10 ways to collect customer data for your e-commerce site
If you run an ecommerce site, chances are you’ve had to ask yourself some difficult questions. Luckily, the answers may be right in front you of you in the form of customer data. Analysing customer data can provide you with valuable insights and point you in the right direction when making positive changes to your business.
There are a multitude of types of data that can be collected from every customer you interact with. The trick is knowing what kinds of data will be useful to you later on, and which won’t be. Some of the most commonly collected types of data include:
- Email address
- Shopping behaviours
The most valuable types of data to your ecommerce store will depend largely on what products you sell. For example, a clothing retailer will find data about the age and gender of their customers particularly useful.
There are two types of data you should be concerned with collecting; qualitative data and quantitative data. Qualitative data is descriptive and comes from sources such as customer reviews. It can be easily stored and accessed by using bulk data services, such as data storage tools that use the Parquet data format.
Quantitative data is largely numeric, and therefore more easily measurable. It can include things like bounce rates and customer retention rates. It can be easily stored and analysed using a variety of tools.
There are many reasons you should be collecting customer data. Of course, simply collecting the data won’t do much to help you, you’ll need to set about analysing the data you’ve collected.
Collecting data tells you more about your audience, allowing you to better shape your marketing strategy to suit your customers. Having a clearer idea of your customer demographics allows you to create a more relevant and personalised experience for them, helping to attract new customers and increase the lifetime value of existing ones.
Collecting data can also alert you to any weaknesses in how your business operates and any pain points for your customers that may be stifling sales.
For example, bounce rates will show you how many visitors to your website left after viewing an initial landing page, allowing you to identify which product lines are less enticing to potential customers, and may require further promotion or special offers.
There are many, many ways to collect data from your customers. We’ve gathered collected some of the most popular data collection methods and some best practices to follow when using them. There are a variety of tools and software providers available that can help with the ETL (extract transform load) of data.
Your ecommerce site is constantly gathering all kinds of data for you. Every customer that visits your online store is leaving behind valuable data for you to analyse, as long as you know where to look for it.
You can look at what directed the customer to your store. Did they click through from a paid banner ad? Did they follow a link from a social media post about a specific product? Looking at this data can help you see which advertising strategies are working and which aren’t, allowing you to better determine the return on investment of your marketing.
You can also analyse data about how long customers spent looking at specific web pages, how many different pages they viewed, and a variety of other statistics. Your website host should be collecting this data already, and tools such as Google Analytics will help you analyse it.
Surveys are an excellent method of data collection that let you collect raw data directly from your customers. These can take the form of general surveys enquiring about customers’ needs and desires.
These kinds of surveys will tell you more about your customer demographics and will help you to tailor your marketing approach and special offers you formulate for your customers. Personalisation is a great way to improve the shopping experience for your customers and can lead to higher customer retention and increased sales.
Surveys can also be sent out after a purchase, asking specifically about the customer’s experience with your ecommerce site. This can help you to identify what customers like and dislike about your products and the shopping experience they had with you.
Inviting customers to sign up to your newsletter or register for an account with your online store are great ways to capture customer data. These registration forms can include questions about age, gender, shopping preferences, and others that will help you better identify the demographics of your customers.
You can also encourage customers to sign up to a loyalty program. Not only do these help persuade customers to shop with you again, but they can also provide invaluable data about the shopping habits of your customers, such as how often they return to purchase something from you, and their average basket spend.
Once you’ve gathered demographic data about your customers, you can use it to categorise them. The way you do this will be largely dependent on the products you’re selling, for example, it will likely be useful for a clothing retailer to categorise their customers based on age or gender.
This will help when organising targeted marketing. If you have a special discount event coming up on sportswear, you can send out an email to those who have expressed an interest in purchasing sportswear in a survey or as part of their account registration.
Customer data doesn’t have to be pulled from your own website. Your social media accounts can also provide valuable information about those interested in your brand.
You can gain insight by seeing who has interacted with your posts and which specific posts gathered the most attention. This will help you to know what kind of content to focus more on producing in the future.
Another valuable type of data to collect is the cart abandonment rate of your customers. You can determine this by seeing how many of those who placed items in their shopping cart left your website without making a purchase.
By looking at which products they viewed before leaving the site, you can determine what kinds of products they were interested in and what they may have found cheaper elsewhere. You can then target them with marketing designed to get them to complete their purchase, perhaps by offering an incentive such as a voucher code.
Analysing the response to your marketing can provide valuable customer data. Email marketing tools, backend platform, and advertising platforms should be able to provide you with a wide range of information that you can use.
You’ll be able to investigate the open and click-through rates of your emails, so you can see which types of email marketing are most successful, and can then try to replicate that success in future campaigns.
Adverts can provide even more data points that show you which adverts were engaged with the most, when they were engaged with, and even whether the customer was browsing on a computer or a smartphone.
Transactional data is collected whenever a customer makes a purchase on your ecommerce site. It includes information about purchases, payments, and returns that you can analyse to see which products are performing well and what payment methods your customers prefer.
You can also analyse the keywords that customers used to search for the products they ultimately purchased, the number of different products they viewed before making their final choice, and whether or not they used a coupon or voucher code.
All this information can help you provide a better shopping experience in the future and can give you clues as to what convinced customers to make specific purchases.
Customers respond well to brands that they deem to be transparent and trustworthy. It’s therefore important that you’re upfront about how you collect customer data, and what you do with it.
Having an easily accessible data policy on your website will go a long way to achieving this, and allowing customers to choose how they are contacted will also help.
You should also take steps to ensure the security of the data you collect, and employ security methods such as esignature software, or an encrypted checkout process. Displaying credentials such as an SSL certificate on your website will also help to build trust among your customers.
Offering incentives to your customers for handing over their data will make them more willing to do so. Rewards such as voucher codes can be offered to encourage customers to sign up to newsletters, providing you with a chance to capture valuable data and show off your ecommerce site to a new customer.
Now that you know how to collect customer data and the benefits that doing so can have for your ecommerce business, it's time to get started!
Remember to collect the data that will be most relevant to your business, and answer the questions you need answering. Collect data from as many different sources as possible, your own website, your advertising partners, and even social media.
Make sure your customers know you’re taking good care of their information and feel rewarded for handing it over. Then start analysing it, and make improvements where necessary based on what you find. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make to your ecommerce store.
Pohan Lin is the Senior Web Marketing and Localiszations Manager at Databricks, a global Data and AI provider. Pohan is passionate about innovation and is dedicated to communicating the significant impact data has in marketing.