Customer data is one of the most important assets your business could have. When used effectively, it can help you better understand your customers, allowing you to enhance their experience, create a better product, and increase your profits as well. The information you gather will also give you valuable insights that can help you design your marketing strategies and make better business decisions in general.
However, it is not always easy to convince consumers to voluntarily provide their personal data. People are becoming more careful about how their details are used, making it more important for companies to work double time in order to collect accurate information. While data collection is becoming more challenging, there are still effective methods that businesses can employ to increase customer retention.
Implement Loyalty, Rewards, and VIP Programs
These are three of the most popular methods to collect customer data but many marketers often do not understand the difference between these three programs. A business can have one, two, or even all three of these programs because they do serve different purposes.
Entrepreneurs often start companies based on amazing business ideas, but in doing so, they fail to recognise the importance of having an effective loyalty program to retain first-time customers. Loyalty programs are usually available to all customers even without a minimum purchase requirement. As the term implies, the aim is to inspire loyalty so once customers sign up for the membership, they are able to enjoy members-only benefits like automatic discounts or access to special services. The reward is often immediate rather than earned.
Rewards programs, on the other hand, require aggregate purchases for consumers to gain rebates or freebies in the future. Most companies let their customers earn points equivalent to the money they have spent. These points can then either be used as a credit or to claim free gifts. In implementing a rewards program, you can choose to offer credit against your own products and services. If budget is an issue, you can also partner with start-up businesses who can offer their products as rewards. This is a win-win scenario because it is an opportunity for them to market to your loyal consumers.
Loyalty and rewards programs are very useful if you want to have a general idea of who your customers are. In many cases, rewards programs are often tied to loyalty memberships which is why many people confuse the two schemes.
Unlike loyalty and rewards programs that are typically open to everyone, gaining a VIP status is limited only to the company’s best customers. A VIP membership, which can either be awarded or paid for, often comes with exclusive perks and advantages.
In all these three programs it is very important to make it crystal clear to customers what the perks and benefits are. Avoid complicated incentive systems because it will not only confuse customers, but it will also be difficult for you to track.
Make the collection process simple and straightforward
The information you should gather upon registration in loyalty and rewards programs should be very minimal and the process must be straightforward to encourage people to sign up. Details typically include name, contact info, birthday, gender, and location. By having these details, you can already generate reports regarding what your most popular products and services are based on the purchase history of your customers. These reports will also give you an idea of how to refocus your marketing strategy to drive more sales.
For VIP members, you are typically allowed to gather more information. You can request members to provide specific details in order for you to deliver a more personalised experience and build stronger relationships. This will make your company stand out from the competition and make VIP customers prefer your brand over others. For example, some of the top hotels in the world collect details such as food and wine preferences, pillow of choice, favourite music, interests, and even food allergies.
When collecting data, you have a responsibility to make sure that the information is stored, managed, and used securely. There are many ways for you to protect customer data. You can implement different data access control policies, use encryption, but always make sure your system is updated, and create safe backups.
If you are using a mobile or portable device, be aware of laptop security risks. Many businesses, especially SMEs, do not realise that they are very vulnerable to costly cyber-attacks such as data breach.
Use surveys and offer incentives
Surveys are recommended if you need qualitative data. While tracking purchasing behaviour is more commonly used nowadays, surveys still prove to be useful in answering the how’s and the why’s. Monitoring purchasing behaviour often gathers information like what is being bought, by who, and when. However, it does not answer why people prefer a certain product over another.
You can use the responses gathered in surveys to improve your products as well as create a more targeted marketing strategy. You can even directly ask survey respondents the question of what factors would make them a repeat customer.
Offering a valuable incentive like discounts or a free product is a great way to make people answer a survey. Just make sure that you keep the survey short and sweet. Even if you have the best incentive, the reality is, people are usually too lazy to complete time-consuming forms. Limit the survey to a maximum of ten questions for multiple choice type and five questions for surveys where they need to write up an answer.
Provide Free Content
If you do not have room in your budget to offer discounts and rebates to every customer, consider offering free content like an eBook, podcast, or a webinar. You do not need to be a professional author or a filmmaker to do so. The key is to focus on your own industry specialisation and create content relevant to that.
For example, if you are selling protein powders, create an eBook with different recipes using your product. Offer this free eBook to customers who sign up for your newsletter with their details. Or, if you own a marketing company, you can create a free webinar giving marketing tips to target past clients and encourage repeat business.
The importance of maximising customer data
There are many different ways to gather customer data. The method you use will depend on your business goals as well as your available resources. It is also important to note that you should be selective of the type of data you collect. Focus on collecting relevant information that can really help your business grow.