customer data - business expansion strategy

4 Ways Customer Data Can Inform Your Business Expansion Strategy

Customer data surrounds us.  The digital marketplace has made it easy to gather insights into user demographics, online behaviors, transaction histories, customer feedback, contact info, and more.  Most of this data comes in through three methods:

  • Asking customers directly (often via forms and fillable fields)
  • Indirect tracking of customers (such as clicks, time-on-page, purchase records, or notes in the CRM from past support calls)
  • Purchasing data from a third party (who has likely done one of the other two)

For an expanding business, the question is how to massage all of this easily accessible data into fuel for business growth—not only in the short term but also for sustainable, long term growth. Data from all three methods will go into a robust business expansion strategy.  Here are four ways to use customer data to inform your growth:

1) Location-Based Advertising

By tracking the IP address of internet-connected devices, it’s simple to build data into a map of regional hotspots for your online traffic or interaction.  This can help you target areas with the most opportunity for growth.  

Relevant, localized messaging will improve ROI on marketing and sales messages as you expand.  Geo-targeting has an essential place in any business expansion strategy that isn’t geared towards a broad, national, or worldwide audience (yet).

2) Insights From Customer Service Records

Take a look at anecdotes and trends within your company’s service and support records.  How have customers interacted with your service and sales teams in the past?  

Putting these patterns in context can help your business learn to maximize the campaigns or messages that worked and adjust less effective strategies to better align with customer desires. Furthermore, you can identify areas that customers are most interested in seeing improved.  Perfecting your product or service is an ongoing process, and acts as a critical component of any business expansion strategy.

3) Mapping the Ideal Buyer’s Journey

An ideal buyer’s journey presents minimal friction as a customer moves through your sales funnel.  Ask yourself some of these things as you build a business expansion strategy and examine incoming sales cycle data:

  • How are they finding you? 
  • What stages are they going through as they come to a purchasing decision? 
  • Which messages pushed them further along that path?  
  • Where are the dropoff or exit points that prevent customers from reaching a purchase?

These insights into your sales process are critical to building a streamlined, efficient buyer journey.  Customer data can tell you what it will take to make doing business with you as easy as possible.

4) Personalized Experiences

You’re also seeking to learn who your ideal buyer is.  What are the traits and tendencies of the customer persona that has (or personas that have) the highest win rate?  What channels do they prefer, and what is most important to them about your product or service?

Many businesses begin with a hunch about who they think their business is targeting.  Customer data may reveal your hunch is on track or off base. But either way, it will give quantifiable clarity to the pain points and ambitions of your ideal audience.  Go for a 360-degree view of the customer lifecycle.

Armed with this data, you can hyper-target experiences specifically tailored to your customers.  In many cases, it’s possible to automate this process with responsive web design and customized workflows.  Growing businesses are better positioned to scale a customer base and encourage loyalty when they know exactly who they’re selling to.

Your customer data is an invaluable resource for smoothing the sales process, addressing shortcomings, adjusting to the market, and reaching the customers who most want to hear from you.  All of these are essential elements of your business expansion strategy.

Enterprise Data Strategy

Build a Strategic Roadmap to Success For Your Company

How to Build a Strategic Roadmap to Success For Your Company

David Norton and Robert Kaplan once noted that 90% of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully.  The reasons strategic plans fail can be diverse, but many of them are tied to common traits of a weak strategic plan, such as a:

  • Lack of purpose (developed “to have one,” but it sits on a shelf)
  • Lack of understanding (of the marketplace, business needs, or cause-and-effect)
  • Lack of clarity (vague, unrealistic goals, or poorly defined responsibilities/resources for execution)

You can avoid these pitfalls by spending the necessary time upfront developing a map that visualizes each element—the broad goals, context, and results—in an easy-to-digest, actionable format.

Follow a Strategic Roadmap

A strategic “roadmap” is the bridge that connects strategy to execution.  It’s a graphical representation of the moving parts between the high-level vision and the actions that will bring it to fruition.  The map shows how strategic goals will progress over a defined period through the incremental delivery of key outcomes.

Motorola is often credited with pioneering the strategic roadmapping process in the 1970s and 1980s. Robert Galvin, the CEO of Motorola when roadmapping was established, called it “an extended look at the future.”

To build one, you’ve got to ground it into data that substantiates your organization’s strengths, gaps, the potential for growth, and the priorities that—if addressed with proper resources—will lead to your desired results.  A roadmap offers many vital benefits for your company, such as:

  • Alignment between resources, research, initiatives, and goals
  • Consensus on priorities and concrete next steps
  • The emphasis of top-level vision over day-to-day obstacles
  • A basis for ongoing communication between stakeholders at all levels

Building Your Roadmap

Follow these steps to create a map from strategy to execution:

  • VISION: Mapping is a collaborative process that begins with a vision statement to encapsulate the ideal future for the company.  This “vision” is your purpose and ultimate mission as a company.
  • GOAL SETTING: Several strategic goals will spin-off of the overall vision of the organization—the desirable achievements that will altogether contribute to the broad organizational vision.
  • GAP ANALYSIS: Self-study must reveal the extent of the gaps between your current state and your desired outcome.  You might examine aspects such as the:
    • Nuances of your market niche
    • Competitive environment
    • Resources available
    • Key business capabilities linked to your goals (using KPIs)
      • Define how these aspects must change and to what degree.
  • ACTIONS: Put together a portfolio of recommended steps that can address the priorities revealed in your analysis, ultimately leading to your desired results.
  • ROADMAP: Turn this cause-and-effect flow into a graphical, visual representation—a strategy map—that leads from the foundational vision down the bifurcating branches of subgoals and actions all the way to results.

“Timeline” vs. “Swimlane”

These are two of the most common structures used for strategy roadmaps. Both show the flow from vision to results, but differ in several ways:

  • TIMELINE: A timeline map shows an overall growth strategy over a defined period (months, quarters, years), with the component initiatives and milestones included in that process. This is useful for aligning the progress of each goal in a controlled way.
  • SWIMLANE: This style prioritizes progress over deadlines.  Each team (and their goal) is assigned its own “swimlane,” with internal initiatives organized by status.  All involved can easily see which projects are in progress, completed, or up next.

Strategic Roadmap vs. Execution Plan

Many organizations skip straight to executing strategy after they’ve developed a vision and goals, but this is a mistake.  When you launch initiatives without a concrete understanding of how they will tie back to strategy, you’re destined to get lost.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

— Lewis Carroll

A strategic roadmap comes first, to define what needs to change, why those changes are necessary, and how they’ll lead to desired results.  Only then are you prepared to build a Gantt chart that lays out your execution plan with start and end dates for each action.

Use a Guide

You don’t have to do it all alone, though.  If you’re building a strategic roadmap, an experienced strategy consultant can help you determine the steps that are necessary to craft a vision statement and conduct a thorough gap analysis.

Balancing Quick Wins with Sustainable Goals

Unlock the Key to a 360-Degree View of the Customer Lifecycle

A 360-degree view of the customer lifecycle is both more possible today than it ever has been and more critical.  Businesses have long grasped the need to identify their ideal customers—demographics, pain points, motivations—but modern digital disruption and “big data” have completely changed the meaning and methods of the process.

Continue reading “Unlock the Key to a 360-Degree View of the Customer Lifecycle”

4 Competitive Advantage Strategies in a Crowded Tech Industry

In an ever-growing industry built upon the very evolution of technology, it can be surprisingly easy to rely on strategies that make you blind to any real issues at hand or possible room for growth. With a knowledge of what’s worked in the past and insight into new emerging strategies, you’ll soon have the tools you need to whip your business into competitive shape. Continue reading “4 Competitive Advantage Strategies in a Crowded Tech Industry”