Today there are lots of easy-to-use, no- or low-cost analytics tools that can help tell you what customers think about your business. But while a 2014 survey reported that 75 percent of small-business owners believe reporting and analytics gives them a business advantage, if you've never used analytics tools before, it may be hard to know where to begin. Here are a few suggestions to help get you started.
Interpreting Email and Social Media
Whether you run a cafe that gets 100 customers a day or you’re a self-employed CPA who meets with just a few dozen clients once a year, you may be able to apply the same principles for analyzing your marketing results. One of the best places to start can be to analyze your email and social media results, then follow up with a customer survey.
When it comes to email, service providers may present your results in easy-to-read reports. The five areas you’ll likely want to look at are:
- who's opening your emails
- what they’re clicking on
- which addresses bounced
- if it’s being reported as spam
- whether customers opt-out of receiving them.
This insight can enable you to do more of what works as well as anticipate your customers’ future needs. For example, as a CPA, the majority of your clients may have clicked on the article you sent that featured 401(k) investment advice. Based on this information, you could then cover the topic more regularly or host a workshop on the topic to further educate your existing clients and attract new ones.
On social media, you can look beyond the number of followers you have to better understand how well you’re engaging your audience. Many social networks offer free analytics tools, such as Twitter Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights. With these tools, you can dig deeper to take a closer look at how often customers are engaging with you, whether they’re sharing your posts, the types of posts that inspire the most action, and the content that’s most effective.
Now imagine that as a cafe owner, you have a steady flow of early risers but your lunch crowd has slowed down lately. When you look at your social media results, you discover that your most active customers are on Facebook in the evening and are more likely to engage with posts that include images. Armed with this information, you could run a promotion on Facebook asking fans to vote on their favorite soup and salad combo. Of course, you know images may help boost response rates, so you add them in. You could further inspire your customers to participate through giveaways and discounts—maybe try telling them that just by voting, their name will be entered in a drawing for a free lunch and offer a discount to any friends who join them.
Generating Survey Results
To get even more insight and feedback, consider creating a customer survey with the goal of uncovering new information about what your customers want. Consider keeping the survey to less than 10 questions, in easily understood language. Before you send it to all your customers, try testing it on a smaller audience to gauge its effectiveness.
As you analyze your survey results, you’ll likely see trends emerge that can help you prioritize the way you engage with your customers in the future. Let your customers know how much you value their feedback and any changes you’ve made as a result of the survey.
Also, don’t underestimate the importance of asking for feedback when you’re face to face with your customers. Whether you encounter them at a customer appreciation event or in the course of your day, seeking personal feedback can make customers feel valued.
Once you have a better idea of what inspires and engages your customers, assess your performance on a semi-annual basis. Gathering this information regularly can help give you the insights you need to continuously improve your customer experience.
Read more articles on customer engagement.
This article was originally published on January 2, 2015.