When you’re running a business, a significant portion of your attention will remain locked on simply making sales. It’s the lifeblood that sustains you, after all. But you shouldn’t stop at just keeping track of how many sales you make during any given period, because you need to keep an eye on the future, and that means also paying close attention to who is buying from you.

If you don’t know anything about your customers, then you won’t be able to keep your business in contention for their patronage. You might make a slight change to your operation and see your sales plummet into a calamitous nosedise with no idea why. So how do you keep track of who your shoppers are and what they’re up to? That’s what we’re going to look at here:

Delve deep into your visitor analytics

The first thing you need to do is venture into Google Analytics (almost any form of analytics you have implemented is going to be based on GA) and start looking at the most notable data points for your customers. Due to the prevalence of Google accounts, you’ll often be able to see things like age and sex alongside easier things like nationality and browser version.

Is the data flawlessly accurate? No, certainly not — and it’s also far from comprehensive — but it’s more than good enough for your purposes. You’re ultimately looking for interesting trends and correlations. If you run PPC ads through Facebook Ads and have them connected to your main analytics, you can access even more information due to the vast amount of data stored in Facebook accounts. The more information you can collect automatically, the better.

Use that data to build buyer personas

It’s easy to find contrasting opinions on buyer personas: some people think they’re invaluable for all merchants, while others think they’re hugely overrated and often far from significant. The backlash largely stems from overestimation of a buyer persona’s meaning, though: even if they’re not even close to being 100% accurate, they’re still worthwhile.

The process of creating a buyer persona requires as much customer information as you can glean, and fortunately we collected some in the previous step. Use the trends and correlations you picked out to target separate groups with distinct preferences and requirements. In addition to guiding your marketing and sales efforts, these personas will help you incentivize feedback (more on that next) and find customers on social media (more on that later).

Send detailed post-purchase surveys

When you’ve managed to convince someone to buy from you, they’re likely to have a positive view of you (for a while, at least), and you should take advantage of that to pick up some extra information about how they found your purchasing process. Using a service like SurveyMonkey, you can queue up post-purchase surveys to go out at certain points after order completion.

In addition to asking about the order quality, you can request other pieces of information about how they learned about your company, what other products might interest them, or even how they like to spend their free time. Most people won’t be willing to share much extra detail, but even if a few people do, that information will prove valuable to you.

Gather feedback via social media

Another great way to keep track of your customers is to use everything you’ve learned so far (along with social listening tools for identification) to reach out to relevant people on social media — not only your existing customers but also your prospective customers — and start engaging with them. Consider what topics they frequently discuss and how they talk about your brand (if they do talk about it). Is there room for you?

You can be a lot more informal in this context, asking whatever questions spring to mind: you can even take advantage of social media post options to do things like run polls (you could, for instance, ask every one of your existing customers present to choose their age bracket). This is also a great way to show that you want to stay in touch with your customers. If people see the brands they support being active on social media, it depicts them as more invested in support.

To maximize your sales and optimize your marketing, you need to be keenly aware of what your customer base prefers and how it spends its time. Using the tactics we’ve looked at here, you can make some major progress in that direction.

Posted by Outside Contributor

From time to time, we are glad to feature outside authors who contribute to BizzMarkBlog with their insights and experience. This is one of those features.