5 Interesting Uses of Customer Data for Ecommerce Marketing


Every time a customer interacts with your business, you learn a little more about them.

Every time a retailer interacts with a customer, they have the opportunity to learn a little more about that customer and how to serve them better. There is an opportunity to market to this shopper in new or better ways that improve their shopping experience and increase store profits.

On a personal level, when you meet someone, you can’t help but learn something about them. At the very least, you have a basic name and description. The more you interact with this person, the more you learn. In the context of interpersonal relationships, this is obvious. This is also true for business relationships.

When an online or multi-channel retail store interacts with a buyer, there is a similar exchange of information. Each part learns something about the other. Over time, if a customer makes multiple purchases or otherwise interacts with the retailer, the retailer will get to know that customer.

Armed with this kind of customer knowledge, the retailer can do a much better job of marketing. Here are five ways to use customer data to refine your marketing.

1. Find out when your customers are buying

The Albertson Grocery at 2500 Blaine Street in Caldwell, Idaho is open from 6 a.m. to midnight. The Walmart Supercenter a few miles away at 5108 Cleveland Boulevard is open from 5 a.m. to midnight.

Stores that might otherwise be open all night are closed in Caldwell, Idaho.  These retailers understand when their customers are buying.

Stores that might otherwise be open all night are closed in Caldwell, Idaho. These retailers understand when their customers are buying.

It’s worth mentioning because both chains, Albertson’s and Walmart, have many stores open 24 hours a day. So why are their stores in this city of nearly 50,000 people closed at night? The simple answer is that Albertson’s and Walmart know when their customers are buying, and they’ve adjusted their operations accordingly.

If an online retailer has a loyal customer who has made three purchases, and each of those purchases was made between 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., it probably makes sense to market to that customer at that time.

Maybe this shopper comes home from work around 5:30 p.m., cooks and eats dinner, then sits down to stream a few shows on Hulu while reading emails and surfing the web from an iPad.

A personalized, timed marketing email for this customer can be much more effective than a similar message sent with a bunch of other emails earlier in the day.

Adjust emails or other personalized marketing to arrive when a specific customer is most likely to be interested and active.

2. Find Likely Product Matches

A Northwestern US multi-channel retailer uses customer buying behavior to find likely product matches or needs.

Among the items that this retailer sells are pet supplies. When a shopper purchases a combination set of items, the retailer assumes that the customer has or is about to have a new pet. If a buyer buys a leash, collar, dog bed, and puppy food all in one order, chances are they’ve got a new puppy.

Using this information, the retailer begins a series of automated email marketing offering related products. A new puppy owner will receive a message recommending pet food, perhaps a chicken and liver dog food roll; home cleaning and training supplies; chew toys; and health products, such as vitamins for dogs.

Pet mattress toppers are a useful product that some new dog owners may not be familiar with.

Pet mattress toppers are a useful product that some new dog owners may not be familiar with.

Your business could do it too. What combination of items (that you sell) indicates a lifestyle or behavior? What can you do to support this lifestyle or behavior for your client?

3. Identify special events or occasions

An online toy retailer received an order from a woman in Canada. The toys, intended for a five- to seven-year-old boy, were to be shipped to an address in Florida. Although there could be a number of motivations for the purchase, this retailer assumed it was a special occasion – possibly a grandson’s birthday – and marked the customer for follow-up.

About 11 months later, just before the alleged grandson’s upcoming birthday, the retailer sent this customer an email offering a selection of toys.

Look for shopping patterns, like the one featured here, that may indicate a special occasion or event, and market that event.

4. Recognize Subscription Opportunities

Subscription e-commerce is becoming increasingly popular with buyers and merchants. For shoppers, subscriptions can make it easier to restock consumables or discover new products. For merchants, the subscription facilitates inventory management and reduces costs.

You can monitor the types of products customers order and reorder over time to find any subscription opportunities you might not have otherwise recognized.

A retailer noticed that several customers regularly order abrasive pads for angle grinders. While one might not consider sandpaper a good subscription product, apparently it is.

5. Reward your best customers

The same Northwest retailer that is looking for new puppy owners is also launching a new rewards program based on surprising its top customers. Each quarter, the retailer identifies shoppers who spent more than $500 in the previous three months.

Customers reaching the $500 threshold will receive an email with a $10 digital gift card attached. Shoppers who spent $750 receive a $20 digital gift card, and those who spent $1,000 receive a $50 gift card.

These loyal customers should be pleasantly surprised. Moreover, the program can be easily automated and replicated. Your online store could easily use customer data to create a similar program.


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