Sunday, October 14, 2012

Digital Body Language 101 for DesiCMOs

Its been 2 weeks since the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon and as I ease back to a normal workout routine, I realized I still have the timing chip still clipped on my shoe. Thanks to the device, the organizers were able to track my speed at several milestones along the 21km and also upload my timing certificate online soon thereafter (which now has its rightful place on the fridge door). Remember those sci fi movies about humans having chips inserted in them in labs, tracking their movements, performance etc...or those Discovery Channel documentaries where the implant a chip on sharks to track their behavior, patterns etc.? Now, everything is getting tagged so that the data we collect can be monitored and analyzed to make certain recommendations, decisions etc. This is what Smarter Planet is all about at a macro level, isn't it? 

A Smarter Planet is inhabited by digital citizens whose emit "digital body language". A term coined by Steve Woods in 2009 that I recently heard at a conference. I liked the ring of it so spent some time reading up about it and listening to some webinars etc.

Digital Body Language is "the online equivalent of the facial expressions i.e. how one sits, what direction their feet face". Christine Crandell had a good analogy in her webcast on the topic:  "In the digital world, we can’t see feet but we can see footprints."  These footprints can be email responses, return receipts website visits and queries, information downloads, online surveys and polls, keyword searches etc. The Connected Consumer (a topic I recently moderated a panel on at Ad:Tech Bangalore) researches and evaluates products and services through websites and online networks long before our teams get involved. The reality is field teams have fewer opportunities to be in front of prospects to pick up visual cues or signals because buyers would prefer to self educate and are less willing to give face to face time. Similarly,  the networked workforce expected their employer to offer them social collaboration tools like web meetings, instant messaging, communities etc. for them to unleash innovation and maximize productivity.   

As consumers and employees increase their digital footprint, leaders in organizations, especially in sales, marketing and customer service need to be equipped and trained to be able to read and analyze the digital body language of their stakeholders to ultimately deliver exceptional experience. How well and how quickly an organization deciphers their buyers and employees digital body language is a leading indicator of repeat sales and lower attrition.

What does this mean for marketing and HR leaders? It means we need to leverage and provide access to social tools and networks that help understand the digital body language of our clients and share with our sales and service counterparts to help manage relationships, solve problems and make clients feel enlightened, energized and special. It also means we must make sure our extended organization moves beyond relying on sales instinct and face time when they engage with clients. 

I have yet to see this be successfully executed by brands in India but if you are currently making inroads on reading digital body language, do share!


  1. Interesting post. Digital space actually allows everyone in the organisation to contribute to marketing and customer experience. And by what you call digital body language one can understand what people are talking...

  2. Generalisations, nice-to-knows. Is there anything specific you're bringing to the table, from an Indian context?

  3. Point Perfectly Pinned.

    As a Social Media Strategist,I make sure all the plans are in sync and are addressing these digital footprints or Social Media Behavioural pattern.

    My study has shown people on Social Media use emotions while buying anything, if anyone say's people use logic then logic is simply a state of being extra cautiously emotional while making making a decision.

    All our Social Media Campaigns that we do are deeply understood by such core facts which influences an average customer.

    Your words are the next realm of Digital Marketing Node but big brands seldom realize this, they need to rely on experts for such insights.

  4. Interesting Post..Thanks for sharing ..i enjoyed reading it.

  5. Nice article, Virginia. Working in an Ad Network, I see these digital footprints on a daily basis - websites browsed, campaign creatives clicked on, advertiser sites visited and so on. The challenge for a 3rd party like a Network is to be able to integrate this information and tie it all back to a single user. Anyone who owns their own website doesn't have that excuse :)!

    Analytics of your visitors and insights gleaned from their behavior are critical to scaling up or reorienting both online and offline efforts in the right direction. This is particularly true of the marketing function where you can use these insights to iterate rapidly across all levers available to you - positioning, pricing, tactical activities etc. Like the term or hate it, Growth Hacking has to be embraced by all marketeers