Do You Know Your Customer Count? Here’s How to Find Out.

This is the first post in a series about how to learn about your customers. We’ll start with the basics and work our way to more complex questions. So for starters, let’s answer a simple question:

How many customers do you have?

Although it looks simple, this question can actually be pretty complex. If your business is based on subscriptions, where someone pays you on a regular schedule, it’s a bit easier to figure out. You can just look to see how many people paid over the last billing cycle. This can be complicated a bit if not all your customers are on the same billing cycle — for example, some people might pay monthly and some might be yearly. Your company might also have this information in a database or CRM system.

What if your business isn’t based on subscriptions, but individual transactions? Some examples are an e-commerce site or a website that sells blog themes. In this case, defining a customer is a bit harder. You could say it’s anyone who has ever bought something from you, but it might not make sense to include everyone. Usually having a limit to how far back you look is appropriate. It depends on your business, but calling your customers everyone who’s bought something from you in the last 12 or 24 months probably is a good start.

So if your customers are based off transactions, how do you find them? If you’re an e-commerce company and you’re using a platform to sell your goods, that platform should make that number easy to see. But be careful, make sure you’re looking only at customers who have done business with you in the last year (whatever you decided the appropriate cut off was). On a lot of platforms, it can be difficult or even impossible to do so. If you can’t find that number, email support and ask if it’s available. If it’s not, you’ll need to export all your orders and do the right filtering in Excel.

Example of finding customers in e-commerce

Finding the number of customers for your e-commerce business can be harder than you’d expect.

Keep in mind, if you’re selling on multiple platforms, you need to add those numbers together. that number still might not be right if you have the same people buying from you through different channels, so make sure you’re not double counting people.

At this point, you might be realizing this is more work than you expected (but hopefully not). No matter what, you should definitely go through the exercise of finding this number because it’s vital to your business. In fact, it should be easy to find. So if it’s not, you really should consider spending some time to make it easier. It’s also important because if you can’t answer this question, it’s going to be even more difficult to answer more complex questions.

So start by figuring out the number of customers you have and making sure it’s easy to calculate.

In the next post, we’ll explore an equally important question, figuring out how the number of customers you have is changing.


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