The customer-brand relationship is evolving fast! Customers are interacting with businesses through more devices and channels than could have been imagined even just five years ago. And data is in flowing. In fact, it’s in flooding. But incoming data is just a drowning hazard (not to mention a leaking one) if it’s not actually useful to and actionable by the company that collects it.
Businesses of all sizes need to understand not only the benefits of data, but what data to collect, how to analyze it for decision making, and how to action it for true data-driven marketing success.
Consider What Motivates Your Decision Making
So, before getting their data collection plan in place, small businesses need to work out why they are even collecting data? What is the end goal? What KPIs are they working towards? Are they trying to boost revenue or sales? Do they want insights into how the site should be redesigned? Are they considering a change in branding? Or a new focus for the business? Is their motivation improving the customer experience? Is re-engaging old customers the focus? Or is it more about attracting new customers?
Knowing why you are collecting data will help you establish what you plan to do with it and, therefore, what data you need.
Understand What Data Needs to Be Collected
To avoid the paralyzing flood of unnecessary or unactionable data, the next step would be to consider carefully what data will actually serve your business.
Consider both quantitative customer data (like how many times they visited your site, how many pages they visited, which downloads they chose…) and the qualitative data that give us the context around the quantitative data (like site visits increased in June due to a specific offer, page visits decreased because of the new customer-tailored homepage…)
Additionally, work out if you want to collect personal data about your customers, such as their gender, address, email, job title, age, etc. Of course, this question should be carefully considered and GDPR compliance built in from the get-go to ensure you’re respecting your customer’s privacy and can respond to privacy questions, audits, and requests to be forgotten easily. If you’re not confident that you can be compliant with GDPR, you need to reconsider whether you really need this information.
Then also decide whether things like a customer’s searched products or services, wish-list items, abandoned shopping cart, spending habits, favored device, content preference, response to advertising, and reaction to discounts and offers, are relevant to your goals established above.
So now that you know what data you want to collect, it’s time to work out how you are going to collect it. It’s important to do this in the least intrusive way possible or you’re in danger of annoying customers. However, all collection (and storage) of data should be GDPR compliant. This can mean you get less data, but the data you will be getting is more valuable as it is from customers who are actively interested in and engaged with your brand.
Consider using contact forms on your site, offering discounts in return for survey completion, inviting double-opt in for downloads to be sent to an email address, using cookies, switching on customer tracking, offering Facebook or Google login options….
And remember, people change over time—even from season to season—so maintain a high level of curiosity and keep learning about you customers.
Build Buyer Personas out of Data Analysis
Once you’ve gathered enough data to start seeing patterns, analyze it from as many angles as you can. Who are your customers? How do they interact with your brand? What do they search for? What do they buy? When are they most active? Do they pick up purchases or get deliveries? How much do they spend? What is their customer journey? How long do they spend considering a purchase? What most interests them? What seems to motivate them?
With this information, you can start to build clear characters in your mind with which you can build buyer personas. The more questions you ask of your data, the more accurate your personas will be.
Target Your Customers
Now you know exactly who you are talking to, you’re in a much better position to know how to talk to them. You can segment your audience according to your buying personas and tailor the content you deliver to each segment directly to them; focusing on what matters to them, their lifestyle, and what makes them tick (and buy!).
Yes, even small businesses should be leveraging this strategy to genuinely delight customers by showing how much they care about them, who they are, their interests and preferences, and by making personalized offers that prove it.
And with customer experience becoming the be-all and end-all in the digital world, businesses simply can’t afford to be resting on their laurels—no matter their size—as the customer expectation of a great experience is the same for them all.
Use the Right Technology
Great. So now we’ve worked out what mountain small businesses have to climb to really make any impact on customers in a customer-centric world, let’s discuss the climbing equipment they need.
It doesn’t have to be top of the range. It doesn’t have to ring and whistle. It doesn’t have to break the bank. But what it must be is integrated. All parts must talk to each other. And it’s got to support you in achieving your main goal.
Make sure your technology will collect the data you want and store it all in one place, assist with GDPR compliance, enable customer segmentation, and make content personalization happen. And internally, it should support your business and marketing processes through easy-to-use functionality, clear and intuitive interfaces, sophisticated marketing tools, and helpful collaboration and workflow features; basically make you all look and feel like rock stars.
Happy customers make successful businesses. So customer experience is everything. And making your customer feel special is the name of the game. This means impressing them on an individual level, with personalized content and unforgettable experiences. Delivering this requires customer segmentation which in turn depends on the collection of considered and specifically sought data that directly feeds the business goals. This means having the technology in place to even contemplate all of the above.
That sounds like a good place to start.