How much human understanding can you get from your data analysis?

Posted by Deborah Hall on the 9th January, 2019
Using just your own data tells you nothing about the customer journey before and after your organisation’s part in it.

Imagine you are an Insight Manager for a large company… Perhaps, if you are reading this, you are one. You’ll probably have large amounts of ‘customer’ data available to you. Data such as web analytics, basket analysis, footfall statistics, sales data, basket abandonment rates, loyalty card analysis, social media insights, complaints analysis… all readily available and reported frequently. This often causes your stakeholders to think they don’t need to include any direct customer insight in their analysis to help them understand customers.

But can you really get true customer insight from just data without adding layers of human understanding?

Emotion, Attitudes and Behaviours need longer-term thinking.

In your role, how often do you come across stakeholders who think they can use some sales data or web analytics to evaluate their idea and that this is enough to base decisions on? Frequently this leads to short-sighted decisions which only focus on immediate impact to sales or visits. When you scratch the surface of this top level data, the longer-term impact of emotions, attitudes and behaviour become apparent.

When a potential customer is considering a purchase, our theory is that they Think, Feel then Do.

Data analysis alone can only illuminate the last part of this. It can tell you what people are doing, but can it tell you why? It certainly can’t tell you how emotions and feelings influence your customers’ decision making.

Human Understanding should be at the very heart of your insight.

Customer data is very inward-looking. Using just your own data tells you nothing about the customer journey before and after your organisation’s part in it.

What mission were they on?
Which triggers caused the need?
How did they find you?
Why did they visit you?
Where else did they go?
What did they do next?
Do they feel they made the right decision?
How did they feel at different stages of the purchase journey?
How difficult was the decision? How important was it to get it right?
What role did your brand play on influencing their decision making?
What were the critical factors that made them buy from you, forget you or reject you?

It’s not just about customers. Non-customers are important too.

What about those that look at your products but don’t buy? If you could understand why they don’t buy then you could increase your conversion rate to sale significantly.

I also question whether data analysis is really looking at customers, or is it just visitors? Can you sort the wood from the trees?

For example, you can easily explore the total number of people who visited your stores or websites. However, understanding the reasons why they visited and why they did or didn’t purchase is much more critical to improving the brand experience, or being able to make strategic change to improve sales conversions.

Got brand advocates? Lucky you! What are they thinking and doing?

Of major value are the advocates of your brand, those who have some emotional attachment to your product or brand. Their views, opinions and feelings are very powerful.

They are frequently referred to as ‘low hanging fruit’; i.e that you should focus on them to increase sales faster. Brands need help with insight to enable them to fully value their customers at a human level, because, quite simply, understanding how humans feel and connect to a brand, product or service will lead to stronger and more reliable products and marketing.

Create change through understanding.

By understanding your customers we can help you identify small nudges which add significantly to your sales. Adding more human understanding to your brand assets will help you to capitalise on them. We use our experience of neuroscience and behavioural economics to interpret insight from both analysis and research surveys to help you understand how to influence emotion and behaviour. This understanding can help you create experiences that make it easier for customers to choose products and buy, whether they are online or in store.

Combination Tactics: merge different sources of info to achieve brilliance.

Incorporating analytics tools with human understanding gathered from the more conventional types of market research, neuroscience and behavioural economics will produce a complete understanding of the people who buy your brands, or visit you (whatever the channel). How can a business understand the feelings that drive decisions & shoppers’ often irrational behaviour by solely using database analysis? How can you hope to prioritise changes without this insight?

Human understanding makes sense!

Meet the Author: Deborah Hall
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