Tuning into Consumers’ Digital Signals

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At the Street Fight Summit in October, sponsor GeoIQ unveiled a report it co-sponsored, Tuning into Consumers’ Digital Signals, which was prepared by Dr. Phil Hendrix, director of immr and GigaOm Pro analyst. An introduction follows, including a link to the full 27-page PDF at the bottom of this post.

What do Walmart, Nissan and Wrapido (a small restaurant in Manhattan) have in common? The world’s largest retailer, the global automaker and the restaurant “known for its wraps” are all tuning in to social media and other digital channels to reach, enable and engage consumers.

  • Based on customers’ location and other information, Walmart is personalizing shoppers’ experience, initially online but now in stores as well. With the recent acquisitions of Kosmix and OneRiot, WalMartLabs is extracting and using insights from Twitter, Facebook and other social media to tailor search results, offers, messaging and even inventory by location.
  • As the first automobile manufacturer to put QR codes on the stickers of all their new 2012 vehicles, Nissan is making information available to customers at point-of-sale 24/7. For consumers with smartphones (projected to be a majority by next June), QR codes represent a powerful new interactive channel and an important source of insights for Nissan and other global businesses.
  • With 80% of its business done during lunch Mon.-Fri., Wrapido recognizes the importance of driving a steady stream of diners. So when business is slow, Wrapido uses ThinkNear to extend mobile offers to nearby consumers – unlike Groupon and other “mass” daily deal providers, ThinkNear allows businesses to make offers to consumers within a defined area at “opportune times,” e.g., when business is slow and conditions (weather, traffic, etc.) are optimal.

As these examples suggest, consumers are using a wide range of digital channels to connect with one another and with businesses. As consumers check-in, Tweet, post, comment, follow, like and soon “tap” (NFC tags), their interactions generate digital traces that, together with location and other metadata, can be processed and mined to improve customer experiences.

Given the enormous, rapidly expanding volume of digital traces, signals contained in the data must somehow be extracted from the noise, a process we refer to as “tuning into Digital Signals” – in many ways, this is analogous to tuning in and listening to a particular radio station from the many different radio waves on the air. Leading companies and their partners are mining the data from these interactions to find “Digital Signals” that help them better target, reach and improve the experience of customers. Since a growing proportion of consumers’ interactions with digital channels occur on “location-aware” smartphones, users’ location is an especially important Digital Signal.

Digital Signals reveal important insights about consumers, from what they’re thinking and doing to their needs, interests, preferences, views (especially sentiment), plans and even the Holy Grail, intentions, expanding and delivering more fully on John Battelle’s “database of intentions.” By tuning into Digital Signals, leading retailers, brands, and SMBs are gaining important insights, often in real-time, and using those insights to improve customers’ experiences and differentiate their businesses from competitors. As they experience the benefits, consumers are willing to share even more with selected “trusted partners,” creating a virtuous cycle that other businesses will be hard pressed to copy.

While many businesses are “listening in” on social media, few are prepared to process, much less understand and act on the enormous volume and complexity of traces generated by social media, location and other digital channels. In a just released survey by IBM of more than 1,700 CMOs, two-thirds say their organizations are underprepared to deal with “the explosion of data, social media and the proliferation of channels and devices.” Businesses are wrestling with fundamental questions, including:

  • Which Digital Signals should we focus on?
  • What insights and opportunities can be gleaned from Digital Signals?
  • How are Digital Signals affecting our business?
  • How should we respond to Digital Signals?
  • How do we “channel” and use Digital Signals to reach, enable and engage consumers?

Given the importance and impact, capturing, analyzing and leveraging Digital Signals are top priorities for executives. This whitepaper outlines the status and growing significance of Digital Signals, describes challenges in harnessing these data, and outlines solutions that allow businesses to capitalize on Digital Signals in real-time. While the implications are wide-ranging, the discussion is most relevant to companies doing business with consumers and the executives in those companies responsible for achieving results with customers – e.g., CMOs, product, segment and brand managers, and principals and managers of SMBs.

For a copy of the full report, please enter your name and email below and you’ll receive a PDF shortly.

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