Do you know why people show up on your website? Why they are interested in your brand? Do you know why they want to talk to your company? These are the questions brands need to be asking customers if they want actionable insights that deliver results, according to Tom Shapiro, CEO at Stratabeat.

Shapiro believes brands need to have a sharp focus when it comes to their customers’ goals. “What problems are they trying to tackle?” asked Shapiro during his workshop, Digging for Customer Insights, at this week’s DX Summit in Chicago. The CEO’s session outlined the questions brands should be asking to build better digital experiences, and shared tips on best practices for gathering and tracking insights that drive conversions and increase retention rates.

Start with segmentation to build accurate personas

Shapiro says segmentation is the best place to start when trying to understand the “who” behind your audience. By having website visitors self identify as soon as they show up on your site — for example, leveraging a question box on your homepage or a landing page that asks visitors, “Are you a CEO? CFO? In business intelligence? IT? Marketing?” — brands can instantly direct visitors toward relevant content.

Once a brand is able to segment their audience, they can then build personas per each segment. To build personas, ask questions like, “What websites do they visit? How are they consuming information? What are their goals?” advises Shapiro. He believes that 50% or more of a persona should be focused on the customer’s goals and challenges. Also, naming your personas helps humanize them. “You start to have empathy for that person,” said Shapiro.

Documenting your data

It is crucial that brands document the conversations they’re having with their audience to get a comprehensive “voice of the customer” view, says Shapiro. He lists several mechanisms for doing this, including: onsite surveys and conversation marketing tools (chatbots, live chat conversations, etc.).

He also is a big proponent of live interviews and in-person conversations with customers, as well as ethnographic field studies where brands can engage and listen to their audience communities. “You’ll get more information in one lunch [with a customer] than studying a month’s worth of Google Analytics,” said Shapiro.

Another method recommended by Shapiro is off-site surveys. “Find partners who have a massive audience already,” recommends Shapiro. Running a survey on a website with a much larger audience is the fastest way to scale your survey participation.

The analytics that matter

Shapiro strongly urges brands analyze their first-time visitor data against returning visitor data. “It’s a very different data set,” said Shapiro, “You’re going to muck up all of your data if you don’t separate these data sets.”

It’s also important to implement behavioral analytics to understand the visitor experience, according to Shapiro. He says page views don’t mean anything unless a brand has an in-depth understanding of what a customer is doing on their website — behavioral analytics help better understand the flow.

“There’s no reason in the world not to be using behavioral analytics,” said Shapiro.

Talk to your team

It’s crucial customer experience and marketing teams keep an open dialogue with their sales team. “This is something you have to do, it’s so critical,” said Shapiro, “They live in the voice of the customer.”

Customer support personnel is also a goldmine for understanding customer issues and can offer an important frame of reference. Listening to customer service issues — and using that information to build customer experiences — can help lift customer retention rates.

The goal, says Shapiro, is to take the insight provided by sales and customer support and use it to build digital experiences tailored for the customer.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.