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Onsite Targeting: An Elegant Solution For Boosting Website Relevance And Sales

July 31, 2009

Published by Retail Solutions Online
Written by Brian Deagan

Onsite targeting is a simple and effective tool that gives marketers more flexibility to control message personalization and relevance while improving the return on their direct digital marketing investment

It is a dreaded situation. Direct digital marketing technology is evolving faster than ever, and eCommerce software that has been used for five successful and profitable years is quickly becoming outdated. It lacks the newly mandatory, sophisticated personalization and relevance tools necessary to maintain the blistering pace of innovation the competition has set. So, it is decision time for the marketer: What is the best way to incorporate these capabilities?

One option is to open up a buying process for a new eCommerce engine. It is a long, arduous task that begins with a drawn-out courting process and ends in a massive, expensive implementation and transition process. The second option, building a homegrown eCommerce solution, is not much more appealing because it takes a tremendous investment of both time and resources. Plus, leading edge personalization and relevance tools are some of the first features to be cut from the road map in order to save time and money.

Option three, an onsite targeting solution, is the best bet and the least adopted. Onsite targeting is a simple concept. Rather than relegating a webpage to a single message prominently displayed, onsite targeting plugs in to an existing webpage's framework and transforms the formerly static space – whether that space contains copy or images – into a "live zone" able to rotate dynamic, personalized, and relevant content specifically designed to appeal to all of a brand's diverse audience. Whether an onsite targeting solution is rules-based or algorithm-based – and there are good reasons for both – tools for personalization and relevance have evolved to the point where users are able to have complete control.

A good onsite targeting solution contains two vital elements. The first vital element is access to as much data as possible, regardless of channel. For example, bringing enterprise customer data and past purchase history into the same database that also contains behavioral information like organic and paid search activity and email, mobile, and website activity uncovers truly unique segmentation opportunities that create additional value for customers and prospects alike. The best of breed onsite targeting solutions are even able to capture their own data with their own tracking code snippet.

The second vital element for an onsite targeting solution is the ability to test and optimize without restrictions. When introducing a new product, for example, the earlier in the process it is possible to identify the better of three calls-to-action or creative treatments, the sooner those winning campaign pieces are in market permanently to maximize sales opportunities. Onsite targeting is as simple as changing the tone of a line of copy from soft to aggressive or as complex as an entire page transformation based on a highly targeted segment. Regardless of how it is used, testing and optimization tools will always create the ideal conditions for conversion with little effort on the part of the marketer.

A plug-in onsite targeting solution is an effective alternative to expensive eCommerce upgrades for many reasons. First, it is simple. From an infrastructure standpoint, all that is necessary is adding a snippet of javascript code to a webpage. Second, it is flexible. Place the code for one of the aforementioned “live zones” anywhere on a website, in any size. The right onsite targeting solution is designed to host content and automatically inherit any existing CSS, ensuring platform transparency and myriad options for the marketer. In addition, the ability to change the rules or formula based on business needs gives marketers the real-time control needed to compete on a completely different level. The ability to change select images and copy – or completely transform a webpage – gives consumers a positive website experience.

Third, it is focused. There is not a valid reason to re-platform an entire website when it is possible to deploy a tool that successfully improves message relevance – and conversions – within the existing framework. It is hard to justify the dismantling or rebuilding of a website when elegant solutions like onsite targeting make improvements to relevance and personalization easy.

Last, it is measurable. It is just as easy to measure the impact of onsite targeting as it is with any other form of direct digital marketing – like email and mobile. Once a customer or prospect is in the site, simple improvements to relevance and personalization in targeted areas moves the browser down the sales funnel until they execute a sale.

E-Commerce engines are extremely valuable. However, the personalization and relevance features they offer are often cumbersome (it is like using a bulldozer to open a Diet Coke) and costly. Most of the other possibilities are not logical or efficient. Onsite targeting provides an effective alternative to those offerings without the substantial financial commitment or time invested to keep them functioning and effective. A few simple upgrades to personalization, or taking advantage of a few opportunities for relevant messaging, may be all that is necessary to boost key metrics and make outdated eCommerce technology robust once again.

E-Commerce innovation is vital to stay relevant amongst competition. A simple, elegant onsite targeting solution is a fast, cost-efficient, and proven method for improving site conversions while avoiding the painful prospect of wholesale changes to a website.

About the author: Brian Deagan is the thought-leader behind direct digital marketing and the co-founder and CEO of Knotice, a direct digital marketing solutions company. Contact Deagan at bdeagan@knotice.com. For more information about Knotice visit http://www.knotice.com or their blog http://lunchpail.knotice.com.


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