How to Tune-in to the Voice of the Customer [+Checklist]

Ever feel like you don’t know who you’re marketing to? Want to know who exactly is on the other end of that ad campaign? Will your messaging even resonate? Are you actually providing value – addressing their individual pains, needs, and challenges?

Sometimes it helps to take a second – take a breath – and take a deep dive into the world of your ideal customer.

Marketers are people pleasers, desperately searching for the perfect campaigns and messaging to woo our potential customers and win new business.

But we’re not mind readers, so how are we supposed to know what will work? I mean really know what will really work?

Marketing should never be a guessing game.

Enter: Buyer insights. Because it’s no longer enough to be customer-centric. To be successful at breaking through all the digital noise vying for your prospects’ attention, you need to be customer-obsessed. It’s time to learn about your customers from, well, your customers.

But where to start?

We as marketers typically stray from the front lines, but it’ll surprise you how much you can learn by actually listening to and engaging with your customer base. After all, the best campaigns and messaging align your solution’s capabilities with your customer’s expectations.

Listen, Linda!

To start gathering insights, start by listening to the voice of your customer. Your customers are out there, ranting and raving, voicing their frustrations, and hopefully even singing your praises – so grab your AirPods and tune in.

Here are some tips and tactics to hone-in on the voice of the customer:

Buyer insight interviews – Pick your ideal customer’s brain – asking them probing questions about why they decided to buy from you (or instead chose a competitor). This is where you roll up your sleeves and hop on the phone (or schedule an in-person meeting) to uncover buyer insights directly from your ideal customers.

Advertising and marketing reactions – Think for a minute: When you publish content or send out advertising and marketing emails, what types of reactions do you get from clients and prospects? These insights will show you how your content is likely to play out in your market as a whole.

Social listening – Monitor conversations on social sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to see what people are saying about you when you’re not around. Start by entering your company’s name or branded hashtags into LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

Product and service reviews – When you’re deciding which pizza place to try out in a new city, you trust objective, third-party review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Review sites are also important for B2B buyers, with 71% of B2B buyers looking at product reviews during the consideration phase of purchases.

Sales interactions – Talk to sales to uncover insights about your customers as they move through the pipeline. Mine the data in your CRM, or have weekly 1:1s with your favorite AE; uncovering insights about the customer journey and your prospects’ path to purchase.

Customer success interactions – Do quantitative and qualitative analysis of private messaging looking for sentiment, tone, common issues, and trends. Leverage this information for a more relevant approach to future campaigns and messaging.

Customer metadata – Marketing automation tools can track your customer’s online behaviors, giving you insight into what your customers care about most. Search and intent data are also great ways to learn more about your customers; for example, you can use Google Analytics to see what kinds of keywords your audience is searching for.

Surveys – Good ol’ fashioned customer profiling surveys can give you the insights you need, directly from the customer. Ask your customers exactly what challenges they’re facing, and what they expect from you. And once you’re finished, you can aggregate and then analyze the data for more informed campaigns and messaging.

But do you really need buyer insights?

Buyer insights with will give you a better idea of what channels will be most effective, what messaging will resonate, and what features or benefits matter most to your buyers. Use those insights to build data-driven campaigns that speak directly to your target customers.

Using buyer insights uncovered by listening to the voice of your customer will inform your marketing strategies for data-driven campaigns that speak directly to your target audience.

Long gone are the days where generic, stock-photo buyer personas like ‘Mary from marketing’ and ‘Francine from finance’ determined the direction of our marketing campaigns. Today’s buyers are diverse and dynamic, and this means we need to cater our content to a much more targeted audience.

Demographic data and superficial buyer profiles will not be what gets us there. Much like the average American family – with 1.5 kids and a white picket fence – the average customer does not exist.

Companies are like people – they are diverse and their needs and challenges differ wildly. There is no one-size-fits-all ‘best-practice’ approach to segment your database and get to know your prospective customers.

So how can you get to know your audience? Try talking to them… Seriously. We as marketers typically stray from the front lines, but it’ll surprise you how much you can learn by actually engaging with your customer base.

While one-dimensional ‘buyer personas’ will do you little good, personas fueled by actual buyer insights will take your campaign strategy to the next level.

Buyer insights

Buyer insights complete your buyer personas. Instead of hypothesizing on what matters to your customers, you need to ask your prospects what’s keeping them up at night. Buyer insights fill you in on the when, how, and why aspects of their decision to purchase (or not purchase) your solution. Buyer insights will reveal:

  • Which aspects of your solution truly matter, and those that are irrelevant to them.
  • What perceptions or attitudes prevent your buyers from considering your solutions.
  • What types of resources your buyers trust as they are evaluating their options.
  • Who all is involved in the purchasing decision, and how much influence they wield.

Buyer insights align your marketing strategies with your buyer’s expectations. But be prepared to roll up your sleeves and hop on the phone; as creating actionable buyer insights requires engaging with your buyers, asking them questions, listening to their stories, capturing their language, and then analyzing the data.

Here’s a few examples of questions to ask:

  • What happened to trigger your search for a solution?
  • What steps did you take to investigate options?
  • What worked and what didn’t work in your evaluation experience?

These questions should not be scripted, as this is not a survey. This needs to be an in-depth conversation that begins with the question: “Take me back to the day when you realized it was time to evaluate a new solution, and tell me what triggered that realization”.

Use your active listening skills to repeat your buyer’s words back to them, asking probing questions to reveal each step of their buying journey. You need to uncover what aspects of your solution are important to them, what types of resources guided their buying journey, what goals they were trying to achieve with a solution like yours, and the deciding factor(s) in their final decision.

In your buyer interviews, make sure to start at the beginning and go slowly, aiming to understand your customer at every stage of their journey.

**Hint: Make sure to interview both closed-won and closed-lost clients. Those who either didn’t buy or chose a competitor instead will have some of the most valuable insights you need to inform your strategy.

Buyer-centric messaging

Now it’s time to make use of all the buyer insights you’ve uncovered. You can now make targeted campaigns using insights gleaned from real buyers! This takes the guesswork out of marketing and enables you build campaigns and messaging that speak directly to your target personas.

**Hint: Ridiculously magnificent messaging lies at the intersection of your customer’s expectations and your solution’s capabilities.

Use what you’ve uncovered from your buyer insight interviews to answer these questions:

  • What triggered their realization that it was time for change?
  • What types of content did they find most useful in guiding them through their buyer’s journey?
  • What aspects of your solution matter most? Which aspects were irrelevant?
  • What were the deciding factors?

Buyer personas: you can’t make this stuff up!

Marketing should never be a guessing game, and your stakeholders need more than just the ‘feels’ to justify marketing spend. In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, buyer-centric marketing strategies are crucial to break through the noise and connect with your prospects and customers.

Buyer insight interviews will give you an idea of what channels will be most effective, what messaging will resonate, and what features or benefits matter most to your buyers. Use those insights to build data-driven campaigns that speak directly to your target buyer personas.

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