Before we get into why listening is a great skill to possess and one that improves your marketing, let’s start with why not being able to listen is detrimental to your marketing. Let’s rewind to what marketing actually is. Marketing is what you do to promote your product and service to convince people to buy.
In that case, not listening to what your audience is talking about, not paying attention to whether or not your audience is engaging with you, and not identifying when your audience is frustrated or confused can lead to some bad marketing mistakes.
Alternatively, organizations that make an effort to listen to customers and who invest in market research are better-equipped to deliver content and marketing campaigns that resonate with their target audience.
It’s important not to confuse listening with hearing. Hearing is hard enough with all of the noise on the internet today, but listening means being curious about your audience’s desires, motivations, and fears. It also means having empathy to truly understand where people are coming from and how they really feel.
When you’re curious about your audience and their unique perspectives, needs, challenges, and preferences, you’re better able to improve marketing and create messaging that people will pay attention to and care about. This is the type of messaging that people remember when they are looking to make a purchase decision.
Get in Touch With Emotions
Great listening involves getting in touch with people’s emotions. Just as people reveal information about their emotional state through body language, your audience is likely revealing this same type of information with their digital footprint. Pay attention to the details, including things like how long your audience stays on certain pages on your site, how they interact with you on social channels (or if they don’t), what they relay to your customer support teams, and how they talk about your brand in general.
This works for both negative and positive emotions. Tune in to what people say about your brand when providing testimonials or positive reviews. Are they happy? Confident? Satisfied? Relieved? Excited? The impetus behind the positive review is even more important than the review itself as it can fuel future marketing campaigns. Harnessing your customers’ emotions can help you get in touch with the types of emotional reactions your product or service can elicit in people and improve marketing accordingly.
Engage in Social Listening
If you’re a B2B that hasn’t fully boarded the social media train yet, there are other ways you can use this platform to your benefit. Social listening can help you hone in on what your prospects and customers think about you and your competitors. If you are active on social media, consider how you can engage your audience to ask questions, listen, and respond.
Social listening is an important way to get a finger on the pulse of general sentiment around your brand, products, and services. Use tools like SproutSocial and Hootsuite to easily aggregate @ mentions, direct messages, and general discussion around your brand.
It’s not a bad idea to follow your competitors as well as other thought leaders in the space to gather intel on general topics that may or may not be resonating with your target audience. And when in doubt, ask. People go on social media to interact with others, so posting a poll or a link to a survey is a great way to gather feedback that you can use to inform messaging, product development, or other areas of your core business.
Be Open to Feedback
When listening, it’s crucial to be open to receiving whatever feedback comes up. In some cases, that means dealing with negative feedback. No one likes to hear that they’ve let someone down, upset someone, or missed the mark. But improving means taking all opinions into account, especially the negative ones. Consistently asking for feedback — whether solicited in-app, on your site, on social media, or via customer surveys — is a solid start to gathering information about how people feel about your products or services.
Using that feedback is the critical next step. If something about the product itself is an issue, relay that to your product and product marketing teams. If your messaging is falling flat or is offensive, make the necessary adjustments. We don’t know what we don’t know, which is why asking for feedback is so important. It also requires a degree of vulnerability, but thankfully, vulnerability is a great way to improve marketing and tell great stories.
Great listening is a powerful tool for marketing that hits the bullseye. There are many different ways to listen as well as to solicit feedback from the people who matter most: your target audience. When doing so, remember that feedback is only as useful as what you do with it. Negative feedback will happen regardless; but collecting it, digesting it, and using it to improve your product and your marketing means you get to squeeze value out of it and turn proverbial lemons into lemonade. Cheers!