Successful digital marketing strategies focus on users and their needs.
People go online not just to be entertained, but also to answer the questions in their head – whether that’s a trivial “who played this character in a movie” or the burning ones like “how to use a fire extinguisher” (pun intended).
This explains why a user-centric approach is a core element of growth marketing. Growth happens when people find value in what you provide them. When you answer their questions through your content or solve their pain points through your product, they will keep coming back.
A good rule of thumb for growth marketing? Start with the user in mind.
What is user-centric marketing and why it is important?
The digital landscape has changed how we access information.
Living in the information age can be a double-edged sword. It could work for us in terms of access to information and being able to provide solutions for our customers. It is a level-playing field for everyone, regardless of company size or geography.
As business owners and marketers, it could also work against us because there is too much content on the web. There’s incredibly stiff competition, not just in terms of product availability, but also to land your solutions on the first page of Google’s search results.
The key to providing relevant information and making it more accessible for customers is to base it on their needs.
This is what user-centric marketing is all about. It is obsessing about:
- who the user is, their profile and customer journey
- what their needs and pain points are
- how you can solve them with your products or services
This requires in-depth user research. And navigating the process of user research involves knowing the right digital tools, as well as the techniques for user profiling and validation with the user.
First, you need to know about funnels
No two audiences are alike. In marketing, funnels are one of the key concepts that you need to know and remember.
Your target customers go through a buying journey. They start with not knowing your brand, to knowing it. The aim is to guide them from just knowing you, to knowing you a little bit more, so that eventually they become a fan, buy your products or services, and finally become repeat customers.
This journey is called funnels.
Credits: CXL Institute
Funnels show you that each level is not the same. And to push people further down the funnel, you need to talk to them differently. Your audience in Awareness is not the same as the ones in Interest. You will not talk to people who know you so well already and have purchased your products or services the same way you will talk to those who are just hearing about your brand for the first time.
It is important to remember that each stage of the funnel merits a different messaging, content, and call to action.
Identifying customer persona, and why empathy mapping is a better user-centric approach
For many marketers, a customer persona is an effective way to know your target audience.
Essentially, defining a customer persona will lead to an output like this:
But when we talk of growth, sticking to just the demographics and socio-economic profile of the user is not enough. Growth marketing is all about conversion, which is a result of knowing the user’s journey.
And when I say customer journey, I mean a series of steps undertaken by a user from knowing very little about your product, all the way to deciding to make a purchase or subscribe to your channels.
A customer journey covers so many touchpoints – from awareness, consideration, all the way to purchase or clicking your Call-to-Action button. So knowing how they behave each stage of the funnel will help get you through to conversion.
In this sense, empathy mapping is a wide-ranging and more in-depth way of knowing your user. Here is an article by Paul Boag on empathy mapping, and a sample below.
How to be user-centric: know your user, customer, or client in-depth
There are several ways to dive deep into your customer’s profile and their needs at each stage of their customer journey. Here are some of them:
Through your front-liners
Sometimes you do not need to spend a single cent to know more about your users, customers, or clients. You can start with the people who interact with your target audience on the daily, i.e., your sales or customer support team. Front-liners have a deeper familiarity with who your audiences are, their objections to buying, their challenges after getting your product or service, why they love your offerings so much (testimonials), and other insights about them. They also know the frequently asked questions (FAQs), which can feed into your messaging and product development process.
Your social media managers will also be able to have information on your target audience’s comments, questions, as well as analytics – valuable data on how to walk with your users, customers, or clients throughout their journey of knowing and advocating your offerings.
Social media platforms offer analytics now. Facebook Insights, Twitter, and LinkedIn analytics, and even Pinterest now offer information about how your audience finds and engages with your content. Google Analytics also gives a full picture of how your audience reaches your pages and their actions within your website. This includes:
- What search terms they used to find you
- Which pages on your website get their attention (most popular pages, pages with the longest time spent, pages where they exit your site)
- Shares, likes, and other actions done with your content (did they click your call-to-action button?)
Surveys are one of the oldest tools in marketing. Thankfully now there are digital versions that can be done through tools like Survey Monkey. You can also have surveys within your website, which is a great way to capture feedback from your visitors.
Some pro tips:
- Explain why you are doing it.
- Keep your surveys as short (and less arduous) as possible. Sometimes, one question is enough.
- To make it easier for your respondents, use more closed questions, i.e., yes or no questions, rating scale.
- Keep to one subject or topic only so as not to confuse or overwhelm your respondent.
- Provide incentives when you can, say a free digital product like a downloadable checklist or template, free use of your product, etc.