Six Easy Ways to Get Started in Behavioral Targeting

I got email this morning from an editor at Circulation Management asking for clarification on some of the points from the presentation at the Circulation Management show in Chicago a few weeks ago, and since I was writing up some thoughts for her, I thought I’d put them here, too. Enjoy!

Behavioral Targeting: Six Easy Ways to Get Started

  1. Read your reports for meaningful segments

    Chances are, you’re already collecting data that, when analyzed and applied, could optimize customers’ experience as well as your revenues. Most analytics platforms can tell you about new vs. returning visitors, and can usually further break the latter group down into first-time buyers vs. repeat customers. Chances are also pretty good that each of these groups is behaving somewhat to very differently on your site, and if you don’t figure out what works best for each, you’re leaving money on the table.

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  2. Traditional direct response tactics still work

    Behavioral targeting and marketing approaches are heavily borrowed from the domain of direct response. Meaningful segments, appealing offers, and consistent remarketing are all part of a well-rounded practice.

  3. Focus on your easy-to-segment audiences

    Sometimes you can spot a useful segment, but actually breaking it out for targeting purposes may be trickier than you expect. (Geotargeting falls into this category for many sites). Unless you’re a black belt behavioral marketer and there’s nowhere else to turn for optimization, you probably have lower-hanging opportunities to pursue. Think in terms of both providing the biggest returns and taking on the least daunting setup to find the hidden treasure on your site.

  4. Start wide and optimize campaigns

    It’s likely that you can realize substantial gains in your success metrics by thinking at a high level about audience characteristics, and then monitoring more granular groupings for meaningful patterns. Most of the groupings you follow in any given campaign won’t perform in a way that bears statistically significant differences to your control group, but the ones that stand out can always be segments in a future campaign.

  5. Match message with media and audience

    The beauty of online marketing is the wealth of data and control you can exercise over context. The content you display on your site and in your ad networks can be adjusted based on any number of factors. Look for opportunities to tighten your message and your call to action based on context.

  6. Test, test, test

    The key lesson in all of this is: it depends. It depends on your audience, it depends on your site, it depends on the time of day, the time of week, the time of year, and so on. The only way you’ll know what works for any given audience for any given situation is to test it. And test it, and test it again. Invest in a testing platform and process that provides you with the flexibility and the visibility to act quickly and learn quickly, and it will pay for itself many times over.

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