We are all multitasking masters on the move, connected from the moment we wake up. We jump from one app to the next, send emails, texts, and make online purchases — all before we even get into the office. These zigzagging movements by consumers, while an everyday occurrence, create obstacles when tracking purchasing behaviours.

Because the decision-making process can take several days and cross various channels and devices, we must adapt our traditional marketing tactics to fully integrate analytical insights. Data on research, browsing, and mobile customer interactions is essential to remain in the consideration set. Companies embracing behavioural data create opportunities for personalised communication, drive sales, and inspire brand loyalty.

Connect with consumers

Every consumer wants to feel a connection with a brand. Whether you label it branding, experiential marketing, or community involvement, it’s imperative to define your overall creative marketing strategy and set up your programs to hit the most important touchpoints of your potential customers’ daily activities. Customers expect brands to provide unique reasons to purchase, whether it be entertaining and interactive videos, personalised banner ads, or special coupons tailored to their purchasing history.

Consider this scenario: While watching a San Francisco Giants game at home, I think about attending the next game. I open the MLB app, peruse the team schedule, and search for tickets on StubHub. The next morning on the way to work, I hear a StubHub radio ad on Pandora. Before making a purchase, I see sponsored posts on Instagram and Facebook from StubHub and receive an email with price updates. The extra push comes via a humorous StubHub Snapchat video featuring someone debating staying at home or attending the game. 

Before I even get to work, I’ve completed my consumer journey and purchased a ticket. All of this is theoretical but can be done easily in today’s digital marketing environment, as long as your customer data and advertising are integrated.

Know your data

Using integrated data to determine customers’ online habits, overall intent, and relation to your business is fundamental in any successful marketing campaign. Search keywords only show intent, but knowing the sites they look at, how frequently they visit, and how much content they consume demonstrates habit. By creating segments based on transactions, businesses can focus on areas most meaningful to customers. 

Put your paid ads to work at a lower cost or higher return by analyzing the customer journey in these five ways:

1. Integrate internal data points

Knowing what data you have is your first advantage. Work with your data science team – or someone with internal access to your customer relationship management and customer activity – that understands and can convey the information. Seek answers on what, when, and how much your customers buy. Look into location of shipped items, where purchasers live, credit card information, email addresses, and what types of marketing customers best respond to. Look further into how they engaged with your site, what products were left in the cart, and whether they’re loyalty members. These insights will help structure your message and targeting.

Timberland, for example, struggled to stay relevant from 2006 to 2012. But it managed to increase its sales by 15% within the past year by collecting data on 18,000 consumers in eight countries and analysing it over a two-year period. Timberland was able to identify problems in its business model and create a more accurate picture of its target audience.

2. Access second-party data

Talk to your advertising partners, and review other platforms and tools. Adding one of their pixels to your site can connect your website activity and marry it into their internal systems for matching to broader, categorical consumer data. You can see a better picture of what customers are doing in other places. Using this to your advantage, you can fine-tune your marketing efforts to influence verticals or categories where your customers spend time or find new customers who share similar attributes and habits.

In a June 2015 eMarketer report, senior-level marketing executives reported finding much more value in second-party data than in third-party. Not only does second-party data provide a competitive edge, but it also helps advertisers find new audiences and helps drive retargeting campaigns. When comparing retargeting campaigns three months in when they had consulted second-party data, the average click-through rate was found to have increased by 23%.

3. Fill in the holes with third-party data

Once you’ve discovered as much as you can about customer behaviours on your own site and how they are loosely connected to others, third-party data completes the pipeline. Connecting their activity on your site to activity on other sites in finer detail provides additional insights into behavioural trends, like path-to-purchase averages or overlap between competitor visitors and purchasers. Understanding this type of information creates a complete picture of the customer far beyond the search terms entered to get to your site.

Using public third-party data like Facebook profiles, hashtags people have used on Twitter, and career paths on LinkedIn help you better understand your existing customers and form a more detailed picture of the type of consumers your sales and marketing teams should be targeting.

4. Redefine KPIs to align with true business goals

Whether you run programs in-house or use an external agency, we’ve all been there: you set up initial KPIs, achieve them, and start to celebrate. But then management informs you that the company is underperforming in key metrics you weren’t even considering for optimising your programs. Whether your company uses lifetime value, new vs. returning customers, or margin loss, make sure that your programs are utilising them to some degree. Once they are, continue the internal dialogue to make sure you get informed if the company financial targets change so you can further adapt your programs. 

5. Engage your CRM, email marketing, and consumer insights departments

If you want to know more about your current customers, these are the right people to talk to within your company. An even better option? Ensure that your data pipeline is directly connected to their inputs – and vice versa. This will keep your deep customer data directly connected to your digital marketing channels, which will not only tie into your performance, but will also enable you to overlap specific direct response marketing programs into other customer touchpoints. By connecting with these departments, your internal customer mapping will be that much stronger.

Multitasking and zigzagging are part of our busy lives. Step beyond traditional marketing tactics and use analytics to your marketing advantage. Engage customers from start to finish by providing them offers they can’t refuse. Who knows – you may find yourself at a Giants game sitting next to me.