As offline means of marketing become less and less effective, the need for an online presence is more and more imperative – and this couldn’t be more meaningful for local business. In a recent study by TMP Directional Marketing titled “Local Search Marketing: Targeting Consumers in a Diverse Media Landscape” they found that the marketplace is more consumer driven and media diverse than ever before, indicating that it’s crucial to understand your customer base, and communicate with them in the most valuable manner.
Searchers are savvier than ever before, and they have found ways to block out traditional marketing efforts. It’s therefore no longer enough to simply put your name out there, or send out a simple flyer and hope that someone responds. It’s paramount to have a comprehensive strategy in place, one that includes all of the avenues your customers are using to find your specific products and services.
So how do you decide which avenues to pursue? One means is through behavioral targeting and testing. Behavioral targeting, according to Wikipedia, “uses information collected on an individual’s web-browsing behavior, such as the pages they have visited or the searches they have made, to select which advertisements to display to that individual… Behavioral marketing can be used on its own or in conjunction with other forms of targeting based on factors like geography, demographics or the surrounding content.” Essentially, it’s the process of figuring out how your customers behave online- what tools do they use, what sites to they visit- and using that information to your advantage.
In a recent article from Search Engine Land, Stephanie Hobbs discusses what affect behavioral targeting will have in local search in the near future. It’s important for companies to take advantage of all platforms (i.e. search, social media, mobile applications) as well as the latest search terms consumers might be using. Take the time to find the information search engines are giving. Read through news articles, or perhaps follow the Google blogs, to stay on top of the issues. Then, brainstorm to come up with creative ways to use that info that fits well in your business.
In another post from Search Engine Land, some of the fast and easy ways to execute behavioral targeting are given. The focus is on website features and some of the tools you can utilize to gather better statistics about specific user behavior, then analyze that data to better target your audience and use the right messaging for different user types. The main tool highlighted is a free tool called BT Buckets that works with Analytics and Google Website Optimizer and gives you the ability to segment certain actions to certain types of visitors – very cool. So segmenting your user base is no longer just for the big dogs – with free, easy-to-use tools, local businesses can conduct research and take action too. You can also take the messaging you find most effective on your website, and test it out in other platforms as well – paid search ads, or a social media campaign.
Another good way to get feedback is to actually conduct a survey of your current customers. They will often have great insights for you on what they find to be the most helpful, and let you know how they currently use your site. Knowing how real, local customers feel about your website and Internet marketing efforts will help you know what to focus on. If you do decide to conduct a survey, make sure to keep the survey simple and to the point. If you require too much information, you are less likely to get a response.
As you move forward, be sure to consider that there are two sides to this issue. While many businesses rejoice at the idea of getting targeted prospects and delivering personalized messages, there are some consumers who don’t agree with their personal information and online behavior being so readily available. In a News Week article from October of last year, they discuss some of the potential backlash. It is especially important to address the concerns of consumers when so much of the current search-marketing world is highly customer driven.
Seth Godin recently wrote a short, but poignant post about customers. While flippantly called “Some people are better than others”, his point is that some customers really are better customers and are worth more of your time, effort and dollars. Behavioral targeting can help you find those customers, provide them with the right, localized content at the right time, and get better results.
Emily Thompson is the online marketing coordinator for Kutenda Internet Marketing Software. Kutenda offers the tools and training small businesses need to succeed online and grow their business.