As a business leader or marketing executive, you know that without any customers your business would not survive. So, it’s important to identify just who your customers actually are. Customer data collection methods achieves this. Subsequently this will tell you what they are looking for from your business. Effective marketing and increase loyalty to your brand will be the result. While at the same time building higher levels of sales. Using recognised customer data collection methods is key to this type of activity.

The successful collection of customer data allows businesses to get to know their customers on an individual basis. This makes it easy to tailor the user experience to meet customer needs more appropriately. This is because strategic use of the data collected means a business can craft the kind of offers that will increase rates of purchase, as they are customised to suit individual customer profiles.

Need help with collecting customer data? Contact us.

How to gather customer information

If you wonder just how to go about gathering the reliable and comprehensive customer information your business needs, the following simple tips on the use of secure online databases for customer data collection will assist:

Type of personal data to collect and reasons

First off, basic customer data collection methods include gathering basic info, like customer names, postal addresses and email addresses. You can then personalise all ongoing communications and conduct strategic direct marketing. Some of the other demographic details that can prove really useful include profession, age and gender.

After building rapport and trust with customers, move into the collection of greater psychographic data. This can include things like personality information, lifestyle choices and values.

Simple customer questionnaires can be used to collect this type of data. Just make sure you don’t bombard your customers with too many questions or they will simply move on to a site that’s easier to negotiate. Psychographic profiling allows you to build comprehensive customer profiles for targeted marketing purposes.

Progressive profiling techniques

Don’t blitz customers with lots of questions from the first moment they visit your site or express an interest in buying from you. It’s a good idea to drip feed questions to them each time they log into your site. Customers find it extremely off-putting to deal with businesses that want to know too much. So, don’t make registering with your site a long process. 86% of buyers state  they will leave websites with lengthy sign-up forms.

An example of this type of profiling is:

  • First visit, simply collect the visitor/customer name, email address, site password
  • Second visit or at the time of first purchase, collect their address, date of birth, phone number
  • If you are dealing with a business customer on their third visit ask for the name of their company, number of employees and their sector of industry

Organise and protect

Store all customer data in a secure online database, like PretaForm. This is a flexible and cost-effective solution for tracking, analysing and storing confidential information. The PretaForm database solutions can be configured to meet your needs exactly and will not compromise GDPR legislation requiring you to maintain secure records.

Best ways to protect confidential personal data

One way to ensure all confidential customer data is protected to the full is to procure the securest software as a service for online databases and e-forms. You can collect and store customer data with this software and it has all the data protection needed to comply with GDPR. As a data controller, you have liability for compliance with GDPR. This means you must ensure all data processors offer guarantees on meeting GDPR requirements. You need a written contract in place to secure this and can find out more at the Office for the Information Commissioner (ICO).

Spreadsheets, USB sticks and suppliers that don’t offer GDPR compliance guarantees should be avoided at all costs!

What legal obligations do I have?

When you collect customer data you need to create a customer privacy policy which all your customers can access. Follow ICO guidelines to create your own customer privacy policy which complies with all legal requirements.

Remember, it is essential to have a privacy policy in place. And, you need to receive consent from any customers in the UK and the EU. This will remain the case after the the UK exits the European Union.

Your privacy policy should include:

  • details on who is collecting data
  • how it’s used
  • who you will share this data with (if necessary)

Advise customers they can opt out if they don’t want to get any marketing information from you.

One more thing to bear in mind is that you are not legally allowed to acquire any email addresses from online sources, such as internet chat rooms or blogs.

Ways to benefit from customer details

Use the customer data you collect to offer additional value to customers. This is one of the biggest benefits of customer data collection and can really help increase your sales. Your customer data allows you to achieve a clear understanding of your customers. In addition you can your target customer and find the ways best suited for communication and marketing.

Once you understand your customer base you will appreciate what they really want. This means you can easily craft the sort of offers that will entice them to buy.

Profile enrichment

There are lots of ways to enrich your customer profiles by loading information that is publicly available using APIs like FullContact and ClearBit. These APIs are available for both B2C and B2B clients and can add dozens of data fields to your existing customer records. All this sort of additional detail really assists sales and marketing departments and helps them target customers with even more accuracy.

Data security is critical

There are lots more customer data collection methods that can be utilised for building the informative customer profiles needed to enhance your marketing operations. But, maintaining a confidential GDPR-compliant infrastructure is an essential legal requirement that you must put in place. You could risk hefty fines if the security of data held by your business is compromised in any way.

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