Future 50: Using data insights to drive customer engagement

Purchase funnel example to understand consumer behaviour

Understanding customer behaviour at the four steps of the purchase funnel allows better profiling than basic demography - Credit: Archant

Everyone knows data can transform a business – if you can use it. Future 50 members got a masterclass in finding actionable insights. 

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The Future 50 programme is supported by the partner businesses - Credit: Archant

Members of East Anglia’s Future 50 programme came together for a webinar looking at ways to use data and online tools to drive business growth - primarily by gaining a greater understanding of customers and their behaviour.  

The webinar was delivered by Archant’s executive director of data and insights, Adam Cole. “We're going to talk about insights more than data,” he said. “Data is just a collection of zeros and ones but it's genuinely worthless unless you can derive actionable insight from it.” 

Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019

Archant's executive director of data and insight Adam Cole - Credit: Sonya Duncan

This can be done by building better customer profiles, based less on traditional demographics and more on understanding customers’ online behaviour. People can live in the same area, be the same age and gender, with similar family circumstances but have totally different interests and concerns.  

“We’re going to focus on more useful data that helps you create personas that are actionable,” explained Mr Cole. “Instead of creating them based on demography, we create them on each stage of the purchase funnel.” 

Potential customers will behave differently – and ask different questions – at each stage, from awareness to interest and consideration before the final step to purchase. “The aim is to get a really clear understanding of what questions your potential customers are asking about your business, products or services at each stage of that funnel so you can build a persona and a strategy to reach them,” Mr Cole said.  

Key to this is collecting data – either first-party data the business has collected (Mr Cole encouraged every business to have a newsletter, for the rich sign-up data it generates) or third-party data from cookies or supplied by a third-party agency. Mr Cole stressed that the tools are there to allow everyone – not just data experts – to use this information to build the understanding of their customers. 

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The first, key tool for business is Google Analytics – which should be switched on for every business website. The first thing this does is collect basic demographic information such as age, gender and location. “Where it becomes really interesting is in the interest section of audience,” stressed Mr Cole.  

“The 'Interest Overview' section tells you more about what people visiting your website are interested in,” he said. “This is all based on data around where they have been before they get to you or where they might be going next. This gives you a better indication of what your customers might be interested in outside of your brand.” 

The “In Market” section goes further, highlighting those who have gone on to a commercial or eCommerce site. “You can get a real sense of the different journeys customers might be taking and how they're getting from being aware of your product to in-market for it,” Mr Cole explained. 

Other sections of Google Analytics can tease out further information about customer behaviour and how important different sections of your site may be at different times. “Properly structured pages will enable GA to show you what your customers are most interested in,” advised Mr Cole. 

Working in tandem with Google Analytics, Google Trends shows breakout search terms and queries online. “This current and actionable information for you,” stressed Mr Cole. “It can show over a period of a year where the peaks and troughs are for that search term.” 

Delving into the information on related topics highlights when there are peaks of interest in very specific topics. "This gives you a really good understanding of the questions customers are asking in their research stage and what's trending around your business,” says Mr Cole. “You can build your marketing plan to address that.” 

Further insights can be gained from online tools like Also Asked, SEMrush or AnswerThePublic, building a broader picture of customer behaviour and allowing ever-more-targeted marketing to pull people towards a brand.  

“You don't necessarily need a data architect to derive the insight from these tools - they're incredibly intuitive,” said Mr Cole. “You can use them to put together marketing plans or content plans that will put you in front of your customers in a timely manner.” 

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