“Actions speak louder than words.”
“Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.”
“Characterize people by their actions and you will never be fooled by their words.”
What do all of these sayings have in common? They all suggest that to understand the true nature, goals, and intent of people, it is often best to study how they act or behave, rather than what they say. When looked at as aphorisms, it is certainly hard to argue with. But in reality, the actions of marketers tend to disagree and contradict with all of the above, nearly every single day.
In an effort to increase campaign targeting precision, Great Learning, a leading provider in online learning courses, came to us for assistance in creating custom audiences that reflected the actual behaviors of their target customers. Our solution was to create specific threads within our TrueAffinity® model to identify when people engaged with certain topics (i.e #artificialintelligence) across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. People who engaged with each thread were then collected and analyzed against their affinities towards digital publishers and digital magazines.
Do you want healthier food choices
for you and your family?
Do you prefer quality over saving money?
How much time do you spend watching TV?
...Not much, I like to read
Questions and answers like these are apt to give most people at least a wry smile, knowing that this doesn’t really represent what they see in America today. But this is not to say that people are lying when they give these answers. For the most part, they are being truthful. This is the way most people want to behave.
And of course, when brands and marketers see research results like these and act on them, their results tend to fall flat, because though customers truly believe that this is what they “should want” it is rarely how they actually behave.
This is where behavioral intelligence becomes vital
In his book Psychology and Modern Warfare, Michael Taillard writes “With the right kinds of intelligence about the actions and behaviors of others, one can not only deconstruct behaviors to derive their root causes, thereby allowing one to understand the intentions, motivations, and plans of others, but one can even predict the future actions that the person will take.”
But it starts with the right kind of data
Purchase data, mobile visitation data, social engagement data, cookies and MAIDS, all give us a better indication on how people actually behave. Look at each data point individually and it can give you a myopic view of customer behavior. Bring them together and marketers can begin to truly understand the intentions and motivations of individuals, and as Taillard writes, “even predict the future actions that the person will take.”
Behavioral intelligence combined with data science and machine learning is the next frontier in marketing. The ability to rise above the noise (there is a data science pun in there) and be able to focus on what is actually happening and how it will affect your brand, sales, category, and marketing in real-time should be at the fingertips of all marketers.
Data offerings like Affinity OnTrack and Affinity Enrich enable marketers to understand the behaviors of their customers like never before and offer the ability to track and target those behaviors throughout the customer’s lives, not just through a single purchase.