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Realizing Greater ROI From Onsite Behavioral Targeting

If you had the time and resources to personalize every sales pitch, every piece of marketing collateral, every special offer, how would that affect your bottom line? If your customers told you, “I don’t want that, but if you offer me this in a different color, I’ll buy three,” you would listen, right?

Onsite behavioral targeting enables you to customize your website to create the most welcoming, enticing destination for your visitors, ultimately engaging them more deeply in your site. So-called machine learning engines provide a means to automatically offer the most relevant content to individual users based on real-time behaviors and predictive attributes. Such solutions collect and use hundreds of anonymous data points, and self-learning algorithms can draw out the most pertinent attributes for each visitor, track activity in real time and record and cluster onsite activities. The end results are the same ones you might see if you had the time and resources to speak directly with each and every customer: increased loyalty, engagement and revenue.

To get the greatest ROI from behavioral targeting, employ it on pages where visitors choose where to go next, such as the homepage or category pages. These can be crucial intersections for those who are not necessarily sure of what they would like to see. Onsite behavioral targeting is useful in determining their source of interest and matching the experience to that interest. Once you set several distinct options, each calling for a different need or interest, the personalization engine will find the group of visitors for whom it is most suitable. Using these analytic and predictive capabilities enables you to promote various offerings on your site, engaging your visitors and encouraging them to learn more about your products and services.

Optimizing onsite behavioral targeting

Onsite behavioral targeting is a powerful solution for increasing the ROI of your website efforts, but you shouldn’t jump into it without some pre-planning. Before you start running behavioral targeting on your site, spend some time designing your approach and clarifying your goals.

What is the objective? Conversion? Reduced ad spend? To build engagement and loyalty?

Which page or pages will you choose for behavioral targeting optimization? You should seek out pages with the following characteristics:

  • Diverse user traffic and numerous navigation routes. Over time, behavioral targeting will guide each user to the best location.
  • High-traffic, high-visibility and page location such as a landing page, homepage promotion banner or category page.

Onsite behavioral targeting gives you the opportunity to test-drive some so-called “crazy” ideas. You can try out diverse variations on the same offerings if you are not sure what the best message should be, allowing you to free yourself to think outside of the norm. Select the products, services, promotions or content that you wish to promote on your site and have some fun with different campaign options.

Your next task should be selecting your conversion page(s). The conversion page represents the completion step of the optimized funnel or business flow. This may be the page where your user completes a purchase (the “check out” or “thank you” page) or a quote request, signs up for a newsletter, or downloads a file. It is the page or pages on which the target for the offering was reached.

Are there particular user segments you wish to target? Determine the traffic to which you will be serving personalized content, and choose which segments will view the optimization. Keep in mind, though, that if you do segment, you are limiting the behavioral targeting engine from learning about other parts of your traffic, reducing the overall effectiveness of the optimization. We recommend that you only use segmenting when the participating offerings are displayed to a restricted audience, such as unique content for new and returning visitors.

Three rules to live by when optimizing behavioral targeting

Variety is the spice of behavioral targeting. Running similar promotions for behavioral targeting is a waste of time and won’t help you make the most of your behavioral targeting capabilities. Don’t limit your ability to learn about your site visitors’ needs. When you offer a great variety of options, behavioral targeting is much more effective in serving relevant content to your visitors. Diversity is key!

Not all surprises are good. Preview your offerings: simulation tools enable you to preview your content variations and check out how the different offerings work on your page before you actually go ahead and run them on your live site. Don’t skip this step.

Learning takes a bit of time, but it’s worthwhile. Onsite behavioral targeting solutions study your users, and therefore, it may take some time before you see effective results. The amount of “learning time” is dependent on the quantity of traffic, as well as the diversity of offerings and traffic. But as the technology learns your visitors’ behavior, it will fine-tune matches between offerings and visitors and produce better results.

Five easy steps to successful onsite behavioral targeting optimization

Here are the fundamentals you’ll need to get started with onsite behavioral targeting:

Define your settings. The first step in creating an onsite behavioral targeting optimization is defining general setting information.

Determine the breadth of your optimization. Where and for which audience will your optimization run? Select both the page on which the customized content will be displayed and your “conversion” page or pages (these represent business results).

Consider design variations. Create the actual variations of content you plan to offer visitors, such as the promotional copy or banners you wish to display on your site.

To add these variations, you will need to define the page elements in which the offerings appear. You may choose to display offerings in several elements on your page or only dedicate one page property for them.

After the elements are added, you can continue to create the variations for each page element.

Integrate JavaScript tags to your site. Tags perform several functions, including collecting information, displaying optimized content and tracking the visitor behavior for reporting. These are simple JavaScript tags you will embed into your site’s HTML code so that your behavioral targeting platform will be able to display customized content versions to your site visitors. Remember that correctly installing tags will only maximize your site’s optimization.

Activate and reap the rewards. Once you follow the above steps, its time to go live with your behavioral targeting. You will soon realize the advantages of leveraging user data to capture matching of the most relevant content to individual visitor micro segments.

Ready to get started? For a general overview of behavioral targeting platforms, refer to the Wikipedia article on providers of onsite behavioral targeting platforms.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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