Do you collect data from your customers to drive sales?
If you aren't doing it today, consider starting. This move can help your business benefit in big ways. Here's how. When your customers interact with your business through your website, chatbot, social media pages, or any other means, they can give valuable clues about who they are, what they’re looking for, and the decision factors they’ll use to make a purchase.
You need to capture these clues and use tools to analyze them. When you do, you can make some important insights that transform how, where, and when you market to your customers—and what you can say to influence their next steps.
Ready to learn more? Let's get started.
Why should I collect customer data?
The right data can help you learn about your customers’ needs, objections, opinions of your offerings, and motivators for making a purchase. All of these insights can drive some major wins for your business. Here are a few:
- They can help you spot the common pain points your customers experience and highlight features that address them.
- They can help you write marketing messages that land with individual customers.
- They're often useful for identifying the platforms your audience is using (so you can make a point of building your presence there!).
- They might help you develop new products or services that address their needs.
- They may help you find commonalities in what bothers people about your brand. Then, you can work on fixes.
Great customer data can help you get a clear idea of who you serve, what they want, and how you must deliver. This information can give you an edge over competitors who haven’t started capturing it. It can also help level the playing field between you and competitors who always seem well-positioned.
What data should I collect from my customers?
There are four categories of data you might want to collect:
- Identity data, which could include first and last name, mailing and shipping address, telephone number, date of birth, gender, preferred language, payment preferences, and account information.
- Quantitative data, which may include when, where, and what a person purchases, how much they spend, what they return, their cart abandonment patterns, which emails they open and/or click through, the times in which they visit your website, whether they register for information, and the details of interactions they have with your business.
- Descriptive data, which might include demographic information such as marital status, number of children, career, education level, income, hobbies, or interests.
- Qualitative data, which may include information on your customers’ opinions, motivations, perceptions, and attitudes about what you offer.
In every case, the data you collect should help you understand your customers, find patterns, and form important insights that can help you sell, market, and serve your customers more effectively.
How do I collect this data from my customers?
There are lots of ways to collect customer data. Many do so by leveraging their website, social media pages, storefront, and phone conversations. Here, you’ll find some ideas for collecting and storing this valuable information.
One way to gather data is to simply ask your customers to provide it. Create a sign-up process that asks for the info you need to market and sell to your customers.
For many businesses, this is the go-to way to collect customer info. You might offer a free resource (a checklist, an e-book, or a seminar) or a free trial that requires your audience to register with their name, address, phone number, email address, and other key pieces of data.
|Many customers will provide this data, but only if they believe the item is high enough in value to be worth the effort.|
Surveys are also great ways to capture customer information, provided you ask for your respondent’s info along with answers to your questions.
You can use an online survey tool such as Pollfish to take on this task.
You can learn a lot about what, when, and why your customers make purchases by setting up a loyalty program. Most programs require users to share their name and key demographic info so they can receive offers, exclusive deals, and notifications tailored to their preferences.
Lots of businesses collect valuable data from their customers through the checkout process.
You can use this process to collect demographic information, too. When you do, you'll learn what specific customers add to their carts, what they spend, and how often they return to your store. Then, you can start building the story of your buyers’ patterns and preferences. You can also develop campaigns for people interested in specific products or product lines and encourage future visits.
Before investing in a solution, check out your online shopping platform’s reporting options. Many have great tools for evaluating these data points.
Web tracking technologies
You can also set up tracking cookies to learn who's visiting your website, how they found it, and the paths they explore within it.
Where should I store the information I collect?
You can store the data in your customer relationship management (CRM) solution or customer data platform (CDP) for future use.
Looking for a robust CRM that works well with many of the other approaches we’ll discuss here? Zoho CRM, Keap, or HubSpot are great options for most growing businesses. If you’d prefer a CDP, which centralizes all the data you collect through various channels, including offline and unstructured data, Blueshift is a popular choice.
|Coach your marketing, sales, and service teams to input data based on the conversations they have with a customer. This data can help you build patterns that allow you to understand your audience. Plus, it can help you ensure you’re connecting with them on the points that matter most.|
Who can help me set up these programs?
Ideally, you’ll work with your IT team to set up these tools and calibrate them to work for your business. But if you don’t have an IT pro in-house, you can work with a fractional (by-the-hour) IT team to take on this task. Here are a few the other business owners say they love using:
When I collect customer data, how can I be sure I’m complying with data security and privacy laws for my customers?
Laws vary by state and country, so it’s important to run your plans for collection by an attorney well-versed in the laws that apply.
Depending on your business and the locations you serve, you may need to comply with the essential data capture rules. For instance, if you serve the European market, you'll need to abide by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This digital privacy law specifies how data can be collected, stored, and shared. It also states the rights users have over their data. There are also state-specific privacy laws that give consumers greater control over the personal information businesses collect on them.
There are other specific laws you may need to abide by, too. One is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a rule established in the United States to safeguard patients' health records and protect patient rights. Another is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), an information security standard designed to protect consumers’ payment card details when transacting with businesses.
Compliance will require you to take a few simple steps:
- Encrypt the data you collect, share, and store. Your collection forms and data storage systems should include options that make this possible.
- Restrict who has access to customer data with access management tools (lots of owners use One Identity or strongDM for this task).
- Offer safe-data management training to your employees and others who will access or use the data.
- Ensure your security settings are robust.
Again, you consider working with an IT pro who specializes in systems integration and security practices to help you create robust and compliant data collection programs.
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