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How to Create a Behavioral Targeting and Retargeting Strategy

Patrick Holmes

Senior Digital Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

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Personalization is key to targeting and engaging your customers effectively. Recent research by McKinsey & Company indicates that "organizations that leverage customer behavioral insights outperform peers by 85% in sales growth and more than 25% in gross margin." Any company that ignores these figures won't be around for long because customers expect personalized marketing. To maintain a competitive edge, you need to run campaigns with robust behavioral targeting and retargeting strategies. Learn what behavioral targeting and retargeting mean, as well as how to develop customized campaigns to engage your audience and increase your conversion rates.

What is Behavioral Targeting? 

Behavioral targeting segments your audiences based on their interests as exhibited by their online behavior. By gathering data, segmenting, and targeting your audiences by behavior, you can vastly increase your conversion rates and sales and win customer loyalty. 

Third-party cookies used to be the main way to track consumer online behaviors. However, as the deprecation of third-party cookies is coming and marketers plan for a cookieless future, it’s important to look to alternative tracking methods to learn about your customer base. First-party data will play a crucial role in providing valuable insights about your customer behavior, interests, and demographics, while still protecting privacy.

How to Create a Behavioral Targeting Strategy 

 Creating an effective behavioral targeting strategy requires the creative collection and use of data before a customer showing interest in your brand. By understanding your target audiences' online behaviors, you can craft compelling ads, email campaigns, and social media posts that connect with them at a more personal level to drive website traffic and sales. 

Here are four tips for creating an effective and comprehensive behavioral targeting strategy.

1. Consider how behaviors are connected

Some behaviors aren't related but can show up enough in your data analysis to be meaningful. For example, some years ago, Orbitz's research found that Mac users spend up to 30% more per night on hotels than PC users. Orbitz, therefore, started to market higher-priced hotels to Mac users. Is this unethical? Orbitz didn't think so, because they weren't showing different prices for the same room. They were giving people what they wanted — in this case, Orbitz worked off the logic that Mac users preferred higher-priced hotel rooms. 

People are understandably sensitive about pricing, so it's essential to consider PR angles to your marketing moves. This is just one illustration of how one behavior (using a Mac) can predict another behavior (preferring higher-end hotel rooms).

Analyze customer behaviors to determine what they view and what they ultimately buy. Using this information, you can bundle offers or suggest related products. Buying behaviors can even indicate that customers who buy one product may buy another that's unrelated at first glance. 

2. Prospect for new customers

You can use behavioral targeting to find new customers who may have never heard of your company. Here are some possibilities.

  • When running Facebook ads, target those who have an interest in a competitive company or product. You might also target those who show an interest in a related product. 

  • Consider targeting your competitor's YouTube videos, so your ad pops up before your competitor's video plays. 

  • Use Google's custom affinity audience feature to target an audience who would likely be interested in your product. If you target your competitor's home page, Google Ads will analyze the behavior of those who visit that site or are interested in related topics.

  • Target your competitor's social media followers.

  • Use Google's dynamic prospecting, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to analyze customer behaviors to show products to people who are likely to be interested in them even if they have never visited your site. You can add dynamic prospecting to a dynamic remarketing campaign.

3. Look for opportunities

Let's take a look at a scenario. Christy and Zara, both work in the same large company's accounting department, are single and live in the same neighborhood in San Francisco. They both shop on the same gift basket site because Zara recommended it to Christy. But the women exhibit behavioral differences when it comes to gift baskets. Christy always sends gift baskets to family and friends in Ohio two weeks before Christmas. Zara sends gift baskets to her extended family in Indonesia at Ramadan. 

These behaviors are tracked, so a company knows when to show on-target ads and send personalized emails. In this case, the gift basket company may want to market to Christy around Christmas and possibly Easter and market to Zara around Ramadan. But the company could go a step beyond religious holidays. For example, they might market their July 4th specials to both Christy and Zara and market to Zara in anticipation of Indonesian Independence Day celebrations.

4. Use an intelligent digital advertising platform 

Behavioral targeting requires analysis of vast amounts of minute data to work effectively. Use an intelligent advertising platform with AI and machine learning to effectively track, analyze, predict, and cater to your customer behavior and customer intelligence. It should optimize campaigns across marketing channels to attract ideal customers, keep current customers loyal, and maximize ROI.

What is Behavioral Retargeting?  

Behavioral retargeting uses that same data as behavioral targeting campaigns to re-engage audiences that have already shown an interest in your brand based on their interactions with your website, social media ads, and email campaigns. With this knowledge, you can create personalized ad and email campaigns to keep your audience engaged, even once they leave your website. This increases their brand awareness and the likelihood of them returning to your site to make a purchase. 

How to Create a Behavioral Retargeting Strategy 

An effective targeting strategy must include a plan for behavioral retargeting: targeting those customers who have shown an interest in your brand. While targeting them once is better than not at all, retargeting them multiple times with personalized content will lead to increased leads and sales. 

Using data collected from their interactions with your website--product views, time spent on various landing pages, email addresses collected--you can begin to establish a relationship with your audience. The more you "know" your customer, the more effective you will be in retargeting them with dynamic content that accomplishes your marketing goals. 

Here are three tips for creating a personalized behavioral retargeting strategy.

1. Use remarketing to target people who have already shown interest

What is remarketing? Remarketing tracks customers who come to your site so you can show them ads as they browse the Internet at a later time and a different place. The goal, of course, is to bring them back to buy. Dynamic remarketing makes it possible to show people ads for products they viewed on your site and similar products. 

You can slice and dice behaviors in many different ways. For example, combined with Google Analytics, you can choose to remarket to people who fell off at the shopping cart, live in a particular city, visited key product pages, spent more than ten minutes on your site, and belong to various demographics.

2. Pick the low hanging fruit

Instead of targeting all the visitors to your site for remarketing, consider targeting the ones most likely to buy to maximize your ad dollars. A person who spends a lot of time on your website but abandoned a shopping cart is much more likely to buy than one who just checked out your home page for a few seconds. 

Data enables you to make smarter decisions and retarget the right people with the right message at the right time. By optimizing your behavioral retargeting strategy, you can increase your ROI.

3. Don't forget email retargeting

Retargeting isn't just for advertising. When someone abandons a cart, send them an email to remind them of it. When you use email retargeting to connect rich customer emails to email addresses, you can blow your conversions through the roof by showing customers items they abandoned or products similar to ones they bought in the past.

Ads and emails are most effective in retargeting when they work together. Placing dynamic ads, coupled with sending strong email retargeting campaigns, reminds customers why they engaged with your brand in the first place and gives them easy access to return to your website. 

Behavioral Targeting and Retargeting Is Essential for Success

Whether you need new business or are hoping to re-engage people who have shown an interest in your brand but haven't converted, using data to analyze customer behavior is the first and most crucial step in creating a successful targeting and retargeting strategy.  

Once you collect your data, develop creative, personalized campaigns to connect with your potential customers on a deeper level. When people know, like, and trust your brand, you are more likely to win them over and get them back on your website. For a marketing platform that helps you find your target audience and keep them coming back for more, look no further than AdRoll.  

And for even more tips and tricks on building an effective retargeting strategy — especially with the right platform — check out this guide.

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