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This article was published on May 20, 2015

9 ways of gathering meaningful data about your customers

9 ways of gathering meaningful data about your customers
Scott Gerber
Story by

Scott Gerber

Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

Understanding your customer better isn’t as complex as you might think, but it does require a thoughtful analysis of where and how you can collect meaningful data. By better defining which aspects of their behavior or profiles are most significant to your business, you can start to measure and analyze better ways to engage them and ultimately sell more. To find out what indicators are most useful, I asked nine entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question.

What is one important area of customer data that I should look to clean up or improve in order to reach my customers better? Why?

Their best answers are below:

1. Key Factors That Set Your Customers Apart

Reid CarrEveryone has different customer types. Not all customers are created equal. Identify what key factor(s) set one apart from another and segment your users from one another. It could be geography; it could be specific products they buy or it could be a demographic detail. Once you understand that, you are better able to target messaging, develop product and drive value for both the customer and your business. – Reid CarrRed Door Interactive

2. Customers’ Real-Time Behavior

Dusty-Wunderlich-Bristlecone-HoldingsTo understand your customers better, you have to get greater insight into how they actually behave. Surveys are fine and generalizations drawn from basic demography are still important, but businesses today need to gather as much data as possible on the way that customers are behaving in real time.

How long are they staying on your site? What links are they clicking? What triggers them to share your content on social media? What are they uploading or downloading and at what times? The holy grail that Big Data seeks to discover in industries of all shapes and sizes is needs anticipation. The businesses that are ahead today are the ones who can harvest, blend and analyze real-time customer data to identify patterns and predict customer needs before they’re even aware of them themselves. – Dusty WunderlichBristlecone Holdings

3. Customer Service Records

Kevin HenriksonWhen people call to return products, get more information and the like, it is the perfect opportunity to ask them a few questions about what they like/dislike, how they found you and how they are using their product or service. Have a list of questions on hand for your customer service representatives and make them use it! – Kevin HenriksonAcompli (now Outlook iOS/Android @ Microsoft)

4. Referral Source

Randy RayessMany times on a sales call you are busy tracking all the information about the client that is relevant to them closing a sale, but you forget to track the referral source of the lead. Without the referral source, it’s hard to understand how you can better reach your customers because you don’t have clear data about where your existing customers are coming from. – Randy RayessVenturePact

5. Personal Tastes and Preferences

doreen-blochAt Poshly, we specialize in collecting data about consumers’ tastes and preferences. We use this consumer intelligence to create content that resonates with our users. In particular, you can use aggregated statistics about your customers to provide information that’s more engaging than any other content types.

We love to keep our members as part of the conversation on Instagram, for example, by using the information they provide in real time to spark conversations around the newest trends. For instance, we can say that “Seventy-five percent of you love metallic nails,” provide a captivating image of the newest metallic nail art trends from fashion week and provide entertaining content for users grounded in their interests. Look for opportunities to create a feedback loop with your customers using data. – Doreen BlochPoshly Inc.

6. Website Activity

MilesAlthough it may seem obvious, many companies do not keep a close eye on the activity that their customers have on their website, especially if this activity doesn’t directly lead to conversion. The activities and click-throughs that happen outside of a purchase or a conversion are also incredibly important.

Which pages do customers seem to go to and from? Are they pleased with the pages that each of your links leads to, or do they revert away from them? Paying close attention to these details will allow you to understand and reach your customers better, while also making their online experience more enjoyable. – Miles JenningsRecruiter.com

7. Social Media

Cooper HarrisStatistics show that millennials are on social media on average 5.4 hours a day. That’s one-fifth of each day. Clearly the best place to reach consumers is where they spend their time. However, the challenge is that social insights are often fractured, confusing and incomplete. In order to hone in on user data in social, subscribe to a tool or platform that aggregates user data across all streams.

Tweak your messaging to appeal to your customers. Let your new analytics tool guide you as you build your database. Tip: Statistically, the majority of social users hate ads. Try running a compelling, authentic campaign that involves real people plus a “social impact” element. You’ll add users to your database and affinity to your brand. – Cooper HarrisKlickly

8. Comprehensive Contact Information

ben rubensteinAn accurate and informative contact list is one of the most powerful marketing tools. Once you’ve closed a deal, you need to keep the lines of communication open with each client. Relationship marketing and CRM is important to keeping business, and you want to be able to reach the right customer with the right message through the right channel. This means that every piece of customer data is important to build a rich customer profile. – Ben RubensteinYodle

9. Demographic Information

Andrew SaladinoIf you don’t collect demographic and interests for your customer database, you should start right now. This allows you to provide highly targeted marketing efforts to your customers for things that are relevant and they are interested in. If you do not have this information, send them a survey that they can fill out. The more segmented your customers are, the better you can sell them. – Andrew SaladinoKitchen Cabinet Kings

Read Next: 9 lessons from products that went to market too soon

Image credit: Shutterstock

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