How Well Do You Really Know Your Customers?

You might know a little bit about your customers, but do you know enough to really maximize your marketing outreach to them? Probably not, according to a recent study. Although a whopping 80 percent of B2B marketers know which of their customers are most valuable, according to the State of B2B Marketing 2015, there are many areas where marketers are less clued in, including customer demographics.

In fact, fewer than 50 percent of marketers in the study say they have a good understanding of their customer demographics. Only 44 percent feel that they understand their customers’ product and/or service preferences. And just 40 percent feel confident that they understand customers’ wants, needs and interests.

Customer demographics, needs and interests, are pretty important information to have. How can you improve your knowledge of this key customer data? Whether you’re B2B or B2C, here are three ideas.

  • Use past purchasing behavior to predict future preferences. Tap into data from your website analytics, customer records and shopping cart software. For example, if you see that someone buys children’s school clothes from your ecommerce website every fall, you can assume that they’ll be in the market for school clothes going forward. You can also note sizes and gender of children and send relevant marketing materials so that, for instance, you’re not promoting toddler clothes to someone who has high-school age kids.
  • Conduct customer surveys. Using free online survey tools or even implementing a phone survey can help you get a more in-depth understanding of your customers’ needs, wants and interests. This is especially useful if you’re planning a new product line, expansion of your business or additional locations. By asking the right questions, you can find out if there’s enough interest among your current customers to support the expansion or if you’ll need to develop a secondary customer base.
  • Conduct market research using secondary sources. Resources such as Census data, economic indicators or information available from your city or state economic development department can help you stay on top of changes in your customer demographics. Even if you had a good handle on your market when you started your business, things change. The young singles you catered to 10 years ago are probably married with children now and have different needs. Do you adjust your products and services to fit them, or do you reach out to a new market of singles? Your local SCORE office or Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can help you get a handle on your customer demographics.