When it comes to PR, carpet bombing or advertising through various broadcasting channels such as television, radio, and print media also produces results. However, digital advertising is rapidly taking over the traditional marketing and PR approaches. According to Statista, digital advertising will have almost half the market share by 2020 in the U.S.
However, in an increasingly cluttered digital space, sending only relevant content to the target audience makes sense as generic content would appeal to no one. This is where behavioral targeting comes into play.
What Is Behavioral Targeting?
It is a technique that comprises of collecting the information about target audiences’ online behavior to improve the conversion rate. Usually, studying online behavior constitutes obtaining their web browser and search engine history. This technique is used to deliver advertisements to the audience interested in them. The information is used to build a comprehensive user profile which in turn is used to improve marketing efforts.
- According to a study conducted by Infosys in the United States, 59% of target audiences say that personalization influences their shopping decisions. The same report also states that 31% of shoppers would like their shopping experience to be more personalized than it already is.
- According to The Future of Content: Rethinking Content Consumption report, 95% of the participants took action to avoid seeing or receiving advertisements, while 66% did so regularly.
- It also states that 62% of the participants were more likely to purchase from a brand if it provided them with content that was more valuable, interesting or relevant.
Why PR Needs Behavioral Targeting?
Historically, the PR industry had focused on print media. However, with the rise of the Internet, the digital media has rapidly taken over all other types of advertising, marketing, and communication channels. According to Statista, in 2016, the annual revenue of conventional PR agencies in the United States was $4.5 billion, while digital agencies made $22.5 billion.
Interestingly, nearly 85% of the users take an interest in buying a product or service based on its online reputation. Thus PR agencies need to work extra hard to build an impeccable online reputation to increase the conversion rate. This compelling statistic reveals the severe competition PR industry will continue to face in the coming years. That’s why PR professionals need a high level of targeted approach and creativity to surge ahead of their competitors.
The increasing competition has pushed PR professionals towards developing technology-driven solutions such as behavioral targeting. It focuses on identifying, collecting and processing the information regarding the unique online habits of your target audience. The process usually comprises three steps including data collection, segmentation, and targeting.
As with every marketing task, collecting user data is the foundation of behavioral targeting. You can transform your product design, deployment, and customer care service using relevant behavioral data from your target audience. Without the appropriate data, your PR team will be forced to take instinct-based decisions jeopardizing your brand reputation.
It not only empowers your decision making but also qualifies the purpose of your business strategies. In short, relevant data is indisputable. PR professionals will often have to use four resources including web analytics tools, applications, and cookies, browsing and search history, and IP Address to collect behavioral data.
Web Analytics Tools
Web analytics tools are software platforms that can collect, measure, and analyze data about your website visitors and online shoppers. You can view a variety of metrics from what users are doing on your site to what device (mobile, tablet or laptop) they are using to access your site under one umbrella. Most tools provide real-time collection and analysis of the data.
One of the most widely used free web analytics tools is the Google Analytics. You can create customized dashboards to collect user information such as traffic source, referral sites, location, age, and gender. You can also find out which landing pages and keyword searches drive maximum web traffic. However, you can’t get real-time results as it updates the data every 24 hours.
Perhaps, the most crucial benefit of using Kissmetrics web analytics tool is its Timeline View feature. This feature allows you to monitor user actions throughout your website over time. You can view patterns and trends of user behavior in an easy-to-understand visual format. Other notable features include user cohorts, sales funnel tracking, and A/B testing.
Clicky provides a simplified dashboard that displays the information in the most user-friendly format. It allows you to see full history for each visitor using their username and email. The Spy View feature allows you to see what users are doing on your website in real-time. You can also track heat maps for different visitor segments such as the users who stayed for 3 minutes or the ones who stayed for 6 minutes.
Woopra is also one of the most popular web analytics tools out there. With this tool, you can track multiple websites simultaneously. You can create a comprehensive profile of each user. Thus, you can effortlessly sync the user data with their real-time activity. The unique “Live Chat” feature allows you to interact with the users while they are browsing through your website. The user reports, however, primarily focus on customer engagement.
Cookies act like labels. Whenever you visit the website again, it recognizes your browsing records immediately. Thus, it can display the most relevant content and increases the chances of user engagement.
Web cookies are often used to create targeted online advertising. Cookies can record when you saw an advertisement, did you click on it, and what your location was. You can use this information to send the suitable advertisements to your target audience.
You can also create browser segments to display similar behaviors. However, if the user clears browsing history or uses a new device to access your site, you can no longer use the previous user behavior as new cookies are set.
Search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing also track user’s search history by collecting a variety of information including IP address, physical address (device location), log-in habits, search patterns, and online shopping history. This information is used to display advertisements that are in line with the user’s search preferences. Though search engines will not share this data with third parties, they allow specific targeting through paid digital advertisement programs. For example, Google offers behavioral targeting through Google AdWords or Gmail sponsored promotions.
What’s the point of collecting behavioral data if you can’t use it? To get the most of your data, however, you must first split it into useful bits and pieces. You may have one big mass of target audience. But, it needs to be broken down into different segments to increase the impact of your PR efforts.
Not all of your customers will have the same need and wants. For example, only a particular subset of your target audience may have a higher rate of responses to your promotional offers. With the help of segmentation, you can send targeted discount offers to this group.
At the same time, you can focus on developing different strategies for other subsets of your target audience. A lot of factors including age, gender, traffic data, purchase history, and location among other things can affect their online behavior. That’s why you need segmentation.
Segmentation also differs from campaign to campaign even though your target audience remains the same. For example, a clothing brand launching its winter collection can’t use the same segmentation process for unveiling its summer collection. With the changing season, its target audience and their wants and needs will also change.
PR professionals can use several different ways to segment behavioral targeting data.
Geo-location data comprises of identifying the location of the network-connected devices of your target audience. According to a new BIA/Kelsey Industry Watch Report, location-targeted mobile ad spend is likely to reach over $32 Billion in 2021.
Both, regional and global businesses can use this segmentation. While local companies can use it to find out if they have stores in a particular area or sell to certain places, global brands can use it to promote specific products depending on the region.
You can create highly customized messages based on the regional conditions and purchase patterns down to the ZIP code level. For example, you can target users while they are inside or near a store by providing them with exclusive coupons.
Demographic segmentation is one of the most popular market segmentation. The most common demographic variables include age, gender, income, and life cycle stages.
Age is usually used to segment various consumer markets including clothing, food, gaming, education, and entertainment among others. You can segment your potential consumers into different age groups such as infants, toddlers, preschool, teens, young adults, and elders. Gender segmentation includes dividing target audience into male, female, neither or both.
You can also divide your consumers into different income groups as per your requirement. Life cycle segmentation includes distinguishing your customers according to lifecycle stages such as young married couples, married couples with children or singles.
People use different devices to access your website which may affect their response. In other words, a desktop user may respond differently than a mobile or iPad user. That’s why you must craft your brand messages according to the type of device.
For example, showing a full-size pop up with a lot of text is more likely to turn off mobile users. However, it is the right advertisement medium for desktop users. Thus, knowing which devices your customers are using to access your site helps improve the way the offer is displayed.
Just like the devices used, knowing the traffic sources can also help you craft a compelling offer accordingly. For example, if your customer comes from a paid campaign, you can present them with a discount coupon.
On the other hand, a prospect coming from your social media page can be encouraged to like and share your social media profile further. Visitors coming through the search engine can be encouraged to sign up for the monthly newsletter.
Website Visit Data
Visit data segmentation also provides crucial information regarding customer behavior such as how long customers stay on your website, which type of content or products they like most, and do they avail services like chatbots while shopping.
All of this information will help you add a personal touch to their shopping experiences. Showing new offers, membership benefits, and personalized shopping can help you drive the recurring visitors further along the engagement funnel.
Transactional data segmentation pertains to collecting information such as the number of purchases, average order value, mode of payment, and time of purchase among others. You can use this information to send personalized offers to your first-time buyers as well as repeat customers.
While you can entice first-time buyers to come back for more, you can reward recurring customers for their loyalty with exclusive offers and discounts. You can also ask your consumers to share referral codes with their friends adding new prospects to your list. In short, transactional data is one of the most effective segmentation variables, particularly for the e-commerce industry.
Once you have segmented your target audience, the next step is to find out the most relevant and affordable ways to reach out to your prospects. Most people fail to attract the target audience because they don’t use the mediums that a particular demographic engages with actively. You must find the channels that not only reach them but also boost engagement. The following channels are the most popular and effective ones.
Despite all the bad press they keep getting on the web, pop-ups remain one of the most effective ways to reach out to your target audience. Contrary to the popular belief, they are not annoying. If you promote the right message to the right user at the right time, visitors are more likely to take the desired action.
For example, users scrolling down the home page of your website are going to have different things on their mind than the ones on the checkout page. In short, you can’t entice both of them with the same popup message.
U.S. Patriot Tactical has crafted a compelling popup for visitors who are about to leave their website. Apart from using the most appropriate image and words, the popup also displays an instant 5% off coupon on email subscription.
The well-designed popup by Houzz, on the other hand, is designed to encourage blog readers to subscribe to their email list. It comes with a personal message “Send me design Ideas” and a beautiful photo and headline of a relevant blog post.
Location Based Content
Creating and sharing location-based content can also help attract your target audience. In fact, location-based content is fast becoming a crucial aspect for businesses. Most e-commerce stores such as Amazon, eBay, and Jabong are already using this technology to redirect you to the most relevant website based on your location.
For example, when I go to Amazon, the website automatically redirects me to the home page based on my current location, India. Most hotel booking websites or food delivery apps also use your current location or the chosen location to display content accordingly.
Zomato, a food delivery app, automatically redirects me to my current location. You can also use this tactic allowing users to avail special discounts or locate the nearby store or outlet, resulting in better engagement.
When it comes to email marketing, most PR pros make the mistake of developing one-size-fits-all campaigns rather than creating behaviorally targeted email campaigns. As your customers are not created equal, sending the same email to everyone isn’t going to entice them to take the desired action.
Behaviorally targeted emails, however, are based on user action and triggers. As a result, they have a higher click-through rate (CTR) compared to their generic counterparts. According to MailChimp, segmented email campaigns have 14.32% higher open rate and 100.95% higher click-through rate than non-segmented campaigns.
Millers, the largest women’s retailer in Australia registered a 540% increase in total email revenue by implementing triggered email campaigns. There are more than few ways to combine segmentation and email marketing.
For example, you can send personalized emails to first-time buyers, welcoming them to your online store or community. You can also send emails to users who have recently made a purchase, asking them to review the product or service.
Benefits of Behavioral Targeting
Behavioral targeting is perhaps the best way to get the attention of your target audience without annoying them. In the recent years, the over the bombardment of generic advertisements both online and offline has forced consumers to use adblockers.
The usage of adblockers grew 30% globally in 2016. But, behavioral targeting has the power to break through this wall and reach out to your consumers. In fact, it offers a plethora of benefits.
Helps Create and Share Relevant Content
Behavioral targeting enables your PR team to create and share relevant content. In short, it allows you to shift your focus from your brand to your customers. The customization can help you change your user interface and redefine overall user experience based on the user’s behavior. It will also enable better resource allocation to achieve a particular goal, making your PR strategies as affordable as possible.
Generates Higher Engagement
As mentioned in the previous point, behavioral targeting helps create and share relevant content. So, it essentially creates a win-win situation for both, consumers as well as brands. Brands get to attract consumers by producing content they like, while consumers can buy whatever they like without having to browse through dozens of web pages. Thus, behavioral targeting leads to higher engagement.
Increases Click-through Rate
Behavioral targeting not only allows you to create user-oriented content but also reach out to your target audience directly. As it happens, consumers are more likely to browse and share the content (or advertisements) they like. Thus, behavioral targeting can send your click-through rate through the roof in a relatively less time.
Improves Return on Investment
Behavioral targeting increases engagement, which in turn increases click-through rate, which in turn increase the likelihood of sales resulting in higher return on investment (ROI).
The direct impact of behavioral targeting on the ROI is inspiring PR professionals around the globe to invest money and human resources into this marketing strategy.
Wrapping It Up
When it comes to expanding your audience and building a loyal customer base in this fiercely competitive market, behavioral targeting is the most affordable and effective PR strategy. That’s why an increasing number of PR pros are turning towards this somewhat new promotion technique. Hopefully, this guide will help you understand what behavioral targeting is and how you can use it to enhance your PR results. Have you used behavioral targeting before to improve your PR efforts? We would love to hear about your experience. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Lucy Manole is a creative content writer and strategist at Right Mix Marketing Blog. She specializes in writing about content marketing, SEO and social media. When she is not writing or editing, she spends time reading books, cooking and traveling. You can follow her on Twitter at @rightmixmktg.