Customer Insight and Other Voodoo: What it Takes to Turn Data into Action

Customer Insight and Other Voodoo: What it Takes to Turn Data into Action on

Be selective with the data you collect, and move quickly when it tells you a story

It’s said that all of the knowledge ever can be found online. Big deal. All that knowledge is like all the customer data you’ve collected. It’s useless unless you can use it to gain insight, and then turn the insight into action.

You’ve got to know whom you should market to, and you need to make nimble business decisions. Sorting through the mass of information can seem like voodoo to the uninitiated … but no spirits are speaking. It’s customer data. The answer is in the data, but you have to get it to tell you a story.

Walk before you run

Do you have the basics squared away? In the quest for sophistication, it’s easy to forget to ensure that basic data is flowing in and being measured. What can you learn about the number of lead forms submitted your site? Not much. But do you actually know the number in the first place?

Ensure that you have a solid foundation for data collection. It’s not just about accuracy – you must also demonstrate consistency with your collection. Know what you can collect. A specific data stream may not tell you much on its own, but perspective when parsed with other data can tell you an actionable story.

It doesn’t come with an instruction manual

Are you doing it right? Who’s grading the test? The beauty of data – especially customer data – is that you only collect what applies to you. The information you gather and your analysis will depend on your business requirements.

There are best practices for data interpretation, but there’s no definitive way to gain insight. There’s only one thing that matters: assurance that the data communicates a trait about your customers.

It’s data, but it’s about people

Don’t lose sight of the fact that the numbers represent human beings. You collect the data and it provides insight. You then take an action as a result. If it causes the desired result, you have the people to thank, not the information.

Numbers behave predictably. People seldom do.

Decide what you want to produce before you start

The data will tell you a story, and it may be something you weren’t expecting to hear. But you won’t get this insight, and there’ll be nothing to act on, if you decide to collect data just to see what you can do with it.

Actionable insight from data isn’t a fishing expedition. Start with objectives that help you understand what you’re already seeing or that you know exists. Would you like to be able to predict what a customer will buy next? Are you concerned about customer churn?

Economic opportunities often make these decisions for you and then the data can be put to work. The information often validates a general assumption. It’s common, for example, to see the 80/20 rule come into play: 80% of the revenue is coming from 20% of your customers. But when you dig deeper, you might discover that this smaller percentage of active customers purchases only your least expensive products.

What would happen if you could induce just a few of these repeat buyers to purchase more on the next visit? The data may also tell you that a small number of non-frequent visitors make large purchases. Would your efforts be better spent finding ways to engage more of these high-spenders? Look to the data for insight, and then …

Don’t deliberate, act!

Only a subset of the data you collect will tell you a story that produces something you can act on. Move when it does! Resist the urge to collect more data to see if it validates the actionable insight you’ve already decided upon. The better choice is to move on it and have your customers prove or disprove it. If you were right, you’ve already started making more money.

One insight at a time

It turns out that data voodoo isn’t magic. Most of it is common sense and an understanding of basic human behavior. Customer data helps you determine which behavior you can amplify or modify. These research-driven insights in turn build a history of success, and it’s a process that happens over time. Each action based on insight sends a ripple through your organization. More of your organization will adopt the approach as they see the cause and effect.

Be specific with your collection and analysis goals from the outset. Avoid the “Here’s data, now do something with it?” approach – because that’s one voodoo spell that just won’t work.

For more insights on how to leverage your online data, including how to create an effective user experience, contact the online strategy and design experts at Creative Technology Partners.

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