Remember how doing business before the Internet caught on was so much different from today? Yeah…I don’t, either. Today’s business environment has always been my norm, and I bet a lot of you agree. With the readily available technology we have, there have been some changes to how companies can better target customers. To be more specific, there are five new (and newish) ways to do so.
1. Targeting by Values and Interests
This is a newish way to target customers; it’s not a recent discovery that, as a company, you should know your customers’ values and interests. By understanding them you can better predict customers’ brand interest and their possible purchases in the future. Let’s look at Jeep as an example. Think of some possible values and interests their consumers may have: outdoorsy, adventurous, courageous, and rugged. Now let’s look at a commercial for Jeep:
I’d say Jeep has their customers’ values and interests pegged perfectly and has created an advertisement that speaks to them and other people who share those same characteristics (and who are looking for an auto to buy).
2. Targeting Buyers Through Competitors
Here’s another newish method: retailers in the same industry can share their site visitation information with their competitors in order to identify more in-market consumers. I completely understand if your jaw just dropped! Yes, by doing this you’d share your customers with your competitors, but they’d also share their customer information with you. Have you ever wondered why you receive competing catalogs after you subscribe to one company’s catalog? L.L. Bean and Land’s End are great examples of this. When you order a coat from L.L. Bean, you may also fall into the values and interests of a Land’s End customer. Presto! Yet another catalog in your mailbox.
3. Targeting Current Owners
This one is quite possibly my favorite targeting method (yes, you can have a favorite method). A company called OwnerIQ measures interest via site visits that exemplify ownership, which therefore makes it easier to predict future purchases. It’s so simple, but ingenious! By collecting information about what people already own, it’s possible to gain insights into what they may buy in the future. What exactly do ownership actions look like? Well, to name just a few common ones:
- Searching for an owner’s manual (bet you didn’t think it’d be so simple, huh?)
- Filling out a product registration online
- Looking and searching for an oddly-specific item (laptop battery, computer monitor, iPod cases, etc.)
- Purchasing an item from an online retailer
From these actions, a company that sells accessories for iPods can better target you since they have information you purchased an iPod from Amazon.com in the last six months. Pretty cool, right?
4. Search Re-Targeting
This is a new method for targeting your consumers since the popularity of search engines has dramatically increased. Once consumer search data is collected from search engines, then companies are able to create banner ads based on the information users are searching for. I know, I know…banner ads are distracting and it seems that no one ever clicks on them, but there are good reasons why they’re used:
- Since consumer behavior essentially controls the search result inventory, there is only so much available before it’s gone.
- Only one company can appear first in the results and only so many can show up in the list of results. Banner ads could tell consumers to search for “XYZ” instead and then your company may be listed first in the results.
- Buying search words is expensive and increasing in price. For some companies, the costs are way more expensive than what is economically feasible for the company.
- Just because someone searches for something doesn’t mean they actually clicked on a result that was given. Search re-targeting allows for brands to connect with the consumer while they weigh their options.
5. Following CTRL-C and CTRL-V Trends
Many people are surprised to find out that some companies keep track of when you cut and paste something interesting from their site into an email to share or remember. Tynt, a company that predicts consumer behavior on the Web, has pioneered this concept of cut-and-paste content targeting. They semantically analyze the information that is cut and pasted using an “advanced taxonomy” to create interest graphs, which allow advertisers to respond quickly to new and changing opportunities. If you want to see how it works, then try copying and pasting a few lines from a website into an email; you may see something that says, “Read More At” along with the rest of the site’s URL. This is really innovative and I highly suggest trying it out (not during working hours, of course). Just a forewarning though, not every website out there uses CTRL-C and CTRL-V trends to target customers!
So there you have it: five improved ways to better target customers. There may be an untapped market out there full of people who could use your product or service but may have never been considered in your initial targeting strategy. Now, I want to hear your thoughts! Do any of these methods surprise you? What do you think about the companies that offer these services? Have you noticed any of these methods being used on you as you search online?