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3 New Ways Companies Are Influencing What You Think (and Buy)

August 27, 2014

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Concerned about how companies might use all of that personal information about you they are collecting?  What today’s most progressive companies—what I call “Big Social Mobile Enterprises”—are doing with it goes far beyond what most people think—and what most people even think possible.  Here are three of the ways that today’s most progressive companies are using this information to not only influence your decision-making processes, but also increase their bottom line:

  • They customize discounts based upon individual characteristics.  This year, predictive marketing, or marketing based upon a consumer’s specific preferences, behavior, and social relationships, has been the rage.  But it has quickly become just the new-normal.  Progressive companies are using these consumer specific preferences to adjust not only the specific products and services they offer to each consumer, but also the price, frequency, and duration of specific discounts based upon each individual’s predicted propensity to buy.  If you have a habit of quickly moving through the purchasing process online, these companies will mark you as an easy sale and offer fewer discounts to you in the future.  This is done by comparing the path taken by each individual consumer during the purchasing process to the ideal path the company wants each consumer to follow—the one that yields the highest close rate and maximizes revenue and profit.
  • They use where you are to change tactics.  There used to be a great divide between digital and physical locations that a consumer frequented, but smart companies have learned that their ability to influence consumer behavior is maximized when they touch consumers at critical intersections of the two.  Ever been told not to go food shopping when you are hungry?  Same theory.  Consumers who can be targeted with specific offers just as they enter a competitor’s store, when they turn off an exit ramp on the highway, or even while they are engaged in showrooming, are more susceptible to counteroffers or different combinations of incentives.  The technology necessary to influence consumers in these moments ranges from intelligent antennae that interrogates and broadcasts to any device in their area to Wi-Fi networks that report back consumer search criteria for analysis and mobile applications that monitor and report on the consumer smartphone behavior. 
  • They know what you want.  Ever start a search for one thing but quickly find yourself buying that product you’ve been thinking about getting for the past few weeks?  Smart companies are able to use a combination of search engine data, social behavior, click-through data, and mouse movements to understand what a consumer really wants even if they haven’t clearly shared that information.  Building upon the impulse buy behavior that companies have relied upon for decades, its digital equivalence relies on the combination of real-time data feedback and historical behavioral patterns to find a linkage between what a consumer is searching for and what they are most likely to actually buy.  This technique doesn’t get a consumer to buy extra batteries for an electronic device they’ve just purchased, it gets them to buy a new SLR camera right before they go on vacation—just so you have those memories captured for all eternity in extra-high resolution.

Progressive companies—or what I call “Big Social Mobile Enterprises”—are able to achieve these results by integrating digital initiatives, such as their social media, mobile technology, and internet activities, into each other and into their core business processes.  The information gleaned from the resulting big data allows them to understand not only the larger trends associated with their consumer base, but also the unique and specific opportunities that exist with each individual consumer or customer they encounter.

Watch: Are you ready for big data?

This usage of big data to make both better strategic decisions for large market segments and better tactical decisions for each individual member of a community flies in the face of its predominant usage—identifying trends that can then be applied to larger customer groups.  But it is precisely this ability that makes big data so big, and so confusing.  The benefits of doing this?  More on that next time…

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About The Author

David F. Giannetto helps organizations leverage information—providing both the technology and methodology necessary to create, understand and utilize it to improve performance. Widely respected as a thought-leader in the areas of business intelligence, enterprise performance management, information management and analytics, he has led some of the most complex information-driven initiatives for today’s leading brands. He is author of two books, including The Performance Power Grid (J.Wiley & Sons, 2006), one of today’s leading performance management methodologies. He is SVP of Performance Management for Salient Management Company.

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