How Well Do You Really Know Your Customers?

How Well Do You Really Know Your Customers?
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Do you really know who your customers are or are you just relying on clicks to figure out who’s accessing your business? Vinoaj Vijeyakumaar from web analytics firm Sparkline says it’s not just about clicks anymore.

Marketers today struggle to put a ‘face’ to their online customers; instead they measure ‘clicks’ as a way to track customers and behaviours. Businesses need to use technology and strategies to move beyond ‘clicks’, to begin to develop a clearer picture of who their customers really are.

In the past, the problem of measuring online behaviour was the inability to distinguish anything beyond the clicks, akin to ‘Prosopagnosia’, a cognitive disorder where one is unable to recognise faces. The technology has now evolved and it’s much easier to start the ‘distinguishing’ process, to segment audiences and to create customised conversations, rather than using traditional blanket marketing messages and brand experiences.

There are five things brands need to be able to do to keep their customers.

1. Use Google Analytics Demographics & Interests reports

Google Analytics provides marketers with demographic and interest reporting capabilities. These reports identify the age, gender and interests of users, generating meaningful demographic reports, helping marketers make sense of customers and their preferences.

Marketers can identify their consumers, observe user behaviour, and evaluate how they interact according to their respective attributes (e.g. male versus female).

Tracking through audience segmentations allows businesses to see session duration, engagement, order value and other information. Once audience segmentation has begun and behavioural patterns begin to emerge, it’s time to probe deeper into the metrics: gender, age, bounce rate, e-commerce conversion rate and affinity reports. With the data in hand, it can be used to support business objectives: reallocate marketing spend; enhance engagement; raise sales; increase profitability.

2. Build a picture of your customers with this data

Let’s look at an example of matching specific marketing messages to behaviours and gender. We used this approach with a travel client. The client’s data showed that while females were more engaged and visited the website more frequently during the purchase process, males were converting at a much higher rate. This travel brand was able to use this information to start segmenting its strategy and messages to these two groups – targeting the males who want to purchase fast by optimising the online booking flow, while creating themed packages for the females, based on their research search patterns and interest.

3. Identify your most valuable customer types

Moving beyond gender, businesses can establish interest categories based on how their prospects or customers search the web. Customers can be segmented into affinity categories – ‘Movie Lovers’, ‘Travel Buffs’, etc. While a business may associate itself with a certain category, their top spenders may in fact be of a different affinity category. All of a sudden a brand knows its most valuable customers and what they are interested in. Businesses can use this to create products that people actually want, based on real, customised data sets. This information opens up a world of options.

4. Engage them

One of the ways companies can engage audiences through tapping on affinity categories is by attracting new customers by advertising in the segment’s sphere rather than in the company’s own segment. For example, advertising a new mobile phone with awesome GPS on travel sites rather than tech sites; or offering free movie tickets with phone plans on movie sites. Beyond marketing and messaging, what about product development? Marketers should think about expanding this digital knowledge into offline contexts. In-store promotions and store layouts can be modified to fit changing human traffic flow and customer base. Another step could be social logins and surveys for customers to interact with the company and brand.

5. Integrate data from your social login and survey systems

Allowing customers to use their social logins to log on to your system gives you access to their basic personal information – with their approval. Some of this information includes their interests, activities, hometown and such to give you a better understanding of where they are from, as well as customising messages to them.

Tools like Qualaroo provide quick surveys to understand why customers visit your site or choose to leave your site. The tool then breaks down the visitor statistics to show you which sources are bringing you the right customers, as the survey answers reflect the source the visitor comes from. For example, if most visitors from a particular site indicate that they are not interested in your site’s content, you would most likely want to strike the site off your future advertising plans.

In today’s digital society, marketers must understand how to use web analytics to better understand customers and maximise revenues. The reality however, is that although marketers are aware of the importance of analytics and are equipped with some web analytics tools, many, if not most, are unable to translate their data into useful insights.

This is not just a ‘retail’ problem. Across the board businesses struggle to instil data-driven decision making and implement actions based on information. Having the right KPI-based framework to choose the tool sets and start interpreting the data is key.

Vinoaj Vijeyakumaar is the managing partner and co-founder of web analytics firm Sparkline.

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