Category Archives: Personalization & Targeting

Behaviors That Matter: Personalization Based on Data

The importance of a personalized web experience cannot be overstated. In a world where customers already know their data is being mined, they don’t just expect personalization, they’ll avoid experiences that don’t deliver it to them. In other words, if my social media platform exists, I expect to be served ads that are relevant to me, and I expect websites to know what I want even before I do. After all, all of my information is already out there – isn’t it a brand’s job to use it in a way that benefits me as a customer?

Data is the key to successful web personalization, but oftentimes it isn’t used in the most effective manner. It’s vital to set up the correct set of variables that is most relevant to your brand. This can be done by looking at the traffic and engagement you already have on your website, and working backwards from there.

Ask. What patterns are emerging here? Where am I finding trends?

Look at the most popular pages on your website. Determine where that traffic is coming from, and what those users have in common. Your own first party data is the most valuable insight you have because it’s a direct line to your audience. Their actions and origins give you the recipe you need for success.

Target. Determine your targeting variables.

These should be based on the answers you find to the questions above. Variables could include things like location (are most of your users in a few concentrated areas, or more spread out?), device, customer history, and time spent navigating your website. Pay attention to how users interact with every individual webpage or post related to your brand. Mine your data and discover who is always close to clicking the “purchase” button but never does, who buys frequently, when they visit and whether it’s spurred on by a particular event. For example, a customer who visits your site to make a purchase most often around the 15th or 30th of every month may make purchases relative to pay day.  Variables like these  will help you personalize content and experience for multiple audiences.

Personalize. You know your audiences, so talk to them.

When personalizing the content or ads you serve up to your audience, testing is important. Run multiple ads, try out taglines, test headlines and subject matter in your blog posts and social media. There is no magical “one size fits all” personalization guarantee, but thorough A/B testing can help you find the right fit for your audiences.

The Art of Nurturing

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of connection between people. My group of family and friends is close and at any given moment we all have different wants from each other. Sometimes I rely on them for advice and sometimes they come to me for a listening ear. Over time these relationships have become very strong due to reciprocity, loyalty and consistency.

Each one of these friendships is strong not by chance, but because both parties invested the time necessary to build up something of value. At any given moment one friend might need more attention than another friend. In my mind I place them in different buckets based on where our relationships currently stand, as no two friendships are alike. Much like these friendships, the connections brands have with their ever-changing customer needs alter on a daily basis.

While one customer might be thrilled with the quality of service and personalized advertising/marketing efforts, another customer may feel as though you don’t know them at all. There is an art in nurturing to be able to assess where your customers are at on an emotional level to tailor messaging to them appropriately.

Here are a couple of tips to help you better nurture your customers:

  • Implement a Data Management Platform: You need a centralized hub to intake and store all of the data on your customer. This must be able to intake known/anonymous data from all sources, including offline, to help you have a 360-view of your customer before determining what data you need to collect.
  • Collect Relevant Data: You may find that you’re collecting data that doesn’t matter. If this is the case, pitch it. There is no need to collect data that doesn’t directly benefit the customer or you. Continue to monitor what is working and what you need to refine the data you collect.
  • Create Buckets and Segments: As you setup any campaign, you will want to have triggers that move people into appropriate buckets. For example, after a customer has made two online purchases in one month, you may want to move them to bucket indicating they are more likely to make online purchases than other customers. This can help with future targeting. As you go through all of your segments, begin to create logic on which bucket your customers should be in and how to craft strategic messaging around those buckets.
  • Measure and Test: Once you have success criteria setup, it becomes easy to measure whether or not you hit your goals. From there, you can refine your nurturing campaigns and adjust continuously as needed.

There is an art to nurturing your customers. Think of it like a conversation in person – you start by saying hello and then go from there. By keeping it real, authentic and genuine you have all of the makings to allow the conversation to grow organically, ultimately building a stronger relationship with customer.

The Top 3 Benefits of Exceeding Customer Needs

Two weeks ago I had an amazing digital experience. I went to the doctor’s office as I wasn’t feeling well and they performed some simple tests. Near the end of the visit the doctor said my test results, which would dictate if I needed a prescription, would be available online the next day. Before I even received a call from the doctor or access to my online results, Walgreens sent a push notification to my mobile phone alerting me that my prescription was ready for pick-up.

This is brilliant for many reasons. First, Walgreens was able to act on the data shared by the hospital faster than the hospital could relay it to me. Second, in doing so they also gave me the status of the test. Third, while I associate this brand with my health already, their actions continue to prove how much they value my health and me as a person (read: this makes me want to spend my money with them). Finally, all of this happened because they have a top-notch data management platform in place to effectively manage their consumer’s data.

You see, at some point I wandered into Walgreens to purchase an item. Upon checkout I signed up for their loyalty card, slowly giving them more information during subsequent visits. Eventually, I downloaded their app and synched it with my loyalty card. Then I logged into my online account to manage the entire ecosystem. And truthfully, this was not the first time Walgreens impressed me (you can read about my Connected Experience with them here).

But by merely sending me a simple push notification they have exceeded my expectations. By exceeding expectations, brands stand to gain the following:

  1. Customer Loyalty – My default location for all prescriptions is now Walgreens. This experience, along with previous experiences prove that they can do it – and they can do it well. They are loyal to making sure I’m happy and I’m loyal to them by returning every time to spend my money with their brand. With hundreds of other locations to fill my prescriptions, I choose Walgreens because they know me and they can execute efficiently and effectively.
  1. Brand Advocacy – When I have a good experience, I am a sharer. I like to tell my friends and family so they can also have good experiences. If the experience is particularly great I will socialize online as well. Not only does this generate positive news regarding the brand, but it also influences my friends to shop with that brand. I remember once reading a stat that a bad experience is shared 3x more than a good experience – something brands may want to keep in mind while mapping out customer journey experiences.
  1. Exploration of Other Brand Offerings – When a brand exceeds expectations in one area, there is a good chance they excel in other areas as well. In turn, customers will explore their other offerings based on the experiences they have. For example, I learned about the pharmacy app because of Walgreens photo printing app. Both continue to add value to my life and help me simplify. I’m sure I will continue to explore to see what other offerings they have for me.

Regardless of the consumer, everyone likes to be treated well. And the companies that understand the value of treating a customer well will continue to thrive in this ever-changing digital world.

Four Ways to Add Context To Your Marketing

This morning I woke up to 60 e-mails. I laid in bed and mindlessly went through my inbox deleting them, as I do every morning. By now I know that most e-mails I receive in the morning are editions of daily newsletters, promotions, etc. that I’ve been meaning to unsubscribe from because the volume seems overwhelming. It’s a lot to sort through first thing every morning.

This is a problem all marketers are facing. Not only are you spending hours to craft, curate and send the perfect e-mail or marketing message, you are competing against 59 others all trying to grab my attention at the same time…right when I wake up and am still a bit groggy as I begin my morning routine.

Yes – I did sign up for many of these, but because the companies do not know my preferences (or are not honoring my preferences) I find that they just end up in the trash bin. For example, I’m much more likely to read a marketing e-mail once I’m at work and seated at my desk as opposed to when I first wake up. Since I go through and clear out everything immediately in the morning, this would mean the e-mail would have to be sent after I get into my car and before I get to my desk.

When marketers think about context they need to think about the timing, mindset and overall experience of the consumer based on their current physical, emotional and mental state. Context is crucial because it takes into account all of these conditions and proactively designs a way to overcome them and get the message through on any channel. Here are four tips to help you boost the context within your marketing messages.

  1. Leverage Historical Time Data – Depending on the DMP you have implemented, you should be able to track the effectiveness of your marketing down to each consumer. As mentioned in the above example, if I am receiving a newsletter every day at the same time and the company sees I’m not opening it, it might be time to consider trying out a new time to make it more contextually relevant to my life. This can also include monitoring the times I follow-through on my purchases.
  1. Dig Into the Search Details – As I shop online and engage with different brands, everything I type into the search bar can be tracked (known or anonymous). Instead of looking for shoes, I’ve started typing in “blue shoes” and then “blue shoes size 12.” With each search I’m giving the brand more insight into my needs. At that moment I’m receptive to purchasing a very specific product. In your next promotion (which is hopefully quick), it should include blue shoes in my size.
  1. Leverage Cross-Device Use Patterns – The brands I’m engaging with should be able to understand how I navigate between my tablet, phone, laptop and desktop while engaging with their product. In fact, this is one thing I love about the Netflix. It is a seamless interaction that makes it easier for me as a consumer. I can navigate from my phone to my TV picking up exactly where I left off. Similarly with marketing, brands should be able to help me pick up where I left off to remain relevant to me. In fact, depending on the technology implemented – some brands can push me messages as I’m walking down the aisle of the product I need.
  1. Think Like a Consumer – Before planning out any campaign it is good to sit down and strategically think what you want to say. Work with your content developer to share the personas of your customers as a way to add contextually relevant content appealing to their emotions. Ask questions to better understand behavior. Depending on the amount of data you have available, you can message to them at a moment when they are most receptive by observing how they interact with your brand currently.

As you can see, context is important. Consumers are busy and they receive multiple messages on a daily basis. You can break through by understanding and adjusting your messaging to add context while honoring their preferences, time and mindset.

I Love You, But You Don’t Know My Name: Personalizing the Customer Experience

As each year ticks by, consumer expectations increase when it comes to the depth of personalization of the brand experience. Many brands are doing their best to keep up, using customer data to identify key points of interaction to ramp up the customer love in fits and starts. While this is well intended and perhaps better than nothing (albeit worthy of an A/B test of no personalization versus limited personalization), it still begs for a more consistent approach.

But how do you introduce personalized consistency into a cross-channel mesh – and mess – of interactions?

Some suggestions:

  • Start with the audience you’re trying to reach and design your content strategy around them. Demonstrate that you know them by embracing your target personas as part of your “customer family.” Get intimate with who they are, what they do, what they think, what keeps them up at night, what makes them laugh. Find images of persona people (or a fair representation) and paste them on the walls of your office. Name them, nurture them, be inspired by them. Advisory groups and qualitative data can help.
  • Look at your core two or three audiences and map out the typical customer journey for each. Use that at a starting point to simplify the moments that matter. As you continue to advance in the use of data in an effort to grease the funnel, you can prevent the impression of fits and starts by mapping out and tackling one journey at a time. Even if you can’t do everything right away, you can at least allow for consistency across specific audiences. Start with the ones that matter most to your success.
  • Analyze the data you own for the most important “moments of truth.” Optimize those points of engagement first when it comes to effective messaging and customizing of cross-channel content.

You know more than you did a year ago about most of your core audiences. Take action on those insights and assumptions knowing that the use of a data management platform (DMP) with cross-channel integration can make easy work of something that’s become increasingly complex. It’s the fusion of science into the art of marketing to bring the brand experience to life for your audiences, and bringing your audiences to life for your brand.

Ad Tech, Marketing Tech and the Future of Connected Consumer Conversations

We are entering the era of Connected Customer Conversations.

Today’s consumers expect more from brands. They demand consistent messaging and experiences regardless of the channel or means or device through which they choose to engage. What starts with a search or a display ad view may lead to a site visit, a store visit, an email send, a phone call, a Facebook share, a retweet and even a conversion.

Behind the ability to link points of customer-brand interaction is the ability to integrate marketing technologies as well as disparate data stores; however, getting to that level of integration – one that’s real time and seamless enough to create the elements of a perceived conversation versus a campaign – remains a cloudy challenge for most marketers. So many touted technologies become integration projects instead integrated solutions, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The next big thing is here. Join IgnitionOne for an exclusive webinar event on 12/3 to learn more about why marketers need to think in “conversations” instead of campaigns, and in “context” instead of in channels, learn more about the positive impact of advanced adtech/martech integration, including case-study examples, and more.

Register now.

Predicting the Future… It’s Personal

I was watching Minority Report, (the one where Tom Cruise is escaping from the government and has his eyeballs replaced because everyone is identified by iris recognition) and it made me think, as a recent digital convert, how close we are to sophisticated technology like this actually existing.

There’s actually a prototype of this personalised billboard technology being developed in Japan as we speak, though luckily not with Iris recognition.

Companies are able to recognise valuable customers online too, by observing browsing behaviour (mouse movement and clicks, geo-location, product interests, recency and frequency of visits) and there are many ways in which this information can then be used to drive conversions.

According to Forrester, personalisation is the top priority for 55% of retailers in 2013 as new technologies allow for greater understanding over multiple touch points. I can also predict that this is going to be more tablet and mobile focused in the future, as spend on these devices continues to rise exponentially, according to our Q1 2013 Digital Marketing Report

The most obvious and possibly simplest way of personalising a user’s experience is by offering product recommendations based on recent browsed pages (good for cross and up-selling). Another popular method is by using the information gathered to change the content of the website (homepage banner for example). This has been proven to increase click through rates and user experience figures. We all know that e-CRM is incredibly valuable too, by examining the behaviour of registered users you can send bespoke email content encouraging them to return to the site and convert.

There are other increasingly imaginative ways to approach personalisation too, such as offering a video text chat option on a marketer’s website, so that users can interact with operators and get a more personal feel as their queries are being answered. Gaming sites frequently use this option, but it is also making its way into the high street retail area.

Sephora is working with Pantone to enable customers to scan their faces onto their iPad and find their perfect shade of foundation. This is a prime example of using technological insight and innovation to deliver a unique and individualistic experience to the consumer.

I love the prospect of going on to my favourite retail website to be given a wholly personalised experience based on my past behaviour. My size, favourite styles, colours and price limit are taken in to account, making my experience more enjoyable and helps to build my brand loyalty.

As more and more advertisers realise the importance of personalisation, there will be many more innovative and clever ways of engaging with users on a one-to-one level in the coming months.  I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes out for brands that go above and beyond to make me feel more ‘unique’ and less like a ‘user’. Hopefully my irises are safe for a little while longer.

Bridging the Gap: Advertising, Conversion Optimization and Marketing Automation

 

In the third of a series of integrated marketing webinars, Filip Lauweres, VP Client Services, IgnitionOne Europe and Stewart Holt, Sales Director, IgnitionOne UK, discuss how digital marketing strategies should convey relevant content and facilitate dialogue with customers through personalization and interaction.

In this webinar, Filip and Stewart cover how active personalization is achieved through behavioral targeting, which enables delivering the right content at the right time to the right audience. Coupled with engagement optimization, a combination of conversion metrics and behavioral analysis of a visitor, marketers are better equipped with true insights on how to attribute credit across channels before making a decision. All of this means higher customer engagement and more conversions.

To learn more about these and more integrated marketing insights and best practices, click here to download the Integrated Marketing Playbook.

The 12 Days of Online Christmas Shopping

This has been my first working Christmas. There’s no more time to go and buy Christmas presents at a quiet moment and facing the immense crowds of Christmas shoppers on the weekend, standing hours at cash registers, is not something I have patience for. Therefore I have truly experienced the joys of online Christmas shopping this year. Here’s a small excerpt of the successes and failures of online retargeting that I noticed during my shopping experience.

Day 1: I look for a dress for the upcoming festivities. After shopping around a bit, I see one that I like but want to take some time to think about it.

Day 2: I get bombarded with ‘pink dresses’ on every online advert from one particular store.

Day 3: I get fed up with the adverts, clean out my cookies and buy a black dress from a different shop.

Day 4: I search for a pair of ski gloves for my holiday in the Alps, but don’t find anything I like.

Day 5:  I get flooded with more adverts for gloves and dresses… and much to my frustration accidentally click on one of them, which only makes it worse.

Day 6: I’m so sick of seeing these ads that I tweet how much I’m fed up with this shop on Twitter. A lot of people have the same experience and agree!

Day 7: I realize that I still need to buy a present for my brother so I’m on the look out.

Day 8: I see good review from a friend on Facebook about gaming headphones: perfect for my brother! So I do a quick, superficial research on the Internet.

Day 9: I do a little more research on the product and its functionalities, but also look at and compare other products and stores.

Day 10: I click through an ad served to me and decided to buy the headphones.

Day 11: I receive my package the very next day, I’m happy about the whole experience and tweet about it. I don’t see any other adverts from this store (even though I still see gloves and dresses everywhere).

Day 12: I realize I could also buy a blender for my mum on the same site so I browse around again and order for her too.

Retargeting is really an interesting process.

It was clear to me that the gloves & dresses stores didn’t use a Smart Retargeting method, like IgnitionOne implements for its clients. They just looked at the category/product I had looked at last and didn’t know my real interest. They also just tried to show me their adverts as much as possible in the hope that I would finally click on it.

It was obvious that the headphone store had a different strategy. It knew my true interest, and my click path. By using IgnitionOne’s technology, this website scored my propensity to buy. As my score increased, the technology took into account my ‘undeclared interest’. This means not just showing the last product visited but the one that has the highest score. The algorithm calculated when I had reached my critical buying intention score and served me a targeted advert with a very interesting offer (discount + free shipping) whilst browsing that lowered my purchasing barrier.  The company tracked how my interest was increasing and then calculated the perfect time to show me just one  advert with an interesting offer.

When considering both unique retargeting structures, it is apparent to me why one advertising technique seemed less intrusive than the other, and why I chose one experience, and thus one product, over the other.