Using Geography and Demographics to Enhance Behavioral Targeting

Have you ever woken up at 3 a.m. in a foreign country and decided to surf the local channels in hopes of stumbling across a program in a language you may understand? Suddenly you see a familiar commercial – but there is something just a bit unfamiliar in the ad. Sure, it’s the same basic Honda commercial, but it’s as if they’re telling a totally different story, with a completely different message.

Such is the challenge with marketing a global brand – what resonates in one market may have little impact or relevance on the other side of the globe.

Global brands struggle to reach unique markets that vary in levels of product awareness, brand maturity, and cultural norms. As a result, how people make decisions tends to differ as well. Take, for example, the pharmaceutical industry. In the United States, people are urged to go to their doctor and ask for the latest and greatest product. It’s new – it must be better, these ads infer. Commercials and Web sites even offer tips on how to approach your physician with your request. Newness and innovation are king in this market. Cross the pond to Europe and marketers face two totally different audiences and behaviors. In northern Europe, consumers react positively to messages highlighting the science and testing that go into a new product. A bit further south, messages that demonstrate how a product may make you feel, invoking a much higher level of emotion, resonate with communities with a highly experiential, emotional communication style.

As marketers seek to better segment and personalize their messaging, understanding where your audience is coming from – not just physically, but emotionally and intellectually – provides a foundation to enhance behavioral programs.

Market Maturity: Is Your Market Ready for Your Product?

Focusing on price or feature set can work when the visitor knows why they need a product. They have accepted the need – and are now looking for a company that can best fit their need. Their search terms are sophisticated and detailed, focusing on comparative features and benefits. Their past behavior may include visits to competitor sites or sites that offer third-party, unbiased comparison data.

However, in a less mature market, consumers may need a level of introduction first. Based on their behavior, they may be coming across your brand or category for the first time. Price and feature set become irrelevant until they know why they need your product. They tend to exhibit behaviors that suggest they are early in the research cycle. For these visitors, educational reference content may drive higher conversions. If you are unsure of the market maturity of specific site visitors, offering multiple content options and allowing consumers to self-select their level of maturity may be the first step in building their behavioral profile.

Cultural Trigger Points: What is Compelling Conversion?

Understanding how people make decisions – the factors that influence their consideration and purchase process gets even more complicated as the “average” Web user becomes less and less predictable. Regional variation and cultural norms require consideration and localization of everything from terminology to offers. Beyond imagery and translation, successful global behavioral programs leverage insight into cultural norms to unique offers and positioning. The harried parent in need of a last-minute present may respond much more positively to an offer for free expedited holiday shipping – while a retired shopper with time on their hands may be looking for validation from objective sources and examples of others in their community embracing the product.

Fundamentally, marketing comes down to connecting with your visitors. Creating broader, culturally informed strategies will not only resonate better with your audience, but will further enhance your segmentation and behavioral strategies.

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