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Do You Know Who Your Customers Are? No, REALLY?!

It is noisy out there for consumers. Everywhere they go they are getting bombarded by ads or articles or commercials that tell them what to think and what to buy. They scroll through Instagram or check their Facebook feeds and cannot avoid the attention grabbing content. How are you reaching them? Who are you reaching?

The truth is; you probably aren't sure. And if you are, you probably don't feel so great about it. It is funny how the excitement of launching a new campaign or ad set almost always assumes that the targeting has already been nailed down. Basically you are just testing your coupon, or the new apparel or maybe the new CTA. Does that sound familiar? Trust us, you are not alone.

Here is a good question that you should ask yourself. How did you arrive at your target audience? How do you know that you should be targeting males, 18-65 in the United States? Don't laugh, because that is the approach for a lot of small businesses that don't know any better.

Albeit that approach is easy but it is also wasteful. You probably don't have a huge marketing budget and you definitely don't want to waste it on uninterested eyes. The question then becomes...

How do I start to learn more about my existing customers?

We are so glad you asked.

Here are your three steps to understanding your existing customers.

1. Pull a customer list

2. Send that list to a data enhancement vendor (Experian, Axciom, MelissaData or etc.)

3. Analyze

Review of steps.

1. Pull a customer list

If you are using an e-commerce platform like Amazon or Shopify each will have specific instructions on how to access this data. If you are a service company or retailer this could be stored in your CRM or other sales software. Grab as much identifying information as you can.

The standard list for value you will want to include in the pull are as follows:

  • First Name

  • Last Name

  • Address

  • City

  • State

  • Zip

  • Email

  • Phone

Ideally you have all of these fields and the values are complete. Chances are that wont be the case so try to fill in where you can, the more complete the better. This data should be in a spreadsheet. That is the common practice.

Now that you have that it is time to find yourself a data provider.

2. Send that list to a data enhancement vendor (Experian, Acxiom, MelissaData or etc.)

I added some links for each recommended site above to make it easier. This part is going to require some work. You will need to fill out some additional information at each of the sites and you probably want to chat with someone on what variables you are looking to purchase.

For example, from Experian, you can purchase basic additional data like age, income, presence of children but you can also buy Mosaic data. The Mosaic data is a modeled category that Experian created to identify consumers that are similar. You probably don't need to start with that.

What we want are the basics; age, gender, income, confirm or append email and phone and presence of children will get you started. There will be a per record cost and possibly a minimum purchase required. This cost is usually a few pennies per record so it isn't totally prohibitive. Nonetheless, it is still a cost.

If you get stuck or have questions about speaking with any of these vendors just let us know. If you don't really care to do this work and would like us to just do it for you; that can also be done. Just shoot us a message and we would be happy to help. Click here for help.

Once that work is done the next step is making sense out of it.

3. Analyze

Now that our customer data has been enhanced with the third-party data it is time to learn something. What do my customers look like right now? Who am I resonating with? We will see what we can find...

For this first pass, you should keep it simple. There are a lot of complicated ways that you can do this but we are going to keep it stupid simple.

The first question we want to answer is what is the gender of my audience? You will get a field back for gender. For this, we are simply going to do a sum, which you can do in Excel.

Another thing that we are going to want to understand is where are my customers, regionally? I would start this at the State level. Depending on how many customers you have you can start to get sub-state level and look at city or even DMA. However, for now, let's keep it simple. Sum customers by state. One thing to note, is that population is not evenly distributed across the US. You will find most of your population in states like Florida, California and Texas. Those very well might be your largest customers locations. However, it isnt always. You might find that for some reason, your product is very attractive in the midwest. You never know until you look.

Once we have those two things squared away we want to look at income. Your data provider should provide income, at the household level, in buckets. What does that mean? It means it will say something like the income is $50,000 - $60,000. It wont be as precise as $57,500. This is all the level of detail you need. What you want to do is sum customers by income band. This should provide some interesting insights into the financial position your customer is in.

After going through this process we now know the gender, location and income of your top clients. Why do we care about this? This will allow us to inform our targeting efforts later. Remember, the goal here is to gain some insights in a simple and direct way. There will always be more complicated things that you can do later once you get comfortable working with enhanced data variables. If you have any questions please let us know.

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