If you could have one superpower, what would it be? For some, the answer is the ability to read minds. In fact, your company would benefit greatly from being able to read the minds of one particular group of people: your prospects. If you could just get a better sense of your prospects' thoughts, feelings, needs and pain points, you'd be in a much better position to tailor your marketing campaign accordingly.
As it turns out, there are four great ways to get inside your prospects' heads and determine where, how and when they're searching for the solutions your company provides. While these prospecting techniques might not constitute mind reading, they're pretty much the next best thing.
1. Buyer Persona Interviews
A buyer persona interview is a great online marketing research tool. The goal of a buyer persona interview is straightforward: to identify an archetypal customer or prospect and determine what motivates them. Buyer personas typically contain fairly detailed demographic information, pain points and other useful details.
In addition to segmenting your customer and prospect bases into smaller, more manageable groups, they're also great for organizing a nimble marketing campaign that can respond to each group's needs and wants.
To create effective buyer personas, look over recent sales data and identify broad groups of people who've recently purchased your products. After this exercise, you might find yourself with several generic segments such as mothers, male executives, teenage boys, college students and so on. You should also look at "missed" sales data and identify people who interacted with your website or real-world presence without making a purchase.
Next, schedule phone, online or in-person interviews with multiple people from each broad category. In each interview, ask questions that elicit personal or demographic information. Be careful not to seem like you're prying or asking personal questions for the sake of it. Instead, make it clear that you're trying to uncover the interviewee's motivations for purchasing or not purchasing your products.
At the same time, convey that you need to understand their purchasing power and needs. As such, you may be asking questions about their income, household size, marital status and other personal details.
When you're done with each interview, you should have a clear picture of what motivates your interviewee. After multiple interviews, you should start to see clear patterns in interviewees' responses. Use these patterns as the basis for detailed buyer personas.
2. Keyword Analytic Tools
Keyword analytic tools, including Google Analytics, make it easy to determine what your customers are searching for. While the rise of "not provided" keyword results impede organic keyword research, it's still possible to hone in on popular searches and figure out how much keyword-specific search volume you receive relative to your competitors. You can also use trend-finding tools such as Google Trends to get a broader picture of what's on the minds of Google users, including prospects who fit into your target buyer personas.
Taken together, these data points help you determine how to focus your content marketing campaigns. If you see an opportunity in a popular, relevant search term that your competitors haven't yet targeted, keyword analytic tools empower you to take advantage of it.
3. Website Visitor Questionnaires
It's tempting to think of website visitor questionnaires as the digital equivalent of the "how are we doing?" cards that diners and hotels prominently display. When they're used properly, however, they can be far more effective and incisive.
The trick to creating a good website visitor questionnaire is to make the experience easy and attractive for the visitor. Limit questionnaires to one, two or three questions in length. If possible, opt for questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no."
Incentivize participation by automatically entering respondents into a prize drawing or providing a complementary promo code for everyone involved. Most importantly, don't subject every single website visitor to your questionnaire; run these surveys for a week or two before shutting them down temporarily and analyzing response data.
4. Current Customer Surveys
Customer surveys are great for uncovering hidden customer buying patterns. Depending on your preference, you can group these surveys by buyer persona, pose the same sets of questions to all customers or tailor your questions to customers who purchased specific products.
Regardless of how broadly or narrowly you tailor your customer surveys; your overarching goal should be to determine why customers chose your product or solution over a competitor's. If they recently switched to you from a competitor, it's important to figure out why as well. Customers with loyalty to multiple competing brands deserve particular scrutiny. Why do they prefer your solution in some instances and competing solutions in others?
Your survey should also include more traditional "customer satisfaction" questions about the quality of your customers' experiences, particularly in relation to your website and marketing materials. Determining whether they find your marketing too aggressive, not obvious enough or just right can help you adjust and plan for the future.
Pairing Online Market Research Tools with a Great Digital Marketing Plan
These four prospecting techniques help you uncover key customer buying patterns and learn more about what your customers and prospects want from your business. Unfortunately, that doesn't make them a cure-all for your marketing and sales operations. On their own, they can't actually compel prospects to enter your sales funnel and become paying customers.
To achieve higher conversion rates, grow your company's customer base and boost revenues in sustainable fashion, you need to pair your intelligence-gathering operation with an effective digital marketing strategy that enhances your online visibility.
To learn how to execute your marketing plan effectively, download our free Digital Marketing Plan. Not only can it help you be tops in Google but it can help boost your bottom line.