As a content marketer, it’s your job to create the type of copy that meets goals. While every company’s aspirations are different — from more leads and stronger sales to increased traffic and exposure — there is one truth that remains central to all: the customer.
In fact, great companies use the voice of the customer (VoC) as their North Star, according to Lisa Kraynak, founder and president of Gro Business Ventures. In addition to writing copy that’s relevant to your audience, investing in the customer’s voice also saves emerging and household brands money. As Kraynak explains, many are surprised by the cost of customer acquisition and how much budget is wasted on targeting the wrong group of individuals. However, when you get it right through the customer’s voice, you lower the rate significantly.
Since customer-centric marketing designed to illustrate how your product or service solves a specific problem is the most effective, you can use the data you create from voice of customer research to guide your business plan, says Aleya Harris, founder of Flourish Marketing:
“You use [Voc] information to create or hone your Ideal Customer Avatars (ICA), adjust offerings, fine-tune messaging, and enhance customer service techniques to address client needs more precisely. As you produce more content to build profit-driving relationships and position yourself as a helpful expert, your ability to demonstrate genuine knowledge of what your customers need to overcome obstacles will cause them to gravitate towards your business.”
5 do’s of using voice of the customer in your marketing strategy
Here, the best practices of implementing VoC strategies, including five do’s of using the voice of the customer in your marketing strategy.
There are ways to engage with your customer, giving you an accurate glimpse into their perspective, but it takes time, testing and measurement:
- Do conduct research in various methodologies
- Do develop a standard system for cleansing and coding the data you receive
- Do dig a little deeper into the why
- Do create a brand book
- Do test like crazy
1. Do conduct research in various methodologies.
The days of sending out a SurveyMonkey and calling it a day are long gone. Only using one methodology won’t provide the 360-degree information you really need from your audience pool. That’s why Kraynak says to avoid staying siloed through one medium.
Instead, she suggests using customer surveys, focus group testing, reading and analyzing online reviews and comments, social media channels, emailing marketing, and so on.
The goal, she reminds, is to be able to answer these questions:
- What is this person like?
- What matters to them?
- What are they looking for/what problem are they trying to solve?
- What do they most love about your product and the experience?
- How would your most passionate consumers describe your brand and the benefits?
- How do you best communicate in terms of the imagery and copy used across all consumer touchpoints?
2. Do develop a standard system for cleansing and coding the data you receive.
You ask — and you received. Now what? Harris says it’s vital to create a system for analyzing all of the feedback your customers willingly and happily shared so you can put it into action. As she puts it, you need to compare apples to apples, which means you need to create themes or buckets and then assign comments to them.
“Then, pull out repeated keywords and phrases and incorporate them into your brand messaging,” she continues. “Be sure to look for outliers, which are themes you didn’t expect to find: those can be the most powerful.”
3. Do dig a little deeper into the why.
If you are using the online comment section as one of your voice of customer methodologies, remember to take a ‘pause’ before you react to every sentence.
As Amy Boyajian, CEO and founder of Wildflower, reminds, sometimes customers’ first comments, impressions, and input aren’t the genuine feeling that they’re trying to express to you. For example, in Boyajian’s industry, there is a lot of shame and misinformation around sex that inhibits customers from speaking freely about their wants and needs from her brand.
“Customers may come to your brand with a lot of preconceived notions about you and your product, so it’s important to take that into account when acquiring data about who your customer is and what they want to see from you,” she adds.
You can do this by digging a little deeper and asking follow-up questions over their lifecycle.
4. Do create a brand book.
Kraynak says a formal description of the voice of the customer is critical so messaging is the same throughout the key product, packaging, site design and marketing.
“Even within the same organization, people often have different interpretations of who the core consumer is and what motivates them,” she continues. “It is important to define the specific brand voice so that marketing efforts are synergistic and consistent.”
5. Do test like crazy.
Testing should occur throughout the entire consumer journey, from their first internet search or referral to their most recent sale, four years later. Kraynak says when companies are committed to effectively scaling, they are continually testing how they communicate with their customer and diligently tracking what works.
“Everything from forms of content deployed to email subject lines to paid social creative, each channel and consumer touchpoint is an opportunity to speak to the customer in a voice that enables them to feel that they are a part of your brand,” she explains.
5 don’ts of using voice of the customer in your marketing strategy
As you allow the voice of the customer to impact your business decisions and copy edits, keep in mind your research is only helpful if you go in with an open perspective and if you have a plan for measuring its success.
Here, a few critical don’ts that many marketers get wrong:
- Don’t just validate your previously held viewpoints
- Don’t employ a one-size-fits-all strategy
- Don’t try to include everyone, all of the time
- Don’t go at it alone
- Don’t send out a survey tomorrow
1. Don’t just validate your previously held viewpoints.
The most crucial lesson in investigating and defining the voice of the customer to adapt your messaging is the art of listening. And check your confirmation bias. We are all guilty of zeroing-in on the information that validates our previously held viewpoints, but as Harris reminds us, that isn’t helpful.
“Keep an open mind and let your clients tell you what they want as opposed to skewing the results based on what you think they want,” she continues.
Also, be wary of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon or frequency illusion that will make you believe you see a theme everywhere after identifying it, she warns. Instead, lean on logic and let the data speak for itself.
“It is essential to use a scientific approach when analyzing data to avoid drawing erroneous conclusions,” she adds.
2. Don’t employ a one-size-fits-all strategy.
Very few brands — if any — only have one type of customer. While sure, a feminine hygiene business may only have women who purchase from them; they range in age and life stage. That’s why Kraynak says it is a mistake to have a one-size-fits-all strategy.
Instead, create personas for various buckets. As an example, she explains that a mom of young children may have very different needs and perspectives than a woman in a particular personal situation.
“They might both be great target customers for your brand, but possibly for different reasons,” she advises. “Do the work to identify and understand several key consumer personas to better connect with potential customers.”
3. Don’t try to include everyone, all of the time.
And once you have those personas, allow your messaging and strategy to differ depending on who you’re messaging. Sales, seasons, products and events attract various types of people, and your approach should reflect that.
“It’s okay to target certain groups of customers via different marketing strategies that are tailored to certain customers and not others,” Boyajian says.
4. Don’t go at it alone.
To make the customer messaging voice worthwhile and impactful, there needs to be buy-in from everyone: the team you’re working with internally and every type of client. In other words: Harris says you need to hear the good, the bad and the really terrible, so you can make necessary edits and shifts.
“You need to create a full profile, and often negative feedback provides the most fodder for positive change,” she says.
5. Don’t send out a survey tomorrow.
If you’re getting excited about the voice of the customer, that’s awesome! But don’t send out a survey you spent 10 minutes on today, tomorrow. Instead, challenge your team to think critically about your questions and the goals you have surrounding this marketing initiative.
Harris says VoC only works if you implement your findings consistently and measure the results:
“The information-gathering process can be tedious and time-consuming. If you don’t have a way to track ROI, your VoC initiative will soon fall to the wayside,” she continues. “Set goals in advance, create a project plan, and then develop an action plan with deadlines to make sure change happens. Then, institute an evaluation process and feedback loop.”
3 examples of voice of the customer methodologies
There’s no better way to learn about the voice of the customer than from brands who have absolutely nailed it.
From large enterprises to small businesses, here are the three picks marketing experts say get it right and speak right to the heart of their audience:
- The Flex Company
It’s the largest retailer in the world, and part of their success is attributing to putting VoC first, says Kraynak.
“From the very top of the organization, Walmart ensures that the focus on the consumer is paramount. At the most senior levels of the organization, the customer experience is prioritized,” she explains.
In fact, they have an executive vice president and chief customer officer whose job is to super-serve shoppers.
“This is supported by an incredible amount of consumer research,” she explains. “Both qualitative and quantitative research on everything from trends in consumer’s lifestyles to specific feedback on shopping patterns and experiences.”
What started as a beauty blog with an impressive following has bloomed into a million-dollar skincare line with a rabid fan base. Boyajian says what’s different about Glossier is their ability to be real and transparent about skin, including bad breakouts or other conditions. This is highly relatable and draws in a vast pool of customers.
“It [Glossier] marketed to a range of people from high end to influencers to high schoolers who could not wait for the next launch,” she explains. “In a world where hype/drop culture is at the forefront, they created that kind of demand but in the beauty space via their social media.”
3. The Flex Company
This early-stage consumer products company has experienced dramatic growth, including a profitable direct-to-customer business, as well as retail distribution across Target, CVS, Walgreens and more. Kraynak says this was driven mainly by understanding and championing the consumer, a task the founder focused on from day one.
“When she started the company, she began her research by inviting friends over to talk. And when she had gatherings, she truly listened,” Kraynak explains. “Over time, her ‘kitchen table gatherings’ grew, and her dedication to understanding the lives and needs of her consumer remained steadfast.”Consider this your ultimate guide to understanding the voice of the customer in #contentmarketing. Click To Tweet