How to Know More About Your Customers

It is my hope that yesterday’s post on data convinced you of the importance of collecting and mining customer data, and encouraged you to think in new ways about the data that you already have.

But what if you don’t have the data you want, or need, to really make a difference?

You need to figure out how to get it. And there are a number of things you can do to change the way that you collect data and get more of what you need.

  1. Ask your customers – through a combination of surveys, sign up forms, and checkout processes, you can collect a lot of information directly from your customers. They are your best source of data, especially when they willingly provide it to you. Make sure that you have the systems in place to collect and store all this data, trackable back to each individual customer.
  2. Add third party data – there are a number of large companies whose primary business is collecting data on consumers at the individual and household level. If you can afford it, you can marry their data to your customer list, adding new pieces of information that you might not be willing or able to collect directly.
  3. Track web activity – even the most basic website analytics platforms give you thousands of different pieces of information about the behavior of people on your website. And you should be able to connect your customer database to your analytics platform to tie web activity directly to individual customers based on an IP address or login.
  4. Track purchases – some companies struggle to get the data they need because they’re not tracking the things they should be. All purchase behavior should be collected and stored with the customer data, including but not limited to the date, products purchased, amount spent, checkout method (in store, online, phone, etc.).

The key to knowing more about your customers is to identify what you know already, figure out what you want to know that you don’t already have, and then find the easiest way to get it. Often times, when you get to that point, you’ll find that the information you’re after is easier to get than you expected.

So stop waiting and start collecting.

What Do You Know About Your Customers?

The more you know about your customers, the better. We live in the era of big data. What that is and what it means changes depending on who you talk to and when. But most generally, it means that data is:

  • Easier to get, and
  • Easier to analyze

We can capture, store, sort, and analyze an almost infinite amount of information about our business and those who do business with us. And smart companies have been taking advantage of that knowledge to:

  • Increase ROI on marketing efforts
  • Enter new markets
  • Develop new products or services

So what do you know about your customers, and how can that help you grow your business?

Here are some things you might already know:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Birthday
  • Location
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • # of times they purchased from you
  • Purchase dates
  • Purchase amounts

And how can you use that information effectively? Here are a few basic ideas to help you get started.

  1. You could mail a special offer flyer to all your customers on their birthday offering them a discount on their next purchase.
  2. You could call or email customers who have not made a purchase in a while and offer them an incentive to return, or survey them to find out why they may have left.
  3. You can identify key locations with a large percentage of customers and target advertisements in that area.
  4. You can use the data about what people purchased to develop complementary products and offer them specifically to past customers based on their buying behavior.

Your turn. Think about all of the information you have available to you. Can you organize it in such a way that it helps you find new opportunities to grow your business?