In advertising budget.
In lost sales.
In lost customers.
No one is immune to the problem – I’ve seen Fortune 500 corporations fall victim to this as often if not more so than mom and pop operations with three employees.
And it’s almost always the exact same. Fortunately, it takes only a few minutes to realize exactly what you’re doing wrong, and more importantly, how to fix it.
The Billion Dollar Mistake
Imagine walking into a RadioShack and instead of asking you what you need help with, a clerk puts a package of batteries in your hand and starts ringing you up, assuming all the while that you’re there for batteries.
RadioShack sells a lot of batteries so it’s not a bad guess on his part. If all that clerk ever did was look at the numbers on his computer to see what they sold the most of, he’d probably assume every customer needed batteries, or close enough to it.
And as stupid as that sounds, it’s exactly what millions of people encounter every year when visiting websites, opening email newsletters or interacting with customer support online.
The HUGE volume of data that we now have – from Google Analytics to shopping cart data to retargeting trends – it’s dizzying.
You can know down to the last penny exactly how much a certain demographic is likely to spend on your site and what they’re likely to spend it on.
But that doesn’t mean you’re right every time.
Businesses have gotten in the habit of relying so heavily on their data that they assume they know better than the customer. They assume they know what someone wants, needs or is looking for when they land on a website.
And it costs businesses billions.
Opening Up Your Outreach Strategy
Let me just say that I don’t think you should try to please all the people all the time. The 37Signals guys have it right in ReWork – choose a niche and know it well. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.
But at the same time, don’t ASSUME you know everything about that audience, even if you know it very, very well.
Get feedback. Ask for opinions. Run surveys. Gather customer satisfaction polls. Call or email people. Split test ideas even if you don’t think they will work.
Big companies do this stuff all the time, partially because it used to be the only way to know anything about your audience, and partially because it’s smart marketing. Even if your budget is super small, don’t fall into the trap of assuming everything you think you know about your audience based on the numbers you see in analytics every day.
This is the single biggest mistake I see businesses making online and the ones that avoid it and gather data and have conversations and build relationships with their customers are the ones that adapt faster and continue to grow even when the market shifts rapidly – as it tends to do.
Be one of the latter. Your competition won’t see it coming.
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