February 08, 2010

Digital Profiles: What Data Do You Need?

For the next few weeks, we're going to talk about what I call "Digital Profiles". These are segments of customers that exhibit similar behavior. You might have 'Golden Girls', a segment of customers who are likely age 60+ purchasing via traditional channels. Or maybe you have "Robert Scobles", technology fans who eschew old-school marketing tactics.

Now how the heck do you create "Digital Profiles"? I mean, you don't have the lifestyle/psychographic/demographic data you need to do this the right way, correct?

Well, let's keep things as simple as possible.

Let's take all purchases that happened in the past twelve months. Among these orders, you know several things.

  1. The method the customer used to pay for merchandise (Cash, Check, Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Gift Card, etc.) Hint --- cash/check are proxies for a 60+ year old customer.
  2. The day the customer purchased merchandise (Sunday - Saturday ... yes, this matters).
  3. The time of year the purchase happened (Valentines Day vs. July 4 vs. Cyber Monday ... you get the picture).
  4. The merchandise divisions the customer purchased from (think about the tabs running across the top of your website ... yes, this matters, too!).
  5. Average number of items per order.
  6. Average price per item (hint, this is important). Items 5 and 6 yield AOV.
  7. Total number of annual orders.
  8. Sale customer.
  9. Promotional customer (free shipping, % off).
  10. Zip Code Forensics (Urban, Suburban, Rural customer).
  11. Physical Channel the customer purchased from (Phone, Web, Store).
  12. Advertising Channel that influenced the order (Catalog, Paid Search, E-Mail, Affiliates, Social, Mobile).
  13. Did customer return more than 40% of merchandise purchased?
  14. Does customer pay for expedited shipping?

This is not a finite list, use your imagination.

Create a "spreadsheet", with one row per customer ... the fourteen characteristics mentioned above are columns in the spreadsheet.

We'll stop here. If you can collect this kind of information, you have a fighting chance to create interesting Digital Profiles.


  1. Great list of things to start compiling Kevin. It's easy to do, and even the "little guys and gals" can do this to start building their own demographic data.

    This is so important to make sure your message is reaching the right audience. Once you find out your largest group or most profitable group is likely over age 50, or are young college students, you can really fine tune the message.

    Miss the mark by appealing to the wrong group, and you risk alienating your most profitable loyal supporters.

  2. Thank you for commenting!

  3. derek.newman2:10 PM

    >> with one row per customer

    Hi Kevin,

    I look forward to this series of posts.

    How do we deal with a customer who has purchased multiple times in the last 12 months? Compress all of their orders onto one row?

  4. Yup, you're going to sum demand and orders and items and then create indicators for anything you wish to create indicators for (or sum demand).

    The customer who had 2 orders for $125 each has $250 demand in her row ... the customer with one order for $160 has $160 demand in her row.


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