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How to use customer data to develop marketing insights

Behavior Analysis

Collecting customer data and analyzing it to gain customer experience insights is something only big businesses do, right? In fact, small businesses can and should collect valuable customer information, just like big businesses. A small business can gain insight into customer behavior and buying preferences which can improve marketing communication. When you analyze customer data well, usually with third-party help, you can create targeted communication initiatives and make strategic business decisions.

Before we start, you may be wondering if collecting customer data is in any way illegal. As long as you inform your customers what you’re doing with terms and conditions and a privacy policy, and have them click or sign their agreement before making a purchase or joining your mailing list, collecting customer data is very legal. If you decide to sell customer data, you need to put that in your privacy policy too, though small businesses risk their customers feeling unimportant or annoyed and moving to another business if you decide to sell their personal data.

Basic Contact Information

Ideally, you’re gathering the contact information from people before they become customers. Offering to send coupons to website visitors or emailing new deals are common strategies for converting web traffic to customers.

If you’re not optimizing your website for conversions, you need to at least collect contact information from your current customers.

Name, email address, billing address, and phone number are data that’s easy to get during a transaction since most shopping carts ask for this information to proceed with a transaction. These are the beginning steps to creating a good customer profile. Without basic customer details and a line of communication to your target market, your other data isn’t helpful. How else can you personalize recommendations, send notifications about sales, and link to surveys if you have no contact info?

Lifestyle and Personality Details

Get the demographic information that will tell you the most about how to offer your customers a better experience. Gathering demographic and lifestyle information, such as whether they have kids, what their hobbies are, and where their interests lie is the first step towards offering good personalization.

Incentivize participation in this sort of information collection. Send out short surveys to your customers—just a few questions at a time—to increase the likelihood that they’ll actually complete them. Offer a small reward, like five percent off a purchase or early access to a new product, for completing the survey.

Social Media Participation

Customer behavior also informs what kind of content you should be posting on social media. When you analyze your customers’ likes, dislikes, purchasing decisions, and lifestyles, you can create content that draws those customers back to your site and converts new ones through likes and shares.

First, you need to know which social media platforms your customers use most. If your Twitter following is larger than your Facebook connections, then start with Twitter posts encouraging customers to view valuable information on your business’s blog. Use social media to ask questions and take polls. Some people—especially millennials—are likely to leave comments featuring their opinions or to hit “like” to agree with a statement. You can reply to and highlight the best customer comments.

Why They Buy From You

Find out what factors into their use of your website and products. Some customers are there for convenience, others because they like your products, others because the price is right. Quick surveys, either attached to the end of transactions or emailed as follow-ups, will gather the answers to these questions.

When someone has had a chance to use the product they ordered, ask them to rate the product. Offer a star rating, a 1 to 10 scale, and a comments box. Instead of focusing specifically on the user and the product, many companies prefer to ask “how likely are you to recommend our product?” Someone may like your product fine, but perhaps not enough to talk to others about it or to leave glowing reviews online. If you ask people why they rated you how they did, you’ll gain some good insights into your products and your company’s customer experience.

Transaction History

Always save transaction history, since it’s a powerful way to generate future recommendations to current customers. Find out what they buy, how much they buy, and how often they buy it. If you think about some of the accurate recommendations you’ve received from companies like Amazon, they have figured out what your tastes are partially based on what you’ve bought previously, and they recommended products you probably will like.

Transaction histories will be available through your payment vendor. The kind of information you want and the potential to analyze it will help you choose a vendor or switch from one to another. Good shopping cart technology and high levels of encryption are two top features to look for.

Shopping Data

Track how long your customers stay on your site and what they do while they’re there. That doesn’t just mean what they clicked on before they bought something. See how often your customers visit your site versus how often they buy something. Where do they browse, and how long do they spend on each page they view? Customer behavior while on your site gives you information on how well your site is working. If lots of people navigate quickly away from a page of yours, try changing it to improve customer experience.

One of the best ways to get this data is Google Analytics. It shows you lots of data and graphs, like which areas of the world send you the best traffic, which of your pages perform best, and which perform worst. Google Analytics tells you when people ditch the contents of their shopping carts and what they search for when they arrive.

Focus on a few types of data at a time. You don’t want to inundate your customers with requests for information, nor do you want to overwhelm yourself with data. Try a few strategies, see which work best, and go from there.

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