Making Your Site Behavioral Targeting Friendly

Behavioral targeting works, but only if you send the right prospects to the right site or page in the right frame of mind. Too often, marketers craft an expert media plan only to drop prospects on a shoddy site. Now that investments are heating up in the behavioral universe, it’s beyond time to redress this oversight.

Obviously, the better the site, the more conversions you get. But what qualifies as a good site? There are myriad details you can focus on to make a site good. Yet when we’re talking about a site that’s an ideal end point for a behavioral targeting program, it ultimately comes down to building a site that’s usable, flexible, and actionable.

Ease of Use

As with all sites, the visitor experience is key. Ensure the site loads quickly and is visually appealing. In addition, there are specific factors to consider in making your site behavioral-targeting-friendly, as well.

The design should ideally be built with a modular approach that can cater the creative to traffic origins or to exhibited browsing and buying behaviors. While you may be tempted to direct traffic to the home page, it’s much more effective to customize different landing pages for a variety of interests. Behavioral targeting isn’t about casting a wide net. It’s about narrowcasting, then following through with the specific interests and behaviors that started the process. For this to work, the site must be designed with the same buckets or categories your campaign is based on, featuring logical landing pages for shoppers’ segments and behaviors.

Basic on-page search functionality is a must, of course, but you can often do better if you provide multiple pathways for navigating or searching a site. Don’t assume all users are the same. Some like to browse by size, some by color. Others by brand, price point, or type. Provide an easy guide to the products visitors want in the mode they prefer.

Flexibility

Good Web sites aren’t usually static. While you want to make sure content is continually updated (for (SEO and other reasons), you must also assess the impact of those changes on your media program. Make sure your Web developer and agency (if they’re not one and the same) are in sync so tracking tags retain their integrity and appropriate media program adjustments can be made. If you change page URLs, it’s critical to include a 301 redirect (define) that tells search engines the page has moved.

The primary benefit of a flexible site is the ability to adjust elements according to observed results. When a site or program launches, your agency or behavioral targeting partner can use action tags along the length of the conversion path to find out where results fall off. This allows you to make recommendations for improvements, but the site administration has to be flexible enough to respond. That flexibility is expressed in staffing, process, design, technology, and other choices that can make the difference between a flexible or inflexible site solution.

Actionable

Clear goals drive clear actions. When setting up the site and site analytics, make sure you, your agency, and whoever owns the site analytics have the same goals and priorities and use the same metrics. Revisit this together frequently, and use reporting to drive optimization and program changes that will improve the customer experience and boost those conversions. Behavioral targeting data allows you to do this, but the site must lend itself to such an optimal approach. Use all the data you have regarding your site. Monitor and analyze the search terms people use to get to the site and while they’re on the site, then optimize specific landing pages that correspond to those terms to give consumers an extra push toward the products in which they’ve already exhibited interest.

Advocate testing, but make sure the site is stable enough to be constant when you’re testing a behavioral targeting program. A top-shelf behavioral targeting program does the heavy lifting when it comes to getting the most qualified audience to your site, but from there it’s up to the Web site to present an attractive offer in an attractive environment.

Paying attention to site basics is key to improving and supporting behavioral campaigns, but watch your competitors as well. Monitor the site enhancements they make and ensure your site offers a comparable or better experience for common audiences. After all, the site represents your company, your offerings, your brand, and the most accessible touch point for a consumer. We compete on many fronts online but for most online channels (media, search, viral, and CGM, to mention a few), the buck often stops at the Web site. Make sure yours does the job.

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