Data-driven analysis has been the cornerstone of our understanding of digital performance, from campaigns and websites, to all the components that contribute to them. But isn’t it about time we take a step back and think about how people actually feel about our content? Given that over a third (38%) of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout are unattractive, creating and intuitive and positive user experience is more important than ever before.

Biometrics’ backstory

Do customers understand our offering? Does our proposition resonate? Does our content excite? Are people even watching our videos and, if they are, what makes them happy? For all these questions, biometric testing gives us an answer. As marketers, we need to step away from the constant “push” techniques that we’ve become so reliant on and start thinking more about our customers. It sounds obvious doesn’t it? But until now, we haven’t had a reliable way of understanding and measuring human emotion.

Biometrics refers to the measurement of life, or more specifically, the scientific evaluation of human traits and emotion. Biometrics isn’t new, it’s been around for years but has mainly been utilised in the security and pharmaceutical industries.

With over 75% of consumers having used biometric technology, its presence is growing, especially as mobile phones are also featuring fingerprint recognition and face-scanning to improve device security. As this ground-breaking technology has matured, more digital marketers are investing in the opportunity it provides to examine the effectiveness of their marketing techniques by utilising high-end technology to monitor and record a user’s biological reaction to stimuli.

With 87% of marketing budgets predicted to be spent on digital by 2022 and businesses investing so much money in their digital marketing, going one step further to analyse the success of that investment is just good sense – particularly as 40% of users would abandon a web page of any kind if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

One of the most significant advantages of digital marketing is the ability to measure performance across a variety of metrics. Layer on top of this user insights and thorough surveys or interviews, and what you get is a clear picture of what your digital marketing is doing and who it’s interacting with. The real challenge comes when you try to bridge this gap by understanding the connection between data and user behaviour.

Biometric technology is remarkable in its abilities, allowing marketers to analyse eye movement and facial expressions in order to assess an individual’s emotional responses. What’s more, galvanic skin response (GSR) technology provides the ability to measure a user’s emotional arousal in response to what they are seeing on screen. This works by monitoring changes in sweat gland activity, therefore showing whether users are annoyed or pleased with their stimuli. The fact is that emotions play an enormous part in our purchasing decisions, so measuring this metric is important for brands to see how people react to their buying process.

Biometrics in action

One way to measure user interaction with a web page is to see it through the users’ eyes – not via surveys, but by actually tracking their eye movements and identifying responses the user may not even be aware of. This highlights what immediately draws their attention and where they may look first on a website’s landing page, as well as demonstrating whether a user has read the entire copy of a webpage, or just skimmed their eyes across it. Measuring time spent on a webpage is important, as most users spend an average of 8 seconds on a page before deciding whether to exit the site or not. Eye-tracking helps to identify key areas of interest, as well as areas for improvement.

In addition to eye-tracking, being able to analyse the facial expressions of audiences provides additional insight on digital content by looking at their immediate emotional responses – whether this be delight, confusion or disgust. Measuring this can help in the design of the customer journey. For example, if a user is confused by a webpage and is furrowing their brow in confusion or showing disgust at the content they are viewing, then changes need to be made in order to improve the user experience.

It was recently reported that 52% of users say the main reason they wouldn’t return to a website is due to the aesthetics of a particular page. By using biometrics to measure what part of a company’s website is troublesome or off-putting for users, marketers have an edge over the competition as they are able to determine which type of user experience (UX) they are delivering and how this can be tailored to give users what they want and what they expect.

This is especially important as only 1% of users say e-commerce websites meet their expectations every time, meaning most websites are failing to address the needs of their users. The customer journey not only includes the way a customer interacts with a web page, but also how they feel emotionally whilst doing so. If a brand’s website has been difficult to navigate and the customer becomes annoyed, they will have a negative association with that brand, which could result in audiences turning to competitors.

Biometrics & ROI

As brands continue to invest heavily in their digital marketing efforts, having the ability to track how effective those efforts have been is paramount. Measuring performance is a vital component of digital marketing, using various different methods to build a picture of how content is performing and with whom it’s interacting. Data and user behaviour are difficult to measure together, and therefore it can be difficult to interpret results from user interviews and insights.

As the industry continues to look for new ways to measure how effective digital marketing is, it seems that the answer lies within the advances insights that biometrics provides. Results from biometric studies can be used to create more conversions and purchases for a brand, as the customer journey would be redesigned, in line with the emotional response of users found within the measurements. This data is effectively the key that can open the door to optimal audience engagement.


Written by David Wharram, CEO of Coast Digital

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