Using Behavioral Targeting for Cross- and Up-Sell

Just before the all-important Q4 selling season, we’re laser-focused on maximizing this yearly revenue opportunity. Smart marketers have some budget dedicated to behavioral targeting for the coming year, but retailers should be especially aware of behavioral targeting opportunities to cross- and up-sell to new and returning customers during the holiday shopping season.

The definitions of “cross-selling” and “up-selling” tend to be fluid and to overlap. Each activity involves directing a customer’s attention to products or services that complement or increase a purchase in progress. A good e-commerce site is a study in cross- and up-sell techniques. Try checking out of without some additional product recommendations or incentives to increase your buy. Behavioral targeting offers an informed follow-on communication and sales opportunity that can be leveraged for cross-sell and up-sell to someone shopping or browsing the Web. These strategies can significantly boost online sales, particularly in a season of goodwill and wanton spending.

Start by examining historical buying patterns. Do you find buyers of product A often also buy product B or C, either in the same transaction or later on? If so, they’re obvious candidates for follow-on ads for product B or C. Retargeting can be used to designate a cookie for product A buyers and to deliver ads featuring products B and C after the initial sale. We’re doing that all year round, though, so what makes this season different?

Behavioral marketing allows advertisers to target an individual consumer rather than a portion of content or a category of consumers. When consumer patterns change, as they do in hyper-buying seasons, this approach allows marketers to adjust in a timely and profitable fashion. Letting consumers take the lead, following their trail, then responding to cues is behavioral targeting’s hallmark.

During the holiday season, consumers browse, shop, and buy differently than they might during other times of the year. Trends emerge quickly and the response window is very small. Many big-ticket items sold this time of year are ripe for cross- and up-sell opportunities. Sellers of apparel, electronics, home goods, and more offer better, more expensive products, upgrades, insurance, or service offerings.

There’s both a unique challenge and a unique opportunity to up-selling during or after the holiday season. If an item is given as a gift, marketers likely know nothing about the eventual recipient and therefore cannot directly up-sell them. A broader strategy must be in place to provide a reason for gift recipients to come to the site so they can be identified and receive a cookie. Once gift recipients are segmented, you can reintroduce the brand and additional sales opportunities through targeted promotions or offers. There’s also a larger percentage of new buyers to many sites, so retargeting pixels aren’t available as those shoppers aren’t regulars but holiday buyers. Unique strategies must be in place to address the follow-up to those occasional buyers.

It may also be possible to target gift-givers differently if you can spot them based on behavior. Consider creating a segment of buyers who have items gift-wrapped if there are appropriate up-sell opportunities. Don’t forget other effective tactics that can be layered in. E-mail, a marketer’s best friend, remains the best and truest road to incremental sales. Using behavioral targeting to identify candidates for up-sell with the specific objective of adding them to an e-mail list is a great way to integrate two channels for a common goal. Rich media ad units that capture e-mail directly in the ad represent an effective and measurable use of behavioral targeting.

A wise approach to maximizing the holiday shopping season starts, as always, with knowing your customers and potential customers. Behavioral targeting should be employed in a carefully crafted plan to create awareness, motivate action, and develop an ongoing dialogue. In the holiday season, behavioral targeting should be an accelerated, concentrated effort.

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