How to Understand Your Customers (With Insights From Three Experts)

Marketers everywhere are trying to get a better grip on what their customers really want. Yet many are so overwhelmed by the deluge of user data that they simply don't know where to start.

Sometimes it helps to ask the basic questions: what are your customers doing (trends and patterns); where is your customer base active; and why are they behaving online the way they do.

Here's some insight from the CEOs of three companies (Including CMS Critic's Mike Johnston) offering unique solutions for the elusive quest to better understand your customers.

Understanding Customers

CMS Critic: Traditionally, marketers rely on web analytics, A/B testing and Voice-of-Customer tools to try to get a handle on trends and patterns in customer behavior. How do ClickTale’s heat maps and session recordings help Fortune 500 companies make sense of all that data to understand why online customers behave the way they do.

ClickTale CEO Dr. Tal Schwartz: Looking at your data, it can be clear that you have a problem with conversion rates, for example, but much less clear why. Why did so many customers abandon their shopping carts, why did they linger on one web page over another, or in the case of an online publication, why did they choose to read one article over another?

Web analytics, A/B testing and Voice-of-Customer tools are a great way to gather quantitative data. The next step is to understand the “why,” which is the qualitative insights to optimize digital customer experience. For example, we worked with Walmart on one case where they had introduced a very user-friendly gift finder tool timed to the holiday season.

It was a great way to help customers find what they were looking for. Yet Walmart realized soon after launching the tool that very few people were actually using it, and they couldn’t figure out why.

ClickTale’s anonymous session replays revealed what was wrong. Due to where the tool was placed on the home page, many users couldn’t see it, and you could literally see their cursors and mouses searching the site to no avail, and then giving up. Others visitors found the tool but received a JavaScript error message when they clicked on the call to action “Go” button.

With the unique insights they gained from being able to literally see their customers’ frustrations, Walmart was able to quickly fix these issues and ensure their customers encountered the smoothest experience possible. And their conversions increased as a direct result.

CMS Critic: When you gather millions of data points, you might end up with a very generic overview that doesn’t help much in determining strategy for targeted marketing campaigns. In what ways can marketers leverage wefi’s hyper-local geo-based context to map out geo-based campaigns?

Wefi CEO Zur Feldman: Whether you’re in the app business or work for a company that has a mobile app, you can get a pretty good general sense of what your data tells you about your app users on the whole. What’s more difficult is seeing hyper-local patterns and getting a sense of how your users behave within rival or complementary apps (such as how much time they spend in rival apps and how often). That has until now been a mystery.

We developed Compariscope by wefi to offer mobile app marketers unprecedented competitive intelligence so they can better address relevant messages to their consumers. It is now possible to break down the big data into smaller pools by geography so that, for instance, you can tell that your app has a strong presence on Manhattan’s Upper East Side but your competition is crushing it on the West Side. Your marketing team might then launch a targeted ad campaign on the West Side to try to gain market share. Or say you are a marketer for a travel application.

You’d be able to see what percentage of your users engage with rival or complementary apps on a daily basis. Based on this input, the product team can implement features to improve engagement or launch campaigns that interact with apps popular with your users.

By introducing a hyper local dimension, marketers provide a win for consumers who will end up with information that is useful to them and relevant to their location, as opposed to generic ads and messages.

CMS Critic: Until now, we’ve talked about the data deluge from websites and mobile applications. Marketers gather data from a multitude of sources – from Google AdWords and Analytics to Salesforce, information from a CRM, Excel files, and Zendesk. How do we break through the siloes and get a sense of patterns across the board?

Sisense CEO Amir Orad: It’s critical for web marketers to dig deep into their data in order to truly understand the impact of marketing campaigns, content performance and user site behavior. If your data lives in siloes you are only catching glimpses without understanding the full picture of your business.

But it can be a nightmare to mash together data from multiple sources. There are modern BI tools, like ours, that can hep do that simply.

For example, Sisense’s proprietary In-Chip technology allows non-techies to easily join large data sets from multiple sources and create one neat central repository. It then visualizes your big data so you can get straight to drawing insights.

One more item to keep in mind. What’s important for marketers to keep in mind is that you can only count on data analytics if it is error free and up to date. In other words, one version of the truth that’s current.