Why behavioral data?

When Data Science and Market Research Collide.

Here’s a staggering statistic: 90% of the world’s data has been generated over just the past two years. That’s good news for modern marketers who manage to leverage data for improving how they position and promote their organizations’ products and services. 

But the data tide is turning: several trends – artificial intelligence, the global pandemic, and an increasing focus on data privacy – are prompting businesses to find new ways of leveraging data to understand their target customers, and attract and convert new ones.

For decades – practically since the practice of marketing began – marketers have collected behavioral data by observing how consumers research, shop for, and purchase goods and services. Analyzing behavioral data enables companies to make informed predictions and decisions about how to best market their wares, and increase the probability of a consumer engaging with them. Once a consumer becomes a customer, behavioral data helps companies fine-tune messaging, branding and even product features to reduce churn and increase life-time customer value. 

With the advent of smartphones, websites, and mobile apps, it’s easier than ever to collect behavioral data. But a heightened focus on data privacy over the past few years may make it much more difficult for marketers to do so without consumers’ permission. In 2020, Google decided to do away with cookies by 2023. Then Apple said it will implement its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, which requires applications to ask users for permission to track their activity across apps and websites. Add to these recent developments new data privacy frameworks such as GDPR and CCPA, and marketers may be in a bind unless they adopt new tactics.

Mobile market research is a new frontier that forward-looking market research firms are adopting, to help marketers leverage behavioral data for data-driven marketing while respecting – and protecting – consumers’ data privacy. Let’s take a look at how behavioral data can be gathered and used by businesses today.

A Closer Look at Behavioral Data.

Behavioral data is any data gathered through observation, without requiring direct input from a consumer. Examples include location data, transaction data, app usage, web visits, streaming statistics – you get the idea. 

While survey data is useful for understanding consumers’ path to purchase, it’s hard to verify without behavioral data backing up what a consumer says is true. For example, if a consumer tells you they visit Target an average of two times per week, the only way to verify that they actually do is by cross-checking behavioral data that reveals what stores the customer visited over a certain period of time. What’s more, if you already know a customer visits Target twice a week, you can skip that question on the survey and get more specific about their in-store behaviors and preferences.

Here are two important ways businesses can leverage behavioral data to improve their marketing strategies and engage and convert customers:

  • Ask then observe: Enriching survey data with behavioral data brings a third dimension to your dataset, enabling you to look beyond basic demographics of your sample and their stated opinions. Ad testing is a perfect example. Say you want to test multiple concepts for an ad you’re creating. You can send the ads to a population and ask them to pick their favorite concept. Once you know who liked a particular concept, you can dig into the behavioral data and find out what physical and digital properties those individuals visit most frequently. This information helps you make decisions about where to activate your ads for maximum impact with consumers who are bound to like them.

Behavioral data can also be used to validate survey responses. For example, if a respondent says they spend equal amounts of time on Facebook and Instagram, a peek at the behavioral data might reveal that they spend 3X the time on Instagram, allowing you to adjust your ad strategy accordingly.

  • Observe then ask: Another way to use behavioral data is to analyze it first, then ask questions about why people behave the way they do. Take, for example, Hallmark, an MFour customer. By looking at behavioral data in our MFour Views solution, they discovered that people who shop at Target often buy a drink at Starbucks first. Hallmark surmised that holding a Starbucks drink may impact the way someone shops for cards. Using this insight, they can survey their target buyers about whether they hold their drink or place it in their basket. Do they still pick up the cards and read them? This information can help them make informed decisions around card displays and merchandising tactics.

It’s important to note that access to behavioral data enables companies to survey buyers at the Point of Emotion®, right when they complete a purchase or abandon a cart and leave a store – whether physical or virtual. The experience is fresh in their minds, and the feedback is immediate and relevant. 

Analyzing behavioral data alongside survey data enables marketers to dig deep and get very granular about the behaviors and preferences of their target buyers, then develop very specific strategies about messaging, promotions, merchandising and other aspects of product marketing.

Behavioral data can also be used in the absence of survey data. For example, a CPG company might use behavioral data to understand how people shop for food. For example, if they’re buying ingredients for a recipe, are they looking at the recipe on their phone? Are they using Instagram or are they doing a Google search? Knowing how target consumers decide on what ingredients to buy can help inform ad activation strategies across channels.

Fair Trade Behavioral Data, Collected with Permission.

Fair Trade Behavioral Data, Collected with Permission.

Forward looking market research companies like MFour are collecting behavioral data the right way – with permission. Through our Surveys On The Go® app, users grant us access to their mobile devices for monitoring their behavior – including where they go, what stores they visit, and what apps and websites they use. It’s simple – we pay consumers fairly for sharing their data. We call it Fair Trade Data®.

Fair Trade Data® can be collected without cookies and in compliance with privacy regulations, because consumers agree to providing it. Our vast and demographically balanced panel of more than 100,000 million consumers yields a terrabyte of behavioral data per day – all of which can be analyzed to surface behavioral patterns, fine-tune consumer surveys, validate survey data, and determine the what, where, when, how and why of consumer behavior.

Interested in learning how you can start leveraging behavioral data to validate and enrich your survey findings? Contact us today and we’ll show you.

By Avani Patel

Reviewed by Urielle Corcuera

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