What if you could communicate with your customers and prospects as real individuals, holding hundreds, thousands, even millions of unique online dialogues with each and every one? Speak to them in a way that would cut through the noise and talk to their personal interests, actions and preferences? And do it in a way that was scalable and within reasonable budgetary constraints?
This is what behavioral marketing is all about, and it’s why I’m so excited about it. Perhaps you’ve heard or seen the term “behavioral marketing” mentioned in passing and wondered what all the buzz was about. Let’s discuss.
So … What Is Behavioral Marketing?
In simple math terms, an individual’s behaviors + marketing automation = behavioral marketing. Adding the two elements together opens up a whole new realm for marketers, with repeated studies showing higher rates of opens, clicks and conversions on emails triggered by recipient actions as opposed to generic “batch and blast” messages.
For marketers, this means moving beyond “audiences” and “segments” as we’ve traditionally known them. Combining behaviors and automation lets you achieve unprecedented granularity — segments of one.
It’s important to recognize, though, that you need both aspects of behavioral marketing working in tandem to be fully successful. If you just have one or the other, you’ll be left with a marketing equation that looks something like this:
- Automation – behaviors = unwanted messages that lack relevance
- Behaviors – automation = silos of data; no way to scale communications
Clearly, those aren't formulas for building relationships and revenue. Put automation and behavior together, though, and you’ll be able to engage customers and prospects like never before. That’s the power of behavioral marketing, which Silverpop CEO Bill Nussey describes as “real-time, cross-channel, insanely relevant campaigns to one person at a time automatically driven by analytics of their actions, preferences and profiles.”
Tying Behaviors Together
Implementing behavioral marketing means moving beyond the traditional “email list” to an integrated marketing system, anchored by a central database, that enables you to recognize an individual and tie together his or her behaviors across a range of channels and platforms:
- Email: Did the individual open and/or click on a certain email? How long ago did the contact interact with your email message (two days ago, two weeks ago or two months ago)?
- Social: Did the prospect or customer fill out a form in Facebook or come to your site via Twitter? Share one of your emails? Comment on a blog post on your site?
- Website: Did the individual visit your site or blog? Did he or she download something or watch a video? (Note: We’re not talking about anonymous Web analytics here – we’re tying specific individuals to specific behaviors via Web tracking capabilities.)
- Mobile/Location: Did a customer scan a QR code at your store counter/trade show booth, sign up for your text message service or check in via Foursquare at your event or retail outlet?
- CRM: Was an opportunity opened, or a prospect contacted by a salesperson?
- Relational table data: Did an individual contact your call center, place an order or perform any of the actions captured via relational tables?
Responding to Behaviors via Email … and Beyond
You don’t have to be a math whiz to see that with all those variables and the power of marketing automation, you could potentially establish rule sets that would send prospects and customers down dozens, even hundreds of different messaging paths based on their unique actions and attributes.
I know what you’re thinking: That’s a lot of behaviors, and I’m getting overwhelmed just thinking about addressing all the potential “if/then” scenarios. The good news is that you don’t have to tackle it all at once – you can make incremental changes to gradually build your database and increase the complexity of your campaigns.
And while you can — and should — leverage any of these behaviors to drive highly relevant email messages, behavioral marketing encompasses a much broader set of responses. In addition to sending an email triggered by a behavior, you could just as easily alert a sales rep, route names to an outbound call center, schedule an appointment, dynamically generate individualized content on your website or social page, and recognize your contact across all of his or her Web devices (laptop, smartphone, iPad).
Now isn’t that exciting?
How You Can Use Behavioral Marketing
In future blog posts, I’ll be diving deeper into all things behavioral marketing. Look for articles covering the five key steps for implementing behavioral marketing, how-to tips for setting up behavior-driven business rules, and a theoretic example of how a company could use behavioral marketing across email, social and their website. Stay tuned!
Got a question about behavioral marketing? Post it in the comments section, and Bryan will give it a go.
And for more marketing insights and tips, connect with Bryan Brown on Google+.