The fundamental things marketing professionals want to learn about customers online are similar to what we want to learn offline. For example, we would like to understand and refine our target segments. We would like to better understand the customer journey, demographics, psychographics, consumer behaviour and decision making process, how best to differentiate, propensity to buy, seasonality factors etc. Similarly to direct mail, the web can provide you with timely data to demonstrate and quantify the effectiveness of campaigns.
We have a feedback mechanism through analytics that can tell us whether or not we are on track with our marketing objectives – provided the data is treated in the correct manner (e.g. ‘comparing apples with apples’). As the ability to measure online activity with analytics increases we can also learn additional things about our customers relating to buying behaviour. For example:
- Understanding the language that customers use and where they are in the buying cycle by examining the keywords that they use to find the site and search its contents;
- Watching what customers do versus what they say;
- Learning what offers visitors respond to best. Small changes to a web page can make big differences in results;
- Using visitor behaviour information to create targeted offers, identify the propensity to purchase and estimate the sales pipeline.
Successful companies who are ahead of the pack are now investing in learning about and understanding the online customer. They realise that converting digital data into insights has currency. As customers become more empowered the emphasis will be on understanding the individual in real time and responding accordingly.
Further reading on the shift to data-driven marketing and the implications of the empowered consumer can be found in the IBM CMO Study