Why Behavioral Targeting is Smart Marketing
Do you frequently ask yourself: How can my business cut through the online clutter and connect with customers? A well-established principle in psychology, the cocktail party effect, helps us to answer this question.
Imagine you are at a noisy gathering. Drinks are being served and music is playing in the background. Loud circles of conversations are happening all around you, making it hard to hear or concentrate on anything. The situation is not unlike the social media environment today, right? Out of the blue, someone at the other end of the room mentions your name, which gets your interest. Suddenly, you find yourself paying heed and able to discern what others are saying about you over the din. It seems amazing, but psychologists have long-recognized that a personal stimulus – information that is about us – has a way of grabbing our attention. Brands that want to be heard in today’s noisy environment can take advantage of this effect. Here are several examples of how personalization can boost conversion rates:
- Creating Customer Profiles: Today’s marketers face a paradox: It has never been easier to broadcast your message, but targeting the right audience is more challenging than before. As Brian Solis observes, the social media world is fragmenting. Think about it, digital users are bombarded by information, and tech-savvy consumers are more discriminating than ever. Given the present environment, how do companies make themselves relevant to the right audiences at the right time?
Brands like Pandora, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and the NFL have found a solution; they collect customer data at every touch-point and they use this information to create a rich profile for each digital user. This allows them to personalize the consumer’s experience during each stage of their journey with their organization. For example, e-mails, websites, content, offers and customer service interactions are all personalized, custom-tailored and dynamically updated to what the brand knows about each patron. Of course, this personalization extends to the products and services made available too. For example, now cars and tote bags can be customized by potential buyers at the manufacturer’s website, and sports jerseys emblazoned with a fan’s name. In fact, Pepperidge Farm gives consumers the opportunity to design their own goldfish crackers, just in case you are looking for an attention getter at your next cocktail party.
- Customization Gains Attentional Currency: According to a Forbes article by Bain & Company, consumers like customization. For instance, sites that allow customers to tailor and personalize their purchases keep end users engaged longer while increasing repeat visits and brand loyalty.
- Link Retarget Ads to Specific Landing Pages: A customer has been shopping for shoes at your website. Studies show that consumers who show an interest in a specific products or service are far more likely to respond to future ads for those products or services. If you want to clinch the sale, then make sure that retargeted ads link back to a landing page for the same merchandise category the customer has expressed an interest in beforehand, not just your homepage.
- Online Chat: Online chats are an excellent way of making a customer feel like the VIP. However, it is important for pop-ups not be intrusive or interfere with the customer’s browsing experience. Amazon is proving very adept at using online chats to handle customer service matters. Not surprisingly, responding to consumer inquiries immediately and in the way today’s digital users are accustomed to reinforces the feeling that the brand cares about their relationship with the customer.
- Behavioral Targeting + Real-Time Engagement = Results: Understanding how consumers are interacting with your web portal can help you engage with them better. If they are a first time visitor to your site, then you may want to offer them a special discount for becoming a customer. If they are a repeat buyer, then you’ll probably want to steer them in the direction of products they’ve already expressed an interest in. The more behavioral data you have, the better you’ll be at giving the customer the experience they are looking for.
- Automated Personalization: At the risk of sounding scientific, traditional rule-based personalization algorithms have been around for some time. These programs have proven effective, but they have limits. Today, AI analytic systems like IBM’s Watson or Adobe Target can comb through vast reams of data – browsing history, purchasing habits, search terms used, geolocation, social signals, Twitter chatter and devices utilized – to discern meaningful patterns and make predictions about end user traits and behavior.
Ok, that’s enough science for one article. What does this mean for business. Well, these programs learn from experience and can provide new levels of insight into the consumer. As a result, companies can target audiences and personalize customer experiences on a scale and to a degree never possible before. Companies like the Cox Media Group, for instance, are using social profiles gleaned from big data to tailor their website and content according to the interests and browsing history of each unique user. Personalized experiences like this resonate with customers because it makes them feel that brands get them.
Humans are hard-wired to respond to personalization. To be relevant to consumers, brands have to understand what is important and meaningful to customers as individuals. Ultimately, this means going beyond traditional data-tracking web cookies and instead gleaning data from social media signals to compile rich and insightful customer profiles that will help brands interact with their patrons on a more personal level.
The age of one-size fit all is over. We are entering an era where customers expect that products, services and experiences will be tailored to fit their individual personalities and preferences. Better yet, they expect the products they consume to reflect who they are. Customization offers many companies the potential for creating a virtuous cycle; personalization helps businesses gain insight into customer preferences, which means higher customer satisfaction, brand loyalty and ROI.
Today’s consumer is commanding center stage. Marketing is morphing into something new. It is about knowing customers, relating to them and personalizing their journey with your brand. Companies would do well to heed the lesson of the cocktail party effect: the sweetest name a person knows is his or her own. Businesses that can apply this principal have the best chance of catching and keeping the attention of customers.
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