Here’s how to learn your customers’ interests, needs and preferences — so your messages stand out and grab attention.
- Relevant content is essential for your messages to rise above the clutter
- Knowing customer preferences, needs and interests is required to develop relevant content
- Analyzing customer data, asking direct questions and capturing communication preferences can help you uncover these essential insights
Your customers receive hundreds if not thousands of pieces of content every week. To stand out from the noise and clutter, relevant content is essential. But you can’t develop relevant content if you don’t know your customers’ preferences, needs and interests. Here, we share a straightforward, three-step strategy for uncovering this critical information — so you can reap the benefits of greater engagement and deeper, stronger customer relationships.
Step 1: Analyze Existing Customer Information
The first pillar in your relevant content structure is analyzing your existing customer data to glean additional valuable insight. Your data can most obviously be used to develop customer segments based on big-picture points such as gender, age and income. But that’s just the peak of the information stack.
By analyzing transaction behavior, accounts held, web pages clicked and other trackable interactions with your brand, you can further refine your segments. And that can give your email performance a big boost: MailChimp research shows that email recipients are 75% more likely to click on messages that are part of a segmented campaign than those from non-segmented campaigns.1
Of course, that comes right back to the fact that effective segmentation gives you insight to your customers’ lives — and therefore their needs, preferences and potential pain points. That, in turn, helps guide your content choices for each segment.
For example, you may find that you have a segment of 20-somethings with low savings account balances. You could target them with content related to building a budget that helps you save, or on how and why to create an emergency fund. Another segment of customers with high savings account balances may trigger content related to more advanced saving strategies.
Step 2: Ask Direct Questions
Why guess what your customers want to learn from you when you can ask? The foundation of this step lies in using customer surveys, questionnaires, focus groups and other forms of qualitative and quantitative research to glean insights directly from your customers.
For example, we worked with one of our financial services clients to develop a survey asking customers to rate their interest level in receiving information on a number of personal finance topics from the bank. Topics ran a wide gamut, from budgeting, financial planning, and emergency funds, to finding the right checking account, managing debt, travel spending and more.
We were able to layer the survey results with the client’s own data regarding customer age and income to create reader segments and then identify the most relevant content topics for each segment.
Your customer research can also gather lifestyle and demographic information, such as marital status, presence of children in the house, hobbies and so on. These details can shine additional light on the financial topics likely to be important to them.
However, you also need to pay attention to what your customers are asking you. Review comments sections on your website and posts on your social pages. Gather the questions most asked of your tellers and customer service teams, whether in person, over the phone or via email, online chat or other forms of feedback.
This allows you to identify specific customer pain points, concerns and points of confusion. You can then develop content to address those issues, knowing you’re hitting on specific customer needs — which supports your position as a trusted advisor.
Step 3: Capture Customer Preferences
In this step, you use an online preference center to give customers the power to make content choices. At the most basic level, this is a simple opt in/opt out choice: Do you, Customer, want to receive communications from us or not? (Obviously, any legal or account servicing communications are exempt from this question.)
If your technology and resources allow it, though, it’s ideal to offer even more choices. For instance, let customers select preferred delivery channels, frequency of communication from you and even the type of content they want to receive. This last option could be related to specific product categories or could be more general, such as product/service information, personal finance tips, and news and announcements.
To get the most from your preference center, make sure you have a strategy to get customers using it. That can mean a specific marketing campaign that encourages customers to go online and share their preferences — to help ensure they get the information they want from you. Some financial institutions treat it much like a product launch. After all, if you put the resources into developing a comprehensive preference center — and your goal is to create relevant content for your full customer base — then you want people to know it exists and to use it.
Equally important is your follow-through. Don’t promise if you can’t deliver. If you give customers a choice to receive monthly or weekly emails, to receive texts instead or to not receive home equity offers, then you must be able to adjust that customer’s communications stream to align with those choices. And you have to make sure those preferences are known and respected enterprise-wide.
Catering to Customer Needs
In short, content relevancy is all about catering to your customers’ needs, preferences, interests, lifestyles and life stages. Leveraging your data, conducting customer research and giving your customers a voice through an online preference center can all help you identify those details — and guide you toward developing effective, relevant, relationship-building content.
When you’re looking for a partner to identify customer preferences and needs, develop a content strategy and create relevant content, we can help. CCG’s financial marketing experts have focused on content solutions for more than 40 years, with a specific dedication to helping our clients create and maintain strong, profitable customer relationships. Click here to schedule a free consultation or call 303.986.3000, ext. 122.
1 “The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2019,” HubSpot, https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics