Online marketing is a sophisticated business. Brands that succeed are the ones that create seamless customer experiences, and intelligently target offers to the right consumers. Years of trial and error has created a wealth of marketing philosophies, and the next iteration is upon us.
The goal used to be engagement. It was postulated that if visitors spent time on your website clicking on things, entering information and consuming information, that they were likely to become customers. But the engagement philosophy failed to go the extra step to actually create an outcome. It created the context for a shopper to become a customer, but its goal was always to retain attention, not to close a sale.
Think about the engagement philosophy like this. Imagine have a particularly gregarious employee in your store who can talk to customers, show them interesting things, and keep them in the store for as long as possible. Are more shoppers likely to make a purchase? They probably are. But what if that employee was selling to the shopper based on their interests and actively playing on the small clues they offered about what they wanted to buy? That approach is far more likely to make sales, and that is the approach that companies are replicating with their behavioral psychology approach to online marketing today.
Consumer Profiling and Re-targeting:
“Today’s technology allows us to deterministically associate individuals with their owned devices and their unique engagement behaviors to create a comprehensive consumer profile,” explains Ryan Urban, CEO of BounceX. “This consumer profile empowers brands to unify their marketing programs around the intent of the consumer rather than the siloed channels used to communicate with the consumer.”
In different ways, online marketing has always had a behavioral component, so the current technology is not a completely new concept. What is different is how seamlessly it is possible to execute it with today’s technology. A consumer who looks at a pair of sunglasses while browsing on their smartphone can open up their computer hours later and be retargeted with an ad for the same pair of glasses in a different size or color. The ability to market across devices with specific products and to be able to intelligently surmise what the shopper may have been looking for but could not find takes behavioral marketing into a new league all its own.
Customer Intent is another thing!
The biggest brands in the industry already used versions of behavioral marketing. Urban’s company works with heavyweights like Salesforce and Comcast to read customer intent, target them with customized ads, and ultimately make sales.
All of this is part of a trend that is improving by the growth of online shopping. Sales and marketing are quickly blurring. That is to say; marketers used to promise sophisticated creative and elegant customer outreach models. Now, marketers are promising enhanced revenue; real outcomes. It says a lot about how online commerce works and how far marketing technology has come.
“Unfortunately, the attribution models that most brands are currently using for their digital channels are arbitrary,” says Urban. “They are associating ‘success’ to campaigns or channels without considering all of the interactions that any given consumer has had with your brand prior to their ‘last click.’ In reality, through People-Based Marketing tactics, initiatives, and technologies, brands have the ability to take in all consumer touch points, across all channels, devices, and browsers, to truly understand the differences in engagement and how engagement dictates intent, which ultimately drives revenue.”
For perspective, the U.S. retail industry spent over $15 billion on digital advertising in 2016. This number will rise to 3.2 trillion by 2020. Money follows value, which suggests that marketers have been able to demonstrate ROI from their methods.
Of course, with sophistication comes pressure to stay on top. There are always innovative players eagerly trying to pioneer their own ideas in the digital marketing space. New applications for artificial intelligence and virtual reality promise to have a growing influence in the years to come. But it seems likely that no matter what the medium or technology, the philosophy of tracking individual behavior will be here for the long haul.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
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