I recently read an article that got my attention not only due to the fact that I am a natural redhead, but as I think its train of thought is worth a few lines, claiming that red hair is a statement, such as buying a product, recalling a TV spot or the likeability of a website.

Molecular biology demonstrates that marketing research has in this case characteristics and behaviors that are always due to multiple events and their sequence. For the incidence of "red hair" it is the specific sequence of base pairs in the human DNA and the particular approach that serves molecular biology as a tool for deciphering these relationships is sequence analysis. Making use of this method for marketing research seems obvious. So far the application is limited to the university sector, although the method provides in all its complexity apparent advantages in exploring customer and user behavior as well as the determination for interactions of campaign contacts and advertising messages.

In the process a sequence is always composed of a series of controllable and uncontrollable events, which result in a desired or undesired customer or user behavior. Marketers and market researchers expect answers to complex cause-effect interrelations, like: What behavior sequences at the point of sales lead to a purchase or not? According to what kind of patterns do audiences scan an internet presence? How can I embrace this behavior? Which series of campaign contacts leads to an increase in conversion rates? How does the usage behavior of internet users change in the life cycle of a search process?

With the proper execution of sequence analysis, all event combinations a customer is exposed to, can be used for a true 3600 degree examination. Methodically, the approach can be considered a data mining tool. Complex behavioral chains can be operationalized by focusing on the really important patterns and with classical analytical approaches of quantitative market research converted into descriptive and exploratory actionable insights.

This implies that the sequence analysis must meet a number of requirements:

  • Operationalization of the behavior and contact data → Providing patterns as independent variables
  • Results must be relevant and realizable → Immediate output of typical behavior and contact patterns, as well as modeling
  • Identification of all relevant behavior patterns → Iterative approach of the algorithm
  • Scientifically funded approach → "State of the Art" in the decoding of human DNA
  • Compatibility with various input data → Flexible adaptation of the analysis software to the data structure

As with most complex approaches, the benefits rise and fall with the choice of design and analysis of the approach as well as its adaptation to the available data.

The various fields of operations, such as campaign contact data, click paths, eye movements, advertising or customer tracking, have in principle only one thing in common - they consist of several events with a chronology.

With regard to content and the diversity of data there arise significant differences that must be considered in the application and interpretation. Theoretical knowledge, creativity and experience are at this point definitely an important asset and should be used as a criterion in selecting your service provider or cooperation partner.

By Daniela La Marca