We’re in an era of banner blindness. People increasingly ignore irrelevant ads while being more receptive to tailored online experiences that speak to their needs and wants.

A  study by Accenture showed that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a merchant that has some degree of personalization on their website.

To keep a competitive edge, marketers need to move toward crafting personalized content and user experiences to increase their ad engagement and boost revenue.

Welcome to the world of behavioral targeting

What is behavioral targeting?

Behavioral targeting is a marketing technique that segments audiences based on behaviors rather than just demographic parameters. 

It’s used to create very specific user profiles based on behavioral data that has been previously collected.

Modern marketers use behavioral targeting to achieve greater engagement in an era where more and more online shoppers have developed strong avoidance habits toward most ad formats.

What data do you need for behavioral targeting?

Behavioral targeting campaigns are data-driven. Behavioral data is often collected with:

  • Your company’s web analytics tools
  • Collected cookies
  • Customers’ browsing history
  • Collected IP addresses

The most common metrics collected for behavioral targeting are:  

  • Geographic location
  • Type of devices used
  • Visit data
  • Transactional data
  • Purchase history
  • Browsing history

Basically, marketers use any type of data—provided that it delivers actionable insights—that can be used to increase engagement and conversions during a campaign.

Why is behavioral targeting slowly replacing demographic targeting?

Demographic data is limited.

Age, location, income—these are all great factors in helping marketers create targeted messages. However, demographic data is fairly restricted when it comes to understanding the needs, wants, habits, and pain points of your customers.

Demographic data won’t tell you much about your customers’ behavior. Using strictly demographic data is often a hit-or-miss game.

Using behavioral data, marketers can target their own visitors knowing which pages they’ve visited and what they’ve left in their carts. It allows for extremely precise targeting that cannot be achieved using demographic data.

Getting customers’ attention is harder than ever

With more and more people ignoring generic ad formats, marketers worry that traditional PPC advertising and display ads are losing momentum.

A Statista report said 10% of marketers believe display ads provide the highest ROI

Demographic data is used by everyone

Most demographic data can be accessed by anyone, including your competitors.

To keep their edge, marketers should use their own customer’s data to create more personalized online experiences. That way, marketers can achieve greater ROAS and ROI while ensuring their customers are exposed to the right ads, at the right time.

Here’s how to use behavioral targeting tactics to your advantage.

Leverage upselling & cross-selling

Knowing what your customers love and how they interact with your business is a massively powerful tool to suggest additional products to them.

Take Spotify. They track the music we listen to and the frequency at which we do it, and then craft personal ads based on our preferences to sell concert tickets and bring us back to their app.

 

Spotify uses customer data to promote targeted concert tickets to users.

Behavioral marketing is that powerful.

If your company has any ecommerce activities, then you’re likely already familiar with cross-selling and suggested products: techniques that are also powered by behavioral marketing.

Macy’s uses product recommendations to promote related products based on customers’ data, to increase basket value.

Use behavioral email marketing campaigns

According to Smart Insights, email marketing still delivers impressive conversion rates when it comes to selling products and services.

In fact, email marketing has an average 4.3% conversion rate (compared to 1.8% for social media), according to an analysis of more than $1 billion in sales on Shopify during the 2017 Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

Smart Insights study on conversion rate by source

Knowing this, marketers can strengthen their email marketing campaigns by using behavioral targeting tactics.

Basically, behavioral email marketing consists of sending targeted emails to users based on their past actions on a website (cart abandonment, pages visited, newsletter subscription, etc.).

Take this example: Quora’s goal is for you to return to their website as much as possible. (If you’re a Quora reader, you may have received this email.)

Quora uses behavioral email marketing to draw back users

By knowing which pages you’ve read in the past, Quora is able to send personalized emails highlighting similar topics to pique your interest and draw you back to their site.

This is behavioral targeting on an individual scale.

Leverage Facebook, Google, and other retargeting services

Retargeting and remarketing are common tactics used to target potential customers who’ve previously visited your website by showing them ads on other websites (like online publications, social networks, or even game sites).

There are several ad networks that support retargeting.

Among them, Facebook and Google are the most common options because they reach large audiences and provide accurate data and analysis on the generated sales. They also boast a lot of integrations with third-party data analysis tools.

Nowadays, the number of factors that can be tracked is impressive:

  • Which pages have been visited?
  • How long were the sessions?
  • Which products were bought?
  • What was the average order value?
  • How many products were purchased?
  • How long has it been since a visitor’s last session?
  • Which customers have added a product to the cart and then abandoned it?

Once marketers have gathered enough behavioral data, they can proceed to create user segments based on behavioral traits and show them highly relevant ads.

Here’s an example of retargeting:

Let’s say your ecommerce generates high cart abandonment rates.

You can create a user segment based on people who have abandoned a specific product (say, your best-seller) in their cart and create an ad that will target these users. To increase its efficiency, you can create a sense of urgency by offering them a discount provided that they buy the item now.

If you successfully target the right people, your ad’s audience is now exclusively composed of potential customers who already know your product, thus generating much higher conversion rates.

Although we’ve talked a lot about Facebook and Google’s retargeting features, do not forget that other advertising platforms (like Outbrain or Criteo) can also provide remarketing services.

A retargeted ad appearing on Forbes

Your retargeted ads can appear on many websites, including major online publications such as Forbes or WSJ, depending on your audience’s habits and digital media consumption.

Go granular with precise geographic targeting

Whether you’re selling products or services, knowing the precise geolocation of your visitors (thanks to their IP addresses) can make a huge difference in your campaign’s success.

In fact, a study led by Verve found that geo-targeted mobile ads yield an average 50% higher conversion compared to non-targeted ads.

Let’s pretend that you run a clothing company that sells year-round fashion. Using your data analytics tool, you could create user segments based on their geolocation to advertise for clothes that are relevant to them, given their current browsing location.

Geo-targeted ads can also be served at a city-level, meaning that marketers can tailor ads to reach a restricted but qualified audience. This can be especially useful for companies that rely on their respective offices to carry out their business activities.

Using geo-targeted advertising, marketers are able to create specific, tailored audiences that leverage both behavioral and demographic parameters to ensure their campaign’s success.

Facebook allows marketers to include behavioral parameters above layers of location targeting, meaning that you could be targeting:

  • People who live in a certain location (radius)
  • People that have recently been in a certain location
  • People traveling in a certain location
  • Everyone in a certain location

Facebook location targeting settings
Facebook settings to target a specific audience

The ad below is an example of ClassPass using Facebook location targeting to reach Minneapolis’ fitness aficionados by using a combination of demographic (=interest) and geographic (=location) parameters. 

A geo-targeted ClassPass ad on Facebook

Experiment with personalized coupons, offers, and discounts

Website personalization consists of crafting customized experiences based on consumers’ wants, needs and past actions as opposed to offering a single, generic experience to all consumers regardless of their preferences.

Website personalization isn’t just a marketing trend. It’s here to stay.

A 2016 Accenture study noted that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that offers some level of personalization during the buying process.

Consumers are more likely to purchase from retailers when the experience is personalized

Retail and tech giants like Amazon have long started to implement some level of website personalization (like wishlists and recommended products). 

Displaying different content based on a visitor’s personal preferences has become an essential marketing technique. 

People don’t hate ads, they hate irrelevant ads.

Knowing this, marketers can create segment-based ads to increase relevancy and boost engagement.

This targeted pop-up ad has an offer enclosed to deter users from leaving the site

By using an all-in-one CRO solution (like AB Tastyyou can implement customized content on any page you want and craft your own display rules based on your consumers’ data.

How to create a personalized experience

Our team at AB Tasty knows how much of an impact customized experiences can make on our clients’ online revenue. So, we implemented a loyalty overlay pop-up for one of our French fashion retailers. This overlay pop-up would only appear for loyal customers and reward them with a limited discount.

Our goal was to increase customer retention while maximizing revenue from returning customers, boosting brand loyalty in the very competitive French fashion environment.

A discount pop-up geared toward loyalty customers to increase conversions

Want to know how it turned out? Check out our client stories for real-life examples of how companies increased conversions and generated more revenue with the help of personalization.

Also worth reading: our complete guide to conversion rate optimization  and our other in-depth articles on website optimization.