Implicit Profiling: The Truth Serum for Customers and Prospects

Have you ever heard the common saying in the real estate industry, “Buyers are liars”? On the surface this (obviously) doesn’t sound very nice – I know I certainly never want to be accused of being a liar! But, I understand the roots of the saying. Oftentimes, when a buyer tells their agent what kind of house they want, they usually end up buying something different. For example, a buyer may indicate he wants a traditional two-story home with four bedrooms, but after reviewing tons of homes that fit that profile, suddenly will make an offer on the first ranch he sees.

Well, the same kind of thing can happen with the buyers of our products and services. When a prospect emerges, she may say she’s interested in a particular product – and a sales rep engages with her based on this – but she will often end up buying something completely different once she’s navigated through the entire sales process. This kind of behavior also translates into the digital world, and as marketers we can determine a buyer’s actual needs via explicit and implicit profiling.

Explicit Profiling: Ask Me and It May Not Be Correct

Explicit profiling is when marketers ask customers for information such as location, job title, budget, etc., and this is usually information collected on a Web form or landing page. Savvy digital marketers take it a step further with progressive profiling, asking only a few questions on every site visit, gradually getting a complete survey over a series of form submissions. This is where the “buyers are liars” scenario can come in to play. Regardless if it’s intentional, marketers sometimes do not get the most accurate information from these questions. So, what is the next best step? Enter implicit profiling.

Implicit Profiling: Don’t Ask, Click

The best place to start with implicit profiling is to look at the definition of implicit. The dictionary tells us that implicit means “implied though not plainly expressed.” Now, let me clear that up: In the digital world, implicit actions are what are most often referred to as behaviors. What does that mean? Buttons clicked, pages viewed, videos watched, etc. are all implicit behaviors. And, marketers can record those behaviors in their digital marketing database and subsequently act on them with targeted, personalized messages across all channels. Take it one step further and translate specific button clicks into a value in your database – a great technique for assigning buyer personas. Examples include:

  • If a visitor clicks on a button that says “New Sarbanes Oxley Financial Reporting Requirements,” then we are going to assign him to our Finance Persona
  • If a website visitor clicks on a white paper titled “5 Strategies for Integrating ERP Inventory With Your Digital Marketing Platform,” then that person will be assigned to the Marketing Operations Persona

So, next time you are thinking of asking your site visitors to answer a few questions or complete a survey, brainstorm how you could use implicit profiling to capture (truthful) information. This way, you’ll be able to avoid a situation where you’re unaware of what a buyer’s actual needs and preferences before a sales rep engages with them. This will not only improve the relationship between the sales and marketing teams, but it will also drastically improve your customer experience.

Image via Shutterstock.

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