How to Make Good Content Outstanding with Behavioral Marketing

Unlock the Secrets of Exactly What Makes Your Customers Convert

With these guidelines and the right tools, behavioral marketing can be an exciting opportunity for your company.Creating high-quality content that works with your overall marketing strategy to bring in customers is no easy task. Every customer is unique, and in today’s uber-competitive markets, customers have come to expect a highly personalized buying experience that is tailored to their specific needs and wants. How can you possibly provide that sort of individualized attention to your entire customer base? Behavioral marketing can help.

Adopting a behavioral marketing strategy is all about discovery: you need to find out who your customers are, what they’re interested in, and how you can guide them to your products and services that will best fit their needs. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to optimize your current marketing strategy using behavioral marketing in 4 easy-to-follow steps:

  • Setting Goals
  • Mapping Your Customer Journey
  • Connecting Your Data and Your Content Strategy
  • Choosing Marketing Tools
Before you get started, take some time to think about your company’s unique needs.

Setting Goals

A Little Bit of Homework Before We Get Started

Before jumping into behavioral marketing, take some time to think about your current marketing strategy. Think beyond individual customer acquisitions to pinpoint your long term goals. No matter what business you’re in, you don’t just need customers to buy-- you need them to keep buying. Or even better, you want them to convince other people to buy, too. What do these types of goals look like for your unique company? How will you determine whether your strategy has ultimately been successful or if it still needs to be adjusted? These are all important things to keep in mind as you reimagine your existing marketing strategy.

Case Study: Setting the Right Goals

Consider the example of a department store website. Here are a few goals a company like this may want to address with a revamped marketing strategy:

  • Let’s say that the company’s homepage bounce rate is hovering around 45%, meaning that 45% of their visitors leave after viewing only one page. Dropping this to 40% would be a great place to start.
  • If traffic to the company’s fashion blog has been around 8% over the last several months, upping it to 12% could be an attainable goal.
  • Perhaps 40% of customers who place items in their shopping carts never actually make the purchase. Decreasing this rate to 35% would be a great way to improve.

The goals you set will probably rely on your company’s size, market, and overall business strategy. If you’re having trouble setting goals for your company, there are plenty of resources out there to help you get started.

Mapping Your Customer Journey

If you want your behavioral marketing strategy to be effective, you have to understand how different customer cohorts and personas interact with your company, your product, and your website. To do this, you must be objective, setting aside personal hopes and opinions to think critically about what the data is actually telling you. You must also tap into your intuition to understand customers on a deeper level, allowing you to give them what they really want.

As you work through this process, you should focus on answering two key questions:

  • Who are my customers?
  • Why are they here?
Understanding your customers is essential to creating a successful behavioral marketing strategy.

Getting to Know Your Customers

If you haven’t created personas for your customer base, now would be a great time to do it. Personas are “composite sketches” of key segments of your audience, and identifying them is extremely useful if you want to tailor your strategy to meet your customers' specific needs. Keep in mind that while each of your personas may navigate your site in a totally unique way, their behaviors might also overlap, and this is something you’ll want to consider as you examine your customers’ behavior.

To develop a deeper understanding of who is visiting your site, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there pieces of content that a visitor views that reveal their role in an organization? Can I tell if they are a decision maker?
  • Do visitors interact with my content in a way that maps to the personas I’ve established?
  • Can the content they interact with reveal other demographic information such as region, gender, budget, industry, etc?
Every customer is a little bit different, but by paying attention to how individuals behave, you can figure out what they are looking for.

The key to getting an accurate picture of your customer is basing inferences off of the cumulation of their interactions with your site, not just a single interaction.

Case Study: The Importance of Cumulative Data

Think back to the department store website. Let’s say a particular customer receives an email indicating a massive sale on womens’ shoes that are ordinarily very expensive, and they click through to the website. On the website, they view product pages for several different pairs of womens’ snow boots before leaving. Based on this information, we can draw several conclusions: the customer is likely a woman, has a lower budget or is otherwise interested in less expensive options, and lives in a region that experiences cold weather. Any of these points would not mean much on its own, but together, they reveal a much clearer picture of who this customer is.

Examining the products a customer views can reveal a great deal about the customer’s wants and needs.

Understanding Your Customers’ Motives

The way that customers interact with your site doesn’t just reveal who they are. It also reveals what your customers’ interests and values are. The actions your customers take should reveal values that align with the products or services that your company offers.

To identify what customers are looking for, answer these questions:

  • Do my customers view content that indicates an interest in addressing a particular problem my products solve?
  • Do the interactions my customers have with my products reveal interests or concerns that I should keep in mind?
Learning more about what your customers' value provides insights that allow you to tailor your marketing strategy to fit their wants and needs

Case Study: Deepening Your Understanding

Let’s expand the department store example a little bit more. Imagine that the store’s marketing team has identified 3 personas that represent categories most of their customers fall into:

  • Fashion-Forward Francis: young women aged 18-34 who are interested in high-quality, low-price items that reflect the latest trends.
  • Handyman Hank: adult men aged 35-55 who are looking for durable items that will be of practical use to them around the home or outdoors.
  • Active Annie: women aged 25-45 who are interested in exploring health and fitness through equipment that allows them to remain active from the comfort of their homes or apartments.

What if customer who checked out the womens’ snow boots also visits a lookbook on the website that shows off the season’s hottest trends and reads an article about winter fashion as a means of self-expression? Now we know that this customer is also somewhat of a fashionista and wants to stay on top of trends. In combination with what we already know about this customer, this data hints that she might fit into the Fashion-Forward Francis persona. Understanding how personas interact with your site is essential because it allows you to tailor your marketing to fit the needs of your major demographic groups. But more on that later.

The more information you can gather about how your customers use your site, the better you can understand their motives.

Your Best Customers are Your Best Example

Pay particular attention to your best customers, the ones who not only buy your products but are repeat customers. Understanding how these customers navigate your site can help you tailor your strategy to target customers with similar behaviors, hopefully getting you more best customers. It can be difficult to be objective here, but if you put aside your expectations here and think critically about the data in front of you, the payoff can be huge.

Some important things you should ask yourself about your best customers include:

  • What did these customers do before they became customers?
  • What content leads to purchases?
  • What kinds of content and product interactions indicate that a customer is getting ready to buy?
Crunching the numbers will help you determine what behaviors really map to conversion.

It’s important to note here that even if most of your customers engage in a certain behavior, it may not necessarily be significant to their journey through your conversion funnel. Weed out insignificant behaviors by comparing the behavior of customers to noncustomers, or people who don’t ultimately convert.

For example if 95% of your customers subscribe to your email list, you might be tempted to think that this behavior plays a big role in the chances that they’ll convert. But what do your noncustomers do? If 90% of noncustomers also subscribe, you may want to keep looking. Behaviors with a larger difference between customer participation and noncustomer participation are the most important.

Case Study: Putting It All Together

Imagine that, after reviewing the behavior of hundreds of customers, our department store determines that 85% of their customers across all three of their personas follow this conversion path:

  1. Customer clicks through an email to view a product
  2. Customer accesses blog post
  3. Customer makes purchase
This customer journey shows all of the major milestones each of the department store’s customers will likely hit before conversion.

This information maps out how site visitors become customers and what milestones are central to that process. Notice that the process occurs in three distinct phases:

  • Awareness: the customer becomes aware of your company, product, or service, and begins exploring what you have to offer.
  • Consideration: the customer is interested enough that they spend some time getting to know your company, products, etc. in more depth as they prepare to make a decision.
  • Decision: the customer ultimately chooses whether to convert or not.

Keep in mind that in many customer journeys, there can be more than one milestone in each phase. For example, maybe a customer both reads a blog post and watches a promotional video during the consideration stage. By determining the milestones that define each of these phases in your own customer journey, it becomes possible to figure out why some customers don’t make it through to conversion.

Now that you know who your customers are, what they’re looking for, and what behaviors correlate to conversion, it’s time to bring it all together using objective analysis and a little bit of intuitive storytelling. You’ve finally got everything you need to map out what the customer journey looks like for your site.

Connecting Your Data and Your Content Strategy

The journey you’ve identified should be your new foundation. Your content strategy allows you to fill in the gaps between milestones in your journey, which is where the magic really happens. Doing this effectively can tell you more about your customers, speed up conversion time, and push your customers through the conversion process, preventing them from getting stuck.

Using Content to Keep Customers Interested

To ensure that a customer who exits the site after viewing a product returns to the process, we might send an email reminding the customer of their interest in the product. When sending triggered emails like this, it’s a good idea to acknowledge the customer’s action in the subject line:

  • A little more info on _____________
  • So, you’re interested in _____________
  • If you liked _____________, you might also enjoy _____________
Emails can be a great way to deliver content based on an individual customer’s actions, interests, and goals.

Filling in the gaps in your customer journey with customer-specific content like this allows your customers to build a unique relationship with your brand. The customer gives you information about what they want by engaging with your content, and you respond.

As a general rule, each piece of content you push out to customers should accomplish the following:

  • Gather information about who the customer is and what they care about
  • Indicate customer alignment with a product or persona
  • Address a hurdle the customer might have encountered between milestones

Case Study: A New and Improved Customer Journey

After reviewing the data, the department store we’ve been working with decides to supplement their customer journey with friendly reminder emails tailored to each potential customer’s persona. After asking for the visitor’s email address on their homepage, they might:

  • Send a welcome email that offers links to content associated with each of the company’s personas to help them get to know the customer.
  • Send a follow-up email after the visitor has viewed a few products and established what kind of content and products they might be interested in. This email will include a link to a relevant blog post, moving the customer along the conversion path.
  • Remind the customer to checkout if they’ve left items sitting in their cart for a few days. This specifically addresses the company’s goal of decreasing their cart abandonment rate.
Supplemented with strategically placed personalized emails, the customer journey becomes a unique experience tailored to each customer’s specific interests and needs.

Choosing Your Marketing Tools

Automated marketing tools can help you turn these discoveries into action, but not all automated marketing tools are created equal. Your platform should support several key functions that will allow you to implement your behavioral marketing strategy effectively. It can be very difficult to switch platforms later on, so it’s a good idea to invest the time now and make sure that you’re choosing the right tool for your company to begin with.

Try to find a platform that allows you to:

  • Personalize your message
  • Create smart segmentations
  • Deliver dynamic content
  • Build progressive forms
  • Trigger emails off of behaviors
  • Move leads from one nurture stream to another based on behavior
  • Run A/B tests

One or more solid analytics platforms should also be in your marketing toolkit. Make sure that your analytics platforms allow you to:

  • Connect performance and behavior data to revenue attribution
  • Provide funnel segment data to indicate engagement drop offs
  • Map interactions to key conversions
With these guidelines and the right tools, behavioral marketing can be an exciting opportunity for your company.

Behavioral marketing can be tricky-- it’s not the sort of strategy you can set up and forget about. It takes some time and attention, but behavioral marketing can really take your marketing strategy to the next level. Do you use behavioral marketing? Do you have any tips or thoughts to add? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Melissa Pallotti is a professional writer, computer geek, and hockey fan based in Pittsburgh, PA. Follow on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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