Why you need more than digital insight – it may show immediacy but it doesn’t show intent

Digital Insight

Brands need to be aware that their digitally sourced data may not be telling the whole story

In a recent article I wrote about how a digital profile of a customer only provides half the picture I  highlighted the importance of understanding the context around individuals by utilising additional data sets such as geo-demographic segmentation data (age, postcode, salary, etc).

Now I’d like to take the time to delve further into this concept and consider what not understanding the context and narrative around an individual may actually look like. In particular what digital insight may seem to be telling you compared to what is actually going on.

Confused? I’ll explain. The influx of data into the marketing industry over the past 10 years has been well documented. Data has always been important but now the digital marketplace and the changing behaviours and habits of consumers has created a veritable deluge of digital data – all ready to be chopped up analysed and used to create digital insights.

These insight can of course take many forms, for example: ‘person X did action A or visited website B so he must be interested in product K’. Likewise it can seem to offer a clear option for your next step:

‘Person X visited our website numerous times. They browsed numerous pages and also like our Facebook page. We should send them a discount by email or make them the subject of a retargeting campaign.’

Seems sensible right? Yes, this is a standard method of using online data – and yes, compared to simple non-targeted advertising it can seem quiet sophisticated. But as competition for advertising increases (and competition for your media buying pennies increases) the need to be more and more efficient with your spend increases as well.

The crux of the issue is that just because you have an understanding of that behaviour without the contextual information around that person and those touchpoints you’re unable to create an intelligent interaction. One based on who they actually are. You’re unable to predict intent and focus your attention on people who are more likely to be in the market for your product – and people to whom your messages are actually relevant.

Consider for instance a programmatic campaign for a luxury car company. (You know the one, it’s normally red and has a rearing horse on the badge…)  Well that brand has many adoring fans. Fans who love the cars and positively inhale content, images and marketing material for that brand.

Digital insight

Digital Insight doesn’t mean you understand intent – there are multiple factors that create the context around an individual or an interaction

They’ve probably visited the website and they are almost definitely following them across social media channels. Chances are they’re subscribed to all the company’s email comms.

It doesn’t mean they are ever going to be in a position to buy a car.

Were the digital marketers of that luxury car brand to treat each person they had an interaction with as a prospective customer they would be wasting a significant amount of effort and money on people who have aspirational intent rather than realistic intent.

What’s relevant in the luxury car example is that an understanding of something outside the digital spectrum (or your interactions with that individual) is required in order to ensure marketing adverts are more accurately focused.

The same can be said about holidays, house buying, credit cards, and retailers – and it’s not just a cost and wealth differentiator. What about individuals who live nowhere near a branch of a particular store? Are they more or less relevant than someone who lives in the same town as a soon-to-open outlet?

And then there’s the financial sector. Brands have a responsibility to try all that they can to ensure ads for financial services products are only shown to people who are actually eligible for them. Not only is it a waste of marketing spend but it is also a very negative experience for someone who clicks on an ad but is turned down.

What contextual data allows marketers to do is have a better understanding of the likely person behind an online profile in order to enhance the digital data you already have about them; increase the efficiency of your media buying; and the effectiveness of your marketing.

Digital data alone isn’t always enough – to get the full picture you need to take a good look at your product suite, the audience you are aiming for and the potential reasons why someone may be interacting with your brand. Don’t spend money on people who are never going to buy your products.

It’s a worse experience for them (receiving irrelevant comms) and it’s a waste of your money.

Experian Marketing Services helps bring brands and customers closer together.  Using our own industry data and analytical expertise we can help businesses build up an accurate and actionable understanding of their customers.