Capitalizing on Behavioral Anomalies

Today is a different day than normal for me. Typically I start my day with a visit to Dunkin’ Donuts (I call it my Dunkin’ Run) for coffee and then I sit down to write. I surround myself with information, research, and statistics to find inspiration. I will troll a handful of trusted sites, I will chat with industry folks and review content posted on a variety of forums to see what topics are really getting people’s attention. But today, my inspiration sits next to me on the couch – my son is home sick. And while he plays Minecraft, I am typing these words. I realized, in a moment, when he looked at me and grinned, that nothing else really mattered to me today but this little dude sitting to my left.

As marketers, we know a lot about our customers and many of their behaviors. We know so much, in fact, that according to Epsilon chief executive (CEO) Andy Frawley’s book Igniting Customer Connections, one week’s worth of behavioral Web data is equivalent to the size of the average marketing database 10 years ago. But no matter how hard we try – not every message we send will be received on a typical day for our customers or at the right time.

Knowing what we do about our customers, and conceding to the fact that they are ultimately in control of the marketing experience, we message our customers with the mindset that it’s just another normal day – and what we think may be the “right” time may not be so right…today. There really isn’t a lot you can do about deviations from normal behavior from a content and timing perspective – but it is a phenomenon you should consider and plan for, as it can tell you something about what’s happening with your customers.

Set a Baseline – Define “Normal”

Each of your subscribers has a unique engagement pattern. Understanding and knowing that pattern helps to set a baseline for which you can compare their individual deviations to. Having a solid sense of when they tend to engage with your email, what type of content they tend to respond to, and what their purchase cycles typically look like are all elements you can measure and trend to inform your marketing decisions.

Anticipate Deviations

Life happens. Not everyone in your database is going to respond as the baseline predicts because things constantly distract us in our daily lives. Deviations from normal behavior should merely be blips on the radar – behaviors that are out of the ordinary and happen sporadically. When you look at the messages and the content you are sending, ask yourself if a blip on the radar could or would affect the experience your customer may have with the email – and if so, does it really matter?

Watch for Repetition

By establishing a baseline and understanding the blips, you can see positive and negative trends evolving more quickly, allowing you to make meaningful decisions at the right time because you know what the norm should be. If a subscriber is actively engaged – demonstrates a few anomalies in behavior over a period of months and then those same discrepancies become more consistent – a shift in behavior is likely occurring. And because you are more prepared to predict it, you may actually be able to leverage it head on.

As I curl up on the couch for a Pokemon XY marathon with my 7-year-old, I recognize that today is an anomaly for me, which impacts the way I wade through my entire day. The lack of my Dunkin’ run does, too! As my little guy fell asleep and I was trolling my phone, I started thinking about the anomaly opportunity Dunkin’ could take advantage of. My blip could be identified by the fact that I didn’t use my Dunkin’ Mobile App like I do every other day of the week, which could trigger an email to help get me in the door. And if my lack of app purchases continues, they could send me offers for Dunkin’ K-Cup® Packs or their Packaged Coffee – as maybe my brewing preferences have changed. That’s how you capitalize on understanding anomalies.

Are you prepared to take advantage of your customers’ anomalies?

Image via Shutterstock.

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