order and then not communicate with them if their shipment is delayed because of inventory issues. Yes, your data points will tell you that delayed shipments will hurt your business – but if you continue to understand that there are people waiting for those shipments, and you speak to them like they’re people, then your business will not suffer as much as if you remained silent about your inventory issues.
Customer acquisition is expensive – so once you have a customer peeking in your window you want to do what you can to invite them in and develop a bond with them that’s so strong they don’t want to go elsewhere.
So the next time you’re combing through your data, make sure that you layer your Buyer Personas over the top – really take a hard look and try to find empathy with the people behind your data points.