Best practices: Gathering Customer and Prospect Data

August 19, 2016
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Gathering Customer Data

gathering customer and prospect dataGathering customer and prospect data is essential for sales and marketing teams alike. After all, the more we know about our customers, the better we are able to tailor to their needs, soothe their pain points and ultimately sell to them. Before your customers are customers, they’re prospects. They don’t really know you, but they might be interested in what you’re offering. Your job is to get to know them and in turn let them know you, to see if the relationship is going to be a good fit. In this sense getting to know your prospects is no different than getting to know someone you’ve just met. You start off with general small talk, and as trust grows, more personal information is offered. A report from Experian Data Quality found that “Understanding what consumers want through the data collected and knowing how to apply that data is what will differentiate laggards from leaders.” So it’s wise to invest some time and effort in an on-going data collection campaign for your prospects and customers alike.

Techniques for Gathering Customer and Prospect Data

Building a robust customer database takes time and dedication. A majority of your database will consist of organically gleaned nuggets of information from phone calls or email opt-ins. However, if you want to use highly-personalized targeted marketing campaigns, or win customer loyalty, you will need more information beyond the standard Name and email address.You need to create opportunities where your prospects and customers give you the information you require in a value exchange. While it seems like you’re giving something away for free, you’re actually obtaining information that can prove to be invaluable. “For example, if you sell ski and snowboard equipment, valuable pieces of information include an individual’s sport preference, skill level, how often they ski or snowboard, preferred mountains/venues, brand preference for gear and if they have additional family members that join them on trips,” writes marketing veteran Ellen Valentine. Industry professionals recommend sticking to a maximum of 6 questions then using multiple platforms to get the answers to these questions. Here are four suggested platforms for gathering prospect and customer data:

  1. Pop-ups Give your website visitors an incentive, such as access to gated content or a free download ,so they will hand over their information. This is a great way to start gathering info on prospects so you can start nurturing them.
  2. Email Surveys Surveys are a great way to gather more in-depth data on your customer base. You can fill the survey out any way you want, whether it’s blog topics your customers are interested in reading, to demographic information. Don’t expect an avalanche of information, but you’ll get some helpful responses.
  3. Train your reps If you’ve got a physical point of sale such as a store or a call centre, train your employees to collect information that goes beyond zip code. You can also note their purchase history and incorporate this information for online experiences such as product suggestion emails.
  4. Progressive Profiling You don’t have to hit your customers and prospects with a massive form to fill out from the get-go. Instead, ask them new questions every time they visit your website or landing pages.”This makes it easier for a prospect to trust the company in small steps while the company continues to learn more about the prospect,” says Aaron Ross in his book “Predictive Revenue”.If you’ve got content on offer that keeps them coming back for more, you will eventually gain a deeper insight into each persons’ interests and website behaviour without overwhelming them with too many questions at the beginning of the relationship.

    Types of Customer and Prospect Data to Gather

    Customer website behavior and activity With systems out there Like HubSpot Marketing, that can track website activity, it is now possible to analyze customer website behaviour and gain deeper insight into their psyches. It’s important to find out things like how long they stay on your site, what they’re clicking, what types of content they like to share, what downloads interest them, analyzing and finding insight within these customer activities leads to the holy grail of Big Data, needs anticipation. Referral Source Always find out how your customers discovered you. This gives you valuable information on which marketing channels are working. Personal preferences from social media accounts Want to be more informed on what your customers like? Stay in contact via social media, you’re more likely to get customer interaction that way. Also, many customers prefer to connect with you via social media channels - don’t ignore this. In fact, it’s a great way to deepen your company’s relationship with the customer while also gathering in-depth data about their tastes and preferences. If you’re in real-estate and you’ve got a great lead, a quick look at your lead’s Facebook or Twitter account could tell you what their tastes are when it comes to housing. Do they seem to like opulence and prestige? Or is your lead a hip urban single looking for an easy to maintain condo? Demographic Data This information will allow you to deliver highly-personalized marketing campaigns to your customers. It’s invaluable in today’s world where every customer wants to feel known to their brands. Gathering customer data does take time and effort, but the pay off is worth it once you’ve got those nuggets of gold. Obviously, you’re going to need a place to store all of this wonderful data, and various apps to implement your marketing campaign. If you’re not already working with a CRM, be sure to download our free ebook “Beginner’s Guide to CRM”. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!
About Vanessa Rombaut

Vanessa is a wordsmith extraordinaire. Originally from Australia, she has travelled the world and the seven seas to write scintillating content for you to enjoy.

She likes books, travel, vintage films and sushi (not necessarily in that order).