Why ‘Ethical Stalking’ Will Improve Your Online Marketing Results

Before I begin, let me be clear.

We’re NOT advocating stalking people in real life.

You know… following people down the street, hacking into their letters, standing outside their house, checking their Facebook pages every day… that kind of thing.

But…

As an online business there is a very good reason to stalk your customers (and an ethical, honest and open way to do so.)

Because think of it this way….

Who IS your ideal customer? Do you really know?

What do they like and dislike? What gets them excited? What gets them riled? What do they read? Where do they shop? Where do they hang out? What do they like to read, watch and share on social media?

If you don’t have a clear idea of these things, you’ll find it hard to share content that really appeals to them. It will be hard to aim your next product launch at their true needs, fears and desires. And it will be even harder to craft a sales pitch that taps into their true emotions.

Misunderstanding your target customer can lead to wasted time, dwindling subscriber lists, poor sales and failed launches.

So when it comes to digital marketing, you need to get out there and stalk your customers – find out who they are, where they live, what they do an what makes them tick.

This way you’re products, services and sales messages are more likely to hit the bullseye.

Of course, this doesn’t mean doing anything illegal, like hacking their emails, or anything sinister, like pestering them continuously.

Instead, it means reaching out to them, making friends and asking them openly what you can do to help. Gather as much intelligence on your core customers as possible, then use that to create a profile of your ideal customer, known as a customer avatar.

Here ae some suggestions….

• Email your customer – send out a personal email (not mass mailing) to your best repeat customers or the people who most often open and respond to your email newsletters. Ask them for feedback. Even better, email them a survey (see the article below).

• Telephone your customer – if this is one of those customers who responds to your requests for feedback and repeatedly subscribes, reads or purchases, then you should have nothing to fear by giving them a call. However be sure that it’s appropriate to do so. Be polite and explain that you’re calling because you’re grateful for their custom and would really value their opinion on ways you can make your service/product better. Ask them if they have couple of minutes spare for a quick chat, and reiterate that it’s confidential between the two of you.

• Listen to what your customer is saying in their feedback. Note down their frustrations, objections and goals. What annoys them about your product and services? What could do better? What pleases them about your product and services? How could you improve upon that?

• Create a correspondence file – there will be some customers/readers/subscribers who contact you a lot or who respond to your requests for feedback. Save all their correspondence into a file. If you can get a photograph of the person, even better. Keep adding to this detailed portrait of your customer and you’ll have something far deeper and more advantageous than a regular profile.

• Track your customer’s email stats – if you use a broadcaster like www.mailchimp.com it is very easy to look at your list and see how many of your emails your customer has opened, how often they’ve read it and which of the links they’ve clicked on. Note down which topics, subject lines and content they’ve most enjoyed, and which they’ve least enjoyed.

• Send them a birthday or Christmas message. This is a commonly used method that you might have heard about already. You are likely to have records of your customer’s birthday, so if appropriate then use that to send a simple card saying “Happy Birthday” with your website details and, if you choose, a special offer of some kind.

• Invite them for a drink. Consider holding an event, seminar, meet-up or special sale for a group of your best customers, where you can get to talk to them personally. Make sure there are refreshments and a chance for informal chat as part of the event.

• Find out and then use their name (even better if they have a nickname or shortened version of their name for friends only). If possible you should use this real first name when they call, email, purchase or subscribe. This immediately breaks down barriers and

• Get to know your customer’s preferences. Does your customer order a certain product, type of product or number of items every time? Do they have certain preferences for the way something is delivered or prepared? Either you, your staff or customer service team need to find these out and keep them on record for easy recall. For instance, my coffee shop know the exact nuances of my order as well as the times of day I’m likely to appear.

• Encourage them to send in their photographs, stories, question and feedback. Use these to create specific customer profiles using real photos, real quotes and match them to statistics such as their average annual spend, or open rates and responses. Offer rewards or a prize for customers sharing pictures of them with the product or enjoying the service.

• Test an offer – come up with a couple of different offers to test against your usual one (examples include: price discount, free trial, extended guarantee, 2-for-1 or ‘buy one get one free’, time-limited discount, free delivery). See which one your customers go for.

• Keep a swipe file – although you might have built a profile of one or two main customers, other customers may only get in touch once or twice. But even these have a value. Whenever you get emails, social media comments or letters that contain positive or negative comments, copy them into file. I call this ‘copy fodder’ because if gives you hundreds of tiny, genuine insights into how your customers feel, think and express themselves. – these are objections you can answer and phrases you can use in your content to connect more deeply with what your customer is really saying, using the language they use, an tackling objections head on.

What to do with the information

Pick out at least one respondent, then order the information into the following (you might not get all this but see what you can do)

• What’s their first name or nickname?

• How old are they?

• Male/Female?

• What do they look like? (Use a photo or come up with a photo that looks most like how they describe themselves, or seem from their responses)

• How long have they been a subscriber or customer?

• What social media are they on? Twitter address?

• What media do they read? (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, news sites)

• What hobbies or interests do they have?

• What products have they purchased?

• What are their favourite email or blog topics?

• What makes them angry or irritated

• What makes them happy?

• What is their goal?

• What have they ever complained about or disliked about your business or services?

• What positive things have they said about your business or services?

• What kind of offers do they respond to?

You’ve now got the beginnings of a customer ‘avatar’. That is, a fully fleshed out person who represents the ideal customer you are seeking for your products and services.

This is a person you can have in mind when you seek out content, write copy for emails, blogs and social media, and develop your next product.

There is one more tool you can use to get info on your customers and I will share that with you very soon.

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