RFM model and user segmentation built on Looker

As Data and Business analysts, we have all encountered situations where we need to segment customers based on their engagement with the business. An RFM model has a few benefits. It enables marketers to increase revenue by targeting specific groups of existing customers called “segments”. It also gives the business the ability to send targeted messages and offers that are relevant to these segments based on data points unique to that particular set of behaviors. This leads to increased response rates, customer retention, customer satisfaction, and a better overall customer lifetime value. This blog is about dividing segments using three key deciding factors.

  • How recent is a Customer
  • How frequent is a Customer
  • How much monetary value does a Customer hold

We will use SQL and a BI tool (Looker) to implement the following steps:

(**Prerequisites – Working knowledge of SQL and Looker)

Step 1 – Decide your key measures

[I am using the following KPIs to define RFM]

Recency – Days since last order

Frequency – Total number of orders by the customer

Monetary – Total amount of money paid  by the customer

A basic SQL query would look like this if no joins are applied –

        user_id, --primary key
        count(order_id) as total_orders,
        datediff(day, max(order_date), current_date) as days_since_last_order,
        sum(amount) as total_amount
    from your_table
    group by 1,2,3

I highly encourage you to include this in your database table itself, reason? Think for yourself 😛

Step 2 – Pull your fact table in Looker and create a .view file using lookerML.

Reference – Looker Docs

Step 3 – Looker will automatically generate dimensions for you if it’s a new view

If not, manually add dimensions and measures like so –

  dimension: user_id {
    type: string
    sql: ${TABLE}."USER_ID" ;;
    primary_key: yes
  dimension: user_email {
    type: string
    sql: ${TABLE}."USER_EMAIL" ;; 
  dimension: display_name {
    type: string
    sql: ${TABLE}."DISPLAY_NAME" ;;
  ## hiding the below dimension because we will create measures out of it.
  dimension: days_since_last_order {
    type: number
    hidden: yes
  dimension: orders {
    type: number
    sql: ${TABLE}."TOTAL_ORDERS" ;;
    hidden: yes
  dimension: amount {
    type: number
    sql: ${TABLE}."TOTAL_AMOUNT" ;;
    value_format_name: usd_0
    hidden: yes
  ## add the below measures in your visuals to have detailed data for the dimension 
  measure: total_amount {
    type: sum
    sql: ${amount} ;;
    value_format_name: usd_0

  measure: total_orders {
    type: sum
    sql: ${orders} ;;

  measure: total_days_since_last_order {
    type: sum
    sql: ${days_since_last_order} ;;

Step 4 – Create dimensions for recency, frequency and monetary

You can define threshold values as per your own requirements. I have considered 3 Median values across all the records. How to find median? Refer this page. You can use your own statistical methods to define these threshold values.

Step 5 – Define score – Score is a combination of the recency, frequency and monetary.

So if a user has ranks like 3- recency, 2-frequency and 2- monetary then score would be 322.

dimension: score {
    description: "A combination of recency frequency and monetary in this order"
    type: string
    sql: concat(${recency},${frequency},${monetary}) ;;

Step 6 – Based on the scores we will define the user segments.

**Tip – You can add many more!!

Step 7 Build visuals and dashboards based on the above metrics.

Step 8 – You can do more than just user segmentation.

Deep dive into the similarities between a particular segment type to find a pattern and then work on it to enhance your business. For more reading or doing similar analysis on excel check out this article which inspired me in writing mine.

Thanks and Happy Analysing!

Na Nguyen Thi
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