Econsultancy deputy editor Christopher Ratcliff has built up a broad library of articles that act as a beginner’s guide to various digital marketing channels.

However one method he neglected to cover is behavioural marketing, also known as behavioural targeting.

In this post I’ll give a quick overview of how the technology works, as well as a linking to other posts that will come in useful.

And if you want to further discuss behavioural marketing best practice and trends then sign up for our Asia-Pacific roundtables in June.

They will focus on marketing automation, email, and behavioural marketing. The dates are:

What is behavioural marketing?

In a nutshell, behavioural marketing is the practice of serving targeted ads or content based on a user’s past actions and behaviours.

The reason being that if ads are more relevant to the user, there’s a higher chance they will react in a positive manner (i.e. buy something).

Though this all sounds very simple, it’s only made possible by a lot of technical wizardry.

User profiles are constructed based on a broad range of data, including:

  • Website analytics
  • Cookies 
  • Browsing history
  • Search history
  • Social data
  • Purchase history
  • Login details
  • IP addresses
  • App data

All of which needs to be collected, analysed, and turned into actionable insights.

It ties in elements of CRM and marketing automation, which you can read about in Christopher’s other posts in this series.

Ultimately it enables marketers to move far beyond ‘batch and blast’ messaging, and is also an improvement on using segments or personas.

By using behavioural marketing brands can personalise messages to individual customers.

Example of behavioural marketing

Anyone who uses Amazon regularly will be familiar with a fairly basic form of behavioural marketing.

For example, these products are recommended for me based on my previous purchase history.

However this is really just the beginning for behavioural marketing.

The technology has the potential to deliver a totally different web experience for each user, where content is uniquely tailored based on your personal data.

And a metaphor for good measure

John Watton, a speaker at one of our marketing conferences, came up with an excellent metaphor for behavioural marketing and how it helps to increase customer loyalty.

Despite having a huge range of options for buying his weekly bottle of wine, John always returned to the same small shop due to the relationship he has with Bob the shopkeeper.

Over the years Bob has grown to know who John is, his budget, and what he’s drunk before. He can therefore make relevant recommendations based on this knowledge of his customer.

And more importantly, as a result of this relationship, John: 

  • Often spends between 30%-200% more in the shop than he planned.
  • Buys five times more than he does at Waitrose.
  • Enjoys dealing with Bob.

As such, the more that businesses can learn to be like Bob, the more successful they’ll be.

What are the benefits?

So what are the benefits of behavioural marketing? I’m glad you asked.

In a nutshell:

  • Relevancy: digital content and ads become more relevant to the user, which should create a more positive experience as they won’t feel like they’re being spammed.
  • Efficiency: adspend becomes more efficient as ads are targeted at users who are likely to be interested in your products. Messages are also tailored so they have a higher chance of eliciting a positive response.
  • Improved ROI: improved relevancy and efficiency leads to greater ROI, as less money is wasted on poorly targeted ads.
  • Centralised database: in order to implement behavioural marketing businesses must have consistent, accessible data. Removing silos and improving data processes then enables streamlining in other parts of the business. 

Further reading

For an overview of other digital marketing terms, check out the following posts: