Making the Most of Behavioral Data

Anyone who watched the last season of “Mad Men” saw the dawn of data-driven marketing in the late 1960s. Don Draper could never have predicted the sophistication of technology that allows marketers to collect, store, and retrieve mountains of demographic and firmographic data. Information that used to be stored on index cards and in Rolodexes now resides in databases tens of millions of records strong that allow marketers to summon data instantly.

With marketing automation software, marketers are able to go even farther and record behavioral data too, putting leads’ actions into context and giving marketers predictive capabilities that would have seemed like science fiction just a few decades ago. Some behaviors are more meaningful than others, so here’s how to make more of the behavioral data you and your marketing automation experts acquire.

Buyers’ Journeys Tell a Bigger Story

When marketers talk about a buying journey, they’re referring to the progress leads make from initial recognition of the problem they want to solve to buying the solution the company offers. Like any epic journey, it makes a great story – one that your marketing automation system can put together into a coherent narrative that includes data from any number of buying journeys. You learn about an individual lead’s choices, but you also get a good look at the wider view and can begin to make meaningful predictions about your audience’s decisions as a whole.

To get this wide-angle view, you need the right instruments. Marketing automation is a key part of making sense of behavioral data because it puts all the information in one place. Centralizing your knowledge from multiple platforms, sales records, and your CRM creates a complete data environment, a sort of virtual reality that shows you what influences your leads’ buying journeys through collection and analysis of behavioral data.

Where to Find Behavioral Data

Virtually any interactions your prospects have with you can tell you more about them, but let’s take a closer look at some of the most cost-effective and relevant data streams:

  • Social media signals: Those likes and smileys are more than a pat on the back; they’re valuable indicators that someone thought enough of your content or offer to take action. Analyzing likes, upvotes, and other signs of approval is a good general barometer of your audience’s receptivity, but look deeper to learn more. Did visitors just “like” your content, or did they interact with it? Did they retweet or share? Did they click through?


  • Email: One of the most valuable sources of information about lead behavior, email is also an exceptionally efficient way of learning about your audience. Marketing automation software can track open times, click-throughs, forwards, and other key metrics of engagement. Combined with firmographic and demographic information through data enhancement, email gives you a detailed look at some of your leads’ strongest sales-readiness signals.


  • Website traffic: Digital marketing channels are an outstanding source of high-quality behavioral information for marketers. Automation software goes beyond the built-in analytics available on certain platforms, integrating data analysis across all your digital marketing channels. Track prospects who visit your website, learn how long they stay there, monitor their interest in linked pages, and you start to build an increasingly complete picture of their interests. Blog visits, video views, or other interactive signals are even more indicative of interest.


  • Customer records: Every sales call, follow-up, comment form, or tech support call from your customers tells a story you need to hear, but it’s often a challenge to put these individual stories into a single cogent narrative. Your marketing automation system can listen to multiple voices at once and then give you feedback on the most important elements of the message they’re sending.


Understanding your leads’ behaviors and putting them into context with marketing automation technology will do more than just help you get to know them better, although that’s certainly a worthwhile goal. Knowing more about your leads’ buying journeys teaches you where to put signposts and guide rails. Don’t let behavioral data get lost; make it count with a marketing automation strategy that takes full advantage of the deeper knowledge you gain.

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