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Better targeting with smarter, not more, content

By Andrea Fishman, BGT Partners

For most organizations, the biggest barrier to delivering a more relevant customer experience is not technology, not business process, but content. Having finally tackled the learning curve of content management, mastered the art of user segmentation, and aligned those segments across media channels, marketers have never been in a better position to improve user engagement with targeted content. However, there is a mad scramble to take advantage of these insights and actually deliver a more relevant experience. The reason: a lack of focus in executing a targeting strategy. Companies are continuing to spin their wheels trying to create more and more low-value content instead of finding more effective delivery of their core assets.

It starts with a simple premise: identify a specific need or pain point and dynamically serve up content addressing that need. But organizations often unnecessarily confuse the matter by blending group segmentation and behavioral personalization tactics into one enterprise targeting program. They couple this by attacking the problem with volumes of content. In fact, the main challenges most marketers face when trying to deliver a more contextual experience is not starting by differentiating the different types of content available to use and not establishing a framework for effective delivery. As a result, they attempt to mix the two tactics, adding unnecessary layers of complexity.

A more effective approach is to clearly articulate what type of targeting you are attempting to achieve and understand what type of content and assets are already available to you.

While many types of onsite targeting and personalization exist, the two most common frameworks are segment and behavioral.

Segment: Targeting a user group or customer profile with relevant content or calls to action (CTAs) wherever they are on your site. Segment targeting is valuable because it does not require onsite behaviors to trigger profiles, and segments can often be cookie-based or obtained through third-party identifiers (such as ad networks or search providers).

Some opportunities for segment targeting include:

  • Featuring account service and support features, benefits, and log-in area for users who are known customers.
  • Showing recently viewed or frequent orders to past visitors, speeding up the ordering process.
  • Highlighting case studies based on a known industry or area of interest.
  • Offering new customer discounts for unknown or anonymous visitors.
  • Highlighting most popular or trending topics for unknown visitors.

These are all tactics that don't require significant investment in new content creation, but can still improve user engagement and conversion.

Behavioral: Targeting a user's behavior with relevant content or CTAs based on a demonstrated or anticipated need or intent. This need is often identified through onsite click-stream analysis.

For this type of targeting, opportunities include:

  • Proactively serving up a "Live Chat" banner for prospects demonstrating indecision or confusion. The trigger to this can be time spent reviewing a product, comparisons of multiple products within the same category, and repeat searches.
  • Using an "exit mitigation" strategy for users who may have filled a shopping cart but are moving to close the window without completing the purchase.
  • Featuring or prioritizing customer reviews over product details for users who have had multiple visits looking at the same product category.

At its core, an effective targeting strategy demonstrates to users that you know them, have anticipated their needs, and, most importantly, have something that will be relevant to them. This strategy does not have to be complicated, and often requires little more than identifying the right content or offer, not creating significantly new assets. By recognizing this need state, and delivering some type of preferred or targeted experience, you are setting the foundation for a relationship based on context and value.

This article originally appeared on ClickZ and is used here with permission.

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