Customer profiles have always been an important part of marketing.

What demographics are you targeting? How likely are they to engage with specific marketing materials? What factors lead them to your brand? What factors bring them back to purchase again?

But these profiles have been traditionally broad, focusing on larger groups rather than specific markets. And before the age of mobile apps and the rise of ecommerce, this made sense. It was difficult to get a lot of information beyond email lists, catalogue subscriptions, or rewards cards.

But today consumers exchange more information through more platforms. And you have access to that valuable information. You can learn more, so you should learn more. You can certainly bet your competitors will be doing it!

A strong customer profile produces many benefits: 

  • You can organize and segment your customers into different targeted groups.
  • You can discover trends and habits that provide insight into what customers want and will purchase.
  • You can place your products and brand within your customers’ reach as they switch platforms to shop, browse the internet, or use mobile apps.
  • You can use information about your current customers to better target leads that will convert.

Here’s how to build the strongest, most accurate customer profile using data from multiple shopping channels and interactive platforms.

Customer Profiles: The Basics

First, you need to know what data you should collect to create a customer profile. This can include a wide range of things:

  • Demographic information – Age, gender, region, income, race, marital status, employment status, nationality, and political affiliation.
  • Psychographic information – Personality type, preferences, habits, hobbies, spending behaviors, and values.
  • Online behavior – How often do they visit different online marketplaces? How often/where are they making purchases? What has led them to different marketplaces (e.g., ads, emails, social media posts)?
  • In-app behavior – Have they downloaded your app? How often are they opening or using the app to interact with your brand?
  • Email interactions – How often do they open newsletters or promotions via email? What information are they getting through email vs. other means?
  • Social media activity – Are they interacting with your brand through social media? What platforms are they using (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest)? What kinds of posts draw reactions or actions from your customers?
  • Offline channel interactions – Are they visiting brick and mortar locations? Have they attended events held or sponsored by your brand?

Gathering this information allows you to build a cohesive story about your customers. You’ll answer more sophisticated questions that reflect the more complex retailing landscape of today.

Where and how do they interact with brands? How are they engaging? When and where are they looking vs. buying?

More Channels, Better Picture

Many retail businesses make the mistake of simply drawing on their own website data or most successful marketplace to build a customer profile. But this doesn’t provide you with a complete picture of your business.

Each online marketplace or shopping channel has a different customer base, and they might be used for very different purposes. Do not let this information go to waste.

Create a customer profile for each shopping channel.

Also, break down the audience for each shopping channel into multiple segments with specific characteristics. You’ll be able to use these profiles to make decisions specific to each particular shopping channel. The profiles can help you to:

  • See how your customers are different depending on the shopping channel
  • See how your customers are similar regardless of shopping channel
  • Recognize potential audiences you may not be reaching on certain shopping channels
  • Identify other shopping channels that cater to a similar audience
  • Develop product offerings for customers on your most successful shopping channels

Merge your multiple customer profiles.

Consider all the data from each shopping channel. Combine all of your data into one single profile. Break that up into segments. This is valuable for understanding who your general customers are, regardless of shopping channel.

This can be particularly valuable when considering decisions that impact your product line overall. You can make choices that are best for your business in a broad way.

Map your multiple customer profiles’ connections.

This is a step that is often missed. Internet retail is a complicated landscape, and your customer profile research can reveal a lot about the typical buyer journey.

Start by looking at the online behavior portion of your customer profile. How and why do people move from one shopping channel or platform to another? Do people who buy on your website report that they originally found you on Amazon? Are customers visiting multiple marketplaces to check prices before finally purchasing? Is your social media promotion working more effectively for one shopping channel than another?

You may discover that a low-performing marketplace is actually more valuable than you thought because it drives traffic to a more successful platform.  But don’t stop there. Look at who exactly is moving through multiple platforms and shopping channels. You can create separate customer profiles for these “movers,” so you can ensure you’re considering their buyer journey.

By understanding exactly how people use each platform, you can better tailor the information you provide on each shopping channel and build a more effective overall marketing strategy.

Remember to always update these profiles as new trends emerge and you shift your marketing strategy. Tracking changes will allow you to see growth, opportunities, and the direction you should head in to build relationships with your customers across all channels.