Marketers are becoming ever more frustrated with existing marketing channels as the cost of driving traffic to a website continues to rise, while returns fall. And while digital revenues in the UK are still increasing, channel fatigue is becoming a very real concern.
Existing channels are constrained by two key problems: an inability to identify and track individual visitors across all devices and, as a result, a lack of insight into each customer’s intent to purchase and hence potential value. Behavioural marketing is set to change the game – combining the ability to identify a single visitor across every device and browser with the use of that visitor’s digital body language to build a behavioural profile that reveals the level of intent and enables far more sophisticated, relevant and timely marketing interaction.
When the majority of e-commerce organisations can identify approximately only 5 per cent of the traffic visiting a site, there is little option but to treat all traffic the same, irrespective of an individual’s level of intent – and increasingly, that means catch all discounting. Whether a customer is demonstrating a clear intent to buy or just idly scrolling before bouncing, the offers and incentives are the same. Not only are brands clearly missing a trick by failing to differentiate between potential customer value, but this continual promotional game is actually teaching customers to wait for the discounted offer, making them less likely to ever pay full price.
Yet the way individuals behave online offers huge insights that can be harnessed to transform the relevance and quality of the online experience. Behaviour, most notably, gives vital clues into an individual’s likelihood to convert – from the number of times they have looked at a certain product in a specific colour or size, to the time spent hovering over an item or add to basket button, the use of zoom, whether or not they have read a product review, even highlighted product SKUs. And a brand new marketing channel – behavioural marketing – is gaining significant ground in leveraging this new understanding of customers’ online behaviour to deliver more relevant digital experiences that increase conversion rates and drive up revenue.
With this highly granular information about what each individual visitor is doing in real-time, marketers can move forward and embrace one-to-one, people based marketing. Critically, with the ability to identify the high to medium intent customers, marketers can begin to focus activity towards the most valuable people – and it is by increasing the sophistication and relevance of interventions, both online in real-time and offline, that marketers can increase an individual’s intent and move him further up the conversion ladder and begin to address the fatigue created by existing marketing channels.
However, in today’s multi-device landscape, the challenge for marketers is not only to track this digital body language to understand an individual’s intent but to do so across every device and browser. Without an end to end understanding of each visitor’s interactions and past visits from tablet and mobile, office computer and home laptop, the behavioural profile will be incomplete.
To unlock this new revenue channel, therefore, the first step is to identify visitors across all devices and browsers. This ability to identify and profile anonymous website users is an essential function of behavioural marketing – and can be accomplished with the capture of a single but very powerful identifier, the absolute best one being an email address.
Armed with an individual’s email address, a company can both target that visitor across all browsers, device types and channels and associate the specific actions the visitor takes on and off the website to that email address. Once that email address has been gathered, marketers can immediately explore visitor behaviour to improve the quality of the online experience and then deploy ever more sophisticated behavioural marketing, both off and online, to encourage high intent visitors to visit more often.
This ability to analyse a visitor’s online behaviour to understand motivation and intent enables marketers to become both more focused on customer value and far more proactive – guiding an individual through the process towards conversion, using a granular behavioural profile to automatically induce website changes in the existing Content Management System (CMS) in response to specific user behaviours.
For example, a first time visitor to a website is typically in discovery mode and wants to know more about the company, its products and values. Rather than the generic free shipping offer, an overlay about the current best-selling products would be a more nurturing approach that begins to build brand affinity by driving new visitors directly to areas of high interest.
In contrast, a visitor who has already browsed the site via tablet and is now back via a different device is clearly showing more intent to purchase. Simple steps such as ensuring any goods put into the basket on a tablet are replenished in any other device and presenting recently browsed items on the homepage immediately reinforce the brand experience. This can be enhanced by specific offers designed to increase the likelihood of conversion, such as free shipping or a discount. And this is key: discounts work, clearly. But simply offering every single visitor the same discount is cannibalising revenue and undermining brand value. Behavioural Marketing enables marketers to intervene in the right visitor’s journey, at the right time, with the right discount to deliver tangible value.
Online sales may still be increasing but there is no doubt that fatigue within existing channels is creating a downward spiral that will continue to erode revenue with minimal incremental gain. As pressure continues to grow, marketers cannot afford to keep doing more of the same – but without a way of identifying the 95 per cent of anonymous visitors and determining their potential value, options are limited.
Behavioural marketing marks a significant shift in the way marketers can engage with visitors online. Cross device identification combined with better understanding of behavioural psychology plus behavioural profiling can truly enable marketers to gain new insight into the mind-set of those critical medium and high intent visitors. By adding the behavioural marketing channel to the existing online mix marketers have a chance to focus on high intent visitors, build the relationship and explore sophisticated online and offline interventions to unlock a digital goldmine and drive up incremental revenue.
Nick Keating is theEMEA director of BounceX.