Using Behavioral Data to Drive Better Customer Experiences


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Growth and competition in the digital landscape has caused many marketers to bury their consumers in ill-timed messages, inundating them with potentially unwanted information and unneeded choices. But, advanced marketing has evolved from buying attention to get our brand in front of the consumer to something that actually improves the shopping experience.

It’s the age-old dilemma of understanding where shoppers are in their buying journey so we can send the right message at the right time. Understanding the consumers’ level of intent at a given moment, and engaging with them accordingly is what makes or breaks our success. So what’s the most efficient and effective way to achieve this? At Jornaya, we feel it’s leveraging behavioral data.

What is Behavioral Data?

Behavioral data includes things like page views, email sign-ups, sites visited, device used (desktop or mobile), IP, location, time and amount of activity. This type of data is typically created and stored in the form of an “event,” meaning an action that was taken with “properties,” or metadata, to describe the event.

For example, an event could be “site visit” and a property for that event could be “device type.” It may help to think of events as the “what” and the properties as the “when and where.” The “who” is the consumer who took the action.

When we think about behavioral data, it’s important to understand the kinds of data we can have access to:

  • First-party Data:

    The information we collect through our own sources (website, apps, social, etc.), which provides standard information on a consumer. Although first-party data can be very useful when creating a map of a consumer’s activity, it provides a limited view. Once the individual leaves our site, we’re left in the dark. Consequently, we don’t know what activity consumers have conducted prior to visiting our site, nor do we know what they do upon exiting.

  • Second-party Data:

    Second-party data is simply another organizations’ first-party data, made available for our use. This provides us with ultimate control of the data we’re buying, and is also far more effective for targeting. Imagine knowing when a customer is shopping on a relevant site but hasn’t been to our site? That’s the power of second-party data.

  • Third-party Data:

    This is typically data that an aggregator purchases from other sources and sells as a package. Third-party data typically involves a lot of “secret sauce” that we need to trust, and doesn’t provide a lot of control in terms of understanding and manipulating the levels of data that are included in third-party applications. At its best, third-party data can provide a holistic view of our consumer’s shopping experience by showing us how a prospect is interacting with sites beyond our site. At worst, the data can be wrong, or too broad to be truly effective.

Impact of Behavioral Data

Behavioral data is so important because, unlike demographics, behavior changes all the time and transcends demographics. Demographics and personas used for marketing are generalizations or averages of expected behavior at a group level. Using behavior allows us to respond to actual demonstrated intent at an individual level, rather than rely solely on educated guesses based on demographic segmentation.

Access to these behavioral data signals, delivered through data intelligence platforms, can tell us where consumers are in their shopping journeys. It widens our view of consumer pain points and actions, enabling us to deliver better customer experiences and increase our marketing performance.

It can give us a competitive advantage: research finds that organizations who leverage customer behavior data to generate behavioral insights outperform peers by 85% in sales growth and more than 25% in gross margin. With behavioral data, we can achieve nearly 200% ROI through timely and relevant marketing.

Knowing when someone is taking steps on their customer journey should be the priority to include in our marketing data. It helps us deliver marketing messages when they’re relevant, driving better experiences and optimizing spend. And, it helps the consumer make the best decision.

Rich Smith
Rich Smith is CMO of Jornaya, bringing more than 25 years of experience leading marketing strategies and teams to the company. In his most recent role as partner and CMO at Chief Outsiders, the nation's leading provider of fractional chief marketing officers, Smith worked with companies of all sizes to drive profitability and growth. His long track record of success includes CMO roles at Ditech, AIG Bank, and Recovery Centers of America.


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