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Customer Experience & Data-Driven Marketing: 5 Lessons Learned From My Side Hustle


Five lessons in customer experience and data-driven marketing that I learned from my side hustle, and apply to both large and small businesses.

Sean Hirsch, UX Designer
February 27, 2020

These days, it seems that everyone has a “side hustle.” A recent study conducted by the New York Post revealed that 50% of millennials have a side-hustle to boost their income. Yet, millennials aren’t the only ones. The same study showed that 24% of Baby Boomers do, as well.

Over a year ago, my business partner and I took a bold step. We launched a company specializing in soaps and bath bombs.

What I learned from my day-job at Tenlo, a B2B digital marketing agency, helped in my new adventure as an entrepreneur. But, what I didn’t expect was for my new startup to teach me new lessons in customer experience and data-driven marketing. I learned valuable marketing insights that can be incorporated into any business plan.

Here are 5 lessons I learned about customer experience and data-driven marketing that can benefit marketers of any size company.

1. Value Customer Experience

This seems straightforward. But, let’s put it into perspective.

Recently, Chipotle rolled out the newest addition to their menu – queso. They insist that it’s the best recipe compared to that of their competition. Yet, a majority of customers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the newest product. Even after requesting this menu item for years.

How did this happen? Why is it still happening? The answer may not be simple. It uncovers a bigger problem than just bad cheese dip. Instead, it is likely a combination of poor customer experience management.

Within my own business, customer feedback stated that our products are great, but shipping rates are too high. Additionally, customers expressed their desire to travel with our products but TSA regulations prevent this. To address these pain points and help increase customer retention, we created travel-sized products and established thresholds for free shipping.

By paying attention to customer experience and feedback, sales and customer satisfaction increased. Customers felt recognized and valued. It doesn’t matter if a brand is big or small, new or old. Addressing concerns through a customer experience strategy is a cost-effective way too boost sales. Not to mention, build customer loyalty.

I’ve learned that ignoring customer feedback and criticism can tarnish a brand. Authenticity is key. Listen and provide honest answers to your customers to boost the trustworthiness of your brand.

At Tenlo, a client-centric mindset is one of our core values. We value brand integrity and how it affects our customer experience. This sets the standards for the content marketing that we create. In the end, if the client is not satisfied – neither are we.

2. Take A Data-Driven Approach

Sometimes we make assumptions in marketing. I’m guilty of this myself. Getting involved in your brand and industry can result in the tendency to make assumptions about customers. This is a common theme. Don’t throw away money advertising products to people based on personal perceptions. This is where data-driven decision-making comes into play.

It’s beneficial to analyze customer demographics using digital marketing tools such as Facebook Insights. This shows age, sex, occupation, income, location, interests, etc. It might seem overwhelming, but even pulling out a few pieces of information can begin to inform a data-driven approach to your creative strategy. Plus, more effective targeting in future campaigns.

Whether your business is big or small, data-driven marketing plays a key role. Data is the driving force of our marketing strategies at Tenlo. It’s how we measure the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns. Based on what type of campaign you’re creating, determine which data metrics are most relevant to success. Establishing these metrics up front can help you tailor your marketing campaign based on the results you find.

3. Make Brand Identity Reflect Customer Experience

There is great value in focusing on your brand identity. No customer is going to pay attention to robotic responses to content. The digital era brings more noise and distraction than ever before. As a result, customers experience ever-shortening attention spans.

Any company will find themselves in a competitive industry. Establish ways to differentiate yourself. We’ve heard that customers love our product names and descriptions because of their ‘fun’ and ‘unique’ nature. Some customers even discussed coming to an event because of a positive social media interaction. This ties back to authentic branding. A great customer experience strategy should include customer recognition and interaction. It makes your brand more personable. Invest in your customer relationships to build trustworthiness and loyalty.

4. Pay Attention to Influencers

Influencers are the people recognized as experts in their specific industry. As a result, they have acquired large followings. It’s been beneficial in my own business to build relationships with influencers and can benefit any type of business.

Influencer endorsements carry more weight for potential customers. The data shows that consumers trust peers and influencers more than brands. An Instagram influencer alone accounted for $1 billion in this year’s marketing spend [source]. In the future, that number is only expected to climb.

One advantage of influencers is their ability to tap into niche markets and boost segmented campaigns. It’s important to research influencers before reaching out to ensure they are a good fit for your brand.

At Tenlo, we use a data-driven approach to compile a list of influencers based on industry and subject matter. It also shows which social media channels the user engages with most often. This ensures that you’re reaching out to the right people.

5. There’s No Silver Bullet

Creating a video, posting it and sitting back to watch the magic happen is everyone’s ideal marketing strategy. Unfortunately, that’s not how digital marketing works.

The reality is that although there are many great digital marketing tools available, none of them can create a perfect campaign. The most successful marketing efforts rely on an informed, data-driven strategy that focuses on the best customer experience. Plus, you must present them with a valuable solution.

The days of costly, bold ideas that may not turn a profit are over. Why take on that level of risk when you can spend less and ensure a return on investment?

The most cost-effective digital marketing strategy is a test-and-learn approach. Small-scale A/B testing will ensure that you get the most for your investment. At Tenlo, our digital marketing strategies are rooted in test-and-learn adaptability. We believe this is the most efficient way to uncover relevant B2B digital marketing insights that we use to tailor our campaigns. Ultimately, this creates the best customer experience and improves results.

The Bottom Line

Starting a side hustle can be hard. Digital marketing within a large business that’s been around for decades can be hard, as well. The good news is – there’s a way to make it easier and more effective. Listen to your audience, take advantage of modern data-driven marketing strategies and adapt your business plan to create the ideal customer experience.

Attention spans are smaller. Competition is always on the rise. Make the most of your time and budget by staying current, aware and informed. This makes all the difference in your digital marketing strategy. Build brand loyalty and leave customers wanting more.

Sean applies his strong creative, technical and problem-solving skills to map out the ultimate buyer experiences. He combines existing data with his own in-depth user research to ensure user needs and expectations are met throughout the buyer journey.

Sean Hirsch, UX Designer

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