There are two types of products out there — product-driven and customer-driven. The first kind is built on the assumption that a great product will find its customers, while the second one is all about analyzing customers and building something they specifically need.
A product-driven environment involves the business developing a product first, then searching for a market for it. When a business goes out and gets information on its customers, and subsequently develops a product based on the information gathered, then it falls under the customer-driven category.
Just as there are two types of products, there are also two ways to promote them and put them on the map. As you might have guessed, we will concentrate on customer driven marketing here.
So, what is a customer-driven marketing strategy?
A customer-driven marketing strategy means shifting focus from a product to its user and basing your marketing strategy, plans and tactics on customers’ needs and objectives in the first place.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, a customer-driven marketing is not as much marketing as customer service. Your main goal is to satisfy your customers, deliver exactly what they want and be as flexible for them as you can. You concentrate on your existing customers and retaining them heavily.
No need to go far in the search of examples. HelpCrunch is 100% customer-driven product with the corresponding marketing strategy.
The very idea of our tool emerged from thorough market research. It showed that modern companies were in the need for an affordable quality live chat tool that would have all the advantages of modern messengers but for customer communication. So, the decision was made and the first version of the product was created. What you see and use now is the result of customers’ feedback and requests.
Kapost’s most recent report showed that today’s B2B organizations create 53% customer-centric content and 47% product-centric content. Just a few years ago, B2B marketing strategies revolved primarily around products and services, but now the focus is on people.
All in all, customer-driven marketing is on the rise and we all should start paying more attention to it. So, how does one come around to adopting a customer-driven marketing strategy? Here are 5 must-have components of the one:
1. Analyze your niche and create detailed buyer personas
It’s funny, but if you choose the customer-oriented path, your marketing strategy starts long before your product is created.
You need to have as much data about your customers as possible. This will allow you to segment and target audience for your marketing efforts. Be it an email marketing campaign or PPC ad, their success depends on how precisely you can segment your customers by relevant groups and give them just what they want.
Which brings us to the bread and butter of every marketing strategy in general and a customer-driven one in particular — to creating your marketing persona. I mean if you’re putting all your eggs in one basket, you better research the hell of that basket and make sure it’s worth the effort.
So how do you approach your buyer personas?
- Research your existing customers make a couple of surveys and interviews, gather their personal information
- Look into your competition. For instance, you can simply read their case studies to know exactly who’s using their products and which goals they’re trying to achieve with them.
At the end of the day, you should come up with a description of your ideal customer. For HelpCrunch, one of our buyer personas (because you can have several) looks like this:
CMO/customer service manager of a small SaaS company of 10 employees looking for a live chat solution combined with email marketing tools.
I liked how Fran Mullings summed up this whole buyer persona thing on Quora:
In a B2B setting, you should explore things like: job title, skills required for job, size of company and so forth.
In a B2C situation, age, marital status, children and grandchildren are some of the areas to explore.
On top of this, you will need to get to the root of the prospects’ biggest challenge, their shopping preferences, evaluation process of similar products/services, how they interact with sellers and how they learn new information.
2. Base your product development strategy on customer feedback
Having a dialogue with customers means actually being able to ask them what they want and give it to them.
A true customer-driven marketing strategy takes customer feedback and put it right into action — to all the decisions about further product development. All the new features, all the improvements, every single button on your website — all this is there because customers wanted it there.
We at HelpCrunch has developed this whole system of collecting and categorizing all the feature requests that we get:
- First, we mark every single chat with feature requests with the corresponding tag — ‘feature request’.
- If a particular feature gets requested more than 20 times by different users, we create a separate tag for it. For instance, one of our all-time favorites is a chatbot (which we’re working on right this moment, btw).
- We also keep a separate Google Spreadsheet for ALL the requests. Even if someone asked us for some feature only once, you can be sure it will end up in our doc.
- We plan our two-week sprints based on these requests we get taking a good mixture of popular as well as easy-to-implement ones into work.
3. Invest in customer service
In a customer-driven marketing strategy, customer service plays one of the most important roles. Just think about it. Your focus is on customers, all your care about are their needs and goals. So, how do you actually approach them? How do you build the needed level of trust and have an open dialogue? Customer service is the answer.
There’s this whole thing called a ‘customer service oriented culture’, which basically means that a company focuses on its customers and their requirements and needs, values them over anything else and responds to them quickly and efficiently. This mindset doesn’t concern just your support team, it should be implemented everywhere throughout your business.
The most important thing here is to make your customer support as fast and effective as possible:
- Install a live chat tool like HelpCrunch to your website to give your customers a real-time way to get in touch with you. Just keep your first response time under 1 minute (you heard it right).
- Keep an eye on social media mentions, because that’s where people go to express their frustration;
- Build an effective knowledge base for those who want to find answers by themselves;
- Always keep track of customer satisfaction level, which should be measured after customers had contact with your support team;
- Pay particular attention to gathering all the feedback that you can.
4. Know your existing customers better than you know yourself
While a buyer persona is an umbrella pattern of your potential customers’ traits and peculiarities, you can also rely heavily on your existing customers. Because they are real, flesh-and-blood human beings who actually use your product, and they can give you tons of great material to work with.
There are several channels to collect useful information about your customers:
- Data your customers give you while signing up – types of subscription, registration date, account balance, etc.
- Data your customer service team collects while communicating with customers – common pitfalls, feature requests, positive reviews, overall feedback.
- Data your customer service tool collects by default. For instance, HelpCrunch tracks things like recent activity, location, browser language, etc to give your support agents as much context as possible.
Why do you need so much data about people who have signed up already, you might ask? Because having first clients means not only a good cause for happiness but also more work for your marketing team.
The minute someone left you their email address is the minute you customer-driven marketing team starts making sure they stick with you:
- Satisfaction rate should be tracked and verified on a regular basis and be no less than 73%.
- Your customer onboarding process should explain every single feature to the slightest detail to minimize your churn rate;
- Pay particular attention to customer retention, which includes everything from high-quality customer service to all kinds of loyalty programs.
You see, a true customer-driven marketing means devoting your existing customers as much time as you spend on attracting new leads.
5. Make word-of-mouth your main marketing force
You know how the old saying goes — what goes around comes around. Basically, when you’re good to customers, customers are good to you, too.
If they feel like your company is everything they’ve ever dreamt of, that you hear their questions and always go the extra mile to help them, they will pay you back. They will start recommending your company to their friends and colleagues, they will endorse you on social media and leave positive comments all over the internet. Isn’t it a dream?
- Encourage your existing customers to leave reviews on corresponding websites. This can be a part of your customer service team’s job. If someone says positive stuff in chat, why not ask them to repeat the same on Capterra or G2 (or whatever review website is relevant for your niche)?
- Create your program of referrals. You can reward your customers for bringing new clients to you with things like a small discount, vouchers and upgrading their subscription for free.
- Create an affiliate program. You can create this whole net of affiliate websites. Your partners will get some percentage from every deal that you make with someone who followed the link on their website.
You don’t need to just sit and wait till your customers come and share their thoughts as there are many ways to start a conversation and collect feedback first.
You can use HelpCrunch for sending automated email campaigns to different segments of your clients. For instance, you can target customers who rated their chat experience as ‘great’ to ask them for reviews or offer to participate in your affiliate program.
At the end of the day, we all want to give our customers an unforgettable experience when they use our products or services. That’s why it makes even more sense to concentrate on those experiences in our marketing strategy rather than pursue some made up campaigns that can work for some but be a total disaster for others.
Create top-notch customer service, be attentive to your clients and just give them exactly what they ask for — and that will be all the marketing you need.
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