Wednesday Dec 19, 2012

Defining Your Online Segmentation and Targeting Strategy

A lot of times, companies will put online segmentation and targeting on the back burner because they don’t know where to start. Often, I’ve heard web managers say that their segments aren’t well understood yet, so they can’t really deliver personalized online experiences that are meaningful. This lack of complete understanding means that they don't really bother to try. But, I don’t think you necessarily need to have an elaborate segmentation and targeting strategy already in place to start delivering a more relevant online customer experience. Sometimes it helps to think of how segmentation and targeting might solve some of the challenges your sites visitors are currently experiencing on your web presence, rather than doing nothing and waiting until a fully baked segmentation strategy lands in your inbox. 

For example, perhaps you have a broad and varied service offering that makes it difficult for site visitors to easily find the solutions that are most relevant for them.  How can segmentation and targeting help solve this problem?  Or maybe it’s like the airline I described in Monday’s post where the special deals featured on the home page are only relevant to site visitors from a couple of cities.  Couldn’t segmentation and targeting help them to highlight offers on their home page that are relevant to a larger share of their site visitors?


Your early segmentation and targeting efforts do not need to be complicated.  There are simple ways to start delivering a more relevant online customer experience, even if you’re dealing with anonymous site visitors.  These include targeting content to site visitors based on:

  • Referral: Deliver targeted content to your site visitors that is based on where they came from or the search term they used to find your site
  • Behavior:  Deliver content to your site visitors that is related or similar to content they’ve clicked on already
  • Location:  Deliver content your site visitors that is most relevant for their geographic location (this would solve that pesky airline home page problem described above)

So as you can see, there really are some very simple ways in which you can start improving your online customer experience using very basic segmentation and targeting methods. 

One thing to keep in mind as you start to define you segmentation and targeting strategy is that there are many different types of attributes or combinations of attributes upon which you can base your segmentation and targeting strategy.  In addition to referral, behavior and location, other attributes that you should consider are:

  • Profile Information:  What profile information do you know about this customer already?  Perhaps they provided some information on their interests and preferences when they first registered with your site.
  • Time:  What time is it and how does that impact what my site visitors are looking for or trying to do?
  • Demographics: What are my site visitors’ ages, incomes or ethnicities?

Which attributes you select to include in your segmentation strategy will depend on your unique business needs and objectives.  Attributes such as behavior or referral may not be the most important targeting criteria depending on your situation. For example, if you’re a newspaper you might know that certain visitors are sports fans based on their profile information.  You can create a segment for sports fans and target sports related content to that segment of your readership online.  Or perhaps, a reader is browsing stories that are related to politics; you can use that visitor’s behavior to assign him or her to a segment for those interested in politics. From there you can recommend more stories to that visitor based on their interest in politics. For an airline, the visitor’s location may be a more important attribute. By detecting the visitor’s location, you can assign them to an appropriate segment and then target special flights and offers to them based on their likely departure airport.

As you can see, there are many practical ways that you can start improving the experience your customers receive on your web presence using fairly basic segmentation and targeting techniques. If you want to learn more about segmentation and targeting using Oracle’s web experience management solution, check out this helpful video that demonstrates these powerful capabilities in Oracle WebCenter Sites.

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Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.

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