Knowing what your eCommerce customers want is the single most powerful way to propel your company’s growth. But unfortunately, most online stores are in the dark about how to better cater to the needs of their audience.
Usually, the main reason why this issue exists is the lack of quality customer insights. Companies that don’t know how to get quality customer data and use it to make informed decisions are left to make assumptions. And that usually creates a disconnect between what the company is doing and what the customers need.
But at the same time, eCommerce businesses that master customer insights can gain a massive advantage in their market. Knowledge about preferences can become ingrained in every part of running a business, and it can have an accumulative effect on performance.
To help you better understand using customer insights, let’s explore what they are, why they matter, and the essential questions you should seek to answer.
What Are Customer Insights?
Customer insights is a term used to describe the knowledge of a business about its customers and their behaviors. These insights are gained by analyzing the data collected online or from customer interactions, and they can be used to make more informed decisions about every part of running an eCommerce business.
Some examples of the type of data you could use include:
- Browsing behavior
- Purchase history
- Split testing
- Survey responses
- Customer support interactions
- Poll data
This data by itself is only that – a piece of information that may or may not be helpful. But the moment you take the data and compile it into something that you can apply to your business, it becomes an insight that can impact the way you run the company.
For instance, you may find that your customers are more likely to buy products when you offer a discount. But if you run tests with different discounts, you may see how small the discount could be while still providing a boost in sales performance.
Then, you could optimize the amount you discount to be just as high as necessary, significantly increasing the revenue you can generate without having to do anything else.
But to gather these types of insights, you need to have the right tools. And you need to be willing to collect and analyze a lot of data that you collect, actively looking for pieces of information that could turn into insights that help you grow your business.
You also need to have a reliable process for cleansing the data so that it doesn’t become outdated and corrupted. The data and insights you get from it are only as valuable as the quality and reliability you can maintain.
Why Are Customer Insights Important?
There are many reasons why customer insights can have a considerable effect on the success of your eCommerce store. But most of them come down to this – the more you know about your customers, the better you can cater to their needs.
By gaining a deeper understanding of the underlying preferences and needs of your ideal customers, you can start looking at your brand, your product selection, and your marketing from a new perspective, spotting opportunities for improvement and fixing issues that might be slowing you down.
What’s more, if you focus on customer empathy and make it a priority to satisfy your audience’s deeper and underlying needs, you can build relationships that are much stronger and have a customer base that will want to stick with you long term.
The most successful brands have built their successes on recognizing the needs of their buyers better than others. Instead of offering just the product, they provide an entire customer experience that is completely aligned with the values their customers feel are important.
But for any of that to be possible, the first step is starting with the data you can collect about your customers. Once you have a diverse set of data, you can use it to start seeing a broader picture of the people you are trying to serve, getting to know them on a deeper level, and making decisions based on that newfound knowledge.
Essential Questions to Ask to Gain Customer Insights
As mentioned before, the path to discovering valuable customer insights begins with getting high-quality data. And that can only happen if you ask the right questions and know how to get relevant answers.
Let’s look at a few questions that you should be asking, which encompass the most critical aspects of the ways your brand and the customers you serve will interact.
What Are Your Customers Saying?
The first type of question you should be asking is the most straightforward one, as you can set up multiple ways to collect data about what your customers are saying. But it can also become the most powerful tool in your arsenal because direct feedback from your buyers is what can help you make the most impactful changes in the way you run your store.
When looking at the data you collect, you need to prioritize direct customer input and turn it into actionable insights you can put into practice when making decisions.
For instance, if you run surveys or polls on your site, you can analyze that data to spot common themes shared by multiple people. These might be comments about your product selection, complaints about issues, or even insights about who your customers are and how they are finding your store.
You can also look at customer support interactions, as they can be a goldmine for discovering what needs your urgent attention. If you use a customer support outsourcing service, you can leverage their expertise and the availability of multi-channel support to systemize data analysis, which can make generating customer insights much easier.
If you want a more direct way to get answers, turning to one-on-one interviews can be another way to collect insights. With this method, you can dig deeper and ask follow-up questions that clarify what the person has to say. This way, you not only learn more but also see the language that they use, which is an invaluable resource when creating marketing messages.
How Are Your Customers Behaving?
The second part of collecting customer insights is looking at how your audience is behaving. And sometimes, the behaviors and actions can tell even more than their voiced opinions.
And the good news is that there are plenty of tools for tracking customer behaviour that you can use to generate valuable insights about what your customers want and how to make them happy.
First, you should make sure you track multiple metrics on your eCommerce store, as that’s the place where you want your customers to go in the first place. Once they are there, you need to understand how they’re interacting with their site, what they respond to best, and also where they typically drop off and leave your site.
Some of the key metrics you should be tracking include:
- Overall conversions
- Conversion by traffic source
- Conversion by device type
- Return customer conversions
- Product conversions
- Funnel abandonment
- Average order value
- Total visitors
- Page visitors
- Most viewed products
- Session duration
These are just a few of the key metrics you should look at on your website, but they can help you develop valuable insights as long as you regularly review the data and look at multiple metrics to get a fuller picture of what’s happening.
But you shouldn’t limit yourself to only tracking metrics on your site. You should also keep track of your engagement and performance on social media, as they are an extension of your online presence and can also give you clues about what to improve, and how.
What Are Your Competitors Doing?
Finally, you need to look at what your competition is doing, as to gain truly valuable insights, you need to understand the context in which your business is operating. The way your competitors interact with their customers will create different opportunities for you to exploit, so it’s just as important as the previous two questions we discussed.
By understanding how your target customers perceive the competition, you will gain valuable insights about how to position your company, finding a more defined Unique Sales Proposition (USP) that will help you stand out and attract only the best customers you want to work with.
With the help of competitor analysis, you’ll be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses. You can then use their weak points as areas of focus, making sure that you can position yourself as an alternative that offers better and more effective solutions.
Some companies have even found success with positioning themselves against specific competitors directly. If you track customer interactions with your competitors on social media, you can discover poor customer experiences and jump in offering your services as a better alternative.
These types of strategies will not only help you win customers immediately but will also give you insights about how to develop your brand and voice to create appeal beyond the products you’re selling.
How to Use Customer Insights
Customer insights are only as useful as they are applicable to your business. So if you want to use the data effectively, you must look at it from the perspective of problems you can solve or answers you can get.
Let’s look at a few key areas where having high-quality customer insights can make the biggest impact.
Make More Informed Decisions
The first way that you can use customer insights in your business is when you make decisions. The quality and accuracy of the choices that you make will ultimately decide how successful you can be.
And while you can’t accurately predict the outcome of every choice you make, customer insights can provide you with a much better idea about how your customers might respond to different choices, reducing the burden of having to make assumptions without any data to back them up.
For instance, when looking for new products to add to your selection, you could look at the current performance of different product categories, customer support interactions, and interviews with customers to discover what they are more likely to want.
When you have multiple ways to collect data and generate insights, you can look at a single problem from various angles, which will result in better outcomes and more confidence when making decisions.
Discover Your Ideal Customers
Sometimes, the most valuable insights you collect aren’t about what you can do but more about who to target. Finding the right customers takes time, especially if you want to create meaningful relationships that last for a long time.
And when you’re tweaking your brand and voice, you want to cater them to the very best customers you can attract, and that might not always be aligned with the people that are the most common visitors to your site right now.
By having a more complete picture about who buys from you, what type of people come to your site, and who your products can help the most, you will get ideas about who to target for the best outcomes long term and can crystalize all of your messages to provide the best possible experience to that group of people.
Figure Out What Drives Sales
Making more sales is the ultimate goal of all eCommerce businesses. But figuring out how to drive them consistently is a big challenge that’s almost impossible to solve without accurate data to back your decisions.
But by leveraging customer insights, you can move beyond superficial assumptions about what makes your audience respond and can restructure your sales funnel in a way that gets more people to say yes to your offers.
You can learn more about how your customers make decisions, adjusting your offers, marketing, and sales channels to maximize the likelihood of your ideal buyers deciding to buy from you.
Over time, using insights to optimize sales performance will have an accumulative effect, showing you which products to prioritize, how to leverage your current assets, and how to continue learning more about providing the best possible experience to your audience.
Customer insights can be the single biggest factor that helps propel your eCommerce store’s growth. But if you want to take advantage of what it can offer, you must understand how to use the data you collect to get insights that can impact your decision-making process.
If you follow a sensible approach to customer insights and ask specific questions when looking at data, you will start discovering patterns that will provide answers and learn to collect the right type of data in the first place.