Here’s our tips on getting the most from your customer data. Remember, the more you know about your customers and what they want, the easier it is to increase their spend with you.
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What customer data do you have?
The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to sell them the products and services they want.
Tips for collecting customer data:
- If you don’t collect any data – START! Look for ways to capture sales data, for example through an electronic point of sale system or even in a spreadsheet / list.
- Get your data into an electronic format. It is important so you can analyse it.
- Ask yourself, what other data do you wish you knew about your customer? How can you collect this from them?
- Look at the data fields in any systems you use. How can you collect this data? What questions can your customer service / salespeople be asking to collect more information?
- Look at your website for ways to collect customer information – contact details, purchase history.
- Offer them a free gift (ebook, discount coupon, free shipping, etc.) for which they need to enter their name and email address to receive. s
What type of system/s is your customer data held in?
In the digital age, it is relatively easy (and cheap) to collect, store and manage customer data in online CRM (customer relationship management) tools. Having data in online tools, makes it easy to analyse customer wants and behaviours – which in turn makes it easier to sell to them.
If you have an online POS system, you may be collecting data you didn’t even know you had!
Things to ask yourself when choosing an online CRM system:
- What do you need it for? Is it to manage sales leads? Or maintain customer data? Do you want to send email and manage Social Media? Knowing what you want the system to do is the first and most important thing to think about.
- What system / process or workflow will this replace?
- What other systems does it need to connect to? Do you already have an email marketing tool? Or a point of sale system?
- Who will use it? This will be important in choosing the functionality, but also understanding the license costs.
- Is there an industry leading tool? A lot of industries have tools made specifically for them. What do other businesses in your industry use?
- What is your budget?
There are a wide range of CRM tools available, each offering their own features and benefits. Once you have gone through the questions above check out the list of CRMs for small business in this article.
How do you group (segment) your customers?
There are so many ways to group (or segment) your customers and it does come down to the data you have available. In creating customer groups, you are looking for your best (and worst) performing customers. You want to know the characteristics your good customers have in common – so you can find more of them!
For example, your best customers might be Single Males aged 25-40. Or they could be the customers who purchase from you in the morning, or the ones who have been with you for 5 years plus. You won’t know until you start to analyse your data.
Depending on the system your customer data is in, you may have in-built reports that create groups for you. If not, you can usually extract your data and use a tool like Excel to summarise and analyse your customers behaviour.
Once you understand who your best customers are (and they may not be who you think!), then you can start to use the information to sell to people in different ways. You will also understand your mediocre customers – and test ways to increase the amount they spend with you.
Tips for grouping your customers:
- Break customers into high, medium and low value groupings as a starting point.
- Look at the obvious – age, gender, location, job description, brands they have bought.
- Also look at the obscure – time of day they purchase, day of week, time between visits, number of children.
- Calculate based on annual or lifetime sales value, not necessarily transaction value – you may have people who buy a lot, but not very often and vice versa.
- Be aware customers can sit in multiple segments/groups.
Don’t look at names / email addresses when analysing the data – you may have a bias to who you think your “best” customers are – unless all your Sam’s are your best customers 😊
How often do you send out emails or SMS marketing messages to your customers?
There is an art and a science to getting the timing of communications to your customers right. Sending too much and you risk annoying them, not enough and they could forget you. It is a delicate balance. This is why, a move to “trigger” or “event based” marketing is highly recommended. In this case, you are communicating with your customer when it is most relevant to them.
For example, emailing them when the new season of their favourite brand is in stock is relevant and interesting. Sending them a birthday message with a special offer, makes them feel special. Blasting them every week, with whatever product you are trying to push at the time, will not be as well received – and they may unsubscribe.
Being relevant is key – and the way to be relevant is to have as much data as possible about your customers so you can anticipate their needs.
Tips for sending relevant marketing:
- Segment your database based on demographics, but also customer interests and value to your business. Remember customers can sit in multiple segments.
- Create a list of the different triggers / reasons to communicate with your customers along the sales cycle. For example, after a purchase, haven’t seen/purchased in a while, new season products.
- Create the content you need for each of the triggers and think about the best way to deliver it – social media, email, sms, flyer.
- Keep an eye on topical current affairs and think about how this can be relevant to your customers.
- Review the results of any communications you send (Click through Rate, Cost per Click, Sales) and test new content/triggers so you know what works best.
- Once you have your email, SMS or other personalised marketing set up, most CRM / email marketing platforms can be set up to automate the campaigns. You can set and forget!
What follow up do you do with lost customers?
Sometimes there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for customers to stop buying from you – they moved away, or they no longer need your product, but sometimes if you ask why, you can win them back – or at least know what to do differently next time.
Note, there are many different ways to describe these customers – lost, lapsed, churn. They all basically mean the same thing – someone who used to buy from you and who doesn’t any more.
Tips for following up with lost customers:
- Ask them why they left via a survey or a phone call – it may not be what you think and it may be something you can change.
- Send them an email with a special offer for them to come back again. Ideally this would be automatically sent based on triggers (e.g. send mail if customer has not bought in past 3 months).
- Keep a record of why people leave – if you see a trend, you can do something about it, rather than reacting to each and every person who is no longer a customer.
- Be gracious when people stop buying from you. You may have lost them, but if you have a good relationship with them, they might still recommend you.
- Remove them from your mailing list if they request it – this is a legal requirement under the SPAM laws.
How often do you ask customers for feedback on your product and/or service via a customer satisfaction survey?
More than ever, customers demand a great experience from everyone they deal with. With competition in every industry, customers will go elsewhere if you don’t deliver. And unfortunately, you can’t always assume they were happy with your product or service. You need to ask them.
Customer satisfaction surveys don’t have to be long or complicated to give you valuable insights into what your customers think of you.
Tips for getting customer feedback:
- Set up a survey using an online survey tool like Survey Monkey, Typeform or SurveyHero.
- Have a plan for when you will send this survey – to every customer at the end of each month, after every purchase? Once a year? Pick something you can feasibly manage.
- Ask no more than 5-8 questions. It should take less than 5 minutes to complete.
- Ask what they like about your business and what they would change.
- Ask if they would like you to contact them about their results.
You can find an example Customer Satisfaction Survey here.
How often do you review your marketing results including website statistics?
You have spent money implementing your website or paying for advertising – do you know what it is returning to your business? Is it worth the investment?
With so much data available to small businesses, it is important to be getting insights from the data and using it to inform changes to your sales and marketing activity. “Data driven” is a term to describe businesses who make decisions based on facts and results rather than gut feel.
The other thing to think about is the difference between data and insights. Data is the numbers; an insight is the deep understanding of something – the why, or the story behind the numbers. For example, you may know that your website traffic went up 10% in the last month. So what? The important thing to understand is why this happened and what you need to do to continue this trend.
Tips for using your marketing data include:
- Making sure your website has Google Analytics installed. This is a free tool from Google that measures the traffic to your website, but also the pages they look at, the time they spend on it, purchases made. leads generated etc etc.
- Ask your agency for reports on all the digital marketing ads they run for you – whether it is on Facebook, Google or any other platform.
- Ask them to explain to you what they mean and what they are doing to improve the results.
- Challenge yourself to understand the “Why” behind the numbers – so you can do more of what is working and less of what is not.
- Work out what delivers your best results and focus your efforts there – do your Facebook ads deliver a better cost per lead than Google? Are you getting better engagement with Instagram rather than Facebook?
How much of the functionality of your CRM system (email, POS, Online booking etc) do you think you use?
It is almost impossible to run a small/medium sized business without some kind of customer management / sales system in place. You make an investment in these tools, so make sure you are getting the most out of them.
Funnily enough, the key isn’t in what the system is capable of doing, the key is having a plan for how you want to communicate with your customers and the information you need to know about them.
For example – do you want to break them up into groups based on the products they buy and then send different emails to the different groups? Or do you want to know who are your most valuable customers so you can treat them every so often?
Tips for getting the most out of your CRM system.
- Have a digital marketing or customer communications plan. Work out how you want to communicate to your customers, how often etc. The system is the tool to implement the plan – without the plan it is pretty useless.
- Use the online learning modules – most tools have detailed online help and video tutorials. Watch and read these.
- Ask them to come and run a training session with your team.
- Use the online chat. They also have online chat – send a question if you are stuck.
Have a play! Set yourself up as a customer in the system and try things out – go into parts of the system you haven’t accessed before to see what it does – it may spark an idea for your digital marketing. It is almost impossible to “break” these systems so get in and get your hands dirty with it. (Just be careful of any “Delete” buttons 😉)
How well do you track the journey of your customers from prospect to loyalty?
Knowing the route your customers take from first hearing about you, to buying from you, to recommending you, can be invaluable knowledge. Creating what’s called a Customer Journey Map, allows you to see every experience customers have with you and identify opportunities to improve the customer experience. You might see that you take too long to answer emails, or your website doesn’t have the information people need or your flyers have different branding to your emails.
Tips for creating a Customer Journey Map:
- Identify the key stages of the sales cycle. Typically, they are:
- Awareness – knowing you exist
- Evaluation – comparing you to the competition
- Purchase – buying from you
- Loyalty – coming back and buying again and again
- Ask yourself, what is the customer trying to achieve at each stage?
- Think about what the customer is Thinking, Feeling and Doing at each stage. Their state of mind will change as they getter closer to purchase.
- Identify the channels customers use in each stage – eg Google or Facebook for awareness, your shop (online or offline) for purchase and create different content for each stage – based on their needs.
- Look for the problems customers encounter at each stage. These are your opportunities!
You can find a template for a customer journey map here.
We know that trying to get your head around all your customer data, or the systems that you have invested in, can be confronting and confusing. And most likely it is something that keeps getting pushed down the priority list – you know you need to look into it but it can wait until tomorrow!
But if you think about it from a revenue point of view, then investing time in collecting new data about your customers, understanding the current data, investigating the full capabilities of your data systems and finding out more about your customers and how they feel about your company can be some of the most profitable time spent.
The more you know about your customer, the better you can service their unique needs and the more likely they are to continue to do business with you. It is always good to remember that it costs a lot more to acquire a new customer that it does to retain an existing one.