Getting to Know Your Customers Through Data

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
To uncover a deeper view of your customers and how they behave, you need data. Here are some critical steps to apply that yield deep customer insights.

Trying to learn about your customers shows you respect their desires and are trying to adjust your marketing and sales tactics to appeal to what types of content or products they want to receive. Gaining this understanding can be difficult, with some companies relying on anecdotal evidence or customer reviews. To uncover a deeper view of your customers and how they behave, you need data.

Ways to Gather Relevant Customer Data

Google Analytics is a sophisticated tool that helps marketers to view visitors as a whole and spot trends and traffic spikes. It gives you visual representation of your hourly, daily, or monthly traffic and also provides details on where your traffic is coming from. Deep analysis of Google Analytics can give you broader context into the user behavior, especially as you begin to correlate promotions or other marketing activities and increases on site visits or clicks. Other tools provide customer data on an individual bases and offers the ability to track multiple visitor actions, such as what items on your site they are viewing, how long they are visiting, where they come from, and how they found your site. Analysis of individual visitor's navigation behavior can help you to see trends about what your customers are looking for, and what areas of your site they might skip entirely. You can then look at the visitors who actually made purchases and see if there are navigation patterns that can be encouraged or duplicated in order to drive sales from new visitors.

Filtering out the Right Data

Once you have the right sets of data, you need to move forward and filter it to find some true insights. You should have a good idea of what you are planning to do with the data, whether it's large-scale customer education or to establish a list of customers who deserve one-on-one outreach. Once you have narrowed down your goals, you can select the right data that fits your needs based on your analysis.

To uncover what customers want, it's important to uncover any trends such as correlations between product purchases and the time of year, or a geographic preference for a certain service. Filtering can show you characteristics of your top customers, who might very well fit into the 80/20 rule and propel you to spend more marketing dollars to reach these profitable customers. Performing data analysis should be an exciting endeavor, so try to play around with the data in atypical ways to see if you can uncover something surprising. Avoid the trap of adjusting your data filters to fit your preconceived notions, and be open to any insights, even if they reflect negatively on some aspect of the business.

Before you use the data in for example an email campaign, you want to make sure it's properly managed. Using the most up-to-date information is essential and you should also prune the list to pull out any groups that are more likely to click the spam button or perform some other undesirable action.

What to do With Your Data to Keep it Safe

A crucial first step is to perform an accounting of what kinds of data you possess. Treat data like dynamic pieces of inventory that are very valuable and will cause severe damages if they are lost or stolen. Customer information from various sources should be aggregated wherever possible so you can pull insights from one large source. You intuitively want to start with the biggest possible collection of data before you begin chopping through various filters and rules.

As the capacity of cloud storage grows and costs continue to fall, storing private information in the cloud becomes a logical choice for most companies. If you hold sensitive data that falls under various compliance standards then you might consider a private cloud or other solution that doesn't intermingle with your information with any other entity. For most businesses, the public cloud contains plenty of data safeguards, and individuals not following best practices (passwords on Post-it Notes) are often the source of data leaks.

Customer data should be managed on a regular basis if you expect to always have a pulse on customers' desires. Sentiments about your brand can change quickly, and you don't want to discover one of your products or services is "played out" before it's too late. You can't rely on the past actions of your customers to be repeated, so utilizing information that is as close to real-time as possible is essential. Consistent refreshing of your customer data and continued analysis will give you a competitive edge because you have a deeper and more current understanding of what your customers want from their relationship with your brand.