The Best Behavioral Targeting Approach

Behavioral targeting is a broad, growing category that encompasses many tactical elements and vendor options. Although behavioral targeting can satisfy many strategic goals, the approach should match the objective.

Remarketing is a particular type of behavioral targeting, though people often think the two as the same. Remarketing is used to reach existing customers, people who have been to the site or shown interest through site behaviors. It’s an appropriate tactic when the goal is to drive sales or revenue at the lowest possible cost, but it may not be right for finding and converting new customers, if that’s your goal.

You must first align your team on program goals before you can define a behavioral targeting approach. Revenue targets, ROI (define), and cost of marketing goals could be remarketing goals. New to file, new customers, store locator usages, and e-mail sign ups might work for a behavioral targeting program focused on finding new customers. It’s unlikely you can successfully contrive a single approach to both maximize revenues and garner significant new customers. Some goals are just not compatible.

But what is a new customer? The answer partly depends on the data available and on the advertiser’s point of view. A new customer for a multichannel marketer might be someone who has never bought online before, someone who hasn’t bought from any channel in the last X months, or someone who hasn’t received a direct mail piece in the last Y months. There are hundreds of variations. Understanding this unique definition is the first step to creating business goals you can satisfy with behavioral marketing.

Leveraging Existing Customers with Remarketing

If your goal is to fully leverage your existing customers, you should first institute a comprehensive CRM (define) program that includes regular e-mail communications and promotions. The mailings’ flavor and scheduling will vary greatly, depending on your industry, customers, and buying cycles, but a permission-based e-mail program that draws on past buying behaviors is a critical component of a smart behavioral approach.

Once e-mail and other marketing tactics boost site traffic, you can use remarketing programs to help convert visits. Since you’re talking to an audience who already knows you, your creative approach will likely differ from other behavioral marketing programs. You might place less emphasis on brand building and more emphasis on category or product preferences to drive conversions. Creative sequencing can be used to home in on the right offers for particular customers or customer segments, even using reminder ads or orphan ads specific to the customer.

Finding New Customers with Behavioral Targeting

To target new customers based on desirable behaviors, including surfing and searching habits, establish they aren’t in the site’s current cookie pool, then cookie them and serve them appropriate, new-customer ads. If you layer in demo and contextual targeting, expect some crossover with current customers who haven’t been to the site recently. This is a positive thing; you could be creating reactivated customers.

New customers may require more branding-intensive creative approaches. You must introduce the brand and generally move new customers through the awareness and consideration phases of their buying cycle. This may influence your creative ad unit choices, as rich media has been shown to have better branding impact. It’s a good idea to include a clear site URL in new-customer ads so people can easily find your site later.

For a new brand launch or a lesser-known brand, other considerations come into play. For those cases, you may want consider the first several site visits, unless the customer converts, as introductory before you switch to product or direct messaging. It may take some time to build the data set that allows for meaningful segmentation and optimization. For lesser-known or new brands, site traffic quantity and quality may also dictate a comprehensive program, using cheaper media models to drive site traffic to later convert using behavioral targeting.

Trying to Be All Things to All People

If your goal truly is to both maximize revenues and gather lots of new customers, you should craft two separate but synergistic programs. Just make sure you also craft two separate but synergistic sets of expectations for those programs.

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