According to data from McKinsey & Company, over 70% of consumers expect companies to provide personalized interactions with them. Also, 76% of customers are frustrated when this personalized incineration doesn’t occur.
With the increased demand for personalized interactions, customer data is becoming one of the most valuable assets any business has. Marketing, sales, and customer service teams need access to quality customer data to ensure personalized interactions occur across the buyer journey. From the first interaction with your business to the moment a customer pays you for services, every single step of the way should be informed by customer data.
However, maintaining an accurate data set about your target customers isn’t always easy. And with the wealth of data available to businesses today, it can become easy to get bogged down and spend time and money focused on the wrong information.
In this guide, we’ll help you hone in on the customer data worth gathering, paired with practical tips for how you can use this data to improve everything from marketing to sales.
One of the most basic but fundamental pieces of customer data you should collect is up-to-date contact information. Ideally, this should include a first and last name, an email, a phone number, and a physical address.
While much of marketing and lead generation is done online, gathering a physical address is still important. Often, customers will change their email addresses and even their cell phone numbers frequently. However, it is far less frequent for a customer to move from one address to another, which makes this piece of information a valuable tool for reaching back out to cold leads.
When you gather contact information, make sure that all your systems are integrated and sync new data across platforms. For example, if your marketing team gathers a new email address for an existing customer, this data should be stored not only in your marketing systems, such as email platforms but should also be updated in your sales team’s CRM.
Customer contact information is the basis for much of your marketing and sales activities. If you gather this data early on, you have an increased ability to reach back out to leads.
When you neglect to do so, it will be extremely difficult for you to follow up with potential customers.
Contact information can be used in any of the following ways and will become the foundational element for many marketing, sales, and customer service activities:
- Email marketing campaigns
- SMS marketing campaigns
- Sales calls
- Physical mailers
- Personalized promotions
When you run a marketing campaign, one of the most effective ways of ensuring a more personalized experience for customers is through segmentation. Segmentation works by lumping customers into groups based on key data sets.
For example, if you run a marketing campaign to highlight your upcoming sale on basic maintenance packages for four-wheel-drive vehicles, you’d ideally only want to target existing customers who own a four-wheel-drive vehicle. If you gathered this data during your customer’s last visit, you could quickly build out a segment list that only included these customers.
On the flip side, if you don’t gather details about your customers, you can wind up wasting a large amount of marketing spend reaching out to the wrong customer base. For example, if you promote your car dealership’s luxury vehicle line-up and spend money on surfacing ads to a customer segment that only has spending power for economy or used vehicles, you can pour money into a campaign that will be fruitless.
What information will help you segment your customers best? The answer depends a lot on your specific business. The following are ideas to use as a jumping-off point as you work to create highly specific customer segments:
- Annual income
- Household information
- Behavioral data (e.g., previous purchase, preferences)
- Geographical location
As the examples above showcase, customer data focused on segmentation is extremely useful for marketing purposes. By creating customer segments, you can build personalized ads that will target your customers’ exact needs.
This can also be useful information for sales teams. Through customer segmentation, sales staff can focus on which leads are the most valuable based on a particular sales goal.
It’s a simple but highly effective data point to glean from customers. When a new client schedules services with your team or lands on your website, find out how they got there.
Doing so is easy. You can simply ask a customer to identify their path to your business via a drop-down or checkbox form when they schedule services. Or you can gather this data in person when a customer visits your store or via interactions with your service technicians.
However you go about it, finding out how a customer came to choose your business is extremely powerful data. Make sure you store this information alongside a customer’s contact information in your CRM or marketing platform.
Once you gather this data from enough customers, you can begin to look for emerging trends. This data can tell you important things, such as which marketing campaigns provide you with the best return or what channel is driving the most traffic to your website.
Over time, you also might see these trends shift, which can tell you a lot about the health of particular marketing strategies. For example, if you have been investing heavily in your local SEO strategy, and you see a steady uptick in customers that find you via Google search, you know your efforts are paying off. Conversely, if you are dumping money into a social media marketing campaign and you have yet to see a single person attribute their path to you from social media, you might want to reconsider that campaign.
Through the use of website analytics, you must gather data on how your customers are engaging with your website. This can be as simple as following a customer’s path from landing on your website to conversion or as complex as using heat maps to determine what elements of your website draw the most attention of visitors.
As customers demand an increasingly personalized online experience, website engagement metrics will continue to take center stage. This data is invaluable when making improvements to your website’s UI (User Interface) and ensuring a positive experience.
When it comes to personalized experiences, the top two actions that consumers state would influence their decision to make a purchase or choose to do business with a specific brand are:
- Making it easy for them to navigate the online experience, and
- Being provided with relevant product/services recommendations.
(Use this graphic with attribution to McKinsey: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/marketing%20and%20sales/our%20insights/the%20value%20of%20getting%20personalization%20right%20or%20wrong%20is%20multiplying/svg-customerone-ex2.svgz )
As you gather data around website engagement, you can put this information to work to improve your online experience. The goal is to ensure that when a lead lands on your website, they are seeing relevant, personalized information and that the path to conversion is simple. If you notice areas where you are seeing a particularly high number of drop-offs or bounce rates, it is worth taking the time to optimize the experience.
If you’ve ever been asked, “How likely are you to recommend our product/services to a friend or colleague on a scale of 1-10?” you have been asked to help a company calculate what is known as a Net Promoter Score or NPS.
Respondents to this question are grouped in the following ways:
- Promoters with scores of 9-10 are considered loyal customers who will continue to do business with your brand and will fuel your growth by referring you to their family and friends.
- Passives with scores of 7-8 are considered satisfied customers but are not enthusiastic supporters of your brand. These customers could be easily swayed to the competition if the right promotion comes along.
- Detractors with scores of 0-6 are considered unhappy and have the potential to damage your brand and slow growth by leaving negative reviews or through negative word of mouth.
The Net Promoter Score is one of the most common forms of calculating customer satisfaction and is an effective tool for gauging how well your business is performing with existing customers and what to expect from future growth.
From here, you can dig even further, asking customers to provide further details via a follow-up “why?”
Gathering data around how well customers would rate your business is beneficial for numerous reasons. For starters, if you notice a negative trend, you can follow up with these customers and find out more about what left them dissatisfied. This is a great opportunity for your customer service team to help turn the situation around.
Additionally, this data can help you determine the health of your brand. If you have mostly passive customers, you might need to look for ways to turn them into loyal promoters. You might consider adding a brand loyalty program or finding another way to differentiate your brand from existing, happy, but passive clients.
Churn is a natural part of any business. While your goal is to reduce churn as much as possible, the reality is that you will always lose customers along the way. Instead of seeing this as only a negative, take the time to understand why.
Create a segment of customers you either know have left your company for a competitor or have not interacted with your business for a set period. Put together a follow-up campaign that will help you understand why you lost this business.
In some cases, you might find out it is due to something entirely out of your control (e.g., they moved to a new state). In other situations, you may find out that there is something within your control that would have saved you from these losses (e.g., your customers turned to a competitor that offered online scheduling services).
Once you know why you are losing customers, categorize this data into two segments — that which you can control and that which you cannot. Take the situations you have control over and look for key trends.
From here, look to improve based on what your customers want. If they are leaving you for a better promotional offer, consider matching or showcasing a value add that your competitors don’t provide. If you are losing business due to poor customer experience, consider additional staff training.
Understanding why you are losing customers is invaluable for continually improving your business.
If you are interested in gathering critical customer data and turning this data into action, start by checking out our guide to How to Gather Data on Your Target Audience.
Additionally, be sure to reach out to our team. At J&L Marketing, we are passionate about helping small businesses learn more about their customers, leading to improved personalization in marketing, sales, and customer service. Our goal is to help you grow your business through effective and intelligent strategies. Reach out for a consultation today.