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Using Big Data To Learn Consumer Habits

Date published: June 11, 2015
Last updated: June 11, 2015

It’s here—welcome to the “age of disruption.” Every day, consumers are bombarded with dozens (if not hundreds) of marketing messages from brands all vying to earn their consumers’ mindshare and subtly shift attitudes, behaviors and buying decisions.

It’s clear that marketers need to find a surefire way to compete with and beat other marketers, knife through the noisy marketplace and understand their customers to find success. But what if they stopped guessing at what worked and what didn’t?

Using Big Data To Earn Customer Loyalty

Marketers, advertisers, customer relationship management professionals – here’s a question for you: What would you do if you knew you could use individualized insights driven by data combined with an understanding of your customer’s cognitive processes and their very personal daily routine (i.e. their habits) to engage them like never before?

First, consider this: according to the 2015 Teradata Data-Driven Marketing Survey: Progressing Toward True Individualization, “How can we better acquire and retain customers?” is the most challenging question selected by the largest percentage – 38 percent – of marketing executives. Both large and small enterprises are transitioning to using data to drive marketing insights and prove ROI if they’re not already investing in an automated marketing solution. Using data to gain individualized insights is the way of the future.

I think the most important lesson I learned from the renowned father of advertising David Ogilvy was that emotional, simple content will outperform cluttered copy and the hard sell more times than not. In this digital age of disruption, that philosophy, of course, can and should be amplified with relevant content placement, real-time offers and carefully planned promotions. But how does using big data connect to earning customer loyalty?

It’s about discovering individualized insights enabled by a data-driven marketing strategy that will provide the engine needed to power your marketing. Couple that with the surprising cerebral processes of habit, and you will be better prepared to communicate via marketing that works and drives customer engagement – and revenue growth.

The Power Of Habit

Good marketing means having the right kind of message – the right content, with a solid CTA and relevant placement. Great marketing means driving customer communications in real-time, catching customers at the exact moment they’re making a purchase decision and understanding exactly what they need, when, where, and how.

As Charles Duhigg discusses in his book The Power of Habit, and as documented by NPR (carve out some time to check this out if you haven’t; it’s quite telling), processes subconsciously occur within our brains that guide the way we live our lives and complete daily tasks.

First, a cue or trigger makes us want or need something, and it fires the neurons in the brain to take action to accomplish that thing, whatever it is. Once we figure out what we need, the routine or the behavior itself kicks in. Lastly, a reward is had, and this helps to reassure us that by following this process in the future, we’ll get the same result.

Marketers can learn from the science of pattern recognition and then create compelling, emotionally- resonating messaging that satisfies customers. Decisions made in the prefrontal cortex are usually subconscious and based on previous exposure to an advertisement or some sort of content. Marketers can use this surprisingly simple, yet typically unconsidered, information when crafting marketing messages and executing them with a data-driven solution.

This also means that even if a potential customer doesn’t act on a message the first time they see it, it isn’t a wasted effort. Given today’s modern marketing capabilities of retargeting and real-time interaction, marketers can retell their story to customers with individualized and relevant offers. They can use technology to understand where customers are in the buying cycle – awareness, consideration or purchase – and then provide contextual content to accommodate that stage.

Using Individualized Insights To Redefine Marketing

Let’s consider a real-life example of how one major consumer goods manufacturer used the concept of habit to redefine its product marketing.

By reevaluating its customer's habits, marketers determined that the reason consumers purchased a brand of air freshener was not because of its ingredients or the way the can was presented on the shelf. In conducting further consumer research and working with product engineers, marketers realized that people bought the product chiefly for the refreshing and clean smell it offered when the rest of their dwelling looked nice. They understood that the product stood for more than fresh air—it enabled the customer to make a fresh home, to feel enriched.

In examining habits of its consumers, this brand understood the trigger to purchase was the intuitive need to cleanse and freshen one’s home. The behavior, then, was to somehow clean. Once marketers determined it wasn’t about packaging, the brand could refocus its message throughout all content, then execute in its outbound, omni-channel marketing approach.

By combining an understanding of the kind of messaging that customers needed to hear with a data-driven marketing solution, this product’s sales trajectory was completely reversed. Marketers tweaked how they talked about product features to appeal to customers in a different way, and it worked.

Let’s look at another retail example to understand the power of using data and purchase habits in marketing. If we know our customers individually by evaluating the data they provide, then we can anticipate what they want – that reward they seek – when shopping in a retail store.

Through the power of geolocation technologies like iBeacons, it is possible to know that Ben is at your store in the sporting goods section – and his customer data shows that he has recently researched information online for metal cleats. You can anticipate the reward he is seeking. Knowing he wants a pair of cheaper cleats and prefers a certain brand, you can automatically send offers through his mobile device.

Amidst the immense data-driven marketing capabilities and technological growth we’re seeing, the human element of habit will forever play an integral part in how we market. When an automated, individualized marketing approach driven by data is matched with an understanding of why we do what we do (i.e. our habits) marketers can catch the moment with customers and better enable their companies to drive revenue. Driving revenue – now that’s something you want to get in the habit of, yes?

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