Managing a profitable business is all about understanding your customer’s behaviors and needs and providing services or products that rightly fulfil those needs. As an entrepreneur it is important to notice the essence of valued customers and their different types. Having a holistic view of the business objective is important, but knowing your customers and how they form a buyer’s market is also important. Market segmentation helps us define this customer base in a market scenario. It refers to the division of a set of consumers into people with similar needs and wants. Market segmentation allows for a better allocation of a firm’s finite resources and offerings.
How are markets divided?
In a typical business set-up, markets may be divided into several sub-markets or categories based on several sources. For example, any market segmented into sub-markets on the basis of geographic location is known as Geographic Segmentation. Examples of such division are nations, states, regions, provinces, districts, counties, cities or even neighborhoods. Similarly, a market split into sub-segments on the basis of variables such as age, gender, sex, family, income, education, religion, culture, occupation, profession, ethnicity etc is known as demographic segmentation. There are many other categories and sub-categories that a market can be divided into, based on your business or marketing needs.
While segmenting markets it is also important to keep in mind that your customer are just not numbers, but are humans and have specific needs and behaviors. For example, as you analyze your potential market you would notice that some users may be classed as heavy users of your product or service while others as light users. Some may be just first time user while other are occasional users only. So it is also important to keep the behavioral aspect in mind.
Segmentation with the help of big data
Technology has made market segmentation easier; however with the advent of the big data phenomena, businesses are finding it difficult to keep pace with the huge amount of varied information available. The big data technology is changing the way consumers comprehend brands, increasingly through multiple channels and in multiple ways. This, in turn is changing the way consumers interact with brands, and the way they share their experiences. Business owners have understood the importance of this new technology and are finding innovative ways of funneling out relevant customer information that will help them easily compartmentalize customers into different segments. It has now become easier to make detailed categories and sub-categories within a given market and segment the customer data into more detailed sections.
Segmentation is the first critical step in marketing, and the basis towards satisfying needs of your customer and gaining overall market profitably. It is often the mix of where-what-who and why (the benefit or need) which is driving the segmentation. The grouping together of customers with common needs makes it possible to select target customers of interest and set marketing objectives for each of those segments. Once the objectives have been set, strategies can be developed to meet the objectives using the tactical blend of product, price, promotion and place.
Getting more customers means getting more business; this in turn increases revenues and profits. All forms of businesses are directly or indirectly dependant on building loyal customers and it is all about how we strategically plan our customer engagement plans. With changing trends and technologies, businesses tend to automate their customer acquisition and retention strategies, which eventually becomes a problem. The essence lies in making sure that the approach is more customer-engaging rather than technological centric.
Here are the top five tips on how to attract customers and also retain them in the current business environment:
Build your business as a personality and make sure you create and utilize your online social profiles including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pintrest and Instagram. Give each channel a unique definition and strategy. The key is to post real-time behind-the-scenes content (photos, videos etc) to engage with your audience. Use these channels to inform customers of upcoming events, promotions and deals. Posting at least once a day shows that you are engaged. Your social media presence will help increase brand awareness for your business and will give a sense of reliability to your customers.
The most important aspect of going mobile is building a responsive website i.e. making your website device agnostic, so that your customers could access it from any mobile device and/or operating system. This gives the ease to your customers to access your content from anywhere and everywhere. The second most important step is to partners with mobile search platforms that have the scale, reach and local search benefits to get your business found.
Loyal customers are all that your business wants. Focusing on loyalty can help you increase profits up to 80-90%. Initiating a loyalty program that rewards frequent visitors and encourages them to stay with you is the essence of any marketing strategy. Such forms of loyalty programs can encourage customers to spend more with each visit and with each positive experience they can also spread the word about your business.
Email marketing is by far the most important and powerful methods for growing business engagement and maintaining relationships with customers. Use standard email marketing tools to send alerts and campaigns to your customer that keeps them engaged. Try to do this at least once a month. Such tools offer email automation, with makes it very easy to send mass messages to customers, which are also traceable so you can measure results of the email click through rate and retention.
All successful business thrives on reviews, so it is critical to have a presence on review sites. All businesses should take the extra effort to provide their complete information on these sites i.e. photos, descriptions, menus, hours and your businesses’ direct contact information etc. Displaying signs on your counter are also a great way to remind visiting customers to share their positive feedback about your great service. Now-a-days, 90% of customers state that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews, so it is important to keep up with active reviews and comment politely to customers who have had a negative experience.
No matter how small or big your business is, these simple tips will help you organize, plan and kick start your marketing campaign with a fresh perspective and give a new outlook to your business. Try it and see the change.
We all love playing games. The activity of playing games has been around for quite some time. From simple board games to the early days of electronic video games, such as MARIO or PONG, the desire to achieve pre-determined goals that comes with playing games is programmed in our genes. The drive is the fact that we would either win or lose. Games also put us in a mode of competition and offer a sort of exhilaration.
This need for exhilaration in our day-to-day working life has made businesses come up with a new phenomenon called “Gamification”. It is as simple as it sounds: incorporating game elements into every-day, non-game activities. This simply encourages people to do certain tasks or achieve certain goals but not like a “to-do” tasks list, but more like a game. The rewards are also simple i.e. players are awarded badges, ribbons and points for completing the required tasks or for achieving specific “check-ins”. So the more you win such credentials, the more the probability for recognition and the movement to the next level. The other side to this is that players can compare their stats with their co-workers and the rest of the online community, thus generating competition.
The whole idea is to have fun and incorporate a healthy environment of challenge and competition. So for instance if a business is incorporating such gamification techniques in simple sales driven teams, as a manager, if you feel your team is not achieving the set targets or is low in motivation, try introducing a badge or point system for your sales team. The more the team members accumulate such points for their targets, the more the distinction and recognition they get. The other element to gamification is to make it public amongst teams, so that it generates the spirit of competition and curiosity, which would encourage people to participate, in-turn benefiting the business to achieve their overall goals.
Gamification is also being used as a great tool for customer engagement. Gone are the days of boring advertisements of “Buy 10, Get 1 Free”. Now-a-days businesses are using the same point system to boost customer engagement and loyalty. Businesses are coming up with innovative ways of tracking customer activities and behavior through the mobile apps technology, thereby offering customized ways to gain more points and perks through Gamification. With the help of this new phenomenon, customers are also becoming brand advocates. They are more engaged, more interested and more involved.
Gamification is becoming a major game-changer in the business and corporate environment. Companies are linking this new phenomenon to the overall business goal. It’s a practice that can certainly deliver impressive returns if done properly. With the advent of new technologies and the internet, businesses now also have the opportunity to run rewards/points programs with their customers on a bigger scale. The key is to design a well thought about gamification plan that helps engage and motivate people, increase brand loyalty and last but not the least, help in overall business growth.
There’s no perfect way to make a business; there will always be an element of randomness involved. Sometimes one worker’s procrastination can bring production to a grinding halt, but on the other side of that coin, the grinding halt might lead to a decade of success. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for every business, but there are a few important tips that every small business owner needs to know to be prepared for the difficulties that may lie ahead.
Know Your Market
The average person isn’t fully aware of how important their market is to their success. They might not realize that half of their sales come from married couples. They might be wasting advertising dollars by trying to appeal to kids, seniors and singles. They might have demographic confusion as well though, as sometimes even two very similar products have a completely different target market. Always be prepared to analyze patterns in customers, as demographic data might be the single difference between success and failure.
The average consumer is bombarded with ways to spend money, and because of this, the best way to make a lasting impression is to stand out. Advertising blindness develops quickly, as advertisers learn new ways to attract peoples’ attention, copycats will inevitably catch on to the advertisers’ discoveries. What was once a fresh approach to advertising becomes run-of-the-mill to consumers. Always stand out from crowd.
Customer, Merchant and Supplier Relationships
Businesses need healthy relationships to thrive. Great customer relationships lead to word-of-mouth advertising, long-term customers, great reviews, higher profits and a high-quality business environment. With all those benefits, it’s hard to believe that more businesses aren’t focusing on customer relationships. Merchants and suppliers follow the same trend. Better relationships with re-sellers, business energy providers and product suppliers will lead to a long list of benefits. Small businesses need to foster these relationships in order to reach their maximum potential.
Be Prepared to Push
Hard work isn’t always a necessity, but when it is, many business owners aren’t ready. They haven’t spent enough time pushing themselves, and when it’s crunch time, they fall short. By then, they’ve spent too much time slacking, and their bad habits will carry over into the moments when there’s no more room for slack. Even if hard work isn’t required, work hard anyway. It’ll be worth it down the road.
Supply and Demand Can’t Be Ignored
The true deciders of success are supply and demand. If the material cost is higher than the price that people are willing to pay for the finished product, there’s no way to magically make people start buying. There’s no deceptive marketing trick that will convince them to spend their hard-earned money on something that they don’t truly demand. This fact should be enlightening, as it’s the simple heart of economics. There’s always success to be found in demand, and some businesses might just need to focus on what people would buy in a heartbeat.
The lack of certainty involved in success is a part of business that must always be respected. Accidents will happen, mistakes will be made and failure will sometimes be unavoidable. The only way to ensure success with a small business is to accept these truths and be fully prepared for them. The confident business owners are the ones that know randomness is coming and have made themselves ready for it.
There are times when we are interested in knowing about a service or a product. We get online or go to a store to shop for more information. We eventually get that information or see the product, but are not ready to buy. We think, we take time and then most of the times, forget about it!
Email nurturing is a way to connect with your current and prospective customers. It is like staying in touch with potential leads that are not quite ready to buy. According to a recent survey almost 75 per cent on inbound leads are not ready to make a buying decision. They need time to judge and understand your business or product.
Online marketing is incomplete without appropriate email nurturing campaigns. The reality is that “conversion” is not a quick event. It takes planned and tactical nurturing. No matter how great your service or product is, it is important to recognize the importance of email nurturing.
1. Emails that introduce educate and get you connected: This is one of the most important formats, as you just have one chance to actually catch the attention of your lead. Introducing & educating your prospects is a vital step in closing a sale. It is important to display your value, and tell them about the things they want to know based on their on- and off-site behaviors. Invite them to subscribe to your blog, connect on LinkedIn, follow each other on Twitter etc. The more ways, through which you and your prospect are connected, the better chance you have of closing the sale.
2. Emails that help them improve: Everyone is looking for things that make them better, as a business person, as an employee and also as an individual. It is important to send emails that target these personal choices and goals. Free offers are a great way to promote your brand and help prospects improve. Asserting yourself as someone who can make their lives better makes you their ally and helps establish the trust you need to turn them into a customer.
3. Emails that remind and re-engage: This is by far the most important of them all! It is more like, “out of site, out of mind”. If prospects have fallen off the radar send them something to re-engage them with your company such as a feedback or a survey. Worst case scenario: your prospect either doesn’t respond or opts out of your emails. That way you actually weed out the ones that are actually interested in your offerings.
In the digital marketing world, PPC, SEO and email nurturing go hand in hand. In fact, emails are the most important and effective nurturing mechanism by far. Emails help leads get more information to make better decisions and they need to be nurtured after the initial point of contact to eventually increase the conversion rate.