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How to use on-site behavioural targeting

How to use on-site behavioural targeting

By Mike Harris, the European Director for Omniture

We’ve all seen it before.  Going online to our bank’s homepage and being shown a promotion for the product that we’ve already had for the past 12 months.  Going online to our mobile provider to top-up our account, only to be shown a promotion for the handset that we bought last month.

It’s a well-known fact that most companies today have a one size fits all approach to managing their high-value promotional content.  There are many reasons for this.

Firstly, there is typically a marketing calendar of products (January = personal loans, March = ISA, May = mortgages). There is also the internal politics of the different product marketing heads, where one product may be the biggest seller in-store or in-branch and therefore demands the same promotional representation online – ultimately creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Whichever method is used, it’s seldom down to an objective and commercial reason.

Large retail organisations across several industries like financial services, telecom and travel have traditionally viewed their website as a digital extension of the marketing department.  It’s been another medium through which to reinforce the brand message but not drive sales  A few organisations, however, have recognised that their website is a sales channel in its own right and are managing it accordingly. 

What does this mean?  It means that certain products that are more suited to selling online are more heavily promoted.  It means that unique sales messages and creative are used online.  Most importantly, it means that that the dynamic nature of the web channel, combined with the real-time data that is available about each visitor, allows them to serve more relevant products and offers

The concept of “on-site targeting” means incorporating behavioural data about each visitor in real-time to serve more effective product offers and sales messages. It can also mean creating different online segments and serving each segment with different content. Finally, it can involve creating business rules to address specific visitor scenarios. 

A website may have millions of visitors in a given month, each with their own individual needs and interests, but there will typically be a small number of promotional areas to address these needs.  Unfortunately there may be only one banner location or landing page through which to communicate the product benefits and sales message. 

With on-site targeting solutions, such as Omniture Targeting, it is possible to dynamically change the product or the version of the sales message to ensure that the most relevant and commercially effective content is shown to each visitor. 

For example, a visitor has just arrived at a travel website from Google after searching for “European city breaks”.  The search link takes the visitor to the travel website’s homepage where there is a seasonal promotion for ski holidays in France.  This is a very common occurrence on the web.  Why do commercial websites with hundreds of millions of pounds of online sales insist on introducing friction into the sales process like this?

Another scenario might be when a visitor has completed the application process for a personal loan, home insurance or credit card on a financial services site.  The next time that visitor returns to the same website, they will invariably be shown a product offer for what they have just applied for because this promotional area is tied to a marketing calendar that has been determined months in advance – not taking into account that visitor’s behaviour over the last two weeks.

The alternative is to show a visitor who just successfully applied for your current account the next most obvious product for them to buy, a loan account for example. 

Making your website more dynamic is a possibility today and there is a straight forward business case to support this activity.  With on-site targeting tools like Omniture it is possible to track the incremental volume of sales by intelligently serving targeted products and offers and comparing this to a valid control group – for example what products you would have shown to each visitor if you just maintained the marketing calendar. 

On-site targeting can be implemented in just a few weeks and can have an immediate 5-10% overall increase in your online sales.  Which begs the question, why are so few organisations actually doing it today?

The concept is still very new and your organisation may struggle to find a champion who can own this from a project and budgeting perspective.

It really comes down to one simple question: Whose KPIs include increasing online sales?

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