Publish & Prosper

Using Customer Data to Grow Your Business

April 24, 2024 Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo Season 1 Episode 22
Using Customer Data to Grow Your Business
Publish & Prosper
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Publish & Prosper
Using Customer Data to Grow Your Business
Apr 24, 2024 Season 1 Episode 22
Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo

In this episode, Matt & Lauren discuss the most valuable tool in any creator’s arsenal: customer data. Whether you’re tracking book sales and behavioral data, collecting customer information through direct sales, or reviewing your key social media and email marketing metrics, understanding your customer data is essential for long-term brand success. 

Dive Deeper

💡 Read These Blog Posts

💡 Watch This Video on Leveraging Customer Data For Your Ecommerce Business

Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [10:31] “Gathering customer data and using the customer data that you have access to regardless of whether you're selling direct, selling third party or whatever, however you're gathering this customer data, whatever you have available to you, it is unilaterally useful for any type of author or content creator.”

🎙️ [20:34] “Having your own data to compare against what is being put out there in the world about your industry or your genre is extremely helpful because without it, you're just gonna take some of those people at their word. You're just gonna look at their data, which represents maybe a large group as a whole, but doesn't represent you as an individual creator or author. And you may just take that as gospel because you don't have your own data to compare it to.”

🎙️ [41:43] “Never bring an opinion to a data fight.”

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Matt & Lauren discuss the most valuable tool in any creator’s arsenal: customer data. Whether you’re tracking book sales and behavioral data, collecting customer information through direct sales, or reviewing your key social media and email marketing metrics, understanding your customer data is essential for long-term brand success. 

Dive Deeper

💡 Read These Blog Posts

💡 Watch This Video on Leveraging Customer Data For Your Ecommerce Business

Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [10:31] “Gathering customer data and using the customer data that you have access to regardless of whether you're selling direct, selling third party or whatever, however you're gathering this customer data, whatever you have available to you, it is unilaterally useful for any type of author or content creator.”

🎙️ [20:34] “Having your own data to compare against what is being put out there in the world about your industry or your genre is extremely helpful because without it, you're just gonna take some of those people at their word. You're just gonna look at their data, which represents maybe a large group as a whole, but doesn't represent you as an individual creator or author. And you may just take that as gospel because you don't have your own data to compare it to.”

🎙️ [41:43] “Never bring an opinion to a data fight.”

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.

Matt: Welcome back everyone to another episode of Publish & Prosper. And today we will be talking about every creative person's favorite thing on the planet. It's called data. 

Lauren: Everyone's favorite. Absolutely all the time. Actually, I think unironically and not sarcastically, Matt and I are both big data nerds, so we are that rare, rare sliver of the Venn diagram that overlaps as being creative people and data nerds at the same time.

Matt: We’re probably rare slivers for a lot of reasons. 

Lauren: That’s true. 

Matt: Not the least of which that you're wearing a bright pink Barbie birthday party 1994 very retro T-shirt. 

Lauren: You left out the most important part. 

Matt: Which was what? 

Lauren: It's Epcot. 

Matt: Well, yeah, I was trying to save the Disney - I didn't want to like bombard everybody with Barbie and Disney in the same sentence, but.

Lauren: Okay, but it's the most perfect shirt I've ever owned because of that, because it's both Barbie and Epcot and hot pink.

Matt: I will tell you it is definitely unique. I've not seen one like that before. So kudos to you for finding something that nobody else has really seen. 

Lauren: Thanks. It’s a Lost Bros shirt. 

Matt: Ah, I should have known. 

Lauren: You should have known. Most of my wardrobe these days comes from the Lost Bros. 

Matt: I'd like to see the data that they have on you and your purchase history with them. 

Lauren: I would not because it's really like, you know, when you can go on websites and you can see your order history -

Matt: Yeah, yeah.

Lauren: - if you log into an account? My two most embarrassing ones are definitely the Lost Bros and I go in them and I'm just like, that order history just keeps going and none of them are cheap orders.

Matt: It's like a CVS receipt. 

Lauren: Uh-huh. 

Matt: Oh man, you know they have a special segment for like you and a handful of other people who are just like everything they come out with, they hit you guys first.

Lauren: Oh, absolutely. 

Matt: You're their proof of concept segment. 

Lauren: I actually, I got, cause I'm on their like SMS marketing list. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: And - 

Matt: Of course you are.

Lauren: Of course I am. 

Matt: And you get a text while you're with your friends, you're like, oh, hold on a second. 

Lauren: Hold on this is my bros. 

Matt: This is my other best friend. It's the Lost Bros. Yeah.

Lauren: No, actually, literally, I was at breakfast yesterday with my best friend that I was visiting for the weekend. And in the middle of breakfast, I was like, oh, I just got an email from the Lost Bros. They're doing free shipping today. Anyway. I'm on their SMS messaging list and I got a text one day that was like, ‘saw you looking at something on the site if you want a promo code reply to this text and we'll get you a promo code to order it.’ And I did reply to the - which I don't ever do, but I was like, oh, I already ordered it. No big deal. And then I got a response and was like, oh, is this coming from an actual person? And it's not just an automated. 

Matt: No, no. 

Lauren: But it was, it took me a second to be like.

Matt: I bet their AI now regrets responding to you. How long of a conversation did you carry on with them? 

Lauren: We did not. Thank you very much. I don't even like texting my friends, let alone texting in response to marketing messages. 

Matt: Did you guys see how I did that really smooth intro right there where we just naturally started talking about customer data in relation to Lauren's purchase history with the Los Bros?

Lauren: I think it was actually very smooth. You slipped me right into it and I just - I ran with it. 

Matt: Oh man.

Lauren: But it gives them, you're right, they have a lot of opportunities to market to me directly with the different ways that they have figured out how to reel me in every time. 


Matt: The funny thing is, is that's a hundred percent true. So we're going to talk about this obviously in context or relation to authors and selling books. Honestly, I've never seen a product group - or I should say a group of creators of a type of product - who are more resistant and terrified to sell direct and capture that data and forgo potential third party retailer monster systems than authors. There are so many other product creators out there that are using the direct sales model and capturing that customer data. Many of them may use it in conjunction with other types of retail distribution, that's all fine and good. But the point is you're the living proof of concept for that or case study. Like I am too, actually. I'm not, I'm not immune from that. Don't let me, don't let me fool you. 

Lauren: Oh, I know. 

Matt: I definitely get some purchase histories that look like CVS receipts on some of my favorite sites too, but it's just wild to me. So yeah, we're going to talk about this because when we do talk to authors and creators in other mediums, like whether it's an article we create or an event we're at, and we're talking about selling direct and data, or if I'm on some other podcast doing an interview, inevitably, every time we start talking about customer data being one of the most pivotal and critical reasons why you should sell direct, people's eyes just get really wide. Most people's. Or you can see like a lot of authors and creators, that's when their brains just start shutting down. It's like data, get out of here. Like, I just want to go write some more books or do this, which I totally understand. Right? 

Lauren: Sure. But this is how you go about writing better and better books and writing more books and selling more books is by having this customer data to look -  

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: Did I just say dater? Oh, sure I did. It's fine. 

Matt: It's the bright pink shirt. It's throwing you off. 

Lauren: Maybe it is. It's a far cry from my usual black. But I think that's always the missing piece, because I agree where we find this all the time when we're talking to authors and creators. And it's not just when it comes to customer data, when we're talking about selling direct, but just any kind of data in general. You know, like - what kind of social content do your followers like the most? And we just kind of get this blank look back of like, well, I don't know, I don't really like go into that, or I don't look at stuff like that. Or you know like, how many, have you sold more paperbacks or hardcovers? Well, I don't know, I've sold this many books total. And it's like, okay, but you need to know these things. 

Matt: Well.

Lauren: Because they're gonna inform the decisions that you make. 

Matt: Yeah, and even for a lot of the ones we have conversations with or work with that, they're not even testing it with print yet. They're doing ebooks and audiobooks. I've definitely had conversations with some who aren't paying close attention to that data that they're getting out of, for example, their Book Funnel account or something. So a lot of authors are selling direct and they're using tools like Book Funnel to deliver those. Which good, kudos to them. And that's the first step. The second step is actually taking that data that you're being given by Book Funnel, or if there's one or two other platforms you're working with, but I don't think there are. I think, I think for books and direct sales and customer data, you're basically talking about us at Lulu, Book Funnel, and that's pretty much it. But anyways, there's so much valuable stuff in that data that you can learn and that you can use to like Lauren said, not only create better content and create more content, but it's really data that's designed and it's there to help you grow your business and more importantly, sustain your business. 

Because there's no guarantee that any of these third party retailing platforms will be around forever, or at least as long as you're on the planet and wanting to be an author or creator and make a living from that. So having that space where you pretty much have all of the control or as much as possible, right? If you've built your store on Shopify, yes, there's a possibility that Shopify goes down or something happens to it, but at the end of the day, it's still all of your products. It's still your customer base. You still have all of that data. And so even if Shopify was to pack up their toys and leave and get out of the sandbox and say, we don't want to play with you anymore, you still have all of that data. You still own all of that. And you can go and just take that right to another platform and just get reconnected almost like nothing happened for the most part. Which is a lot better than if you're fully dependent on a third party retail platform or even social media. Because when one of those go by the wayside or decide they don't want to play with you anymore, that's it. You got nothing. You're left out in the cold. 

Lauren: Right. We always are looking for ways as creators to have a two way communication with consumers or fans. Whether it's social media or, you know, visitors on your website or something like - That's how you build your community is by making it a conversation and not just a single round transaction where you drive people to a place to buy a copy of your book, they buy a copy of your book, and then neither one of you ever see or speak to each other ever again. That's not the long term goal here. So if your long term goal is to build your brand, build your community, this customer data that you can gather in a variety of different ways is how you're going to go about doing that. 

Matt: And more importantly, two way for sure, but direct, right? 

Lauren: Yes.

Matt: And again, there's a lot of people that sell a lot of books through third party retail platforms and they lament the fact that they can't talk directly to their buyers. They don't know who they are. They don't know why they bought the book. They don't know where they're even located. You know, you don't know how many of your buyers in many cases bought your book and they're located in the farthest reasons - regions, excuse me - of Canada or over in Ireland or something like that. I mean, even that kind of information can be helpful depending on what you're writing and how you're trying to grow your business in your audience segment. 

Today we're gonna talk about customer data, what it's good for, how you get it, what you do with it, and the main things we'll be discussing like we just touched on, but to bring it back to some sort of format that's discernible. We use customer data to not only start a feedback loop with our customers to help us improve our content. But we also use customer data so that we can remarket to people who actually wanted our stuff and they wanted it to the point where they paid good money for it, so marketing efforts. We use customer data to help build community around our brand and whatever it is that we're creating. And in general, you take customer data and you turn that into more sales through a lot of those efforts I just said or other ways. So we're gonna talk about that data and then what you do with it once you have it. And the first way we'll talk about, how you collect that data, or one of the ways you collect that is through selling direct.


Lauren: I actually want to interrupt you before we start talking about that, because I don't want people to get to this part of the episode and then say, well, I'm not selling direct, so I don't need to listen to this, this isn't relevant to me and I'm gonna bounce. I hope you don't, because while we are gonna talk right now about how selling direct can help you gather customer data - and obviously, if you've listened to like more than 30 seconds of this podcast, you've heard us talk about how important we think this is and also why we think you should be selling direct. But even if we haven't convinced you to do that yet, it's fine. We'll keep working on it. It is still something that - gathering customer data and using the customer data that you have access to regardless of whether you're selling direct, selling third party or whatever, however you're gathering this customer data, whatever you have available to you, it is unilaterally useful for any type of author or content creator. So please don't bail if you're sitting here and you're like, I'm not selling direct, so this is no longer relevant to me now. We promise it will be. 

But let's talk a little bit about getting your customer data from selling direct. Cause that is, you know, we talk about that a lot as being one of the like key selling points of selling direct. So you have access to your customer data, but what does that actually mean? 

Matt: Yeah. It actually means that when they buy something from your site, again, whether you're selling books or Barbie Epcot t-shirts, I can't even keep a straight face. 

Lauren: You know, it's, it's funny because I walked into your office two separate times this morning expecting a comment and didn't get one. So I kind of thought I was in the clear.

Matt: No. You can bet that anytime you walk in my office I'm doing 15 different things 

Lauren: That’s fair. 

Matt: - and probably not looking at what you're wearing unless you literally came in there in a chicken costume or something.

Lauren: Even though it's this garishly bright pink?

Matt: Yeah, it just - yeah it takes - anyways. How you're getting that data when you sell direct is obviously when somebody buys something from you. Every ecommerce platform out there that you use for a transaction, they have to capture certain things and by nature of you being the store owner, you get all that information. So to sell a product to somebody that requires shipping, obviously they need to give you their shipping address. Most of the time you can require that they put in their email address or you can make it optional. And then a few other things. You can also require that part of your checkout process includes a phone number or some of these other things that you may be able to use in the future to remarket to them in some fun ways. So you're gonna get a lot of that data just when they check out. And then you can, like I said, you can build in some other fields if you wanted to for information that you think would be important to have that could help you in the future. There are other ways to get that data when you're selling direct. But again, most of it's gonna come at the transaction itself. And honestly, that's probably the most important data. I mean, the rest of the data that you're gonna want to use and sort of attach to each record you have, each person or contact, you may have to get after the fact, depending on what platform you're using. But again, you know, the most important ones are gonna be their shipping address, right? Their mailing address, their email address, obviously super important. And then a few other key things. 


Lauren: Yeah, I think that email address - it really is probably the singular most valuable way for you to speak directly to your fans. And there's no good way for you to get that when you're selling through a third party. Even if you are sending customers to your website and they don't ultimately wind up buying your book when they're on your website, if they're on your website, you at least have the opportunity to try to capture their email address from them voluntarily by having a pop-up box on your website or a landing page on your site or something that says, if you wanna stay in touch, if you want promos, if you want discount, like you wanna learn more, sign up for my newsletter, you'll get this, that and the other from me. And then maybe eventually, even if they're not buying your book now, they will later. As opposed to sending a customer from your Instagram to your book’s page on Amazon. There's no way for you to capture those email addresses there. Whether they buy your book or not, you're never getting their email address from that interaction. 

Matt: Yeah. And honestly, these days - and actually this is the way it's been for quite some time and will probably be for quite some time in the future to sustain your business - the most valuable piece of customer information or any information or any person, I should say the most valuable piece of data you could have is their email address and their permission to email them because no matter what happens to whatever platform you're on, you have those email addresses. 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: You can always go to another email platform, upload all those contact email addresses and pick up right where you left off or some other tool that you're using. Which obviously means that you're doing regular downloads to safeguard that data. But at the end of the day, it's the most future-proofed piece of data you could own for your customer base. Everything else is not necessarily yours out there if you're on social media or some of those other things. So having that email address, something you can keep and retain from platform to platform. And it is probably the most reliable way to have a direct two-way conversation with your customers, fans, and followers. 

Lauren: Yeah. And if you're asking yourself why, first of all, definitely go listen to our episode on email marketing for authors and content creators, because we did a whole episode on why it's valuable to have people's email addresses. But also, I mean, it's about that community building, whether it's having these conversations with people or establishing yourself as somebody that they want to take information from in the future. If you're writing fiction, this is you establishing yourself as an author that they can rely on to get good content from. If you're writing nonfiction, this is you establishing yourself as an expert in your industry that they can rely on for updates and information and things that are relevant to their area of interest. A lot of the author newsletters that I'm signed up for have everything from book recs to like, these are the events that are going on near me. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: To things like I learned about this new tool the other day that I wanted to share with everybody. So no matter what you're looking for, this is how you connect with those people. But then also it's a remarketing strategy. So this is - if you're only ever publishing one book in your life, then okay, great, you know, do what you want with that. But if you have any intention of publishing any additional books or putting out any additional products that are not books, but are somehow still related to your brand: this is your built-in audience. The more people you have on your email list that are people that you know have voluntarily engaged with your content in the past, the more people that you can market to in the future when you're saying, ‘hey, I've got a new book coming out,’ or ‘hey, I've got this really cool notebook that I designed to go hand in hand with the online course that I'm going to be teaching, which you can also sign up for soon,’ or whatever. This is your primary opportunity to do that. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: That's why this is so valuable to have people's email addresses. 


Matt: Yeah. I think second most valuable, right now, or at least in my opinion, is physical location. There's a lot of cool stuff you can do with that too. And we've seen people doing really cool things like surprise birthday cards or really cool things in the mail or using that geographical data to better understand, are there particular areas or regions where people just aren't getting my content? Or, you know, is there one particular region where people are really buying a lot of my content I didn't realize that? maybe you're really big in like, India or something.

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: And you wouldn't know that unless you had that customer data to look at and there are things you can do with that information. So I would say physical location is probably second most important. Obviously, that's my opinion. 

Lauren: No, I think so too. I think, and I agree there are cool things you could do with that. You might be able to… if you want to have a book signing or something and you want to try going somewhere that isn't local, this could be a great opportunity. Or if you were going to be at a conference or an event and you want to say like, hey, I'm going to be in this area already anyway. Can I target the people that I know are fans of mine that live in this specific area? Can I get in touch with them in some way? And a lot of other really creative - I was just thinking about you saying like, surprise birthday cards or something like that. And I was like, hmm, would I find that creepy if I got mail like that? And then immediately was like, no, absolutely not. I think I would love that. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Yes. I think I would be very excited - 

Matt: Yeah but -

Lauren: if an author I loved sent me a little like - 

Matt: Exactly.

Lauren: Thanks, like thanks for buying my book. Here's a cute bookmark and some stickers. 

Matt: Yeah but. 

Lauren: I think I'd be delighted by that. 

Matt: I think the key thing there though, is like we talk about building community and turning people into super fans. Like something that seems so small and insignificant to us, just sending out a postcard for any random reason. It doesn't even have to be a sales pitch for your book. Just some postcard that you send out to a hundred of your last purchasers or whatever, like they get that in the mail and I guarantee you they buy something else from you. That is just such a really cool way to just say, I appreciate you. And as a creator, author, or, you know, store owner, sending out a hundred postcards is not going to cost you much money at all, even to have the postcards made. So it's really cool. 


Matt: So far these things we're talking about are what we would consider personal data. Right? So again, things like email address, mailing address, phone number, if you're capturing that - which if you can, you should, because at some point you may want to experiment with SMS just the same way the Lost Bros get Lauren to buy everything, but that falls under personal data too. I think the next bucket of data that becomes really helpful is what's called behavioral data, and this is what describes the different products they purchase from you. You'll be capturing things like what's the average order value of a cart, your cart abandonment data, customer lifetime value, things like that. So that's behavioral data. And there's some really cool stuff you can do with that behavioral data too. 

Lauren: Yeah. There's a lot of information I feel like people tend to assume. 

Matt: Sure. 

Lauren: Like one of the questions that I posed earlier was, do you sell more paperbacks or hardcovers? And I feel like a lot of authors, they didn't know off the top of their head. They say, you know, probably assume paperback because paperback is cheaper. So probably sell more paperback than hardcovers, but that might not be true. And that's really important for you to know if it turns out that you are selling more hardcovers than paperbacks, you want to know that.

Matt: Well, also that also works when - so I've seen it where we'll get data. It's quote unquote industry data, right? Like we'll get a weekly update about print sales and it'll say something along the lines of like, oh, cozy romance is down for like the fourth month in a row by 3% and somebody will give their commentary in that piece and they'll say, it looks like cozy romance is on the way out the door, but you'll look at your sales and maybe you have a line of cozy romance books that are doing great. If you didn't have that data to be able to see that, you might take that piece of external data and analysis from some industry whoever, and go, great, cozy romance is on the way out the door, what am I gonna, you know what I mean?

Lauren: Right.

Matt: But you would have your own data to go to and look at, well, I don't know about everybody else, but mine's doing good, so I'm just gonna keep on trucking.

Having your own data to compare against what is being put out there in the world about your industry or your genre is extremely helpful because without it, you're just gonna take some of those people at their word. You're just gonna look at their data, which represents maybe a large group as a whole, but doesn't represent you as an individual creator or author. And you may just take that as gospel because you don't have your own data to compare it to. 

Lauren: I don't even know what to add to that. I feel like you just so thoroughly covered the relevance of behavioral data. 

Matt: Hey, there's a first for everything. No, in behavioral data, there's a lot of things to look at. But again, product-wise, of course, paperbacks, hardcovers, ebooks, audiobooks, we want to know like, what are people buying? What will they buy more of? Why are they not buying this one? Maybe through looking at your data, you see that all of your fans in the UK, they all prefer paperbacks. Why? Send them all an email. 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: Hey, just curious, why'd you buy the paperback version versus the ebook or the hardcover or the audiobook? You can take that data, and that behavioral data, and do really cool things with it. You can look at other things like what products they're clicking on in your store, but not purchasing. 

Lauren: Yes. 
Matt: You can see when somebody's putting something in their cart and then just abandoning it or putting it in their cart and taking it out again. You get to see all these really cool pieces of behavioral data that help you understand how people are navigating your store, what they're interested in what they're skipping right over, you get a lot of really cool things. So paying attention to that behavioral data is also extremely helpful. 

Lauren: Yeah, there's gonna be a lot of stuff, depending on how deep you're willing to dive into data analysis. And also, if you're designing your own website, or you're using a tool like Shopify or WordPress or something to build your website out on, you know you have to make sure that you have it set up in a way that you can track this kind of information. But if you're willing to go through that, you can find some really, really, really good detailed information about customer behavior on your website. And that is something that's really cool that if you can look at that and say like, oh, there's one product on my page that has like significantly fewer clicks than every other product on my page. I wonder why that is. Or I've watched a hundred people put this into their cart and then only 50 of them bought it after the fact. And then the other 50 that didn't, I sent them a marketing email saying you left something in your cart, here is a 10% promo code to encourage you to buy it a little bit. And then 40 of those 50 did buy it. You know, maybe that tells you, you gotta knock the price down on that book a little bit. Or maybe it tells you that promo codes are really popular on your store or something, you know? There's information there if you have access to it. And if you're willing to dig in and pay attention to it a little bit. 

Matt: Yeah, definitely. Other things in the bucket of behavioral data. You would have access to data that would tell you how are people accessing your store mobile or desktop. 

Lauren: Yep. 

Matt: Laptops, things like that, ipads, whatever. 

Lauren: Super important. 


Matt: You get other types of technical data like that as well. And again, depending on how deep you're willing to dive into this stuff or how curious you get, there are things you can do with that data. All of these things, by the way, boil back to creating emails. It is the best way to communicate with your buyers. So when you pluck out a piece of data like this and you go, hey, I wonder what this means. Like you create a little email campaign to reach out to them and you get that response back. And so you can take their responses, that feedback loop, and you can build that into your products or your site or your process or whatever component of that customer journey it actually affects. The only way you can get better at what you're doing and grow your business and sustain it for a long time is to have these abilities, to have these tactics, to put in place and these components that exist that you can take advantage of it all.

Lauren: Yeah, don't be afraid to actually just outright ask your customers questions. It's not, it doesn't have to be like a super detailed - 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: - ‘take a ten minute survey about everything that you've experienced while working with me.’ But whether it's a social media poll or like an email survey, one to two questions, something in your checkout process, depending on how your website's built out, ask them questions. Why did you choose this over that? What is something that you wish that I had that I don't? If you're an author that is doing primarily ebook and audiobook, and you want to find out if your readers would be interested in you doing a paperback edition of your books or any kind of print edition of your books, ask them. If you're afraid to be like, ‘I don't want to bite the bullet and do all the work to make print copies of it. And then, you know, sell five copies. And it wasn't worth the amount of time that I put into formatting the interior files and stuff like that.’ Just ask. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: I, there are so many authors that I can think of or books that I can think of that I wish that I had print copies of them and I don't because the authors don't offer them and I have no way of telling them that I want them because they've never asked. 

Matt: Or you do have an email address from them that you found and you email them and it just, it's like it just went into some void somewhere. 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: Nobody saw it, nobody read it or they did and they just deleted it or whatever that might be, like - 

Lauren: Yep. 

Matt: I guess that's a whole ‘nother story, but that's the whole point of this, right? Is that you have this data set, you can speak to them. So by all means, speak to them. And nobody's going to get upset by the way. Like if one of their, you know, favorite authors or maybe, maybe you're not even one of their favorites, but maybe they enjoy reading your books. If you shoot an email to them or send out an SMS or, you know, a survey or something, like nobody's going to get mad. They're either going to think this is cool and they're going to participate or they're just going to move on. 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Matt: But nobody's going to respond to you and go, ew, dude, why are you emailing me? What's wrong with you? 

Lauren: Absolutely. Yeah. So worst case scenario, I ignore your email. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Best case scenario, you get an actual response from me. 

Matt: Yeah. Well, I don't, I might flip those, but either way. 

Lauren: Yeah, I guess it depends on what my feedback is. 

Matt: Yeah, we should ask the Lost Bros. How do they like getting your email responses and texts? 

Lauren: I communicate with them primarily on Instagram. Thank you very much. 


Matt: Okay. Well, that brings us to our next. We'll, we'll get past selling direct for all those out there that are like, yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it. Sell direct Matt and Lauren, get Barbie shirts, go to Disney, sell direct. We get it. Okay.

Lauren: Yeah. No notes on that. 

Matt: We'll talk about how you can get data from other interactions. And you should be getting this data by the way, so that you can take it over to your email database or -

Lauren: Yes.

Matt: - your store database, but pulling, I don't know if I'd call it customer data, but you can call it that for lack of a better term. I would just call it segment data or data on your audience is probably a more appropriate way to call it, but. You can pull this stuff from your social media channels, from obviously your email marketing efforts. We'll touch on social media first because a lot of people listening may have, obviously, social media channels and followings, but may not be participating in selling direct and may not even yet have started an email list with a service provider where they can be in emailing newsletter. So for social media users only who have not really tried any of that, what kind of information can they expect to find?

Lauren: Well, you're going to want to look for sure at your audience engagement behavior on social media because that's going to inform a lot of the choices that you make, especially if you are interested. If you haven't set up an email newsletter yet or you haven't set up a website yet, but you want to paying attention to what your fans and followers are interested in on your social media is going to help inform a lot of the decisions that you're going to make about that content for your website or your email newsletter or even for future books. 

You know, you want to take a look at things like what platforms are you the most successful on? What platforms you have the most engagement on, the most followers on. But beyond that, you want to dive into the actual specifics of what kind of engagement you're getting on those websites or on those social media channels. And obviously, the ones that are going to be the most important metrics are going to change depending on which social channel it is. You know, let's say on Instagram, you're saying I'm not getting a whole lot of comments on my Instagram posts. Like I'm not seeing a whole lot of comments from people on Instagram posts, but I'm getting great metrics on saves on Instagram posts. Depending on what platform you're looking at, you can kind of see how your content is performing and use that specifically to see what kind of content your fans and followers like. 

If you are looking at posts and you see like all of the ones that you have that have the top number of likes in a given month are all posts promoting a promo code for your website, then you know, okay, people are primarily following me here so that they can see what discounts I'm offering at any given time. If the primary type of content that people are engaging with is link clicks on blog posts because you are sharing your blog content. That's great. People are interested in your blog content. What specific kind of content are they interested in? Is there something there? Is there something, can you start a newsletter based specifically on your blog content? Is there maybe a book idea in this where you can say, oh, people are really interested in this specific type of blog content that I share every now and then. Can I turn this into a book somehow? Can I connect with this audience directly and figure out how - like, this is all, and you get all of this information by literally just looking once a week, once a month, whatever, at your social platform performance and say, okay, how are people engaging with the content that I'm sharing on this platform? 

Matt: Yeah, maybe we should reframe these too instead of calling these social media, this, that, and the other, we should just call this your content delivery platforms.

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: Because this obviously applies to, you referenced linking to a blog, but this obviously there are people out there that they run a blog. They don't spend a lot of time on social media. Their blog is the primary way that they deliver content to their followers and fans. So, same thing applies, right? You get all the same types of standard metrics through your blogging platform. You know which articles get read the most, you know what your total read rate is, all those things. And the same could be said for YouTube and some of the other content delivery channels. Whatever it is or whatever channel it is that you're primarily using to deliver your content - and it's probably a mixture of a couple of these, right? All those metrics are there, like Lauren's talking about. You just, you need to go find them. Sometimes you don't realize that you're staring it right in the face, but you know, again, if you start getting comfortable with data and really trying to figure out what it's telling you, you'll get it and you'll get it pretty quickly. And if not, then ask for some help from someone or email and Lauren's happy to analyze your data for you. 

Lauren: I do love talking about data, especially social media data. But it is, Matt's right. And it is something that is cross-platform available too. Like, I think about that a lot when I was Lulu social media manager. I would be sharing - to use the blog post example - I would be sharing our blog posts on our social channels, and I wouldn't just share new posts. I would, I would also share some throwback posts, older content, stuff like that. And our blog manager always knew. He always knew without even looking at our social channels, he would send me a message and be like, hey, did you share this post recently? I saw a spike in visitors coming specifically from Facebook on this post. And I would say, oh yeah, turns out that post was my highest performing post on Facebook last week. So we both have access to that data from our different angles. And no matter how you're looking at it, whether you're looking at it from the social media perspective or you're on your blog and you're saying, okay, I'm having a lot of really great traffic to my blog right now. Where is it coming from? Is it coming from social media? Is it coming from email? Is it coming from somewhere else on my website? Is it coming from Google search results? Which is all stuff that's gonna help you with your marketing efforts in the future. 

Matt: Yeah, and you'll get to a point where you're starting to understand which pieces of data are most valuable to you, and then which ones are a little less valuable, at least in the beginning. But as time goes on, you'll figure out how to make use of a lot of the other data too. But there's so much low-hanging fruit when you first start digging into the data and analyzing it, where you can again, take what you're finding, turn that into another piece of content that you then push out to a segment in your email database. So if you're seeing on your social media channels or on your website or through your purchase histories or whatever that might be, that again, people in the UK just really love your ebooks. They're not buying anything else, but they really love your ebooks. But your goal is to let's say, sell more audiobooks. Take that data, create a special promo for your UK buyer segment or reader segment, that gives them 50% off their first audiobook from you just to try it out or a free one or send in the first three chapters. You can do stuff like that using Book Funnel and other stuff too. So using that data to try and sort of align your goals with what you're seeing happening right now, you can really make things happen. I guess the overarching point here though, is again, if you're not getting this data, if you're not getting it and looking at it, then you can't do all these cool things and it's really hard to grow a business. 

And if at this point, you still don't know what the big deal is about data or why it's so valuable, then just ask yourself, why isn't Amazon sharing it with you? Why isn't Ingram sharing it with you? Why isn't Baker & Taylor? Any of the other third party distribution channels that collects data, why aren't they sharing it with you? If it's no big deal, they would just be giving it to you.

Lauren:  It's a really good question. 

Matt: It's their most coveted thing. Amazon, to a degree, could care less about how many toasters they sell or books they sell or anything else. They could care less about the book business as a whole. People think that's because it's one of the first things they were selling that is so - no! t was just the easiest way to get into the ecommerce business and start building the largest customer database in the world, which they've done. 

Lauren: They sure have. 

Matt: So that customer data, think of how important it is to them and what they do with it and how many billions of dollars they make off that customer data. Again, forget about toasters or USB plugs or TVs and it's that data. And then they built a logistics system to go along with it. Like, come on. If it wasn't important, if it wasn't a big deal, these third party systems would be sharing it with you. 

Lauren: Absolutely. And it's, it is all of this cross-connected stuff too, that we're looking at, where it's like, you know, I - I looked up recently over the weekend. I was talking to somebody about Top Golf, which I've never done before. I was in Atlanta, so I wasn't even local to Raleigh. 

Matt: That's a new one. 

Lauren: Top Golf? I - 

Matt: You talking about Top - 

Lauren: Oh, yeah. I mean, it wasn't voluntary. They were telling me about it. But… and I was kind of like, okay, cool, whatever. And then an hour later, I opened up Instagram and I had Instagram targeted ads that were for the brand new Top Golf location that just opened up in Durham this weekend. I wasn't in Durham, me and my phone were not in Durham having this conversation. I didn't look it up, but because of the like cross-connection of whatever website it is, having my data and knowing - I can't do this with a straight face now. 

Matt: I'm trying to get footage of this Barbie shirt so we can post it, but you're covering it up.

Lauren: I can't I can't I can't look at you with a straight face. 

Matt: You ruined my video. 

Lauren: I'm so sorry. 

Matt: Alright.

Lauren: You gotta just get me not looking at you. 

Matt: I'm deleting it right now.

Lauren: But okay.

Matt: Delete.

Lauren: So the, I mean the point, all right. The, the point is that once you have access to that data, you can, you can do a lot of really creative and cool things with it. No, no, no, keep going. I'm not going to look at you. It's fine. Yeah. 

Matt: But Barbie's face is covered up by your hair. 

Lauren: Okay. Well, that's an easy fix. You could have just said that. 

Matt: Well.

Lauren: Customer data, things like having your location. Matt said something ten years ago, as far as I can remember, about targeting people like saying, oh, I want to sell more books in the UK. So I want to target audiences in the UK. If you are collecting your customer data and you're using a social media platform like Facebook or Instagram, you can target customers by location. 

Matt: Yep. 

Lauren: So if you're saying something like, I'm collecting my customer data and I'm seeing that I'm kind of missing this market specifically. Like I see a lot of customers shopping around this area but not in this specific area. I wanna do a little Facebook campaign targeting specifically people in this area and see if I can boost the sales a little bit. These are all ways that you can kind of use that data to your advantage and learn exactly what you're doing. I'm afraid to look at this. I'm going to wait until we're done recording. 


Lauren: Also, you know, while we're talking about this as - I don't remember the phrase that Matt used when he said this earlier, mostly because as soon as I finish saying anything on this podcast, it immediately leaves my brain forever. But it was something about not considering this social media specific -

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: But like the customer - 

Matt: Content delivery.

Lauren: Content delivery. Yes. Thank you. So this stuff applies to your email metrics too. And I know we've already talked about email in terms of like how important it is to capture email addresses from people, but it's also important to then look at your performance on those emails that you're sending to people after you've captured their email address. You want to look at things like what are your open rates? Is there any consistency? Can you spot any kind of trend or anything that is connecting your emails with the highest open rates? Maybe it's that they all have an emoji in the subject line. Maybe all of those subject lines promise a promo code inside, maybe or a giveaway inside, or something like that. Maybe they're all subject lines that have the customer's name as a custom field in the subject line, or maybe they're all ones that don't do that. Personally, I think that's creepy and we've talked about it. 

Matt: We all know Lauren hates personalization. 

Lauren: I really do. But all of these kinds of things, once you get in your emails, like once you have customers in your emails, what are they most interested in? If you have four different links in your email, which ones are they clicking on and which ones are they ignoring? What are they paying attention to? These are all details that are worth looking at. This is all data that is incredibly valuable to you and it's going to help you make really informed decisions about what you do in the future. Whether that's with future marketing efforts, future book projects, future products, anything else with your brand, community building, I can keep going. There's all kinds of stuff that you can do with this data. You have to actually take the time to figure out a. how to find it, b. how to understand it and c. what to do with it once you have it. 

Matt: Yep. Yeah. And so even if you're not selling direct or have your own sort of ecommerce website sales platform, you can still get a lot of valuable data from where you're delivering your content. Again, whether that's social media, YouTube, I don't care if you're just posting a weekly article on Medium or a blog somewhere or something like that, but. Getting that data and making better decisions with it. And again, most importantly, having a place that you quote unquote, own to use as a communication tool. And whether that, again, is just an email platform where you can start collecting email addresses and building your contact list and audience and talking to them, or incorporating some form of direct sales into your approach so that you also have that platform, that home base where you can be collecting a lot more customer data, that personal data that we talked about, as well as the behavioral data that we've been talking about. And then we did touch on attitudinal data, which again, covers things like the feedback loop. I think if you have those things in place and you do the things that Lauren just said, you're definitely going to be in a much better place a year from now, two years from now, you'll be sustaining a long-term business. You'll be capitalizing at a much higher rate on a lot of the things that you're selling and creating than you are now and you have been in the past. 

Lauren: I really liked the use of the word attitudinal. 

Matt: Oh, it's a real world. 

Lauren: I'll take your word for it, but I really liked it. I actually got a little, a little sidetracked by that, but, um, I am pulling a new blog post to add to the show notes for this episode. Because I realized that as much as we've talked about all of this, we haven't talked a whole lot about how to actually get this data. And we're not going to both because that would be - it would double the length of this episode. And also no one wants us to just sit here and regurgitate information about Google Analytics for 45 minutes. 

Matt: Ew. Let's not go there. No, no, no, no, no, no. 

Lauren: No, so we're not going to. But I am going to add some resources to the show notes for this episode about like a little bit more specifics about how to actually get this customer data and what to look at. So if you're listening to this episode right now and you're like, okay, you told us all this information about why it's important, but you didn't tell me how to do any of it, check the show notes, we'll have some posts there. 

Matt: Well, we did tell them how to get some of it. 

Lauren: We - well, yeah, but depending on how in depth you wanna go. Like that was the first time that we mentioned Google Analytics in this whole episode. 

Matt: Yeah, cause it's not worth mentioning. 

Lauren: Okay. 

Matt: That's a whole ‘nother layer of data farming that I don't think most of our listeners, if they're not already doing it, wanna do anytime soon.

Lauren: That's true. And that is, to Matt’s point -

Matt: Not that you shouldn't do it.

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: I mean we all believe in data as deep as you can go. But Google Analytics right now is not a fun place to be.

Lauren: No, it’s not.

Matt: So if you're not already in they're using it I would try to get your data from other sources for now and work your way into a Google Analytics account. Why are we even bringing this up? 

Lauren: I don't know. I feel like I was attempting to reassure people that they don't have to get this in-depth into it. And then I wound up just making it complicated instead. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: But I think my point there is that yeah, you don't have to like - you can choose how in-depth you want to get with your data. I mean, you can, you can do things like look at your social media metrics by literally just clicking on any single one of your posts that you've shared depending on what platform you’re on. You'll get the majority of the metrics just by looking at the post. If you want to get more in depth, there are plenty of ways to do that that are platform specific in whatever, whether you're looking at social channels, your email, your website, your third party sales channels in your account, anything like that. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: You can find a lot of the information just hosted in the individual platforms that you're going to be looking at. 

Matt: Perfect. 

Lauren: Yeah. All right. Well, anything else you want to add to that? 

Matt: Never bring an opinion to a data fight. 

Lauren: Period. 

Matt: Hard stop. 

Lauren: I would say mic drop, but...these mics don't drop and also, please don't. 

Matt: Nope, that's all I got. 

Lauren: All right. Well, Team Data. I hope some of you are at least a little bit convinced that you want to look into your data a little more. I know it is. I know if you told me ten years ago that I'd be advocating for 45 minutes about how important and valuable customer data is, I'd be like, what's wrong with you? 

Matt: It's funny, I was just about to say the same thing. When you said Team Data, it made me realize, I guess I am team data now, but there was definitely a time where probably, yeah, maybe 10 years is the marker, maybe a little less actually, where I did not like dealing with data at all. And if I could at any point ever get out of doing it and just have somebody else send me the analysis, I would. It just wasn't anything I was interested in. I think like a lot of things, you kind of have to jump in. But I guess you also have to be motivated. 

Lauren: Yes.

Matt: So I think at the time I was motivated because maybe what I was doing relied upon this data, I guess? But again, as an author or creator, your business relies on this to keep building it and keep growing, so. There's some motivation there. 

Lauren: Which I do. I think that's actually a really good point is what is that motivation to look into this. 

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: And I actually can very specifically pinpoint when I started actually being interested in data and it was at my last job, not here, but specifically for me as Social Media Manager at Lulu, the data was so important because I would put so much time and effort - my entire job was dedicated to coming up with content ideas, creating the content, posting the content. I wanted to know what was working or wasn't working. If you leave off that final step of looking at the results of how the content performed, then you're basically just shouting into the void with no idea of whether or not all of the time and effort that you're putting into creating this content and creating this product and speaking to customers is actually working.

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: So hopefully that's motivating enough. 

Matt: We'll see. 

Lauren: We'll see. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't.

Matt: That's a good sign off. 

Lauren: Maybe people are listening. Maybe they're not. 

Matt: Yeah, maybe they'll come back. Maybe they won't. 

Lauren: Maybe they'll email us at Maybe they won't. 

Matt: All right. I'm bored with the maybe game. 

Lauren: All right. Well, thanks for listening, everyone. And we'll be back next week.