Before social-media-log-ins became commonplace, every time you registered for a new service you’d be inundated with questions.  For most offline services, you’re still inundated with questions. The social media log-in didn’t remove the questions, it was sent in your first click. What’s happening with all that data though? Is it actually helping marketers improve your experience? Are you collecting the right customer data? How much data is really needed to make an impact on your experience?

To get some perspective, I asked three industry experts what they felt the most important customer data for personalisation is:

Behavioral data… content consumption, click paths, referring sites, previous purchases, social participation, etc (in no particular order)

Robert Rose
Robert RoseAuthor, Speaker, & Investor - Content Marketing Institutehttp://twitter.com/@Robert_Rose

We like to collect last page visited, return visitor, desktop or mobile and which type, operating system, location if available and any previous session info. We ask them to choose their own adventure and give us more info about why they are there and their role in their company. The reason is that if we can better ‘speak’ to these people through targeted content, our clients are more likely to get a sale or conversion event.

Mark Fidelman
Mark FidelmanAuthor, Forbes Columnist, Speaker, CEO – Fanatics Mediahttp://twitter.com/@markfidelman

A first name. 🙂

Chris Brogan
Chris BroganAuthor, Speaker, & Consultant – Owner Media Grouphttp://twitter.com/@ChrisBrogan

Understanding the opinions

The variation in their opinions seems huge, but it isn’t as large as you first might think. Client identity, a first name – that’s the first step in creating a relationship with any client. Do you remember getting any emails that haven’t been personalized recently? Something that reads “Dear customer/friend…” – did it seem like spam? Using a first name is probably the most important first step in building a relationship with your customer.

Leveraging behavioral data allows you to group your clients together so that their intent is more predictable. You’re watching what they’re doing and guessing what they likely want to buy, so that you can improve chances of conversion. It’s the electronic version of asking them what they want. For high traffic sites, like eCommerce, behavioural data is probably one of the best ways of understanding your customers. You simply can’t speak to every single one of them. For sites or service where the volumes are lower, but sales value is higher, asking your client what they want is probably the best option.

So how much & what data should you collect?

Without being entirely selfish, and placing the customer experience first, I would recommend you only collect data that:

  1. Does not require unnecessary additional input from your customer. Meaning, don’t ask them for their favorite color, weight and shoe size if it’s not directly relevant and useful to something you’re going to do (like recommend a shoe based on those factors).
  2. Only collect data you are capable of using. If you have a system that can unobtrusively collect behavioural data, use it. If you can’t immediately use the data you’re collecting, don’t bother collecting it.

If you remember only one thing from this post, let it be that “More data is NOT more good”.