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Customer data is one of the most important parts of your business success. If you’re not already using a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to collect and manage the data, you should be. But what kinds of data should you collect? How should you collect it?

Contact Information

Regardless of whether your business is online, brick-and-mortar, or a hybrid of the two, you should be maintaining a database of your customers contact information. The majority of your sales will come from repeat customers, as studies show the top 10% of your loyal customers spend three times what the bottom 90% does, and perhaps more importantly, the top 1% spends five times more than the bottom 90%.

You can encourage them to share their information by offering a freebie or a special discount on their next purchase. Be careful to only ask for the information you need, because asking for too much information can turn them away. However, it’s worth noting that 99% of customers are willing to provide more personal information in exchange for rewards if asked.

Collect the data when you encourage signups for a store loyalty program, when asking them to subscribe to your email list, or when they make a purchase.

How They Found Your Business

Survey your customers after they make a purchase to find out how they came to your business in the first place. This can give you an idea of how well your marketing campaigns are working, so you know where to make adjustments to spending. Plus, if you find that a lot of customers are coming in as a result of referrals from current customers, you may want to consider starting a referral rewards program, so you can track the customers who are doing the most work for you.

Demographics Data

Demographics data includes:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income
  • Occupation/Job Title

and countless other “metrics” by which you can segment your market provide key insights into sales patterns. Plus you can see how well your customers match your projected demographics when you developed the products or services you’re selling. As you collect and analyze the data, you can use it to make adjustments to marketing campaigns, make improvements to existing products and services to better suit your customers, or to create additional products and services to draw in a larger audience. Simply ask for the relevant demographic information when your customer comes in as a lead, or after they’ve made a purchase. If the information helps them get a better, more personalized experience, people are more willing to provide it.

Statistics show 73% of customers prefer to conduct business with brands they know use personal information to create more relevant shopping experiences.

Transactional Data

To drive sales higher, you must understand what, how, and why customers are buying. Transactional data will also help you see what products and services aren’t resonating with your audience, so you can change focus as necessary. Classify your buyers by active and dormant buyers, and send customized marketing messages accordingly.

If you’re holding onto financial information to support the transactions, you’ll want to take extra steps to keep that data secure. The 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis shows the average cost paid for each lost or stolen record that contains sensitive information is $154. When customers are a victim of a data breach, it can be difficult, or even impossible, to regain their trust.

User Experience Data

Use analytics software and other tools to help you see how customers are using your website or app. This will allow you to see how to prioritize features and what you can to do to create a better overall user experience. The data will also show you the most popular functions, so you can prioritize new feature rollouts.

Why They Left Your Business

You’re not going to be able to please 100% of your customers 100% of the time, no matter how well you run your business. Customer churn will always be an issue to some extent, but reaching out to customers who are no longer doing business with you can provide valuable insight into the reasons you’re experiencing that churn. From there, you can take steps to reduce or eliminate the issues that are causing customers to leave.

Once you have the data, it’s important to invest time into keeping it current and secure. Data hygiene is an often overlooked part of collection and management. If possible, consider giving your customers the ability to edit their own information online, so they can make changes as needed.

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