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How to get insights into your customer behaviour (without selling your soul to Google)

Gathering insights into what customers are doing without incurring privacy violations

If you’re using Google Analytics — like 86% of websites — Google has access to your visitors’ browsing data.

And as a profit-driven advertising company (since Google isn’t charging you for their product), they’re monetizing your visitor’s data.

For many privacy-focused companies, this is no bueno.

But considering all that data gives Google the ability to analyze:

  • user-behaviour
  • user interactions
  • user experience
  • user journeys
  • traffic sources
  • conversions

And many more critical metrics, including campaign performance for your business — how can you gather similar insights without the privacy violations?

Moreover — what can you do with all that data once you’ve got it?

Privacy is paramount

Did you know that the data Google collects about all of us from their services can be subpoenaed by lawyers and even used in civil cases (over 75,000 requests for 160,000 users were submitted in 2018 alone)?

At Fathom, we’re stoked to say that we don’t collect that personal and personally identifiable information.

Your website visitors and customers are safe and secure because we don’t keep IP address activity. We prefer to track data in aggregate (rather than track individual browsing habits.)

In fact, we go to extreme lengths to ensure that privacy is the foundation for everything we do.

But just because we don’t delve into personal data, it doesn’t mean you can’t use Fathom to gain in-depth knowledge about your customers.

Rest assured, using the analytics that matter — in combination with some other key customer insights — can give you all the information you need to communicate with your customers more effectively. And positively impact consumer behaviour to help increase sales.

The Big Three: Behaviour, Psychology, and Personal Preferences

Consumer insights allow you to tailor your products and services to the needs, wants, and demands of your customers.

And the three major indicators that will point your company in the right direction are:

  1. Who your ideal customer is
  2. How they behave; and
  3. Why do they behave the way they do.

Adrienne Barnes, from Best Buyer Persona, notes that data-driven insights help you decide:

  • What products to build next
  • Which features to prioritize
  • Where customers run into problems
  • Why (and what) they buy to solve those problems
  • What campaigns to run
  • How to craft messaging & copy that converts

These insights help you find and speak directly with your community and earn higher ROI from your marketing campaigns.

But not all data is created equal.

Quantitative vs. qualitative data

Before we dive into how to use customer insights to drive better business results, let’s get clear on the two types of data you should be collecting:

  1. Quantitative research answers the what, where, when and who regarding your customers and their behaviour. By collecting large amounts of data through surveys, web analytics, polls, or reviewing market statistics, the goal is to quantify the data you collect and use the results to make decisions.
  2. Qualitative research answers the why and how. Through close observation, using methods like 1:1 customer interviews or holding small focus groups, you better understand what motivates them to buy. These insights reveal where your product is connecting, missing the mark, and what your customers really want.

It’s not a matter of using one or the other, either.

Your best bet is to form an integrated research approach by using a healthy mix of both, i.e. using the qualitative data you collect to explain what you find with your quantitative research.

The 4 C’s of Customer Behaviour Analysis: How key insights can create a delightful customer experience

Content personalization

Personalization is about meeting your customers where they are today (not where you wish they would be).

And the insights you gain from an in-depth analysis of their behaviour, psychology, and preferences, can help direct how you design and create the content on your site, social channels, and inside core marketing campaigns.

Using the data you gather, you can personalize:

  • Calls to action on-site, making them more relevant and increasing conversion rates.
  • Emails using segmentation to make your written campaigns more effective.
  • Sales and landing pages, tailoring them to the specific needs of your customer segments.

Content optimization

Using website analytics to determine what your visitors are doing on-site is one of the easiest ways to see how you can optimize your content.

Tracking time-on-page, looking at what pages bring in the most traffic, and what content leads to a conversion (whether a sale or a new lead) can help you shape a strategy for improving your user’s experience. And give you a better idea of what kind of stuff they want to see more of.

You can consider using this data to:

  • Create content upgrades that increase conversions
  • Craft pillar pieces of content to build authority and showcase your product (from the perspective of solving your customer’s problems)
  • Refresh high-performing or high-potential content periodically to ensure relevant and up to date.
  • Repurpose popular and high-value content across other channels to increase your reach and distribute what’s working through the communities that your customers pay attention to.

Calculate the customer lifetime value

Identifying ideal customer characteristics makes determining customer lifetime value more efficient.

“When you know the lifetime value, you also know how much money they spend with your business over some time — whether it’s $50, $500, or $5000. Armed with that knowledge, you can develop a customer acquisition strategy that targets customers who will spend the most at your business.” — Hubspot

When you have clear customer segments, you can attach a value to each of them depending on the data represented in your research. This gives you a stronger sense of where to push resources.

Customer retention

Loyal customers help to grow your business faster.

And the more you know about your best customers — the better you can cater to their wants and needs.

There are plenty of ways to keep customers coming back for more, but the data you gather in your research will point you in the right direction.

Data Collection doesn’t have to be creepy (or complicated)

Four ways to get to know your customer better:

  1. The simple ask: Using surveys (and the tech that powers them) to get direct feedback from site visitors and your existing audience is a fast and effective way to learn more about them. There are plenty of tech solutions that make this easy. A few to consider are Reform, Typeform, or something more potent like RightMessage.
  2. In-person interviews: Arguably the gold standard for gaining qualitative insights. One-on-one customer interviews allow you to speak directly to your most influential people. They are presenting you with an opportunity to dig into the why behind their particular purchasing habits and preferences. You can focus on more open-ended questions and delve deeper into the individual pain points of each person.
  3. Real-time user testing: A/B split tests are a fast and easy way to set up real-time tests for your users. They enable you to make data-backed decisions to optimize your content and site page elements (rather than relying on guesswork and gut feel). Experimenting with two or more versions of your copy, design, layout, navigation, forms, CTA’s, social proof, and any other element on-site — can give you instant feedback on what performs better.
  4. Passively collected behavioural analytics (without the privacy violations): As we mentioned earlier, by paying attention to not just what customers tell you but also how they interact with your website, product, or content — you can determine a lot about their needs. You can then use these insights to influence your decisions about where to focus. And while Google analytics is overwhelming and doesn’t paint an accurate picture — using a privacy-focused tool like Fathom will provide the info you need.

Newsflash! Customer feedback and behaviour analysis need to be actionable

Analysis without action is a waste of resources. So please don’t make the mistake of doing the upfront work without tying it into a project that will turn that research into results.

Here are four ideas for you to prioritize once you’ve collected all your data:

#1 Create your “best buyer personas”

Well-built (and researched) buyer personas act as your reference manuals for business decisions. But many companies get them wrong.

Here is a powerful three-step formula from the peeps over at Best Buyer Persona to help you avoid creating shallow personas that fail to reflect your actual customer segments.

Step 1: Get to Know Your Customers

​​ The most effective way to get to know your customers is to get on the phone. So send out an email to your best customers:

  • ask them to jump on a call;
  • let them know upfront the time and commitment required;
  • assure them it’s a “sales-free” call;
  • provide them with an incentive; and
  • allow them to schedule at their convenience (we love SavvyCal for stress-free scheduling!)

Go here for some excellent advice about conducting these interviews.

Step 2: Organize Your Data

Collating your “voice of customer” data can be as easy as creating a spreadsheet and filtering the feedback into pains, gains, and jobs to be done. Armed with a transcript from your customer calls, look for patterns within the conversation like repeated phrases, words, and remarks. And begin to categorize the responses based on what you see. Then you can create individual categories that speak to a specific need or want.

Step 3: Segment Your Audience

Using the data you’ve collected and collated into relevant categories, you can begin to create segments of your audience that make sense for your company.

“Create a document with the segmentation name and place the relevant quantitative data in the doc. I like to have documents for various pieces of information like job titles, daily tasks, frustrations, pain points, where they learn new information, etc. Once this information is compiled, you’ll begin to see the buyer personas.” — Adrienne Barnes.

How you choose to segment is up to you and the goals you have for your business, but a few ways to consider are:

  • Experience with your product
  • Demographics
  • Product usage
  • Buyer’s journey
  • Pain points
  • Future goals
  • Behaviour with your product
  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Product demand

#2 Personalize your highest-value pages

You can easily view which pages lead to the most time on site and convert well using your website analytics.

And given these pages are already performing, it’s a good idea to double down on that success and build in some personalization to get more insight and improve the performance.

Using a tool like RightMessage, you can ask specific segmentation questions right on-site — and then apply that segmentation data to create a more delightful and relevant user journey.

Alternatively, you can do the manual work to create your segments and customize your high-value pages to reflect your most valuable buyers’ wants and needs.

#3 Test and optimize your highest-traffic pages

Using your analytics again, look at your high-traffic pages. Then create an experiment that changes something significant on the page, like a title, heading, a CTA, length of text vs. a video, or any other element that might make a difference in how a user consumes that content.

It’s best to use A/B testing on high-traffic pages to get a good-sized data set. As you get more familiar with the process, you can consider using higher-tech tools to run multiple tests. But it’s good practice to start simple — with one.

Just be wary of what any third-party data software might collect and whether it’s in line with your privacy preferences and promises.

#4 Map a more accurate customer journey

Gaining insight into your customer behaviour, psychology, and preferences gives you excellent ammunition for creating a more accurate picture of the process your customers go through to buy your product.

“A customer journey map is a visual representation of the customer journey (also called the buyer journey or user journey). It helps you tell the story of your customer’s experiences with your brand across all touch-points. Whether your customers interact with you via social media, email, live chat or other channels, mapping the customer journey visually helps ensure no customer slips through the cracks.” — Salesforce.

And you can use all the data you collect to map that journey and then optimize each touchpoint based on your findings.

Here are five elements of a journey map that you can begin to populate using both your qualitative and quantitative research:

  1. The Buying Process: Begin by drafting the path your business intends for a customer to take to reach a goal (purchase). You can list the stages horizontally to reflect the typical buying process.
  2. User Actions: At each stage of the buying process, your customers take specific actions depending on their level of awareness. They might speak with their friends on Twitter about their needs or ask in communities about potential ways to fulfill those needs. They might read up on some how-to content on your site or watch a product demo. They may opt-in for a free trial, speak to a rep or sign up for your newsletter to learn more about your company. And then finally, they’ll use their credit card, or perhaps, ApplePay, to make a purchase.
  3. Emotions: Your product solves a problem your customer experiences. And at the various stages you’ve outlined, they’ll be experiencing different emotions. Adding these emotions to the journey map can help you address and alleviate any negative feelings and promote and intensify any positive emotions they have.
  4. Pain Points: Often, if your customers are experiencing negative emotions, it’s because of a specific pain point. Identifying these pain points throughout each stage of your buying process can help you figure out how to overcome them and reduce objections that prevent them from buying.
  5. Solutions: Once you can pinpoint your customer’s pains at their various stages of awareness, you can begin to brainstorm potential ways to improve your buying process.

Here is an example of a customer journey map from Spotify:

customer journey map from SpotifySource: Spotify

Data-driven decision making is the name of the game

Using guesswork and gut feeling are terrible ways to build your business and increase revenue. So is selling your soul (and the privacy of your users) to Google.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make massive improvements to your sales process with (creep-free) customer behaviour analysis. And use that data to upgrade your marketing campaigns.

With privacy-focused analytics and the range of behaviour analysis tactics we talked about today, you can craft a killer user experience that caters to your most valuable customers and keeps them coming back for more.

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Claire Emerson is a writer for Fathom Analytics and helps business owners execute their best ideas through courses and her free newsletter, Flourish.

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EU DPA declares Google Analytics illegal because it runs on US cloud providers. Fathom is a Canadian company, and all of your EU traffic never leaves German-owned servers.