Merging behavioral or observed data with survey data is not new. However, technology has given us the ability to go much deeper with this in online behavior, even at the individual level. It’s not just about a greater quantity of data, or that it is usually very low-cost compared to survey data, rather this new technologically-sourced data gives us greater diversity of information that can open doors to important new insights.
Think about this: you want to know more about your website visitors. Using a survey, you can learn their core demographics. You can identify what they wanted to accomplish by visiting your website. You can measure overall satisfaction and their perceptions and impressions of your brand. With more advanced sampling and analytics, you might be able to determine if visiting your website made a difference in those perceptions and attitudes. And you might also be able to get some evaluation of some of the elements of your website, such as navigation and ease of use.
What you won’t be able to learn from your survey is what experience these individuals actually had on your website, and how the demographics, attitudes, and perceptions drove or were driven by what they experienced. Did those who purchased something tend to be satisfied or dissatisfied? Were they happy with their purchase or did they just purchase because they were frustrated by your website? Do they return to your website because they were satisfied, or because of something not at all related to your site, such as usage or demographics? Can you link the searches that led to your website with satisfaction or dissatisfaction? Can you tell whether your survey respondents even did what they told you on your website?
By combining what we learn in surveys and what we learn from web analytics, we can create and test marketing efforts to appeal and motivate consumers at the individual level. Shoe manufacturer and retailer Crocs, working with web analytics company D’stillery, tracked their online visitors to the Crocs site as well as when they were on other websites. They identified a previously unknown segment: women who buy Crocs for men. They created new marketing and messaging campaigns targeted to these shoppers to give them the information and incentives they desired.
While this sounds very “Big Brother,” the Crocs example shows this capability is available today. And if you aren’t taking advantage of it, you can be sure your competitors are. Especially as the Internet of Things grows, you will be able to gain a true multi-faceted view of your customer – on the internet, on their phone, and perhaps even on their refrigerator or other connected home appliance.
Some marketing researchers believe the days of survey research are numbered. They argue that as technology and interconnection develop and proliferate, surveys will inevitably succumb to the greater richness and lower costs of these other methods. That remains to be seen, and so far, it hasn’t happened. None the less, while we are waiting for that debate to be settled, combining behavioral data with survey data is an important advance for marketing.
Check out our most recent blog on this topic: Behavioral Data: What is it?
Watch for our next blog on this topic: Behavioral Data Improves Marketing Research