Don’t just tempt your client. Don’t just engage him. Marry him.

You don’t want your client, your audience, your customer to be a one-night stand, do you? You want to be partners for life — well, at least till the big divorce. But in meantime you want to have a great relationship. You want him to choose for you, to sign the dots, and to be happy he fell into your arms.


Marketing usually shows you how to make sure he doesn’t swipe left when he comes across your gorgeous appeal. But what happens when you’ve got that date? I hope you don’t just K.I.S.S.. It is called date because you start collecting data[1], after all.
In a romantic relationship you will start using that data. It will inform your choices, your actions, your decisions. You will not stop at charming, trying to appeal or attract, you will want to engage that new partner. The aim being to keep that other person happy and close to you.

Why would a relationship with your audience be any different? Every interaction you have with a client gives you data. The puzzle is what to do with all that data. How will you make sense of demographic data, mobility data, satisfaction survey results, spending figures, weather data, further details and correlations ending up in on a mountain of data?
Well, you show them to your relationship guys: the data imagineers.


We have a special way of looking at data. We like to fire seven categories of questions to understand customer behaviour. We conveniently gave them all names that start with an E and called it the 7E-model.


This may be the most obvious thing to look at: what motivates people.


  • Enthuse: that’s me!

If you ask people for their motivation to visit a shopping mall for instance, they will most likely come up with what we call ‘intrinsic motivation’: I do my shopping there because “I like the crowd/the ambiance/the practicality/the… ” You can fill in the dots however you like. The important part to take away here is that people identify with the action. “I like these kind of things. This is who I am.” Similar to this is the exclamation: “I find exactly what I need there” (autonomy) and “I can fit this in best with my life” (control).
We all like to do things because they were most suited for us, our goals and our needs. It enthuses us to feel personally connected to our actions. So yes, that could be a perfect reason.
However, modern behavioural insights have shown again and again that this is certainly not always true. It seems that I usually don’t really think about what I do. I just do it.
More often than not we just did something semi-automatically, without giving it a lot of thought. We just hop in the car and drive to the supermarket like we often do at 6 pm without even considering that the vegetables we want are available right around the corner. We often seem to attribute our deeds to our intrinsic motivation when we are asked for it, even when we not really chose for that behaviour knowingly.

When investigating, keep in mind that asking for people’s motivation directly may deliver answers that do not correspond with reality.

  • Encourage: I won!

Do we choose ‘extrinsically’ then? Checking what would benefit us most? Where we can get the best sales, the best extras, the finest discounts? True, we again like to think of ourselves as economical creatures who spend our money in the best way possible… But again, more often than not, we did not compare prizes or discounts at all. The mere idea of having chosen a store that has a great money-value ratio often suffices. And yes, we can be persuaded by the idea of having struck a bargain. It can indeed encourage us to try something, to act… it can tip us.

When investigating, aim to understand the perception of winning than the actual profit.

  • Engage: I’ll have what she’s having!
The Toilet Paper Frenzy early 2020 was a great example of imitation behaviour (Shared on Facebook)

On a lot of occasions, it seems we do what we do … because those around us do it as well. Our friends, our family, our colleagues, our peers told us about that mall, about that shop. They may have joined us there. We do it, because people like us are doing it too. We like to imitate, follow, join, copy the behaviour of those groups we identify with, even to the point where we compete with them. We like to engage with other people, find our place in a pecking order. We are, after all, social beings. And social motivation is one of the most important drivers.

When investigating, ask questions to understand with who our clients/customers identify and what those do.


People are nudged, pushed, led in a certain direction without their focused or conscious assessment. Automatic behaviour is initiated by a multitude of factors we like to collect in three more groups:

  • Enable: the path of least resistance
The well known Eye Level is Buy Level stems from the Enable principle. (©Envato)

Put up a threshold on the left and take one down on the right and we will all walk to the right. We love to take the road with least friction or trouble. And yes, pointing in one direction instead of the other is already a way of redistributing thresholds: I takes energy to evaluate the advice and to go against it. This does not mean that we can’t go upstream — we sure can — but the lower our energy level, the more pressed in time and mental bandwidth, the more chance people will take the path of least resistance, the easiest way, the way that enables us most.

When investigating, aim to understand the journey of the purchase, of the engagement. Collect data about the number and complexity of the steps that go into our preferred action and the competitive action.

  • Enlighten: keep it simple

The same goes with information. The more you let me read, the less chance I will actually dig into it, especially if you are using loads of data and formulas. Cut to the chase. Tell me what I need to do. Cluster the information. Simplify it. Highlight. Be concrete. To quote the title of a popular book on web usability: don’t make me think.

When investigating, aim to understand how clients/customers interact with the communication tools presented to them.

  • Exemplify: walk the talk

Nothing says “Don’t eat that” more than the host refusing to eat with you. You need to show you believe in your product and go all the way to show that. We want to see you and people we believe in do what you want us to do.

When investigating, look for contradictory or confusing messages or interactions that prove the consistency or expose the lack of it.

Dracula’s refusal to dine and drink with him, made Jonathan Harker quite uneasy from the start (©American Zoetrope)


  • Experience: how does it feel?

The pièce de résistance is the experience of the action itself. How does it feel when we act like you want us to? Does it make me happy? Will I be tired, cold or too hot? Will it be damp and smelly or bright and fresh? Will I be able to marvel and have fun or will it be a boring trip? What will it tell me about myself? Will I feel like I am in a cheap place for my standards or will I feel like I am way over my head? Will I feel like I belong? Will I meet other people there? Will I be proud? What will it be for me? You know, the prove and the pudding and all that.

And how will be remember that experience? We do not repeat our behaviour based on the experience itself but on the memory of that behaviour. And that memory will be influenced by our sense of personal or social identity, the words we give people, the patterns we offer them…

When investigating, evaluate what the customer journey looks and feels like, but also how he or she looks back on it.


For short: understand your partner. Understand why he does what he does. Understand why he chose for you or didn’t. Why he feels attracted to you… or the other one… Listen, look, see, hear… and understand. Don’t just wing it, but commit to that relationship with that client, that customer, that target group for the long haul. For better and for worse.

We have a nice template of research questions for every E. Send us a note and we’ll be happy to share it with you.

[1] That’s not really true, but wouldn’t that be awesome? They do have the same origin of course: date > data > datum > dare: Latin for ‘to give.
The sense transferred from “given” to “time” through the Roman convention of closing every article of correspondence by writing “given” and the day and month — meaning perhaps “given to messenger” — which led to data becoming a term for “the time (and place) stated.” A Roman letter would include something along the lines of datum Romae pridie Kalendas Maias — “given at Rome on the last day of April.”




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The Data Arena

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We mine data in search of tipping points to enhance performance.

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