The Single Most Important Question You’re Not Asking Customers – And How To Answer It

In most customer interactions, such as when a prospect is visiting your website, chatting with a store employee, sampling your items at a market, or calling to ask a question, there is an opportunity for your business or organization to collect a single piece of information that will allow you to learn more about their needs and interests and how to serve them better. It can help you to find other people with similar needs and interests whom you can market to. Over time, this single piece of information can show you where to find your best customers, and you can learn where your limited marketing and advertising budget is best spent. 

The question is: ‘what is your email address?’ and it is the first piece of information that will begin to connect the dots for all of the activities your prospective customers engage in while interacting with you.

So, how does an email address provide all of this information?

People are busy, and they have a LOT of different accounts that they use for everything from communicating with people at work to interacting on social media and accessing coupons for grocery shopping, to paying their bills online to accessing their music library and everything in between. The one thing that generally ties all of these different accounts together is a single (or one personal and one work-related) email address. Email is the common denominator, and in order to access all of these different channels, accounts, and applications, an email address is needed.

Once a person provides their email address to a business or organization, there are many ways that they can be communicated with from that point forward. This is what starts to build the relationship, and it starts to build the profile of that person so you can get a better understanding of what they want from your organization, and what they aren’t interested in.

Here are a few ways an organization can reach out to people based on their email address:

  • Advertising with Google’s Customer Match
    • Show ads to people who have expressed interest in your products or services, but have not yet purchased from you, based on the email address they provided to you.
    • Cross-promote different products or services to your existing customers. Know that someone who purchased a coat from you last year might be in the market again this fall? Now is a great time to get your new styles (as well as boots and gloves) in front of them while they’re browsing the web.
  • Advertising with Facebook’s Custom Audiences
    • Similar to the above Google scenario, Facebook allows you to upload a list of customer email addresses for the purposes of showing ads to these individuals right in their Facebook news feed. One catch: their Facebook account must use the same email address they provided to you.
  • Advertising with Twitter’s Tailored Audiences
    • As with Google and Facebook, you can get right in front of your targeted customers and prospects who have provided you with an email address by dropping your ads directly into their Twitter feed. Same catch as in the Facebook example above: email address must be associated.
  • Expanding Your Reach with Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences
    • Here’s an interesting way to reach a whole new batch of prospective clients. If you know that your best customers share some traits, let’s say they typically have similar ages and interests or activities, such as people who enjoy skiing and hiking, Facebook can show your ads to people who are similar to the customers in your email list.
  • And of course, Email Marketing
    • Leaving the most obvious tactic for last, don’t forget about reaching people directly in their inbox, where they are likely to spend the majority of their time online. Email marketing gives you an opportunity to communicate directly with past and prospective customers, and to track what they clicked on and whether or not they even opened your email. You can see which messages and subject line garnered the most interest, and what time of day or day of the week had the best results in terms of getting opened and clicked.

So now that you know what you can do with those email addresses once you collect them, you may also be interested in the best ways to ask for email addresses so that people will offer them to you, and how to monitor what your customers and prospects do on your website, which will help you do more business with them in the future.


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