How to Use Data Driven Marketing to Customize Your Website - dummies

How to Use Data Driven Marketing to Customize Your Website

By David Semmelroth

Your web page is an ideal place to personalize and customize content and messages to your customers’ preferences and needs using data driven marketing. Whether the user is logged in or not, you have a large amount of information at your disposal. This information can be used to make decisions about what content, advertisements, and links are displayed to the user.

Web analytic platforms are also an important part of your online marketing tool kit. These platforms provide detailed analysis regarding website traffic, page views, click streams, keyword searches, and everything else that leaves a data trail online. These platforms provide information not only on your site but on search engines and sites that you buy advertising on.

Google Analytics and Omniture (which is now owned by Adobe) are two of the big players in this space.

How to use data driven marketing for information about browsing behavior

Event-triggered marketing tactics are communications that are sent out based on the occurrence of specific events. The way you serve up content on your website is event-triggered marketing on steroids.

As soon as a customer lands on your website, everything they do can be tracked by the site. This means that every mouse click and search query can potentially be used to determine what they see next. Even if you know nothing else about the user, this browsing information is useful.

Cross-selling is that certain products are bought in bundles or are otherwise similar in some way. So when a customer buys one product in that bundle, they are likely to buy another. One extremely common online cross-selling technique is to respond to purchases or views of a product by immediately serving up images of similar products. You’ve no doubt experienced the “People who bought this book also bought these” pitch.

In addition to content related to your own products, your website may contain links to other websites. You may even sell advertising to other companies. You can control the links and ads that you choose to display by monitoring how the user is navigating your website.

How to use data driven marketing for information about the customer

The problem with data collected during a particular browsing session is that once the session ends, you lose the connection to the customer. This data is still useful for analytic purposes. But it can no longer be used to steer the conversation with the customer who created it.

Personalizing your website

If the user is registered on your website and logs in to view it, then this problem disappears. You have full visibility not only to past browsing history, but also to preferences and personal information the customer has provided.

Many websites, particularly those that have aspirations to being home pages, allow registered users to fully customize what they see. You’ve been using Yahoo! mail for years. By logging into the site, you can use MyYahoo! to essentially create your own personal web page.

You can choose background colors and themes as well as page formats. You can insert links to other sites. You can choose what news stories you want displayed.

Another way to personalize your website is to tailor it around your relationship with your customer. Online banking is a classic example. For example, when you log in to your bank’s website, You land on a homepage that is literally your own personal web page.

This page contains information on all the accounts you have. It allows you to drill down to view details of individual accounts, even to the transaction level. It also allows you to open new accounts.

This last feature is no accident. The bank uses information about your accounts and how you use them to serve up ads on “my” website that it thinks you might be interested in.

If a customer logs in to your website, it makes personalizing content easy. But there is another solution to this problem that doesn’t require the user to register or log in.

Linking web sessions together

Linking browser sessions together is done through the use of cookies. Essentially, cookies are just small files that your website stores on a user’s computer. Cookies contain information that you want to remember and are a way of making information from one web session available when a user returns and initiates another session.

Like many people these days, the web has taken the place of the newspaper in the morning coffee routine. There are news sites that are checked every morning. While you might not have bothered to register on the site and set up any preferences, the site seems to know a great deal about your morning routine.

For example, during baseball season, you always check the Detroit Tigers’ box score and the Central Division standings. At the beginning of the season, you had to click the sports page and then click the MLB tab and so on to see what you wanted. Now, when you click the sports page, this information automatically appears.

The same thing is true on the financial page. You have a group of stocks that you look at every day. You no longer have to enter each ticker symbol to check the price. The ticker symbols and prices are all neatly displayed when you land on the finance home page.

This is all being done via cookies. The website has written notes to itself (on your computer) to remind it of what you have done in the past. It then serves up content accordingly.