Whether you’re a marketer or a market researcher, we both have the same nagging question: What exactly are consumers doing online?
Personally as a marketer, it would make my life a lot easier if I knew when and where my target consumers were online. If I knew what websites they visit the most versus what websites they stay on longer, I could curate meaningful insights about their habits. If I knew what websites they browse on their lunch breaks and what apps they peruse before bed, I could better understand their interests.
Online analytical tools can only do so much. They provide data about consumers who visit and view our websites, social media, emails, and advertisements. These tools don’t answer our questions about what consumers are doing when they aren’t viewing our channels: What links lead them to leave the website? Did they visit a competitor’s channel afterwards? How long were they on the competitor’s site versus our’s?
These kinds of questions call for a professional market researcher.
The Whole Consumer: Desiring Deeper Data
We are craving to know the apps consumers are using, the websites they frequent the most, and the search terms they use. These are critical questions that deep down we all want answers to—researchers and marketers alike.
We all want to know, in extreme detail, what consumers are doing online; whether they’re browsing for cars, spending half their day on Facebook, or streaming their favorite show. More than ever, marketers are relying on data to determine how to target their audience. Market researchers are finding new ways to collect that data, but there’s been some bumps in the road along the way...
Recent Data Collection Chaos: Avoiding Privacy Violations
It seems that we've run into a dilemma: Many are concerned that consumers may value their privacy as much as we value their data. Nothing worth having ever comes easy, right?
There’s been a lot of chaos erupting in regards to privacy violations and data collection. Lawsuits are regularly popping up accusing highly regarded organizations of unlawfully tracking, sharing, and selling their customers online behavior. As a result, you can find countless how-to blogs, news articles, and online forums that teach the general public how to guard personal online information to ensure their own privacy.
We all want to understand our consumer’s online behavior better, but we don’t want to steal from or mislead anyone when we do it! No organization wants a lawsuit that will ruin a longstanding reputation and risk losing beloved customers. Gaining consumer trust is difficult enough, isn’t it? We don’t want to throw away the hard work we’ve put into developing a dedicated following... just for better insights.
The Possibilities of a Panel: Collecting Behavioral Data
Well, what if I told you that you don’t have to put your organization’s reputation and revenue at risk to garner in depth data about online consumer behavior? I’m talking about what websites they visit, in the order visited, time spent on each page, search terms used, and links clicked—all readily available. I’m sure you’re thinking, “that’s great, but how?”
Behavioral data collection is a new way of collecting data about your target audience’s online activity such as URLs and domains visited, visit frequency, app usage, and search terms. This technique is made possible by panelists who willingly provide their online behavioral information to panel companies. Why would they do that? Four things: trust, security, sense of importance, and incentives.
Trust and Motive: Understanding Why Panelists Give Up Privacy
Trust and security go hand in hand when developing a reliably responsive panel. When collecting behavioral data, some of the information can contain very sensitive and personal information. It’s critical that the strictest privacy controls to suppress personally identifiable information (PII) are developed to ensure the privacy and security of panelists. On top of that, you have to ensure the panelists are well aware that their personally identifiable information will always be secure and never sold to outside sources. When the panelists understand and believe their information is secure, they entrust you with their data… As long as they get something in return.
The other critical elements of ensuring a you have a dedicated panel are the incentives: making panelists feel important and giving them rewards, all in exchange for their ‘private’ information.
People genuinely like feeling important and knowing others want to hear from them. Being a panelist can potentially fulfill the need of wanting to contribute to something in this world. To perpetuate the sense of importance, and to also improve the quality of a panel, recruite panelists by invitation only. Receiving an invite to something exclusive and holding a coveted spot on a highly regarded panel is great for self esteem.
Then of course, there’s the tangible rewards. It’s fairly simple to collect information about people as long as they are rightfully reimbursed with giveaways, cash, or points to redeem gifts of their own choice. Why the panelists will continually come back and provide data comes down to psychology. It’s a combination of instant gratification and positive reinforcement. Every time a panelist provides information or agrees to be tracked, they automatically receive a reward for doing so. Panelists then learn that when they complete an action, they will receive something positive in return. Win-win.
Essentially, panelists will willingly agree to provide private information to a company that they trust and feel rewarded by. If you seek out a panel company that can manage to do just that, then acquiring behavioral data the right way should never be a risk.
Put your privacy concerns to rest and find out more about behavioral data and multidimensional panels with our ebook, The new types of data for market research.