Analytics has become synonymous with data-driven marketing. But there is one important distinction within the realm of analytics that can accelerate your business growth by helping you better understand your customers. I’m talking about the difference between web analytics and customer data analytics.
Web analytics includes unique sessions, average session lengths, bounce rates, and other aggregate information. This type of data is great for optimizing a website and understanding campaign performance.
However, it’s pretty difficult to use this aggregate data to understand drivers of user conversion or segment users into cohorts to which you can send more targeted emails. Since your success ultimately hinges on your users, the more data about them you can directly collect and analyze, the more you’ll learn how to improve your business.
Introducing Customer Data Analytics
Customer data is any piece of information-who the customer is, what the customer is doing, and where on your page/app the customer is-that indicates how your customers are using your product or service and interacting with your brand. Other terms of this include “customer lifecycle data,” “behavioral data,” or “usage data.”
Naming aside, the key here is that this kind of data is generated directly from user actions. You’ll be able to get a complete view of your user’s journey including how they interact with your product.
With customer data analytics, you can more easily understand how they heard about your product, what features they love, what features they want improved, etc. Collecting and measuring customer data can help improve your product design, send more personalized emails, and better empower your customer-facing teams. All important things that can drive growth!
At Segment, a customer data platform, we use over 20 different customer data tools via our own product to ensure that the data is consistent when it ends up in those end tools. In this post, I’ll share the broad categories of these tools and how you can use them to grow your business.
1. Improve product design
It’s virtually impossible to design something in a vacuum that users immediately grok. Part of the iterative design process is to continuously get feedback from and observe real users using your product.
Web analytics data, which is primarily quantitative, can help identify problem areas; for example, that the conversion to Sign Up on this page needs improvement. However, that is about all it can tell us. Customer data, which is tied to individuals, can not only reveal the poor conversion rate, but also show us other actions in each user’s journey or help you uncover qualitative feedback that may be useful in improving the conversion rate.
There are three types of tools here that generate this valuable feedback:
Live chat tools are exactly what they sound-they are a little widget on your site or app that allows people to chat in real time with your team. This is great for customer development, sales development, providing support, and finding problem areas in the design.
Session recording and heat mapping tools are great for seeing what your users are doing on your site or app. Want to know if your customers get stuck on a form? Or see if they scroll down far enough to see the final call to action? These tools can help and inform your design decisions in future iterations.
Surveys are another example of a qualitative tool. You can create little questionnaires that appear in a widget on the site. This is great if you don’t want to be manning the chat box 24/7 and if you have a specific question you want to ask that requires minimal thinking for your users to answer. In our experience, if the live chat tools provide vague responses, then switching to a survey with pointed questions might help you generate better insights.
Here are real results from the Qualaroo survey on Analytics Academy.
By leveraging a combination of these tools, you can quickly understand problem areas in the design of your app and fix them.
2. Send more personalized emails
If there is one thing to know about marketing, it’s that there is no one perfect message-only targeted messages. Emails, push notifications, and display ads that speak more directly to the recipient will see higher engagement rates.
But how do you build an email list of your users that has the additional dimensions to allow you to make those segmentations?
Well, many modern email and push tools today allow you to do just that. These tools can collect additional traits (of your choosing), which then can be grouped together in the end tool.
Here are the common use cases of this:
- Sending a coupon to all of your users who abandoned cart within a day or two (BONUS: retarget them)
- If there was a bug that caused your mobile app to crash for a portion of your users, send them a specific email with a coupon or credits for an in-app purchase
- Identifying users who click through all of your emails or scroll to the bottom of your blog posts.. send them a strong email to sign up!
id: '1e810c197e', // must be unique per customer
name: 'Bill Lumbergh',
And here is how you would use those traits and events to create a unique segment of users to whom to send a custom email to:
Besides higher engagement in open and click through rates, your users will also appreciate and trust your brand if you only send emails that are relevant.
3. Prepare your customer facing team
We’ve all been on the wrong side of a call with our credit card companies, where we’re repeating our mother’s maiden name ad nauseum, after being transferred countless times to different departments.
The epitome of a terrible customer experience!
We’re fortunate that modern companies now have learned from these gross injustices. Companies today equip their sales and support teams with customer data so that they don’t have to put their customers through the same cumbersome exercise. By putting the data in front of the right person at the right time, companies can make that data actionable.
There are many ways to pull this customer data for your sales and support reps. Tools such as Zendesk and Intercom offer this ability to look at account data and usage out-of-the-box. Salesforce also provides the ability to create your own custom dashboards in the Account object view.
A custom account usage dashboard embedded in a Salesforce page.
How do I get started?
Fortunately, there are thousands of tools out there that can help you collect, analyze, and use customer data. But how do you know what tools to choose?
Here is a great guide that prescribes a framework to choose tools for your marketing and growth stack. And if you’re on a budget, here is fantastic article about building a $9 marketing stack.
Kissmetrics is a great analytics solution that is geared towards marketing and growth. The customer data collected can allow you to perform granular analysis on any individual user, as well as group them in cohorts to look at activation and retention.
To learn more about using analytics to drive growth, check out Segment’s free email course Analytics Academy!
About the Author: Andy Jiang works at Segment, a customer data platform developers and analysts love because of its elegant APIs and extensive partner ecosystem. He writes about using data to create delightful customer experiences that drive business growth. Follow him on Twitter at @andyjiang for product updates and lame jokes.