How To Take Your First Step Toward Targeting Consumers With Behavioral Data

Posted by Ann Breckenkamp on April 4th, 2014 at 11:03 am

Although many marketers talk about the importance of tapping into "big data" to improve their customer experience, a recent study by Razorfish and Adobe sheds light on the fact that a vast majority of marketers fail to use behavioral data in segmentation analysis and targeting execution. Many businesses struggle to incorporate behavioral data into their customer engagement practices for a variety of reasons: the data is difficult to access, they are unclear which data to use, they have trouble gleaning actionable insights from the data, and so on.

But when you approach it systematically, getting started isn’t as difficult as you might think.

In case you are among the 76% of marketers who are looking to take your first step towards sending more targeted communications to your customer base, we have put together the following process for how to think about developing your new campaign strategy.

Step #1: Define Your Goals

As with any new marketing campaign, the first step is to clearly outline your business objectives and definition of success. Your campaign strategy will differ depending on whether your primary goal is to acquire new customers, engage existing customers, drive profitability or something else altogether. Although it may sound obvious, you can expect a better outcome if you have identified what exactly you want your campaign to achieve before you start building it.

Meaningful conversion metrics are critical for you to create effective segments (who has converted in the past, who is likely to convert in the future, etc.) and calls to action (what is the desired outcome, how will you measure campaign performance, etc.). You don’t just want people to read your emails; you want them to actually follow through by completing an action that will impact your business success, such as making a purchase of some minimum value or inviting a friend who then registers for an account. For additional discussion on how to measure success, see our two-part blog series “Anatomy of the Daily Report” (Part 1 and Part 2).

Step #2: Identify Your Data Sources

It is possible to create compelling campaigns with just a small subset of the data points you are collecting. In order to determine which data you will need for your campaign, you must outline the types of customer behaviors that characterize your target recipients and which data will help you personalize your messaging to them. As you draw up your campaign strategy, be sure to document which data points you will need and how you plan to use them. That way your engineers can work in parallel to ensure they are tracking the data points you need in a usable format, integrate them into a system that makes them accessible, and notify you if there are any data quality issues that require you to adapt your strategy.

You can very quickly kick off campaigns that rely only on a real-time feed of data. As your marketing operations get more sophisticated, you can pull in additional insights from historical data and/or predictive signals to enable more advanced targeting and personalization.

Step #3: Determine Your Recipients

Based on your goals and metrics, identify who you need to reach with your messaging. Although it’s tempting to send the same message to your entire list (especially if batch and blast is already achieving baseline success for your business), in almost no case is this the best answer. Although you may have one overarching goal (e.g., drive revenue by getting your customers to spend more money), you will want to refine the way you communicate with each of your customers based on what you know about them (e.g., long-time VIPs compared to brand new customers, highly engaged customers compared to people who haven’t visited your site/app in months, etc.).

You may also iteratively refine your segments based on how people respond to your outreach. For example, after you send an initial offer at the start of a campaign, you may want to re-segment your recipients based on whether or not they viewed the original email. For those who didn’t open it, you may choose to follow up a couple days later with the same offer featuring different copy. Meaningful segmentation based on up-to-date data is key to keeping your customers happy and maximizing their engagement.

Step #4: Schedule Your Campaign(s)

Pick a schedule that makes sense for what you are trying to achieve. For interactions that are in direct response to a customer action (e.g., abandons an item in a shopping cart), you might want to run them more frequently – perhaps multiple times per day – depending on the time delay you want between the trigger event and the message. Depending on specific goals and the target audience, most other campaigns will probably run less frequently (e.g., weekly, biweekly, etc.) or even as one-time special events.

Your historical data can tell you a lot about when your customers respond best to your messaging. You should absolutely test the impact of sending on different days of the week, at different times of day, with different frequencies, etc., and optimize accordingly. If you’re looking for additional insight beyond your own data, various industry players have published analysis on the topic, including MailChimp and KISSmetrics.

If you have multiple campaigns running, you will want to make sure they are not running independently of each other. You should put rules in place to cap how many messages each person is allowed to receive over a set period of time and determine which message gets sent when a person qualifies for multiple campaigns.

Step #5: Compose Your Messages

Your messages should always contain a clear call to action prompting the recipient to take an action that supports your campaign goals. Be careful if you include too many extraneous links or other types of interactive content, though, as this might reduce the barrier to conversion by distracting from the primary call to action. Using behavioral and profile data to tailor your calls to action will strengthen your customer relationships and ultimately promote your end goal, because it is most likely that a person will respond to content that is directly relevant and interesting.

It’s ok to send all messages through the same channel, especially when you’re just getting started. However, if your customers are active across channels you can boost campaign effectiveness with logic to select email, push, SMS, etc. (or a combination) for each person based on individual behaviors and preferences. The more you personalize your communication to each of your customers, the better results you can expect.

Step #6: Plan How to Measure and Improve

Before your campaign goes live, know exactly how you will incorporate its results into your future campaigns. This means measuring impact on the business objectives and conversion metrics identified in Step #1 to determine what worked (and what didn’t), and refining your segmentation, messages and scheduling strategies accordingly. Be sure to track every data point you will need to measure the extent to which you’ve met your goals.

Every campaign should include a control group, randomly selected from the target audience, that doesn’t receive the message. This will ensure you can accurately attribute lift to the campaign. It’s a great idea to embed A/B tests (or when you’re ready for it, multivariate tests) into every one of your campaigns to iteratively perfect elements of your communication such as copy and other message content, delivery schedule and channel.

Once you feel confident in your new, more targeted strategy, it’s time to identify a technology solution that will help you execute it. For a discussion on how to evaluate which platform best meets your needs, check out our blog post, CRM, Automation, Engagement – Success Starts With Your Buying Process.

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