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Explore Types of Customer Data

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe the types of customer data.
  • Explain how to use data successfully.

Data Drives Everything

Everything runs on data—business, personal life, and public life. Even everyday decisions involve data. From what to buy at the grocery store to which TV show to stream, every decision begins with processing data.

Nowhere is data more important than in business decisions—especially for marketers. Data influences every interaction a marketer makes with customers. Marketers can use data to: 

  • Build customer loyalty.
  • Strengthen customer relationships.
  • Identify preferences.
  • Plan for the future.

In short, data can lead to better communications and stronger customer relationships. And successful marketers see their customer relationships as personal relationships. They use the data to show their customers they understand and care about them. Here’s why that’s important.

Types of Data

Not all data is created equal. Different data reveals different things. There are two primary types of data: known and pseudonymous data.

  • Known data is information definitively tied to a specific person or family account. It’s like an unique subscriber ID such as driver's license, a person's email address, or a family's phone number used when a customer sets up an account.
  • Pseudonymous data isn’t quite so straightforward. It can’t be tied to a known person, so there’s some guessing involved. If a person visits a website and browses information about beaches then they log in, the business can assume that they might be interested in booking a beach vacation.

That’s just the beginning. Known and pseudonymous data can also fall into one of four categories. Let’s check them out.

Basic data is, well, basic stuff. It’s personal information about a subscriber, like full name. This data can be unique or nonunique to that specific individual, for example, a subscriber's zip code or a shared email address. 

  • Known basic data is specific information that businesses store in the customer relationship management (CRM) platform, like phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Pseudonymous basic data would be the IP address associated with the email address when a customer logs into their account.

Interaction data is exactly what it sounds like—the actions people take and how they interact with each other and brands. Do they click on a link? Do they open an email? That’s all interaction data. 

  • Known interaction data results from the actions they take from a known data point, like their email inbox.
  • Anonymous interaction data comes when it’s not possible to tell who took the action, like clicking a webpage link where the visitor hasn’t logged in.

Behavioral data starts to paint the picture. Marketers begin attributing characteristics to a customer, getting to know them better. This happens over time, as they gather more and more basic and interaction data. With the right behavioral data, marketers determine the best ways to communicate with customers and where their interests lie. 

Attitudinal or preferential data gets to the heart of the customer, identifying how they feel and what they believe about certain things, such as how often they want to receive communications. The best ways to gather attitudinal behavior is to ask customers directly or purchase the information from another party. 

Now that’s a lot of data. Let’s learn more about the data types, where to find them, and how to use them.

What to Do with All That Data

OK, so your business has collected a ton of data. You know the value is tremendous, but without a way to store, organize, and analyze the data, it can be useless. Don’t worry—in the next unit we cover how you can bring your data together and put it to work.

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