You’ve designed a very pretty marketing email and are ready to send it out to a dynamic segment that signed up for a 10% off promotion from your B2C brand.

You send it out via your email marketing software and check in a couple of hours later. As a believer in data-driven marketing, you immediately look at the metrics. A 20% open rate, way to go! And a 10% click-through rate. These stats will make my boss so happy, you think.

In your next marketing team meeting, you share the conversion rates with your boss. “Great work”, she says. “But what does this mean in monetary terms — how many people bought our products directly from this email?” You stare open-mouthed with absolutely no idea of the answer and walk out of the meeting feeling deflated.

You may think your boss was being picky, but she was right to ask that question. You collected important activity-based metrics, but you weren’t being a true data-driven marketer and tying it back to the most crucial metric of all: revenue.

Are you really a data-driven B2C marketer? Below we pose three important questions to help you understand whether your marketing strategy is making the most of your customer data.

Are you measuring revenue-base metrics?

Measuring open rates and clicks is important to understanding the success of your email newsletter campaigns, but these metrics are almost useless in isolation. While they’ll help you understand if you had a great subject line or a convincing CTA in your email, they don’t tell you whether that message was ultimately effective or whether it helped drive long-term customer loyalty.

You should be asking yourself these critical questions:

  • How many of these opens and clicks led to a purchase on your website?
  • How many of these buyers made another purchase?
  • How many converted into long-term customers?
  • What is their average order value?
  • What is their lifetime value?
  • How often do they visit your website?

If you aren’t tracking this type of customer data in real-time, then you have no way of truly knowing which campaigns worked and which didn’t. Maybe your newsletters are fun and pretty, your social media ads are engaging and funny, and they’re driving traffic to your site. But none of that matters if that traffic is trash and none of it ultimately converts into sales. You’ll never know if your marketing efforts are truly successful if you’re not collecting this data.

Do you understand your buyers?

Just as important as tracking revenue is understanding your buyers deeply in order to improve the customer experience. Do you know where your customers have come from? You, of course, know when and where they made a purchase — whether on your website or a third party — but do you know where they first interacted with your brand? Today, every marketer has to be aware of customer activities across channels. Maybe they clicked on an Instagram ad, then subscribed to your newsletter, and later typed in your URL to visit your website. If you aren’t measuring the entire customer journey, you won’t have that data and may attribute that sale incorrectly to direct traffic to your website.

If you don’t have tracking in place, then you won’t know that your Instagram ads have brought in a ton of new customers and you should double down on those efforts. You won’t have a clear picture of the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns in general, which limits your ability to optimize your marketing. With multi-touch attribution, you can understand which of your channels are best at converting buyers, which campaigns work on which channels, and much more. To be able to understand these important metrics, you need to have a single view of each of your customers and really understand how they interact with your brand.

Do you measure your entire customer lifecycle and lifetime value?

You’ve got a new customer. Hooray! But what are you doing to keep them? It’s fairly common knowledge that it’s much less expensive to keep existing loyal customers than it is to get new ones (see proof of this phenomenon here and here). If you want to successfully keep your existing customers coming back for more, you need to know what drives them — and this may not be the same as what brings in new ones.

Once a customer has made a purchase, that doesn’t mean you can forget about them and stop tracking how they engage with your brand. You can’t assume they will make a repeat purchase just because they liked your product or service enough to fork out for it once. You need to continue to track your buyer’s actions:

  • Which campaigns did they come in from?
  • Which touchpoints are they interacting with you on?
  • What do they like and not like?

The idea is to understand what they are looking for so you can increase their average order value and lifetime value. Certain campaigns might generate more revenue for different segments or lifecycle stages, so you need to track marketing interactions at each stage of the customer journey. With the right digital marketing tactics, you can turn what would have been a one-time buyer into your newest loyal customer.

So do you have a real data-driven marketing strategy? If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, then congratulations! You’re a data-loving marketer. If you can’t say yes to all the questions, then you have some work to do on your ecommerce metrics. It’s never too late to collecting and analyzing marketing data to measure the right metrics, better understand your customers, and understand the entire customer lifecycle.

Karen McCandless

Karen McCandless is a content strategist, digital analyst, and researcher, specializing in business communications, and technology. Her work has appeared on The Next Web, Softonic, Business2Community, GetApp.com, Business.com, and Microsoft Europe.