A Focus Group of One

I’m a big fan of WhichTestWon. It’s a good, regular reminder that while my gut is pretty good at this point, it’s far from reliable—especially when I’m in unfamiliar territory. In the absence of firm knowledge or solid data to draw upon, you are pretty much left with your personal biases.

Marketers From MarsThat’s a dangerous place for marketers to be, since our behaviors are often very different from the average consumer’s. As revealed by Marketers From Mars, the latest report in the Subscribers, Fans and Followers series, marketers are much more tech-savvy than the average person, are more involved in social media, and make more purchases online. It’s also fair to say that marketers are less concerned about their privacy and much more enamored with the next new thing.

One of the most impactful findings is that owning a smartphone made consumers more likely to be a subscriber, fan and follower. Owning a smartphone actually made consumers nearly 3 times more likely to follow at least one brand on Twitter. But while 90% of marketers have a smartphone, only 51% of consumers do. That gap will surely narrow over the coming years, but it will likely remain very significant in terms of how marketers adjust their email and other marketing efforts to smartphone users, while still serving feature phone users.

Another important finding was that there are significant differences between which channels marketers are eager to invest their time and resources in and which ones consumers wish marketers would invest in. The two channels that marketers seem to be underinvesting in are email and in-store help. And the areas where marketers appear to be overinvesting include product content, smartphone apps and Twitter.

It’s always a good idea to be responsive to consumer needs, but there are a couple of considerations to be mindful of:

First, keep an eye on how much of an investment it takes to move the needle on improvements. Consumers may want more in-store help, but depending on your store base it may cost a lot to hire more store reps, improve store rep training and knowledge, and increase the self-service options to the point that it makes a difference. You’re likely to get a much higher return on investment by putting those resources into email or elsewhere.

And second, you should listen more to what your most valuable customers say. I’m a big believer in the 80/20 rule and that you should listen closely to that 20% of your customers who are driving 80% of your sales. For instance, your customer base as a whole may not be all that enthralled by mobile apps, but if your best customers are heavy users or would like to see improvements then you’d be wise to listen to them.

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