Behavioral targeting for ecommerce: your step-by-step guide

Behavioral targeting drives offers that resonate with the individual, anticipate their needs, and save them time. And that means more click-throughs, more conversions, and a happy marketing team.

But with all the behavioral data available, how can you tune out the noise and target customers effectively?

We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to get you started.

1. What does behavioral targeting mean to you?

Customers’ actions (and inactions) online can be used to infer their preferences, lifecycle stage, and place in the buying journey. So you can provide the most appropriate type of content and personalization based on the individual’s interests.

How you use this information will depend on your products and customer personas.

You’ll need to think about:

  • what behaviors do you want to target? – Frequent browsing? Carting certain types of products?
  • who are the customers that exhibit this behavior? – What are their passions and motivations? Where are they in the building journey and customer lifecycle?
  • and what content is most valuable to them right now? – A coupon? A reminder? A product recommendation?

2. Work out what data you need

Once you have an idea of the behaviors you want to target, you can start collecting the data you need to make it happen.

This will include some of the following:

  • Pages the customer browsed
  • Products the customer carted
  • Products the customer purchased
  • Categories the customer browsed
  • Content the customer consumed
  • When and how often the customer visits

For these behavioral targeting insights to feed into your marketing efforts, you’ll need a system that collects and coordinates data from as many customer touchpoints as possible – including your ecommerce website, mobile apps, and ESP.

Behavioral targeting

3. Get to know your customers

The next step is to capture the visitor’s email address. This opens up a whole new channel for behavioral targeting communication.

When a new visitor comes to your online store, you can present a data capture in response to their actions. For instance, displaying a registration form only after the visitor has viewed two product pages, and personalizing the offer to match the categories they browsed.

Behavioral targeting

Target customers with the right content

Once you have the right data in place, you can segment customers according to their behavior, interests, and lifecycle stage.

These segments can be used to send targeted bulk emails, refine triggered email programs, personalize web content, and even target customers via social media.

Below are some common ways to use behavioral segmentation. If you’re stretched for time, it’s a good idea to start with basic product-based segmentation and expand from there.

Experiment with product segmentation

Behavioral data can be used to build lists of customers who are interested in certain products, categories, or brands.

For instance, a tool store might have customers who are very loyal to a particular manufacturer. With behavioral segments, the retailer could send brand-specific newsletters and shopping recovery emails – so that customers get recommendations for products that are compatible with their existing gadgets.

Product recommendations

Segment by customer journey

It makes sense to show different types of content depending on customers’ lifecycle stage – whether they’re a new visitor, new customer, regular shopper, frequent visitor, or lapsed shopper.

For instance, you might use a coupon to convert frequent visitors who haven’t yet made a purchase. But this is a less appropriate strategy for frequent purchasers, where discounts could reduce the value of an order that would have taken place anyway.

Segment by engagement

Try varying your emailing cadence to match each shopper’s level of engagement.

Where customers are very engaged but didn’t yet make a purchase, you could send a browse abandonment series combined with more frequent bulk emails.

For occasional visitors, a steady flow of bulk emails might be more fitting.

Refine your real-time marketing

Segmentation can be used to fine-tune your triggered email strategy.

Imagine you’re already sending a browse abandonment program, but want to use a new program for customers looking for Christmas deals. Rules can be set so that regular customers receive the standard browse abandonment email, while customers who browsed lots of holiday deals receive the new festive program.

Behavioral targeting

Combine with personalized content

Segmentation allows you to send the right type of content to different audience groups. Dynamic content is the key to tailor that content to the individual.

For example, marketers can use segmentation to vary the frequency of bulk emails depending on engagement. Then include personalized product recommendations in those emails, based on each shopper’s browsing history.

When you combine segmentation with real-time personalization, content is both relevant and compelling.

Personalized content

Always test and monitor

Behavioral segmentation makes a lot of sense. But avoid making assumptions about your audience. Some shoppers might be receptive to all your marketing, so consider sending the ‘generic’ content to some subscribers to see how it performs.

It’s important to regularly monitor segments to see if they’re performing as you hoped. If a segment isn’t generating as much revenue as expected, it could be time to alter the composition of the group, or change up your marketing tactics for that audience.

5. Choosing the right technoloy

It’s tricky to implement behavioral targeting if your data sits in inaccessible silos.

Luckily, there are straightforward ways to connect up your data pools, even if you aren’t ready for a big data integration project.

Dedicated personalization platforms sit between your ecommerce system, ESP, and CRM to collect behavioral targeting data in real time. This data can be used to automatically segment customers and deliver personalized content across web and email.

If you’d like to find out more, join Gavin Laugenie, Head of Strategy & Insight at dotdigital, and Alistair Milne, Personalization Consultant at Fresh Relevance, as they show you how to take control of your customer data to drive revenue, improve customer experience, and strip it back to basics.

Register for the webinar here.

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