Not all customers are created equal – so how do you uncover their true value?

Your business success will utimately depend on how effective you are at finding customers who want to buy your products and services. So, rather than target all buyers, it makes sense to focus on a specific segment: prospective buyers who are likely to want your solution because it addresses their specific problem or pain.

So, by using your sales and marketing efforts to focus on and address a specific problem that your product can solve, you’ll achieve better results.

By listening to your customers and understanding their needs you can be far more effective with how you communicate your benefits – no point spending time on what you feel is important, if it is of no value to your customers.

With so many channels and customer touch points available now, it means that consumers no longer shop in an “online” or “offline” mode — they shop in a “non-line” world where they cruise across multiple channels with high expectations that a vendor will deliver a seamless experience no matter where they are.

Often digital marketers talk about developing a single customer view (SCV) that shifts focus to a more buyer-centric approach to sales and marketing. A view that provides insight to potentially unlock the rewards of personalisation and aids documenting your customers behaviour.

There are some obvious benefits of being able to do this, including improved customer service levels, better customer retention, higher conversion rates and hopefully an improved overall customer lifetime value (CLV) or the total worth of a customer to your business.

A study from Experian noted however that 89% of respondents admitted that they have challenges when trying to create a single customer view and can end up with uncoordinated and unaligned marketing efforts.

The challenges are often caused by poor data quality, a silo mentality, the inability to integrate technology and the lack of an organisational structure or technical tools to manage the tasks. 

Although companies struggle to maintain focus on achieving an “all seeing” single customer view they still try to customise their marketing efforts. Experian reports that 82% of marketers are in-fact personalising their communications, by using for example a customer’s first name as a salutation in an email.

Buyer-centric marketing gives marketers options on how to find and delight high value customers. And to ensure you acquire more of the same customers, you need to change your strategic approach to one of a long-term view and acknowledge that customers may differ in value.

In the short term it is always a great feeling to make a sale, but making the effort to acquire high-value, loyal customers will pay off more in the long run.

Buyer Persona

By building a fuller, personalised picture of the customer and their journey, a business will gather deeper insights on how to improve the effectiveness of their sales and marketing activities.

Knowing and understanding your product market has always been essential for an effective sales and marketing strategy. And with increasing numbers using the Internet as a source for making informed B2B buying decisions, knowing who your buyer is and predicting their digital behaviour has become a key part of a comprehensive inbound marketing programme.

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on multiple data sources. The data and information gathered is then leveraged to create a tiered customer segmentation or view based on the value of each customer.

Those segments are then targeted with content in various formats and types to meet the buyers needs and consumptions preferences.

Without knowing who your ideal customers are, their backgrounds, goals, challenges and how your product or service will benefit them – it’s very difficult to shape content to attract website visitors and build trust in what you are saying. 

The inbound methodology as an approach attracts website visitors by creating interest with content that informs and educates, helping visitors to identify symptoms and solve problems.

Today the B2B buyers search activity fuels far more research online than ever before and means that they enter the sales funnel later and far better prepared.

Having a well defined buyer persona will help you achieve a number of things:

  1. It’s easier to create relevant content with a real person in mind
  2. It humanises your customers
  3. It helps clarify the pain they experience and how you should present your solution
  4. Targeted and relevant content will help build trust and reduce the length of the sales cycle
  5. It presents an opportunity to describe bad as well as good clients, a negative persona can support effective use of your time – no reason to target particular customers if you know they will never convert to a sale
FREE Buyer Persona template
Uncovering The True Value Of A Buyer

There are many signals or triggers that can help identify the most valuable customers. Things like where they are based, the amount of a first purchase, their buying process and level of engagement – can all help to predict a buyers value. Their seniority, consumption preferences and the keywords they searched for are also examples of valuable data points.

It is true to say that it costs less to retain existing customers, often 5 to 10 times the cost compared to acquiring new ones. According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to a new prospective customer is 5%-20% whereas the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60%–70%. Yet as companies we still focus more on acquisition than we do on retention. 

Having a clear idea of your customers lifetime value helps provide meaningful insights into planning future marketing campaigns and what message to target your prospective customers with. 

By understanding the intent signals for those that are searching, it’s also now possible to find new potential “look-a-like” customers who are already looking to buy in your category or who have the same characteristics, interests, and behaviours of high value existing customers.

Using Email As A Window To Customer Behaviour

Coordinating your marketing efforts across multiple channels is easier said than done.

The ideal situation is that with each and every touch point with a customer along their customer journey each subsequent message builds on the customer’s actions.

But the reality is marketers rarely evolve a message from channel to channel, lacking the ability to build the momentum, and often using the same message across all channels.

But with customer expectations for personalisation on the rise, static messages can give the impression that a company doesn’t understand the needs of an individual buyer and their pain.

Most marketers haven’t quite cracked the code yet on how to provide and manage an ideal customer journey but using customer journey mapping to develop at least a connected journey across all critical touch points to keep a prospect satisfied. 

As a part of any customer journey, email provides a direct window into how buyers behave, such as which emails they open, what device they use, and which offers they return to or ignore.

Realistically most new leads won’t be quite ready to buy; they may be just starting out on their buying journey and are more likely to be doing research and information gathering.

Email is one of the most effective ways for you to nurture and assess these leads as they pass through the different stages of your sales funnel.

When done correctly, email marketing serves as an effective way to assess the stage a buyer is at by getting contacts to download relevant content or by sending them targeted offers.

And according to Econsultancy, “Three-quarters of companies agree that email offers “excellent” to “good” ROI,” .

With emails, you can nurture a deeper, one-on-one customer relationship by tapping into the data and consumption habits to personalise content.

Segmentation allows marketers to execute a more effective lifecycle marketing approach. Who somebody is, and where they are on their buyers journey are two of the most important segmentation tactics for emailing.

Take Away

Reaching and converting an audience with content is becoming harder to do.

With so much content, distributed over so many fragmented channels it is tough to get the attention you want from your sales leads.

So, for a positive return on your marketing efforts you’ll need to offer added value through your educational content plus a great customer experience (CX) all the way along their path to purchase.

I would love to hear what methods you use to evaluate your customers, and how you nurture them to keep them happy and engaged.

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John Kennedy

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