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Driving Experience with Data

How to use customer data effectively throughout your brand

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Peter Sheldon
Peter Sheldon
Senior Director of Strategy at Magento, an Adobe Company

Peter Sheldon is the Senior Director of Strategy at Magento, an Adobe Company. Magento is a modern eCommerce cloud platform that enables brands like Moroccanoil, Everlast, and Adore Me to create transformative customer experiences while accelerating growth.

Data in the experience economy

Consumers don’t buy products anymore. They buy experiences. If you look at a brand like Tesla, a disruptor in the auto industry, it’s the perfect example: People used to buy a car to serve the purpose of getting from point A to point B. But when they buy a Tesla, they’re actually buying into a community built around the whole experience. It’s not just the experience of driving the car, or the fact that the car rides on autopilot, or that it’s an iPhone on wheels – it’s about the brand. The product is just one small part of that.

As a brand, you have to consider: How do we create this fantastic post-purchase experience? How do we engage the buyer in a community with all the other people who own the product? How do we make them advocates? How do we make them loyal customers who come back and buy again? It’s all part of the end-to-end experience journey. And that journey depends on collecting and using the right data at each touchpoint.

Ask for what you need

Most disruptive digital brands don’t hold back about asking consumers for data. They’re constantly asking people to share – where they are, where they live, etc. Still, many brands are nervous about asking too much. You have to overcome that fear and understand that today, consumers – certainly millennials – have no issue whatsoever sharing that kind of information with you.

But if you’re going to ask for it, you have to consider how you’ll use it to make the experience better for the consumer. If they’ve told you where they live, how can you make their buying experience better because you know that? The same way modern consumers have gotten used to sharing, they’ve also come to expect a layer of convenience or a positive experience that comes along with that.

Merging behavioral and transactional data

Historically, brands have collected and analyzed data in different systems or silos. Finance, product, and the C-Suite will tend to look at the transactional data: How do we get the sale? What’s our margin? How are we doing with cross-selling or upselling? What’s the average order value?

Marketing tends to look a lot more at the behavioral data: Why did people come to our site? If they didn’t buy, what else were they doing? How long do they stay on our pages? What was their intent to buy? They’re trying to understand what I call the “purchase anxiety gap.”

For example, there’s someone on your site who has spent 17 minutes on a product detail page. They’ve watched all the videos, they’ve read the text, they downloaded the PDF – they are highly engaged, but they didn’t buy. What happened? What did we mess up? It’s usually just simple stuff, like they need it in two days and our shipping is four days, or we didn’t provide the shipping cost, or it was out of stock in the size they needed. I think a lot of those insights disappear into a black hole.

Instead of focusing solely on sales, this is an opportunity to merge that information with why someone did or did not purchase. The easiest way to understand why is to ask. And that’s what we fail to do – we fail to ask the customer what went wrong in their experience, what’s holding them back. In situations like these, tools like live chat can be very powerful to engage the customer and ask questions that allow you to better understand their journey and what they need from you.

Put your data in the right hands

Another blindspot for many brands comes with who analyzes the data. As long as it’s being looked at exclusively by the marketing and eCommerce teams, there’s a huge missed opportunity. That data is ten times more valuable to the product organization.

Product teams often live in a vacuum. They have no exposure to the outside world other than some very basic focus group efforts. They have no idea what their customers actually want. Now, you have this wealth of data from the website – everything from reviews to Q&A, etc. You get customers asking, “Does the product do this?” “Does it have that?”

Giving product teams access to this data can drastically change their ability to build better products, but also to identify missed opportunities in the market. They can answer questions like, “What are the gaps in our portfolio?” “What are the adjacent spaces that we can go into?”

It’s not just the internal systems and sales data that they need, but also the user-generated content, the customer opinions, both positive and negative. This in turn gives your brand community the full-circle experience of having their input heard and implemented, fostering loyalty to your brand.

Conclusion

  • Ask for the data that matters – Don’t be afraid to ask your customers more about themselves, so you can deliver a better experience.
  • Don’t keep data in silos – Analyze your transactional and behavioral data together to get a full picture of how customers move through your brand experience.
  • Keep your product team in the loop – Customer data shouldn’t stay in marketing. Product teams can learn a lot and improve dramatically by receiving customer feedback.

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