Using a Universal Customer View to Grow Your Business

Using a Universal Customer View to Grow Your Business

Most organizations today understand the importance of collecting data on their customers. Many businesses, though, struggle to unify their data in a meaningful way. Data remains disparate, and so it ends up gathering dust.

However, when companies can gather their data under one umbrella, they begin to create a universal customer view. This means that all of their relevant customer data is in one place. And it’s collected in a way that makes it easy to access and put to good use.

What can this data do for you when it’s all brought together? Here are just a few of the ways that a universal customer view can help you grow your business.

Deliver a Seamless, Personalized Experience

Personalization is wildly important to today’s consumers. Recent surveys have shown that 80 percent of people are more likely to buy from a brand that sends them personalized offers. Those same consumers express frustration with brands that treat them like a faceless customer.

Marketers notice the difference, too. They see big boosts in engagement with ads and email campaigns when they employ personalization tactics. And personalization is effective throughout the customer journey, from early interactions with prospects to conversations with repeat customers.

Personalization in advertising is only possible if you know what your customer has been up to across all of your marketing channels. Seeing what products they’ve looked at on your website can help you target them with relevant Facebook ads about that product and companion items.
Plus, personalization matters when a problem arises. Keeping track of a customer’s interactions with your customer service team—even if they’ve contacted you via chat, email, and phone—allows you to provide seamless support and spares your customer the frustration of having to explain their problem over and over to each new representative they speak with.

Create and Target Segments

Segmentation is one of the few free lunches that exist in the business world. When done correctly, you can lower your marketing costs and increase your sales.

The key to creating segments is having a complete picture of all of your customers. Then, you can begin to look for patterns among them. This leads to the creation of buyer personas for each distinct subset of your broader audience.

Take, for example, a huge brand like Nike. Rather than pushing the same advertising tactics and messaging with all of their customers, they’ve created personas that speak to their many different types of buyers. A quick visit to their website can give you a sense of how they’ve broken their audience down.

First, you’ll see their products segmented by gender and age—there are separate tabs for men, women, and kids. But within each of the adult tabs, they’ve segmented the audience even further by areas of interest. They allow their customers to shop by collection, like golf, soccer, running, basketball, and skateboarding.

A universal view of the customer allows you to understand each segment of your population. You can learn their habits when it comes to purchasing and interactions with your brand. By bringing together information from your social efforts, email marketing, website analytics, and more, you can develop much clearer sketches of each type of buyer persona. This not only allows you to target existing customers more effectively, but it also gives you insight into where to find new customers and how to engage them to move them towards their first purchase.

Introduce Automation to Reduce Workload

One of the major benefits of developing a clear understanding of your various customer personas is the ability to introduce automation into your daily operations. You come to understand how a customer or prospect will behave in the future based on their prior actions. Then, you can target them with messaging that’s still personalized but doesn’t have to be created for each individual. Instead, you can rely on automated messages that are triggered by common behaviors you’ve witnessed from existing customers.

Email marketing is just one area where you can automate certain processes to take some of the more tedious daily tasks from your marketing and sales teams. Let’s say, for example, that you run a B2B that offers project management software.

When someone subscribes to your email newsletter on your website, you can establish a drip campaign to send to them as well. The first email might welcome them to your newsletter. The second, sent a week later, can introduce them to some of your foundational content. That gives them a greater sense of the value they’ll get from remaining subscribed. The third email might provide them with a closer look at the benefits of your product. And it can end with an invite to sign up for a demo or introductory sales call.

This marketing automation process allows you to stay in regular contact with interested prospects. Plus, it saves your sales team from having to follow up manually. You have a deep understanding of what your customers want and the types of people who subscribe to your newsletter. From there, you can craft messaging that will be most effective at winning prospects who come to you through this channel. And you can still automate the process!

Having all of your customer data unified in one place allows you to understand the pain points of your audience. That way, you can write compelling email copy that’s more likely to catch prospects’ eyes. Plus, as you continue to collect data on your customers, you can see how effective your current email messaging is in getting prospects to sign up for a demo. If it doesn’t seem to be working, you have the opportunity to try something new. Then, measure the results of those efforts until you find something that really works with your audience.

Drive Innovation of New Products and Services

Investing in new products and services is expensive. You don’t want to take the leap unless you’re sure the things you plan to create are going to be successful in generating revenue.

Fortunately, a universal view of the customer gives you insight into the things your customers most want and need. Take, for example, the New York Times choice to introduce a new parenting product to their suite of subscription offerings.

By looking at their existing customers, they realized that the standalone Cooking and Crossword subscriptions were wildly popular. They recognized how much value these offerings brought to customers beyond their traditional news product—their well-educated, affluent audience reacted well to those two non-news subscription products.

They also saw a gap in the broader market when it came to reliable parenting news and information. Sure, blogs run by moms or WebMD searches have their place. But when a parent has a concern and wants in-depth information from a trusted source, that’s hard to find on the internet.

So the Times brought together valuable information they’d gathered on their existing customers with meaningful market research and found a new niche where they hope to achieve success. Applying the same approach to your own business helps you develop products or services with a greater degree of certainty in their success.

Customer data is most useful when it’s unified and well-analyzed. Fortunately, there are tools out there to help you collect and parse your data.

Customer data platforms (CDPs) are tools designed to help you create a universal view of your customer. And an effective dashboard can help you track all relevant data and identify opportunities or areas of weakness with greater ease. Once you’ve gotten your data unified and under control, you can begin to communicate more effectively with prospects and customers. You can even develop popular products and services that speak directly to their needs.

And unifying customer data is just one way for you to grow your business organically. If you’re looking to identify other opportunities for growth with the information and tools you already have on hand, check out our Growth Mindset Assessment.

About the Sterling Woods Group, LLC

The Sterling Woods Group’s mission is to help clients make sense of their data to predictably grow sales. We apply data science to help you optimize your sales funnel, improve your marketing ROI, launch new products successfully, and enter new markets profitably.

We use a hypothesis-driven, data-supported methodology to discover insights that no one else is paying attention to. Then, we help you assemble the right sales strategies, marketing plans, technologies, and resources to seize this opportunity.

About the Author

Rob Ristagno, founder and CEO of the Sterling Woods Group, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. Starting his career at McKinsey, his focus has always been on embracing digital technology and data science to spur strategic growth.

Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors and is a regular keynote speaker at conferences around the world. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and Digiday.

He holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.

Rob lives outside Boston, MA with his wife, Kate; daughter, Leni; and black lab, Royce.

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