Companies are generally very good at collecting customer data. They have processes and systems in place to record every touch point a customer has with them. Whether it be in-store, online, through an email or direct mail campaign or via telesales and telemarketing, behaviour is tracked from various sources and saved into various systems.
However, all too often this data is not integrated, it is stored in different locations or departments (web databases/offline databases/telesales databases etc) and is never consolidated into one central location. As a result companies fail to create an individual customer view and ultimately miss seeing the value of their data.
This is because segmented customer data can’t be analysed for trends or buying habits and opportunities to cross sell or up sell are missed. Most importantly, you cannot build a relationship with your customer without knowing everything about them.
By using an intelligent data management solution that will automatically pull customer data from your various sources into one central database, you can start to build an individual view of each customer, learn everything about them and begin to build valuable, meaningful relationships.
When you can see, on one simple interface who your customer is, their browsing and buying history, what messages they respond to, how they respond, at what time, what they like and don’t like you can communicate with them in a relevant and targeted way, learn about them and understand how they interact with you. By doing this you begin to add real value to your data.
The next step needs to be taken in data capture and individual customer views need to be created to ensure trends and behaviours aren’t missed or ignored and businesses can begin to learn about every aspect of their customer.
The difference between businesses that survive and those that struggle in 2010 depends on whether or not you are online.
A number of 2010 forecasts, including our own, have pointed towards an increasing dependence in the small firm workplace on the internet. A small business in 2010 must be all things to everyone if it wants to secure customers. Consumer behaviour is driving the need for small businesses to adapt to an increasingly online world.
If you have a physical store you will also want to replicate it as best you can with an online e-commerce solution. Your customers are also likely to want a two-way experience with your online and physical store operation too. For example, if a customer buys a product from your website, they are also going to want the option of returning it in store should the need arise. Also, are you using social media tools to amplify your marketing message and listen to what your customers want?
What Small Business 2.0 can do for your firm, as an event, is bring likeminded and eager small businesses together to share their experiences of trading online. In addition, the line-up of speakers boasts representatives from small businesses that have now graduated to market leaders, as well as our humble MD.
The event takes place in London this Saturday and will consist of a range of workshops, discussions and presentations on how to run every aspect of your online operation.
You may already know, or at least think you know, everything there is about running your website but the day will take you across the spectrum of SEO, Google AdWords and social media to give you the confidence to turn your online operation into a strong profit-making venture.
One of the key features of this event is the low cost and relaxed format that it will take, making it a truly accessible event for small businesses. The Marketing Donut will be attending the event and shall bring all the pertinent thoughts from the day through Twitter and lengthier discussion pieces on the blog.
I’ve just finished an extensive tour of some of my company’s most successful online retailers. One common theme has been that they aim to provide excellent customer service. But I’ve droned on about that many times before, so I’ll not bore you again.
However, one of the other themes that came out is how clear they are on what they are doing. The benefit of this is illustrated by the classic saying, “those that aim at nothing are lucky - they always hit their target.”
If you’re aiming at something in particular, by definition you also know what you’re not aiming at. To put it another way, if you’re not sometimes politely telling customers that “we don’t do that”, you’re not really clear on just what you are doing.
Here are a couple of examples from my tour. Kettlewell Colours (www.kettlewellcolours.co.uk) sell women’s T-shirts in a rainbow of colours. But it doesn’t do any search engine optimisation, or pay-per-click advertising, because it doesn’t compete on price. PPC and SEO won’t yield much of the demographic that buys from the site. Instead Kettlewell markets exclusively through image consultants who recommend its wares. This is easy for the simple reason that it really meets the needs of its clients, by providing clothes in a vast range of colours. It doesn’t do anything else, and being clear on what it does, means it doesn’t waste money on ineffective marketing.
In contrast, Cult Pens (www.cultpens.com), another customer, specialises in pens. It is much more niche than just stationery, so if you want a fax machine from them, you’re out of luck. However, it does consistently achieve first or second rank on Google UK for “Pens”. That’s out of nearly two and a half million entries. It’s a fantastic achievement and it’s heavily driven by the fact that the business has around 8,000 pen-related products. Not surprisingly, Google seems to conclude that it knows quite a bit about pens. That works to such an extent that it doesn’t need to spend out on pay-per-click advertising.
To be successful in business, you have to be focused. And when you are focused, it’s easy to know what to do and what not to do. The results will nearly always speak for themselves. It’s not just the marketing that works at these two companies, they are both growing like crazy. One of the reasons for their success? They know what they don’t do.
Some people think that price is everything. My son currently works in my company, SellerDeck, sitting beside me in the home office. His job is account managing customers who use our ecommerce web hosting. It’s very instructive listening in. We’re not the cheapest offering, although we believe that we offer good value. Since you will start losing orders and customers the second your ecommerce web site goes down, and Google research suggests that marginally slow sites reduce orders by 20%, you would expect quality of service to be the major topic of conversation. Often it is, but for a minority, price is all that matters. In fact, there are relatively few products and services where price should be the sole criterion. These probably include electricity, where the same stuff always comes down the same wire anyway, and petrol, where rival brands across town often sell petrol from the same refinery. But some people always focus on price. The question is; do you even want to speak to customers who only care about price? Wouldn’t these customers be better hassling the competition? They not only pay less, they can also waste a lot of time. Competing on price requires the lowest possible cost base. So most businesses try to compete on overall value. My suggestion is if you aren’t losing a few customers on price, you probably aren’t charging enough. And those customers that you would lose from slightly higher prices, will probably be the very same ones that would be the least profitable and the most trouble.
Recently I have become utterly obsessive about ecommerce and business site design. This began after I spent a few hours reviewing a friend’s Pay Per Click (PPC) invoice. Apart from rivalling the deficit of a national bank his campaign was providing little success. Delving a little deeper, his problem turned out not to be traffic, rather his site has all the basics wrong. While there are many techniques for running lean and successful PPC campaigns I want to take a step back to look at these fundamentals. It’s easy to spend a bucket load of cash on PPC (trust me, I have done it). However, the very first objective for any site owner should be to create a site that achieves its aims. Using ecommerce as an example, this is about converting browsers into buyers. If you can get the principles right, driving traffic should be a secondary and relatively easy objective. Anyone that’s played the popular 90’s computer game Lemmings will know that leaving these suicidal creatures to meander as they please will result in disaster, usually of the dead Lemming kind. The problem isn’t the lack of Lemmings -- there are enough for everyone -- the problem is the route you have devised for them generally ends up in the spiky pit of doom. Business websites sites have the same tendency, but we just call it ‘goal conversion’. Ask yourself, what are the goals of your site? They could be anything from a sale, contact form submission, lead creation or a click somewhere. These goals are the foundations of your site -- the routes for the Lemmings -- and anything else is secondary. Once you have identified these goals you need to optimise for them. It’s an essential and often painful process, but one where you need to be ruthless. Anything detracting from a goal conversion needs stripping away without mercy. Conversely, the message for any areas that need strengthening, is fix them now! It’s only when you are happy that your site meets its goals that spending on PPC makes sense. Just press that button and let the Lemmings jump!