Understanding Consumers: When Analytics and Ground Truth Collide

Understanding Consumers: When Analytics and Ground Truth Collide

Feature Friday: Understanding Consumers: When Analytics and Ground Truth Collide

Guest Post by Steve August

Recently, I was involved in a project where the client brand had established a segmentation of the members of an online community site that served as a keystone for their digital marketing program. Using data gathered from email opens, site visits, and a number of other data points, the company had established segments based on involvement with the site, ranging from highly engaged brand loyalists to lapsed members. The data appeared to give us a great map of the situation in terms of how to look at the various member segments. But that map didn’t give any real direction on why these segments behaved the way they did, and without the why, it was not possible to tell how that behavior might be impacted.

To uncover ‘the why’ driving these segments’ behaviors, a digital immersive qualitative study was designed and executed. The objective of the research initiative was to understand the four segments that had been identified and move the lapsed customers to more brand engaged loyalists. So we recruited the participants from the customer database for four segments of an online in-depth qualitative Revelation study. Over the course of a week participants completed activities that explored their backgrounds and values, as well as their shopping habits and relationship to the category, the site and brand. In a very short time, an immense amount of rich qualitative information was gathered and analyzed.

A number of key discoveries were made, but the most important proved to be that the original segmentation derived from engagement analytics was actually not that useful in terms of driving marketing activities. Many lapsed members were, from their point of view, very engaged with the brand and site, even if they didn’t visit as frequently as others. It turned out that the particular objectives of the participants were a much better way to look at the situation if you wanted to market to them.

This story is a great illustration of how data driven analytics and qualitative understanding of ground truth of consumer experiences need to work together. Data driven analytics are like a map that can tell us what’s going on and where to look. But without ‘the why’ that can only be found by understanding consumer experiences, you might be holding that map upside down.

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