The idea that marketers should listen to their markets is fundamental to the sales process. How can you convince prospects to buy your product unless you know what they're looking for? Unfortunately, prospective customers don't always understand that we want to hear about their needs, which means they are often reluctant to share information.
However, by carefully listening and observing, we can sometimes overcome this reluctance and help customers buy the right product -- even when they're not eager to let us help them.
Marketers are always communicating to an audience, but listening to customers and observing their behavior are important, too. Communications consultants teach how valuable it is to obtain feedback to make sure that the intended message is actually received and understood.
One popular name for the technique of monitoring responses from customers is closed-loop marketing. The concept is simple: Communicate a message to an audience, then watch for behavior based on that message.
Getting and Using Data
Closed-loop marketing has several benefits, including these:
By continuously analyzing customer responses and refining the communications process and message, you can adjust the marketing campaign to deliver highly targeted and appropriate content and advertising.
Marketers at a company's every level can use data from closed-loop-marketing activities to improve decisions. Some managers are making strategic decisions about how to segment markets, identify market opportunities, plan campaigns, and evaluate results.
Other managers need the data for more tactical decisions, such as media planning, merchandising, content development, and promotion. In addition, analysts and researchers use this data to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the companys marketing communications effort.
However, because implementing closed-loop marketing online can be challenging, marketers may feel they are going in circles. Fortunately, there are techniques that can turn frustration into fulfillment.
Making It Work
Closed-loop marketing can take various forms, depending on the type of Internet marketing and technology used:
These are just a few ways to use closed-loop marketing techniques to improve customer communications. The key is to select the technique and technology most appropriate for your company right now. By making incremental improvements instead of waiting for conditions to improve, you can help today's first-time customers become loyal ones in the future.
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Cliff Allen is President of Coravue, a company that provides content management software and application service provider (ASP) hosting for Web and email. Allen is coauthor of three books about Internet marketing, including the "One-to-One Web Marketing, Second Edition" (John Wiley & Sons, 2001).
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT