Leveraging audience insights for better business decisions

Leveraging audience insights for better business decisions

The path to success begins with actionable data

Running a business without audience insights is like walking into a dark room without a flashlight. You just have no idea where you’re going!

Audience insight reports are critical to the planning and operation of your business. The insights these reports provide are critical to the successful operation of any business, especially one that relies on customer traffic. It’s why more and more restaurant and retail store owners rely on audience insight tools for their business planning needs.

What can audience insight tools tell you?

Audience insight tools help management teams gather valuable metrics so they can make better-informed decisions. They let businesses capture and analyze customer behavior information for planning and operational uses.

To deliver reliable information, audience insight tools need sophisticated software and powerful hardware devices.

Here’s a list of popular audience insight metrics:

  • Foot traffic: Counts the number of persons that are on-site at any given time.
  • Length of stay: Calculates how long people spend in a monitored area.
  • Time spent waiting: Calculates how long someone spends waiting for service.
  • Attention span: Detects when and how long a person is engaged with an object or advertisement.

It’s important to note the reports generated by audience insight tools can be flawed unless the data is processed and analyzed using software enhanced with AI.

Software solutions that use AI generate more accurate metrics that better reflect real-world activity. This means you can trust your audience’s insight reports to inform and guide future business decisions.

Audience conversions per age range

Making business decisions based on custom audience insights

Knowing what goes on in customers’ minds is the holy grail of retail management. By understanding what motivates shoppers and guests, businesses can adjust their offerings and optimize the customer experience.

Here are some of the benefits…

  • Increased return visits: Customers who receive better service are happier. These are the customers who will return again and again, improving the business’ bottom line.
  • Fewer product returns: Better-informed consumers tend to be more satisfied with their purchases. This means fewer product returns which leads to lower operating costs.
  • Bigger sales receipts: The longer shoppers and guests spend on-site, the more they will buy. There is a direct correlation between time spent on-site and the size of the sales receipts.
  • Greater popularity: Foot traffic metrics are a perfect indicator of a business’ appeal. The more visitors you get, the greater the potential revenue. The trick is to take advantage of good traffic statistics to generate more sales.

What makes a good audience insight platform?

When you combine multiple audience insight tools, you end up with a platform that can deliver in-depth and actionable business metrics. Every business activity can benefit from reliable audience insights. However, it won’t happen unless you have the right tools for the job.

Audience insight platforms require two components. There is the software that collects and processes the data, and the hardware needed to acquire it.

The hardware

Capturing audience insights requires an endpoint device (typically a PC, Android device, or System-on-Chip screen) connected to a digital camera. To be effective, each endpoint device must be networked to a physical or virtual computer-vision server.

The software

You need the right software to store and process the data captured by each endpoint device. Since the task requires analyzing visual data, you need computer-vision software. However, not all computer-vision solutions are equal. The most efficient and accurate solutions will use AI to produce the best results.

And since audience insight platforms use cameras, there is a need to respect the public’s privacy.

About privacy…

Any analytical tool that relies on cameras to acquire its data must be designed in such a way that no personal information is ever captured or stored. Because they require computer-vision technology, you should only consider audience insight tools designed with privacy in mind.

To better understand how computer-vision works, let’s review the data capture and analysis process.

  • Cameras installed in retail stores, restaurants, and other high-traffic areas detect shapes and movement as people walk by. The endpoint devices they are connected to analyze and tag these video streams in real-time before sending the information to a remote server.

At this stage, there should be no personally identifiable data stored on the device. This is a must if we are to respect privacy rights. Any analytical tool that fails this test should be avoided at all costs.

  • The computer-vision software running on backend servers classifies the data and generates audience insights reports. The most accurate of these solutions will use AI algorithms to generate audience insights in real-time.
  • Popular audience insights metrics are based on:
    • Demographic profile: Gender, age range,
    • Activity: Audience’s length of stay, field of view, attention span, engagement

You should be aware that many countries have enacted privacy laws that regulate how audience insight tools can behave. You should be familiar with local regulations before using or deploying any such technology.

Improve the audience’s experience

Advertising and brand managers can use audience analytics to improve audience engagement by determining how many times viewers have been exposed to content before they lose interest. Having the ability to switch content and deliver a more organic viewing experience helps keep the programming more interesting, which helps drive engagement throughout your campaign.

Visitor waiting time in line

How can audience insights help my business?

It’s all about knowing how your audience behaves and what they like. Once you understand these key factors, you can make better decisions.

Here are some scenarios where audience insights can play a positive role.

Out-of-Home ad campaigns

Cameras installed above digital signage screens can track the audience’s engagement and identify the most popular and effective ads. Audience insight tools can also perform more advanced analysis and even change the digital signage programming on the fly based on the audience. A retail store’s digital signage software connected to such a system could automatically adapt the content being shown to the profile of the person that is looking at the screen.

For example, the digital signage system can present different ads to male and female viewers, or to viewers of the same gender but of a different age.

Quick Service Restaurant drive-through menus

QSRs are deploying outdoor LED screens at drive-through entrances to serve an ever-growing number of customers. Drive-through dining became very popular during the pandemic. It’s why restaurant owners invested massively in technologies that help customers place their orders and pick up their meals as quickly and efficiently as possible. Drive-through menus are now more compelling than ever before with animated content and real-time menu changes.

This is another area where audience insights are taking an important role.

Cameras mounted on or near LED screens capture information about each vehicle as it approaches the drive-through. Basic computer-vision systems use cameras to perform vehicle detection or customer counts. Meanwhile, more advanced audience insight tools can do more like suggesting menu items to returning customers.

Retail store layouts

High-traffic environments like retail stores can benefit greatly from audience insight reports. Strategically located cameras can detect shoppers’ traffic patterns within the store. Audience insight reports help identify “dead zones” so store management can take action. This information is invaluable to interior designers and merchandisers.

Audience insight reports can do much more:

  • Identify choke points that slowdown in-store customer traffic.
  • Highlight areas of interest where customers spend more time handling and inspecting products.
  • Point out the most used entrances and exits in very large stores.
  • Reveal the promotional areas that are the most popular with shoppers.

Human resource management

Tracking shopper activity can lead to useful insights into HR activities. Consider the “time spent waiting for service” metric that tells us a lot about staffing levels and employee performance. Shoppers who get serviced faster will have a better impression of the store, and they will be more inclined to visit again.

A true measure of customer satisfaction is related to checkout queues as stores that properly manage their checkouts usually get better customer ratings.