Net Gains: Real Time Is Really Essential1 May, 2008 By: Meyar Sheik Response
Why marketers should use real-time, self-optimizing systems.
Personalization and behavioral targeting solutions are not new — they've been lauded by marketers for their ability to provide relevant online content to consumers for some time now. Yet, most rely on generic demographic or classification information — not on the actual habits of the user. The conclusions derived from such tactics could be incorrect or, at best case, not accurate.
In response, leading technology firms are introducing Web-based "self-optimizing" behavioral targeting and personalization solutions that leverage real-time user interaction to help companies of all sizes increase conversions, click-thrus, average order value and revenues.
How It Works
These dynamic systems automatically generate representations of visitors, content and products solely from what the visitor does on the Web site at that moment. Self-optimizing tools leverage the traffic patterns of users to provide the most relevant Web experience possible without the need for any personal information, third-party cookies or special interaction with the individual.
This process is the most effective way to deliver pertinent content because consumers' present behaviors on the site are the most accurate representation of their interests and needs at that time — not the demographic information that they filled out months ago. These types of solutions also provide an enhanced Web experience for the customer by not requiring them to fill out annoying pop-up surveys or lengthy online registration profiles.
A case in point: a leading American catalog merchant and online retailer implemented a third-party, self-optimizing behavioral targeting and personalization solution just prior to the 2007 holiday season. Since then, the company's E-commerce site has witnessed more than a 15-percent increase in converted online visitors and better than an 18-percent rise in direct revenue contributions from automated product recommendations and merchandising.
Moreover, the system provides higher click-thru rates on content, as well as increased conversions, site stickiness and repeat purchases. At the same time, it eliminates the tedious, labor-intensive task of manually generating numerous relevant product recommendations and personalized promotions to online visitors.
Self-optimizing behavioral targeting and personalization solutions also provide significant intelligence-gathering capabilities to any organization, such as shopping basket analysis, expert systems, content analysis and collaborative filtering algorithms. By actually profiling the entire individual click-stream behavioral pattern, these types of systems focus on the person-to-content affinities, and are not just limited to content-to-content affinity modeling often represented by "people who bought this item also bought these items."
Apply to All Environments
Because of their automated profiling, content neutrality and adaptive content indexing, self-optimizing behavioral targeting and personalization solutions can be embedded into almost any environment that can capture online behavior, including E-commerce, search, content, E-mail, mobile and streaming media. Moreover, these tools allow like-minded visitors to be dynamically grouped together for predictive purposes, providing additional functionality to such applications as community radio, movie guides, gift registries and social shopping.
Self-optimizing behavioral targeting and personalization platforms can also be combined with other enterprise data to produce even broader predictive models of customer behavior. Doing so extends benefits to off-line campaigns, such as direct mail, telemarketing, media advertising and customer loyalty marketing campaigns.
Benefit to Any Organization
Virtually all types of companies can see value from self-optimizing behavioral targeting and personalization solutions, and usually implement them in a matter of days or weeks. Whether an organization sells products, publishes content or serves ads on its Web site, its online customers want to see more relevant choices. Companies that can instantly deliver what their customers need and like will build long-lasting and profitable relationships.
Meyar Sheik is CEO and co-founder of Certona Corp., creator of Resonance®, an automated optimization and personalization Web 2.0 platform. He can be reached via E-mail at email@example.com.