Strategy Making Customer Data Infinitely More Intelligent with Audience Insights

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By Natalie Dollinger

How many pieces of software on your stack came with the promise of “making data actionable” to really help you “gain traction” with your efforts and tackle the “low hanging fruit” and beyond?

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Did you just cringe a little bit? It’s ok, me too. Actionable is a far too overused term that tops the list on every business and marketing jargon dictionary out there.

Trite as it is, “actionable” comes from a good place. Afterall, what good are dashboards and metrics if you don’t know what to do with them? Taken out of context, metrics are pretty worthless. And insights? They’re only as good as the actions you choose to take with them.

Given today’s tech constraints and bandwidth issues, a lot of companies fall short in this regard though, calling it good enough if they have a nice dashboard to look at. But wouldn’t it be so much better if your audience insights were more than just a few meh-looking graphs?

What if you (1) had quick and easy access to metrics about your customers, (2) knew how to turn those metrics into insights and (3) could easily figure out what to do with that information – making it “actionable,” as we say. Many marketers get so caught up in the complexities of the first step that they don’t have time to get to the second. Or, if they do, it’s too late, and the insights are no longer relevant enough to use them in step three.

What you really need is a system that makes it magically easy to learn about any subset of your customers in minutes, giving you the confidence and time to turn insights – actionable insights – into marketing ammo.

 

Taking Action on Data: 3 Attainable Audience Insights + How to Put Them to Work

So when it comes to surfacing valuable audience insights, what should you be looking for? And how can you take action across channels based on what you learn? Consider the following three scenarios and potential next steps.

Insight #1: My repeat buyers are 20x more valuable over the long term than my one-time buyers

audience insights repeat buyers vs one time buyers

This makes sense logically, right? But quantifying how much more valuable your repeat buyers are versus your one-time buyers gives you the ammunition you need to get approvals to use discounts or other levers to sweeten the offer and turn those one-time buyers into loyal customers.

Studies show that only 27% of one-time buyers come back for a second round, but their likelihood to buy goes up with each purchase. Therefore, if you can encourage that second purchase, you’re well on your way to creating a repeat customer. All you need to do is get them over the hump.

Once you surface insights about your one-time buyers, you can use that knowledge to launch efforts like:

  • Nurturing one-time buyers with an email stream about the brand or category that they purchased. For instance, you can include relevant product recommendations that complement the item each buyer purchased or showcase products from the same brand or category.
  • Retargeting one-time buyers on Facebook with a deal. Since they’ve already shown interest in your brand, it might be worthwhile to offer one-time buyers free shipping on their second purchase to bring them back. For extra credit, consider customers’ discount affinity so that you can hit your full-price buyers with a different offer than your discount buyers. This consideration helps you preserve margins on the customers that don’t need a discount to convert.

Insight #2: 40% of my most valuable customers are at-risk or (GASP) already lost

Let’s say that the top 10% of your customers spend 20x more than the other 90% of your customers. If 40% of those most valuable customers are at-risk or lost, that’s less than ideal. Add in the fact that acquiring a new customer is harder and exponentially more expensive than keeping a customer — some studies estimate that it can be anywhere from five to 25 times pricier — and it’s clear that you want to do everything in your power to bring these VIP customers back to your brand.

audience insights valuable customers lifecycle stage

After you identify which of your customers are at-risk or lost, you can start trying to win them back by:

  • Bidding more on category and brand search terms in AdWords for high value customers. Sure, the volume will be relatively small, but you’d be willing to bid much higher on any relevant search terms for your most valuable customers, right? Increasing your bids on categories or brands that you carry or competitive brands that your audience may consider turning to instead of going back to you can help prevent these high value customers from finding another place to shop.
  • Personalizing the onsite experience and offering a deal for them to come back. The next time an at-risk or lost customer visits your site, make them an offer they can’t refuse by hitting them with a banner or lightbox that offers a nice discount or free shipping.

Insight #3: The products that are the most interesting to my buyers are not the ones that I’ve been highlighting in acquisition campaigns

We know, we know – merchandising hands over some products to marketing that need some TLC and suddenly the ball is in your court, and you’re left wondering how to get these products off the shelf. Meanwhile, you have your own revenue numbers to hit in email, Facebook and all the other channels. How can you accomplish both of these goals?

audience insights product performance

It all starts by understanding which products are most interesting to different subsets of your customers and, conversely, knowing which customers would be most interested in specific products. You can then put this information to work in order to:

  • Acquire more customers with the most relevant products and creative. If you know that your one-time buyers are obsessed with your denim vests, you should show those denim vests to some potential customers who might not even know that your company carries them. For example, you can target non-buyers on Facebook by creating a Lookalike audience based on your most valuable customers with an affinity toward the relevant category and show them creative and messaging with the products in which they’re most likely to be interested.
  • Target customers who would actually be interested in the products you’re trying to move. So let’s say that denim vests aren’t doing so hot right now, and your merchandisers have a ton in inventory and need to start making room for those sweet suede vests that are about to roll in for fall. By creating an audience of customers that has an affinity for denim vests, you can better target customers who would actually be interested in buying them rather than blasting your whole list. You can then send customers with a denim vest affinity an email campaign highlighting the vests along with some other relevant product recommendations.

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So… Are Your Audience Insights Actionable?

That depends. Are you able to look at specific subsets of your customers to learn about them or are you restricted to looking at metrics for your whole list? Can you create an audience that you want to learn about in seconds, generate insights in minutes and take action immediately? Can you track performance for your acquisition campaigns over time?

If you have to wait days to get data back in an Excel document or re-upload your data in order to refresh it, you’re losing valuable time – time that makes insights un-actionable (yes, I just made that a thing).

Click here to discover how vineyard vines uses Bluecore’s Audience Insights to answer questions about its most valuable customers and supercharge its eCommerce marketing efforts.

 

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