Welcome to the new, data-driven world. Every device you use picks up on your user information to better suit your needs. Today, businesses adhere to strict laws and regulations to ensure they’re acquiring customer and user data through consensual, fair means. This is good news for everyone since it means businesses are better equipped to innovate without overstepping boundaries. 

If you’re trying to find success in your business, you need a strategy for acquiring accurate customer data that takes into consideration privacy laws, regulations, and the trust of your consumers. Beyond that, you need to know how to actually use this information effectively. Forrester Consulting conducted a survey to learn that 64 percent of marketers today think they need better data. 

Customer analytics is for the designers, the marketers, the developers, and all teams that directly impact the customer experience. Break down the walls between data and employees so everyone can do better work that attracts more customers. They all have value for your business. Here are 6 data best practices the top tools, practices, and trends for analyzing and monitoring your data. 

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Why Use Customer Data?

First, you need to understand why customer data is so powerful. Picture a frustrating interaction you’ve had with a company recently. Odds are, you wish that company stepped in your shoes and understood your perspective a little bit better. That small difference would have built a stronger relationship with that company. 

In other words, if you don’t know who you’re selling to, you’re selling to nobody. According to Forbes, the three reasons so many businesses fail to collect data are:

  1. Fragmented Data – Organizations collect some data, but it is not accurate or complete. 
  2. Silos – Data is kept in silos within the company. That means this information is kept within certain, limited departments. Not enough decision makers have access to data when it matters, and this leads to failed business decisions. 
  3. End-Customer – When companies purchase data or outsource their marketing or development testing, they don’t have access to their own data. Having end-customer data that is visible and not through a third-party is key. 

Without an effective way to learn more about the customer, your business has no way to create products, services, content, and marketing materials that appeal to them on a real level. You’ll quickly realize there are many different channels for gathering customer data, and no two are alike. Similarly, you shouldn’t overlook any single channel in favor of another. 

1. Gather Off-Line Metrics

Online metrics are important. That can’t be overstated. However, offline metrics are still valuable nowadays. If you have in-person storefronts or marketing campaigns, you need to make sure those are performing highly as well. 

For in-person storefronts, you can track foot traffic, common questions, popular products, and customer satisfaction. For marketing campaigns on the ground, consider these ideas for keeping track of your success:

  • Custom landing pages – Instead of linking your promotions to your business homepage, create a landing page. A landing page is a single page built with a call to action. Your call to action could be anything from encouraging email signups to making a sale. Because this page only gets traffic from one source (ie. your advertisement), you know exactly how successful it is. For more information on setting up a landing page, read this guide
  • Redirect domain – Once again, don’t use your business website. Create a new business domain or subdomain that redirects to your main website. For instance, if your business website is mycompany.com, you could create a subdomain for campaign1.mycompany.com. From here, you can track traffic from this one campaign. 
  • Discount code – Use a discount code specially for your in-person campaigns to keep an accurate count of sales. 

Let’s look an example below. Nauto, a safety company, encourages users to sign up for a safety ebook with this landing page below. As you can see, it’s easy to track just how many people come to this page, and how many fill out the form. 

It has it’s own unique URL: nauto.com/campaign. It has a clear call to action (Download eBook). Through this example, you can see how this company takes advantage of these metrics to better serve their customers. With the right strategy, you can keep track of your offline marketing campaigns and customer experiences. When combined with online data effects, you create a well-rounded data resource. 

Screenshot via Nauto

2. Utilize Real-Time Data

It’s important to use surveys and ratings as a way to gauge how your customers respond to your website or app, but real-time data is equally as important. These are the questions you want answered to gain greater insight into your customers’ actions and motivations:

  • Time Spent – How long as users spending on your website? According to the Nielsen Norman Group, users typically spend 10-20 seconds unless something really holds their attention. Are your pages successfully holding user attention? 
  • Popular Pages – Where are your users clicking? What pages, posts, or links are most popular? You might discover a link to a third-party website that takes users away frequently. On the other hand, you might discover a successful call-to-action. 
  • Popular Products/Services – Finally, which of your products or services attract the most attention. This is a goldmine of information, and it should inform how you organize your product listings. 

These are the questions you should be asking, and several tools help you learn just that. While  Google Analytics is a great way to learn more about your most popular pages, it doesn’t show you user actions in real-time. What you need is an advanced tool like Mouseflow. This platform shows how your customers interact with your website with easy to understand heatmaps. 

See how your users experience your pages with just a few clicks. You’ll learn about any problem pages that aren’t holding users’ attention, and you’ll also discover areas that are working well. Knowing how a customer experiences your pages in real-time will help you do more of the things that work and less of the things that don’t. 

3. Implement User Surveys

Speaking of surveys, why not ask your customers themselves how they feel about your app, product, or website? User surveys are a great way to gain feedback without an exhaustive marketing budget or complex tools. 

Apptentive uses AI-powered analytics to help you understand more about your customers, including features like surveys and in-app feedback. Many developers and marketers are intimidated by surveys because they’re worried they’ll scare customers away or lead to incorrect data. 

The trick is to encourage user surveys while your customers are still warm. This means sending timely emails after a customer makes a purchase or asking key questions as a lost customer clicks away from a page. Essentially, you’re asking for customer surveys at the right time.

Below, see how Target follows up with customers after an order has been delivered. By simplifying the feedback process with a simple 1-10 scale, they can make sure customers actually take the time to let them know their level of satisfaction.

4. Don’t Overlook Google Analytics

As mentioned before, Google Analytics is a great resource for learning more about your customers. It provides all of the basic information that forms the foundation of your user profiles. With Google Analytics, you can learn where your customers are located across the globe, how they found your website or app, and their primary interests. 

You can send custom reports weekly or monthly to always stay on track of your progress. Answer key questions like: What keywords are ranking the highest? What are your customers searching for? From here, you can better meet the needs of your users. 

If you discover your key demographic is men in their 20s and 30s, you’ll market to them differently than if your demographic was women in their teens. These differences matter and they’re the foundation of your customer data library. 

5. Monitor Your App or Website Performance

Finally, you need a system for keeping your website or app performance at top speed. Neumob discovered 47 percent of users will exit an app if a single image doesn’t load properly. This is a big loss for your business, so your performance data is essential to converting customers. 

Using a tool to log your app performance or website performance will help you prevent problems, learn more about customer errors, and ultimately create a stronger experience for everyone. These tools are known as Application Performance Monitors (APMs), and they’re like a dashboard for application or website performance. 

They work by logging problems, checking data usage, and sending quick alerts so you never experience downtime. While you can’t prevent 100% of problems that might occur on your app or website, you can get smarter about anticipating these problems before they turn into catastrophes. 

6. Understand Data Privacy

Finally, we need to talk about privacy. Customers are trusting you with their personal and sometimes even financial information. Many companies are found each year to abuse this information in ways that are against data privacy laws. In addition, collecting customer data always runs the risk of making you the target of a cyber attack. 

Here are things to consider when collecting customer data to avoid running into any challenges:

  • Types of Data – Not all data is created equal. What type of data is needed to help you better assist your customers? At a basic level, this includes email addresses and names. Beyond this, you might include demographic information and interests. However, don’t press for more information than is necessary. 
  • Transactional Data – Customer transaction history is a valuable asset. Known as “basket analysis,” keeping track of recommendations based on past purchases can be a powerful tool when used in combination with other encryption and opt-out procedures. 
  • Organizing Data – You’ll need a secure way to store your customer data. This is where many of the cyber attacks happen, so it’s worth working with a cybersecurity expert to ensure everything is truly safe. A customer relationship management (CRM) is the industry go-to. 
  • Encryption – All data should be securely encrypted, even “light” information like names and email addresses. 
  • Industry Regulations – Finally, follow the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Information Practice Principles as well as industry-specific regulations like HIPPA laws for the healthcare industry. 

Utilizing Customer Data

As a business, your customers are your biggest asset. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, you’re as good as selling to no one. This is a data-driven world. You’re either a part of it, or you’re left guessing what it is your customers want from your business. Wouldn’t you prefer to know for certain just who your ideal customer is and what he or she is looking for in user experience?
Businesses who adopt a data-driven marketing strategy are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year. With stats like that, what are you waiting for?