The data you hold in your database is an extremely valuable asset. It provides you with details of how your customers interact with you, be it transactional, behavioural or preference data. It’s this preference data, the data you ask your customers to take time to complete, that we’ll focus on here. A single customer view will allow you to align all facets of your data to ensure you’re seeing the complete picture. And a good single customer view will take into account cross device tracking. You should expect your data to have identified the mobile user when they move on to their desktop and you should ensure you correctly identify multiple users on a shared tablet device. A customer data platform, which uses a cross device tracking method, will provide a single customer view (and incredibly powerful database).
However, this data is only of any value to you if it’s collected well. The behavioural and transactional elements are most likely managed by your IT team so ensure that they understand what it is you’re trying to achieve when gathering this data.
There are many places we can gather a customer’s preference data: a quick email sign up box on your website homepage or during the check-out process; a full scale preference centre as part of an account sign up; via a data capture page on Facebook; or a competition hosted by a third party partner. Not forgetting offline methods such as in store EPOS systems or the call centre.
The data you collect directly from your customers can, however, open a can of worms. I’m sure we’ve all fallen foul of a customer entering firstname.lastname@example.org just to receive a 10% off discount in-store!
You know how valuable an email address is in your database, so focus on ensuring that the email address which your customer provides is valid. This is just for starters! If you plan to merge your customer’s first name into an email for example, ensure you collect ‘first name’ and not initials across all your data capture methods. “Dear G” doesn’t look as good as “Dear Georgina”.
Fairly straight forward so far, but important to ensure your customers receive the best customer experience with you, which should then lead to more revenue being generated by each communication, which is really the end goal for us all.
You may also set these expectations out in a dedicated email sign up welcome journey. This could be split between purchasers and non-purchasers. You could incentivise email 3 for non-purchasers to convert them to first time buyers or think about upselling a matching pair of shoes in email 2 for those who purchased a dress. Sending the right message at the right time is key to ensure these new customers remain as engaged as they were when they chose to sign up.
You also need to ensure that the tactical, day to day communications you send them meet their expectations. For example, as part of a competition on Facebook, you ask your followers to recommend their friends. These recommended friends are told that if they sign up to your database they’ll receive a discount. Make sure you deliver this discount! How did you encourage your original followers to recommend their friends in the first place? Was it, for example, the chance to win a big break with £500 spending money? Announce the winner! Don’t forget your website or send this information as a feature in your monthly email newsletter. Follow it up by sharing the winner’s experiences; their holiday pics could inspire your followers to have a go in the next competition.
Don’t forget the other end of the customer journey, when they think about performing that most undesirable action: unsubscribing. Allow them to manage their preferences at this stage, this could be content or email frequency. But remember, if you ask them, use the preference they supply or they simply will hit unsubscribe next time. A data insight project could identify when your customers are likely to lapse and put together a plan of action to re-engage these customers. It could be as simple as asking them for their email permission again or pointing them in the direction of your recently revamped opt-out microsite to assign preferences you don’t currently hold.
Don’t be afraid of unsubscribes, make the link prominent (you’d rather the customer did this than mark your email as spam). You could even invite them to unsubscribe if email simply isn’t the right channel for them or chose to opt out of direct mail if they prefer email (think of the potential cost saving)! You could make this unsubscribe process fun, you might retain them with your wit! It could also be a chance to ask for feedback which you should use to optimise your communications for other customers who haven’t made the decision to say ‘goodbye’.
We’ve talked about gathering an email address specifically in most scenarios here, but the logic applies to any field: first name; address or preference frequency management. When collecting data from your customers, ensure it’s consistent across all channels. Then use it in the way your customers expected you to when they signed up.