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The Importance of Customer Intelligence

In today’s digitally driven world, customers hold the power. Not only over what they buy and how they buy it, but also heavily influencing what others buy too. Online shoppers are spoilt for choice with unlimited access to realms of information, products and services. Empowered by social media and digital devices, a new generation of more demanding and less brand loyal customers have been created. And they’re not afraid to share.  

The Independent recently reported that 76 percent of consumers regularly share negative reviews on brand experiences, while another study found that online reviews impact 93 percent of consumers’ purchase decisions. Customers have been given a voice and they expect brands to listen. As your most valuable asset, choose to ignore them at your peril.

Fortunately, customers create and share significant data points throughout their interactions including demographics, online habits, spending preferences and interests. This customer data is gold to marketers. We can use it to develop effective strategies with the aim to gain and retain target audiences. No matter your industry, mastering the art of customer intelligence will help you thrive in today’s highly competitive market.

What is customer intelligence? 

Customer intelligence involves collecting and analysing customer data, but it is so much more than that! Customer intelligence provides valuable insight to drive your business on the path to success, generating a true understanding of your customer’s behaviours and creating strategies to reflect this. Essentially improving your customer’s experience with your brand, what’s not to love about that?

It’s important to note that customer intelligence holds a different value to data. Data is raw customer information while intelligence is derived from the analysis and interpretation of this data. A comprehensive understanding of your customers is created from which actionable insights can be built. Effective customer intelligence does more than inform, it guides businesses in making decisions. It’s not just about what’s happened, it’s about why it’s happening.

How can you gather customer intelligence? 

Your website is the central hub of your digital presence and it should be used to create a holistic view of your customer data. Using quantitative and qualitative research, an understanding can be generated around what consumers are doing on your website and, more importantly, why they are doing that. There are a few methods businesses can use to gather this customer intelligence, these include:  

Google Analytics

Well known tracking and reporting platform, Google Analytics, is a great place to start. There are two types of data Google Analytics can collect:

  • User Acquisition Data: When a user visits your website, the source of their acquisition can be identified whether it be via a search engine, Facebook or another website. Their demographic data including age, gender and interests can be also be accessed too. Attributing where your website traffic has come from is an important part of proving your ROI, this data can be used to group users into segments, enhance your overall marketing strategy and personalise targeting too. For example, if the majority of your audience comes from Facebook, targeted ads can be run through this channel to attract even more of these users. Acquisition data is a steering force to create your digital marketing strategy.
  • User Behaviour Data: Behaviour data is collected during a user’s interaction with your website including how they engage with your website features, the most common pathway to conversion, how long they stay on different pages and where consumers are bouncing out of your site. User behaviour can be shaped and influenced through changes made to your website. By understanding the barriers to conversions and fixing them, a seamless UX can be created. This type of data serves as a starting point to improve your onsite website experience and increase conversions.

Both types are useful for gathering customer intelligence. Unlike user acquisition data, behaviour data can be influenced and it’s important to use this to its full potential. Customers no longer decide a purchase based on price alone, the buying journey has become a fundamental decider and businesses must surpass customer expectation to satisfy their needs and stand out from the competition.

Biometric Testing

AI-powered biometric tools are an effective way of gathering and analysing consumer data transforming it into consumer intelligence. Tracking your visitor’s behaviour identifies patterns and trends to anticipate their next steps. Biometric research is being used more frequently to enhance UX as it allows businesses to tap into customer behaviours, tracking their subconscious emotions and reactions. Market-leading biometric testing methods inform website optimisation through:

  • Eye Tracking: Track user eye movements in real-time to monitor what they are looking at and when. Heat maps can be used in conjunction to show the areas of your pages that are gaining the most or least attention.
  • Pupil Dilation: An effective method of measuring how hard the brain is working, pupil dilation can also be teamed with eye tracking to create an in-depth understanding of your website’s pain points.
  • Galvanic Skin Response (GSR): Measuring the skins electrical currents, GSR uncovers genuine emotions responses including reactions people are sometimes unaware of.
  • Facial Expression Recognition: Real-time recognition exposes your user’s natural facial responses at each point during their buying journey. Data can identify reasons behind shopping cart abandonment or highlight issues with the customer journey.
  • EEG (Electroencephalography): Our brain’s electric signals are used to communicate, through EEG, we can investigate what’s happening in a user’s mind when interacting with different parts of your website.

When a shopper is browsing online, there’s a lot occurring in their mind that they may not indicate or even recognise they are thinking. Eyes, electric signals, subconscious thoughts and natural emotions are giveaways to true feelings. If you know where your customer’s attention is immediately drawn to, or more importantly, where they avoid, then your website can be optimised accordingly to craft the most enjoyable and intuitive UX.  

Map the customer journey

To create a successful customer experience, enjoyment needs to be measured at various stages of the journey. Mapping the customer journey creates an understanding of how consumers are reaching and interacting with your brand, monitoring and analysing their journey from other channels through to your website to identify gaps. Data can be tracked on how users have found your website, as well as their purchase history, the most common journey through to your site, how much time they’re spending on each page and how many times a month they visit. This data can be used to generate an understanding around your customer preferences, characteristics and personas.

If you’re not listening to or making the effort to understand your customers, then it’s unlikely your content is as relevant and as engaging as it can be. With a better idea of when and how users are introduced to your brand along with their interests and preferences, strong audience segments can be created to target more effective engagement through ads, campaigns and promotions. Fuelled by your consumer intelligence insights, you will be well equipped to build a marketing strategy that pulls users to your website before they reach your competitors. 

How can customer intelligence help your business?

Using real-time data, you can really get to know your customers from every angle. Here are four ways in which customer intelligence can help your business:

Update your customer personas

If you want impactful, long-lasting results, your focus should always be on the customer. By having a clear understanding of who your audiences are, what they want and how they behave, you can craft a strategy that aligns to their preferences.

Creating data-driven personas, you can speak to your target audience in a way that will resonate with them. These personas should be used in every part of your marketing and certainly at every touchpoint with your customer. Whether it be an email campaign, a social media post, a downloadable piece of content or any form of interaction, it’s important to keep these personas in mind. Regardless of what strategies, deals or promotions you offer, customers will react most to the ones that appeal directly to them.

Create loyal customers

In a market that changes day-to-day, a long-term approach to research and data collection is a necessity, otherwise you risk being left behind. Market research used to take weeks, or even months, to collect depending on the scope of the project, but to attract, convert and retain loyal customers, you must understand their preferences today. This is where customer intelligence can help. Using customer intelligence to inform your business decisions ensures each interaction between your brand and your customer is a relevant and enjoyable one. If you want to turn users into loyal customers, you need to give them a compelling reason to emotionally invest in your brand. By creating intuitive and unique interactions an emotional response is evoked, this memorable connection is remembered long after the interaction or purchase has been made.

Keep up with your industry

Customer intelligence allows you to track real-time changes. Markets continuously evolve creating constant opportunities and challenges. For brands who operate in saturated markets such as retail, falling behind industry advancements could be the difference between success and failure. Customer intelligence provides a steady stream of data which you can build effective actions from. The ability to forecast allows you to improve business operations, feed into product developments, future proof technology and ensure your marketing strategy stays relevant.

Benefits of customer intelligence to business efficiencies

Businesses often spend more money and resource on customer acquisition marketing than building upon their loyal consumer base to generate repeat business. Customer retention marketing may be a more effective method, after all, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Customer intelligence can identify where sales tactics and business operations can be better optimised. Focusing on the areas that work well, waste can be reduced, processes can be streamlined, and your sales and customer services teams can also prioritise activities that drive further ROI.

To increase trust, businesses must rethink the way they engage with customers, creating a transparent and open approach to close the expectation gap. As a result, your customers will feel valued and heard, they’ll come back and they’ll advocate for your brand which is a win-win for everyone involved. Customer intelligence informs each of our services underpinning our approach and strategies to effectively maximise campaign performance. Whether your focus is on SEO or Paid Media, combining data with creativity allows us to drive real business impacts. If you want to find out more about customer intelligence and how it can be effectively implemented across your brand, contact the experts at WMG.