'You Are What You Buy': Transaction Data Informs SMB Marketing

April 11, 2016 Peter Krasilovsky

Transaction data holds a lot of insights about customer intent .  A lot of these insights can't be found from other marketing channels, such as search.  As they say: “you are what you buy, not what you search for.”

The analysis of transactions, along with payment patterns, is increasingly being seen as a way to “close the loop” in marketing, and to figure out what is really working. It also complements and informs  other SMB marketing efforts, such as advertising, social media, search and loyalty programs. 

Such data is most impactful when it is linked to social media usage and search.  PetSmart, for instance, has been able to match the efficacy of its search ad marketing program on its PetPerks loyalty program members who have recently made a transaction.  It found that the ads helped bring in more than 10 percent of  in-store visits.

Transaction data can be derived from several channels.  In addition to credit and debit cards, these can include data from Point of Sales, as well as check in data via  geo-location services.  SMBs can also bring in transaction-related data, such as coupon redemption.

Some of it is real time, which can help SMBs provide a coupon for related goods while a customer is still in-store, or provide real time discounts.  Other kinds of data isn't in real time, but can be more comprehensive and provide an even richer picture of a customer.

QuickBooks, for instance, may offer useful historical data, since SMBs that use QuickBooks enter all their transactions there.  The results can show SMBs exactly where they should boost spending on the most relevant types of marketing channels, such as postcards and other offline engagement.

The analysis of transaction data, of course, is not necessarily a means unto itself.  SMBs can use the data to help determine which marketing program to use, such as developing a coupon instead of an ad. But  it is only useful as a way to understand customers, alongside more conventional methods such as search and social media.


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