The more you can learn about your customers, the better equipped you are to sell to them and build a positive relationship. However, gathering consumer data is only one part of the equation. What matters the most is how you use the information you collect.

Customers are increasingly concerned with privacy—as they should be. So, start with being a responsible steward of their data. Then, make sure you’re using the information you gather to help your business. 

With technological advancements and hundreds of ways to obtain knowledge about your target customer, it’s easier than ever before to store and study information. Go beyond the basics by using the following tips to maximize your benefits from consumer data. If you want your business to grow, you need to do more than just study your audience—you need to learn them backward and forward, then alter your business to fit your ideal consumer’s image. 

1. Figure out your consumers’ pain points 

What makes a person buy a product or pay for a service?

Sometimes it’s purely for aesthetic appeal or desire, but more often than not, a person makes a purchase because it solves one of their problems. Therefore, one of your top priorities as a business should be to understand your consumers’ struggles and how you can minimize them.

When gathering consumer data, make an effort to understand the common pain points:

  • Are they worried about wasting time?
  • Are their processes too complicated?
  • Do they need to save money?

If you understand their concerns, you can appropriately address the problems with your products, sales strategies, and marketing techniques.

You might think you know what your customers want, but until you ask them the right questions, you won’t know for certain. Don’t make assumptions—instead, survey them or run a round table discussion so you get direct insights. Leave plenty of room for open-ended questions so that your target consumers can provide data that’s truly new and useful to your team.

Consider it market research. More on how to get started conducting market research in this guide.

Additionally, learning more about how your users search on Google and social media can tell you what keywords and topics to target. You may want to look into using a tool like Brandwatch or Buzzsumothat can help you figure out where to focus your efforts and what phrases to monitor. By keeping an eye on what your consumers are talking about, you’ll be more accurately able to address their pain points.

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2. Save and organize the data appropriately

As was said before, it’s not just about the data you gather—it’s how you use it. And, you can’t properly use your data unless it’s safely stored and organized. In the age of the consumer trust crises and privacy breaches, it’s essential that you protect your users’ information. Additionally, you need to have a strategy for compiling reports and effectively evaluating the information. 

Fortunately, advanced tools like Finteza, make it easy to monitor your website traffic, look at page analytics, and learn about your consumers on a granular level.

Image Source: Finteza

Image source: Finteza

These types of tools also make sure your data storage techniques are GDPR compliant, which means you are retaining and using your data according to customer rights. You can rest assured that you’re learning from your customers’ information effectively without stepping on toes or crossing into gray areas.

3. Decide what kind of data best benefits your company

Gathering data is great, but if you’re gathering data that isn’t useful, what’s the point? According to the HBR Closing the Customer Experience Gap Report, only 3 percent of respondents said they are able to act on all of the customer data they collect. That’s likely because they’re not collecting the right kind of information.

Most companies start by gathering the basics, like customer names, mailing addresses, and email addresses. This is a good starting point because you’re facilitating increased, personal communication. You may also want to obtain demographic information, including age, profession, gender, and so on.

However, you shouldn’t stop there. You’ll need to dig deeper to find the data that really enacts change within your business. Ask about your customers’ values, their concerns, their personalities. Typically, these kinds of answers are best gathered through questionnaires and surveys. The more deeply you understand your target market, the better you can sell to them. 

Image source: Starbucks

Image source: Starbucks

A great example of a company who listens closely to its customers (and profits immensely as a result) is Starbucks. On their website, anyone can submit feedback and ideas to the corporation. Whether they think an item should be added to the menu or they want to see some kind of improvement, customers can easily voice their opinions to the brand. As a result, Starbucks has an abundance of relevant consumer data to work with.

4. Compare your data to that of the competition

Chances are, your competitors are already gathering information from your ideal customers. They’re using it to improve, which means you should be using your own data to do the same. Additionally, you can use your competitor’s data to more effectively understand your own.

Although your competition won’t necessarily share their valuable data with you openly, you can watch how their marketing strategies reflect the information they’ve gathered. For instance, if one of your competitors is marketing predominantly on Twitter, there’s likely a reason behind their focus on the platform. You may also want to pay attention to the times and places in which competitors market—their choices likely aren’t random.

There are tools you can use to analyze your competitors, like Kompyte and Sprout Social. These can point you toward some of your competitions’ biggest strategies.

Image source sprout social

Image source: Sprout Social

You can also look at how your competition is gathering information:

  • Are other businesses sending out links to surveys?
  • Do they conduct polls on social media?
  • What kind of information do their website forms ask for?

By learning about their techniques, you can more accurately determine which strategies your shared customer base likes to engage with.

You can also use benchmarks to help you get a sense of wider trends in your industry. You won’t get company-specific insights, but benchmarks can help you when you’re forecasting for growth, or looking for information on average gross margin, for example. 

5. Protect your customers’ personal and financial information

Obtaining personal information about your buyers has become increasingly difficult as a result of the consumer trust crisis—or phrased another way, as a result of increasing violations by the business. 

About 59 percent of customers believe their personal information is vulnerable to a security breach, and 54 percent don’t believe that companies have their best interests in mind. It’s no wonder that shoppers are hesitant to provide data to businesses.

Still, there are ways you can effectively protect your customers and encourage them to trust your business:

Step 1: Talk with a data security specialist to ensure that you’re doing whatever you can to protect consumers’ information. One example might be to use a third party payment processing system so you don’t ever store credit card information on our own servers. 

Step 2: Show your shoppers how you safeguard their information with certifications and recognizable trust badges. 

Step 3: Tell your customers why you want their information and what you’ll do with it.

Image source Salesforce

Image source: Salesforce

As you can see in the graph above, from Salesforce, consumers trust companies when they know that they’re gathering information for a positive purpose. They also appreciate transparency when learning about how their information will be protected and used.

Prioritize visible privacy policies and security measures. Ask for permission when gathering data and promise to use it safely and respectfully. If you can make your customers feel protected and valued, you can still gather plenty of data, despite the general loss in trust in businesses by consumers.

In summary

Not only should your company gather data, but it should also ensure that it’s using it effectively. These tips will help your business more accurately mold your advertising and sales techniques to fit your ideal consumers’ needs and wants. 

Above all else, make sure that your data-gathering doesn’t disrupt your customers’ faith in your company. Without trust in your business, no amount of data will increase your revenue.
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Manish Dudharejia

Manish Dudharejia is the president and founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego-based digital agency that specializes in website design and development, and ecommerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience in the technology and digital marketing industry, Manish is passionate about helping online businesses to take their branding to the next level.