A common question we ask all of our customers when starting a marketing plan is ‘what does you customer data say?’ This gives us varied responses – from ‘we don’t have any’ to very precise and confident answers. Unfortunately the latter are quite rare, and often collecting market data is one of the first things we do. But why is customer data important for your business?
It’s the basis for every marketing strategy – if you don’t know anything about your customers then how will you target your marketing? It’s a core part of understanding your product and your target market – and without it you will struggle to reach the right people with the right message.
But before you ask your customers anything, make sure you ask yourself these things:
– What types of personal data should I collect?
To start with, stick to the basics- names and email addresses. These are the easiest pieces of information to get and it means you can now personalise your communications with them. This covers everything from direct marketing to following up on problems – this develops trust and opens the door to gathering more useful information – for example if they have children or pets.
– I don’t have time to collect data from my customers – do I really need to?
This is a simple one to answer – yes! Without your customers, you wouldn’t have a business. If you want to be successful in business then you need to know your customers and know what they want. If you can deliver that then you achieve the holy grail of business – brand loyalty and more sales. if you don’t know anything about your customers, you are more likely to miss the mark and they will go elsewhere.
– What’s the best way to collect customer data?
Bit by bit. Every time they interact with your company, collect a new piece of data. This can be over the phone, email, in store or an online survey. A great way to start is with a competition. Just be careful that you get their consent for the information.
– How should I sort, organize and store it?
A few people will tell you to dump all your newly found information into a spreadsheet. We strongly recommend against this! Instead, get yourself a decent CRM package and start filling it up. It’s the best way to keep track of your data and makes direct marketing a lot easier to cope with.
– What’s the best way to benefit from the data I collect?
Use your data to offer added value. Data collected helps you to understand not just the basic demographic, but also the thought processes and decision making that will lead them to buying from you. Use that to your advantage and give them crafted offers that make them want to buy.
Lastly – what are the downsides of collecting customer data? Well collecting customer data has historically been mistrusted, with a lot of companies losing, selling on or abusing the data in some way along with their research. In order to make your customers feel comfortable in giving your their information, you have to convince them that you aren’t going to spam them with information, lose it , expose them to cyber hackers or mess with it in any way.
You may also come across some issues about privacy. This is tricky but if done right the benefit to your bottom line could dramatically outweigh the risk. Simply put- using customer data correctly could lead to happier customers, reduced client turnover and bigger profits – all in all, a great result!