How To Use Consumer Digital Footprints to Personalize Services

How To Use Consumer Digital Footprints to Personalize Services

Digital footprints are highly sought after by businesses because that information helps them understand their consumers’ online activities. Thus, they are afforded an opportunity to tweak their services to better suit their customers’ needs. But with data privacy concerns rising, it’s critical for companies to navigate this process in a safe and ethical manner. take measures to protect their customers’ data from breaches.

What’s ahead: In this article, we’ll cover the different types of digital footprints, how businesses can use them to their advantage, and how organizations can leverage digital footprints securely and with compliance.

What is a digital footprint?

A digital footprint is the data left behind from someone’s online activities. Examples of digital footprints include:

  • Social media activities
  • Web browsing
  • Health information
  • Travel patterns
  • Location maps
  • Mobile device use, photos, audio, video

Data from digital footprints is collected, collated, stored, and analyzed by many different types of organizations. The average person generates 1.7 megabytes of data per second.

Data brokers are companies that legally collect and provide data to companies, who use it to enhance their business processes. To put into perspective the amounts of data collected, the global data broker market was valued at $232.634 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.80% over the forecast period to reach US$345.153 billion by 2026.

Types of digital footprints

There are 2 types of digital footprints, passive and active.

A passive footprint is produced when information is collected from the user they unintentionally leave online. Examples include:

  • IP address
  • Approximate location
  • Browser history

An active footprint contains information purposely shared by an individual. Examples include:

  • Blog post
  • Information shared on social media
  • Email

How Businesses Identify Digital Footprints

Businesses identify data in a few ways. The two most recognizable being IP addresses and cookies. The moment a user opens the internet, their address is logged. Companies can then trace a user’s habits during their internet session with the use of cookies, which are bits of code inserted into a personal browser.

A slightly less obvious way companies identify individuals is to use their operating systems, browser specifications, processor, graphics, and monitors to put together unique visitor profiles.

However, new legislation requires that websites offer visitors an opportunity to either opt in or opt out of data tracking. The EU Cookie Law and GDPR require compliancy from websites and returns the power of privacy back to the consumer.

Analyzing Data Footprints

Now that businesses have information from consumer digital footprints, how do they pull business insights from it?

Advanced analytic platforms leverage deep mathematical and statistical foundations and state-of-the-art analytical techniques including deep learning, machine learning, neural networks, and natural language processing. The outcomes are actionable insights needed to enhance customer experiences, accelerate product lifecycles, improve resource allocation, and increase operating efficiencies.

Data visualization solutions enable businesses to bring their data to life in easy-to-understand formats. Interactive visual dashboards allow business users to quickly identify trends and valuable business insights. Thus, your data is in a format that’s easier to understand and distribute, increasing the speed and likelihood of organizational buy-in.

Using Digital Footprints for Business Outcomes

Now that their data is analyzed, businesses can use consumers’ digital footprints to be innovators in their fields and gain competitive advantages. Having a thorough understanding of their customers’ needs and wants, companies have a better opportunity to meet expectations, ensure a dynamic experience, avert negative feedback, grow their customer base, and increase sales. Overall, understanding consumers’ digital footprints will allow businesses to provide a better, more personalized customer experience.

Here are a few ways businesses leverage digital footprints to create competitive advantage:

  • Identifying trends
    • Business users will clearly and quickly be able to identify trends, illuminating what is working and what’s not
  • Marketing
    • To create robust customer profiles
    • To create UX personas
    • Omnichannel marketing – Digital footprints can help businesses fuse together information on a customer across multiple channels, tailoring in-stock locations options, fulfillment, delivery, and streamlining the shopping experience process
    • The data marketers gather can be analyzed to understand product and technology performance, as well as the purchasing power of consumers, allowing companies to improve the customer experience and customer needs quicker
  • Advertising
    • By delivering targeted messages to their demographics, ads are more effective
  • Prevention
    • Authenticating identity through your digital footprint helps companies to offer security with purchases and approve transactions; red flag warnings alert to fraudulent transactions resulting in denial
    • For security purposes, the same principle applies to account creation
  • Improve experience for returning customers
    • With information about past visits, companies can offer dynamic content in real time affording them the opportunity to make subsequent customer visits easier, i.e., shopping cart info and tailoring product specifications based on past activity

Keeping Data Secure

Consumer data is a valuable resource and should be treated as such. Enterprise data management services provide a centralized governance and management model to ensure a streamlined, standardized system for organizations to effectively create, integrate, disseminate, and manage data. Having a data management strategy will help your organization handle consumer digital footprint information with compliance, safety, and accuracy.

Here are a few other measures companies are taking to protect their customers’ data from cybercriminals and breaches:

  • Restricting employee access
  • Performing audits and testing systems regularly
  • Updating plugins
  • Helps reduce vulnerability and protect consumer data from breach by hackers
  • Installing Patches
  • Detects malware through assessment tools and automated software
  • Installing firewalls
  • Utilizing SSL encryption
  • Training employees to recognize, prevent, and react to cyber-attacks or breaches

Digital Footprints for Personalized Experiences

Businesses collect and store massive amounts of data, much of which comes from digital footprints. In turn, companies use this information to enhance their marketing, advertising, customer service, and decision-making efforts. With data, businesses can strive to improve their level of service and quality of products. The rise in data privacy concerns and cybercriminal activity has led many companies to strengthen their data security protocols. Consumers and businesses alike need to be sensitive when it comes to digital footprints. Consumers must be cognizant as to what they share online, while businesses must be intentional about the way in which they manage that data.

To learn more about harnessing your consumers’ data responsibly, check out Apexon’s Data Visualization services and Apexon’s Data Management services.

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