Fast Company

Are User Behavior Analytics The Real Predictors Of Customer Engagement?

When it comes to consumer insights, the rise of the social web has been both a blessing and a curse: a blessing because companies now have an unlimited amount of data about their customers at their fingertips; a curse because they have to figure out a way to sift through all of that data to figure out what’s meaningful and what isn’t. 

Every Facebook fan page, Twitter profile, and mobile app means that much more data about your customers. And if you’re going to win market share and better engage your customers, you’re going to have to look way beyond clicks and conversions.

Social gaming startups figured it out early. Whether it’s because they we’re chocked full of deeply talented engineers who were able to interpret complex data or because of the hyper growth and hyper competition within the social gaming industry, companies like Zynga were able to rapidly interpret and develop meaningful insights from billions of data events each day. They used customer data to drive engagement, fuel product development, and improve the user experience. 

The rise of user behavior dynamics

As more data became available, big brands started to realize they could leverage user behavior dynamics to target their marketing efforts in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even a year or two ago. "There is an immense amount of customer data flowing through the social web--orders of magnitude more than in the 'pre-social era' of the Internet," said Josh Williams, President and Chief Scientist at Analytics firm Kontagent. "By tapping into analytic platforms like Kontagent, businesses now have an unprecedented opportunity to deeply understand and optimize their customer economics. By pulling the very levers that drive effective user acquisition, engagement, retention, and monetization, we are enabling our customers to build stronger businesses by acting on real-time data insights that affect their bottom line."

Take, for example NoWait, a Pittsburgh-based startup that created an app to simplify the process of waiting for a table at a restaurant. Instead of having to tote around one of those clunky pagers that typically only have a range of 50 feet in any direction, all you need to do is provide your cellphone number. When you’re table is ready, you get a text. Once you’re finished dining, you receive a text asking if you’d like to receive discount offerings from other local restaurants. 

But that’s only part of what makes their solution a game changer in the restaurant space. For the first time, restaurants will know who their patrons are, what time they come and go, which patrons come back the most frequently, who purchases more--and use all of that data to craft messaging that appeals specifically to each unique patron based on their unique usage. 

Understanding and engaging customers requires looking beyond traditional web analytics. To optimize and engage the end user experience across multiple touch points including the web, social sites, and mobile applications, companies must instead focus on user behavior dynamics to analyze and identify deep behavioral insights from their data.

Pay Shawn's digital tree house a visit at shawngraham.me or continue the conversation on Twitter.

[Image: Flickr user Marc Wathieu]

Add New Comment

6 Comments

  • Emily Rotella

    I thought this was an incredibly interesting article - I'm
    always looking for insights into data collection and analysis, but less from a
    customer engagement standpoint and more from a stakeholder engagement and
    social impact assessment point of view. I thought the points in this article
    had great potential for adaptability on the social impact assessment side - I'd
    love to hear others' thoughts on that! Check out my interpretation here: http://bit.ly/rzUcdY

  • grahamjones

    I agree, for too long companies have looked at web analytics as though it were some kind of holy grail. In fact, traditional web analytics is a distraction - it takes companies focus away from what they need to concentrate on, which is customer engagement. As a psychologist who specialises in studying online behaviour I can confirm that what people say they do and what they actually do are sometimes entirely different things. As in "real world" psychological testing, the data you collect does not always tell you the complete truth. So, whilst I agree with your point that collecting behavioural data is essential, companies need to interpret that data carefully which means they need to truly get to know their customers.  I think the biggest failing of business is failure to understand their customers. Companies think they do, but in reality they know very little. The behavioural data we can now collect online will certainly help them understand more, but in order to interpret that data companies need much closer relationships with their customers. Luckily, of course, there are plenty of tools online that can help them do that.

  • Shawn Graham

    That's definitely one way of looking at it, atimoshenko. However, if I were to ask you what you like as a customer, that would then create a data point. And that data point would help me understand you better. Data doesn't have to be a dirty word.