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Best Customer Tracking Methods for Your Small Business

Updated Nov 01, 2023

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Customer tracking helps business owners know their customers, including where they live, what their shopping habits are, what pain points they have, and so much more. Implementing CRM software to examine website metrics, social media analytics and more can streamline customer tracking. 

TipBottom line

Understanding data analytics terms like bounce rate, churn, traffic and impressions can be helpful when you begin tracking customer information.

We’ll explain how to track your customers and put this information to work for your small business. Done right, this can boost your sales and cultivate a happier, more engaged customer base. 

What customer information should you track?

Deciding what to track can be overwhelming. However, specific factors can yield better insights into your customers than others. Below are six metrics every business should track.

1. Track downloads to better understand customers. 

Jenna Soard, founder of YouCanLaunch.com, advises entrepreneurs to track downloads and opt-ins, including freebies downloaded from landing pages or websites.

“This helps gauge the interest of the lead to determine the target demographics or even psychographics of the lead,” Soard explained. “When an entrepreneur learns about the traffic or customers coming in, they can produce more content and products that these targets actually want.” 

2. Track purchase history to gauge what customers want.

Your sales data can offer valuable customer insights to help you determine what products, services and promotions to include in your email marketing campaigns and other marketing efforts.

“Knowing their purchasing history will enable the company to discover the things their customers spend money on,” explained Michelle Devani, founder of LoveDevani. “As a result, they can offer them products and services of the same kind that can attract them.”

Key TakeawayKey takeaway

One email marketing best practice is to use a customer’s purchase history to personalize offers, such as presenting a corresponding item at a discount.

3. Track customer contact information so you can reach them.

Maintain a list of customer contact information and ensure it’s up to date. Devani advises companies to send email newsletters or automated messages to their customers’ contact information so they know about current promotions. Promotions can create a sense of urgency for buyers. 

4. Track your sales funnel to understand your sales process.

Samantha Moss, a writer and content strategist, says tracking your sales funnel is crucial to understanding the effectiveness of your sales process

“You must track how many consumers pass through each part of your funnel to identify which part of your process needs to be improved,” Moss explained. “This will help you create a better process that will convert more leads.” 

5. Track traffic channels to gauge your marketing ROI. 

Track where your customers are coming from so you can measure your marketing ROI and gauge the effectiveness of various marketing endeavors. 

Jeff Walker, founder and CEO of Best VPN Canada, advises surveying customers about how they found you and where they heard about you. Additionally, Soard noted that adding tracking pixels or UTM (urchin tracking module) codes to your marketing efforts can pinpoint where your customers originate.

6. Track email metrics to check customer engagement.

Email analytics is a particularly rich source of tracking data. Email metrics track who opens your emails, who doesn’t, if they click on anything, and if so, what they click on. Email open rates and click-through rates are huge factors in determining how well you engage your audience.

If your email marketing campaign is successful, you’ll see an open rate of 15 percent to 25 percent. Once your customers have opened your emails, you should see a click-through rate of 2.5 percent to 3 percent.

TipBottom line

Always follow proper customer email etiquette. Be considerate of your customers’ preferences, time and attention to build trust and loyalty.

What are the best customer tracking methods?

Now that you know what to look for, tracking your customers is the next step. Consider the following customer tracking methods. 

1. Track customers via automated email tools. 

The best email marketing software makes it effortless to track opens, click-throughs, deletes and other email marketing campaign elements. After you gather this information, you can improve your email marketing campaigns and tailor and grow your email lists.

“You can A/B test messages until you’ve optimized your email metrics and easily remove or change messaging that is not resonating,” advised Heather Davis Lam, founder and CEO of Revenue Ops LLC.

2. Track customers via social media analytics tools. 

Social media has become the go-to destination for customers seeking information and purchasing insights. Determine what businesses and influencers your customers follow to better understand their interests.

Additionally, platforms like your Instagram business account and Facebook marketing strategies will yield valuable customer information via built-in insight tools. You can determine where followers live, what their ages are, and other demographic information. Social media platform analytics tools can also help you track engagement and click-throughs.

Did You Know?Did you know

Social media analytics tools can help you pinpoint your target audience, automate lead generation, and test your marketing campaigns.

3. Track customers via built-in website metrics. 

Website metrics let you see what part of your website gets the most traffic and how consumers behave while on your site. You can use Google Analytics — a free analytics tool that helps analyze website and application performance — to gain valuable insights.

“[Website metrics] are effective because people rely on the internet if they are curious about something and want to learn more about a product or service,” Devani explained.

Parker Russell, founder of Black Ink Coffee and a U.S. Air Force veteran, tracks several website metrics. “We track what web pages the customer is using most, what their journey from viewer to customers is, and also the pain points,” Russell noted. “Paint points are very important to acknowledge and resolve.” Russell also suggested tracking how much money customers spend — and how they spend it.

4. Track customers with CRM software. 

The best CRM software makes customer tracking seamless, helping you track when a lead opens emails, when they click on email links, whether or not they’ve ever opened an email, and much more.

“A CRM system will allow you to centralize the data you’re collecting and create a single source of truth that will enable you to have a 360-degree view of your customer,” explained Lam. “It will also allow your entire company to access the data necessary to help address customer pain points, build customer loyalty, and create full-funnel reports and dashboards for the company leadership to make data-driven decisions.”

TipBottom line

To choose the right CRM software for your business, carefully evaluate the features you need, get your sales team’s buy-in to ensure they’ll use it, and investigate the vendor’s customer service quality.

What’s the best process for tracking customers?

The best customer tracking process depends on your business’s needs and your preferences. Consider the following customer tracking processes. 

1. Use an email segmentation process to track customers. 

In this market segmentation process, you’ll organize your email subscriber list into categories that help you identify customer interests and their place in the sales funnel. You can then segment customers further based on demographics, shopping habits, purchase history and so on.

If you use email marketing software, you can usually segment your list by specific factors. Third-party email marketing services may charge more based on the number of segmented lists, so choose wisely.

2. Use customer tags to track customers on your website. 

Customer tags are lines of code embedded in your website that track customers. They provide information like how long visitors stay on your website, what products they’ve viewed and added to their cart, and items they’ve removed from their cart.

You can also add tags to specific customers — similar to adding a hashtag to a photo on social media. Tag customers based on interests or other demographics and habits. You’ll be able to see promotion results and gauge their effectiveness. You can even use your results to tailor an email retargeting campaign for inactive customers.

Coding these tags isn’t easy if you’re not a web developer. However, resources like Google Tag Manager can make it more straightforward — especially since you’ll want to add more than one tag to a customer.

FYIDid you know

You can learn coding basics for free via platforms like W3Schools, Upskill, Udemy, and GeeksforGeeks.

3. Use pixels to track customers. 

Pixels are also lines of specific code inserted into your website’s code. They can be placed on images, links or other areas. After inserting codes, you can track website visits, ad impressions, conversions and how consumers arrived at your business’s website.

Include tracking pixels on all landing pages, web pages,and purchase confirmation pages to optimize paid advertising.

4. Use alternative customer tracking processes. 

You may want to consider alternative customer-tracking processes. For example, Moss recommends the following process: 

  1. Create your business’s customer journey based on customer personas.
  2. Find the points at which consumers interact with your brand.
  3. Create a visual map of your customers’ journey.
  4. Identify whether your customers are reaching their goals.
  5. Review your customer journey map and make any needed changes.

Tyler Read, CEO of Personal Trainer Pioneer, offered the following more technical approach:

  1. Decide on the system you’ll use for customer tracking (e.g., CRM software, email marketing software).
  2. Implement your customer tracking system with clearly defined methods, procedures and goals.
  3. Train all relevant team members on your system, methods, procedures and goals.
  4. Begin tracking customer information and interactions.
  5. Analyze the data tracked to see how you can better serve customers.
  6. Use data analytics to improve processes, marketing, retargeting and products for all current and future customers.

None of these examples is necessarily better than another one, but it’s good to have options so you can implement a process that works best for your business, which is the No. 1 goal.

Why should you track your customers?

The primary benefit of tracking customers is that you’ll be able to better serve them. If you know their spending habits, how often they visit your website, where they’re from, and how old they are, you can tailor your business’s communications to their specific needs.

“The information you track about how your customers interact with your brand tells you what they want and when they want it, as well as what their preferences are in terms of payment methods, communicating and receiving communication, and product/service preferences,” Read explained.

Additionally, customer tracking is essential to understanding your customers’ experiences with your brand. For example, you’ll learn how they found your business, how long it takes them to purchase, and each customer’s lifetime value

Did You Know?Did you know

Customer tracking information can help you chart demand for individual products, map the customer journey, and upsell and cross-sell to customers.

What’s the best CRM software for customer tracking?

CRM software is specifically built to help you track customers, contact information and purchase histories. Here are some excellent packages to consider. 

  • Salesforce CRM. Salesforce is one of the original CRM software solutions, boasting extensive features. While it may take some time and outside expertise to set up to your exact needs, you can start using it out of the box and then slowly customize it. In addition to its CRM functionality, Salesforce offers a host of business modules for marketing, sales, service and other business areas for a complete management solution. One innovative feature is its built-in AI, which can flag emails where a prospect voices an objection that could prevent a sale. Read our in-depth Salesforce CRM review to learn more. 
  • Zoho CRM. Zoho CRM has a robust desktop version and an excellent mobile app for on-the-go salespeople. It allows your sales team to stay on top of where customers are in the decision process, group prospects at the same point, and send communications to address pain points for seamless sales conversions. It has collaboration tools and lets users view dashboards and analytics from desktop and mobile interfaces. You can also integrate it with other programs through Zoho Marketplace. To learn more, check out our complete Zoho CRM review
  • Keap CRM. Have you ever wanted to have customers automatically flow to your business? You can get close to this with Keap’s automated processes. Simply set triggers; Keap can follow up with leads, send reminders, or update customer contacts when those actions occur. You can get much more detailed by programming in delays and “if/then” scenarios to put much of your marketing and sales on autopilot. Keap has two tiers, so small businesses can start at the lower tier and then scale up as they grow. Check out our full Keap CRM review for more information. 

Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Jennifer Post
Contributing Writer
Jennifer Post is a professional writer with published works focusing on small business topics including marketing, financing, and how-to guides. She has also published articles on business formation, business software, public relations and human resources. Her work has also appeared in Fundera and The Motley Fool.
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