What Ecommerce Customer Data Should You Actually Collect and Store?
We’ve discussed the importance of owning your ecommerce customer database and storing all of that user information in one place. But even if you do this already or are in the process of making that transition, you’re probably wondering, “What data should I be collecting about my customers? And what do I use it for?”
Before we dive into the answers to those questions, let’s think back to our initial post on owning ecommerce customer data. This topic is so important because by not owning and storing that data, most businesses are in a risky place and don’t even realize it. Being in full control of your customers’ data allows you to build a relationship with your customers without dependence on third-party tools. You can learn more about why this is important and how to transition from keeping your customers’ information in different platforms (like Facebook, Amazon, or Shopify) to centralizing that data here.
In this post, we’re going to step deeper into this concept and help you think about how to model your ecommerce customer data within your own system in a simple, useful way.
5 Rules to Keep in Mind for Collecting Ecommerce Customer Data
Here are a few best practices to consider as you model your customer data and start collecting that information.
1. Keep it simple (and grow as needed).
Don’t over-complicate things. In fact, the more you complicate, the less you’ll be able to execute. Collecting too much data will only slow you down and makes it confusing when you go to put the data into action.
2. Let customer actions inform what you collect.
Don’t just collect a random assortment of data. This isn’t beneficial for you or for the customer and it’s what has led to privacy issues in marketing today. Instead, think about the customer actions you need to track in order to more effectively sell your product, communicate to your customers personally, build relationships to serve those customers, and add value to their experience. What information do you need to gather to do that well?
The answer to that question is often unique to the individual business, depending on what they sell and who their customers are. To figure out what you need, consider this question: If all third parties were removed (for example, if Facebook couldn’t help you target based on interests or actions taken on the site), what would you need to communicate and sell to your customers effectively?
3.Use a platform to store and organize your data.
Keeping up a simple spreadsheet is going to be way too time-consuming for most brands. Use a CRM-like platform that allows you to own the data, is integrated with marketing and ecommerce and marketing software, allows you to build out a customer model, and can be exported as a backup. For that, we recommend Klaviyo and we have other articles about the benefits of Klaviyo and its success here.
4. Collect binary information.
This is on the technical side, but as you collect data it’s best to collect it in a way that allows you to act on it easily and at scale. Collecting paragraphs of text isn’t helpful when you want that information to help you trigger an automated email to send. So structure the data you collect in an actionable way, such as yes/no for certain actions, sets of values, etc.
5. Use your customer avatar as a first step.
Before you do anything else, make sure you have your customer avatars dialed in. Who are your target customers, really? This goes deeper than demographic info and looks at their lifestyle, interests, habits, goals, habits, personality types, and more. Understanding this will support all areas of your business, including collecting user data.
Be sure to check out our guide for creating a customer avatar template and what to include here. Once filled out, this template can be translated for building out your CRM model.
How to Get Started Collecting Ecommerce Customer Data
When it comes to structuring your ecommerce customer data, where do you start? Getting started can be overwhelming, but the most important part is just to start somewhere, even if it’s a very simple set of data. From there you can tailor it to what your business needs. To help get you thinking about what to include, we’ll provide a sample customer model below.
As we’ve described earlier in this post, don’t focus so closely on what to collect, but what you want to do. How do you want to serve your customers and communicate with them? That should direct what information you track and collect.
Here are a few simple examples:
- If you want to be able to send customers product recommendations to encourage them to come back for a second purchase, then you need to keep track of which products they bought.
- If you want to send thank you emails to your VIP customers, you’ll need to track how much customers spend with you and be able to segment them accordingly.
Sample Customer Model
Follow our sample customer model below to get started on thinking about what customer information to collect and how your customers’ info could be structured in your database.
Basic Contact Info
Name, email, phone number, address
Basic contact preferences
How do they prefer to receive communication?
Relevant demographic info
Location, lifestyle, cultural context, marital status, whether they have kids, life stage, age, income bracket, etc.
Note: The type of information relevant to your brand will be unique to your business needs! Collect what you need, leave what you don’t.
What are your customers interested in and what pain points do they have that your products solve? Think activities, hobbies, lifestyle interests, or even other brands they might be loyal to.
This data will help you understand how engaged customers are with your brand and where they are in the customer journey. For example, you might choose to track past purchases, email interactions (opens and clicks), video watches, website activity (page views, add to cart events, etc.), or customer service inquiries.
Our Recommended Tool for Collecting Customer Data
As mentioned, Klaviyo is a powerful email marketing platform for ecommerce businesses, and it also happens to function as a great CRM. Within Klaviyo, every email address you acquire has a profile where the customer’s information is stored. In addition to their contact info and communication preferences, their profile can contain actions they took on your ecommerce store, interactions with every email that is sent, and any number of custom properties that you can upload via CSV file.
Next Steps for Getting Started
First things first, remember: Start somewhere, even if you’re starting small!
To recap, here are a few simple steps to identify what ecommerce customer data you want to keep and how to start collecting it:
- Complete a customer avatar template for your brand.
- Create an account with Klaviyo and integrate your ecommerce store.
- Use our Sample Customer Model (above) as a thought template to brainstorm what information you need to be stored on your customers’ Klaviyo profiles.
- Begin using it! Not just you, but your entire team. Make sure everyone understands the importance of using this data and keeping it up to date.