Four surprising places to find useful customer data

Deren Baker
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To promote its AmazonFresh grocery delivery service, Amazon dropped sample grocery bags containing Barilla pasta on San Francisco residents’ doorsteps. Unfortunately for Amazon, the well-intentioned gifts sparked outrage on social media from offended recipients.

The chairman of Barilla has spoken out against gay marriage, so Amazon should have known the pasta wouldn’t be popular in politically liberal San Francisco. If Amazon had spent a bit more time examining the political and social leanings of its target customers, it could have avoided the entire fiasco.

To effectively market products to today’s diverse customers, brands must pay attention to customer data. In fact, an incredible 74 percent of businesses using data-driven marketing say they have achieved competitive advantages in customer loyalty. These companies were also three times more likely to report increased revenues than their peers.

New Ways to Know Your Customer

You might already use some demographic data to better understand your customers. But don’t forget about valuable site analytics data, which can often tell you far more about your current and future customers.

If you want to improve customer relationships and drive sales, consider my top four sources for untapped customer data:

1. Operating System of Choice

Your brand likely monitors how much customers spend per purchase, but have you considered how your customers are purchasing products?

By simply looking at site visitors’ operating systems, Orbitz discovered that customers booking with Macs spend up to 30 percent more per night on hotels than PC users on its site. The company responded by displaying higher-end hotels for Mac users. Customers were satisfied that Orbitz provided them with the hotel rooms they wanted, and Orbitz made a tidy profit from its insight.

2. Time of Purchase

Once you’ve learned how your customers shop, look at when they’re shopping.

By analyzing the purchasing habits of customers who buy peanut products, Planters found a significant chunk of its audience was women searching the Internet from 10 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for healthy food options. Planters responded by highlighting the heart-healthy nature of its products in online messaging. After hungry consumers viewed ads for the healthy snack, they purchased more peanuts to satisfy cravings. 

You can analyze consumers’ site visit times through cookies and clickstream data. While cookies can be deleted or blocked, clickstream data is indelible and generated whenever customers click on your site. This data can be used to target marketing spend. For instance, if customers are browsing during the day and purchasing at night, communicate with them during both periods, perhaps highlighting product features during the day and low prices at night.

3. Online Cart Abandonment

When a customer loads her cart and later leaves the site, there’s a good chance she's already selected the products she wants and just needs a little nudge to purchase.

Use data like the number of items in a cart and total cart value to identify customers who are about to convert. If a shopper is on the fence about a product’s cost, perhaps email a 10 percent discount offer to her. Free shipping can also incentivize a purchase; 88 percent of consumers say they’d be more likely to shop online if there were no shipping charges.

4. Use of Zoom Tool

If a customer is closely examining a product with your site’s zoom tool, she's likely considering purchasing that item. Millennials, in particular, are likely to use the zoom tool before buying online. If you market to young people, be sure to offer 3D tools on your site.

Customers respond well to personalized item recommendations, and site visitors’ use of the zoom tool can allow you to effectively populate a “recommended for you” field by displaying the top products viewed in this manner. For greater personalization, tie recommendations to each product (e.g., "People who viewed this product in zoom mode also viewed these products.").

With its capacity to improve customer relationships and boost sales, it’s no wonder data is the new currency of marketers. Customer insights can be found in the unlikeliest of places, so get searching — the more you know about your customers, the better you’ll be able to connect.

Deren Baker is the CEO of Jumpshot, a San Francisco-based startup that offers on-demand marketing analytics software tailored for the travel, retail, media, and e-commerce industries. He has previously held senior roles at Travelocity and Switchfly.


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