January 02, 2017

I Don't Understand My Customer File

We got to the end of 2016, bathed in an onslaught of 40% off plus free shipping promotions to clear excess inventory.

This behavior, which gets worse every year, imprints on the minds of our little ducklings. 

Here's what is coming in 2017. We're going to back off from the deep promotional rhythm of Q4-2016. Our little duckings won't like this. They'll punish us until we feed them 40% off plus free shipping once again. It may not happen in Spring. It may not happen in Summer. It will most certainly happen again in Q4.

I'll bring this topic up at company visits or at conferences, and I tend to hear an interesting observation.
  • "I don't understand my customer file."
Think about that for a moment, because I am confident that 95% of those who are reading this message do not understand their customer file.

Oh sure, readers know what the purchase funnel looks like, and readers know that online purchases are attributed to various marketing channels, and readers know that 0-3 month frequent buyers are worth a lot. Those are details. But none of that supports a thorough understanding of how a customer file behaves.

Your customer file is a living, breathing ecosystem. Customers are constantly coming in and moving out. Your customer file is a reflection of who your company used to be. And who your company used to be determines (in part) what your company will be (in the short-near term). 

If you were mobile-first in Q4, you'll have a much better chance of having mobile success in Q1. 

If you are a cataloger married to co-ops, then your customer file will purchase merchandise that co-op customers like to purchase, making it much harder to have long-term online success.

We'll talk about the image above tomorrow.

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