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Behavioral Targeting: Is It Right for You?

Deep Visitor Insights
One of the most innovative, though somewhat controversial, techniques of landing page optimization is behavioral targeting. Simple Web technologies such as “cookies” allow Webmasters to track the behavior of visitors to gain a better understanding of how they surf, what their interests may be, and what they are likely to purchase. Although on the Web, it is accomplished with technology, all stores do this to some extent. A brick-and-mortar retail store will place “impulse items” by the checkout counter, or locate attractive items likely to catch the shopper’s eye at the front of the store

A perfect example of behavioral targeting can be seen at, which tracks visitors extensively, offers selections based on viewing patterns and previous purchases, and welcomes returning visitors by name.

What is Behavioral Targeting?
Behavioral targeting is simply a technological method for making sure you are delivering the right messages to the right people. When grandma gets a pop-up window on her Web browser for Viagra, it is unlikely that any behavioral targeting has taken place.

Behavioral targeting is more than a tool for driving new customers, it is also a tool for customer service and retention. When you walk into your favorite restaurant and the waitress remembers what you like to drink, that’s considered good customer service, the waitress gets a bigger tip, and you keep coming back. In the online world, it’s no different, except that instead of a human who remembers what you like, it’s a Web page interface driven by data gathering technology. It allows returning customers to be greeted by name, and presented with new items that they are more likely to appreciate.

Cross-sell and Up-sell
Behavioral targeting lends itself to cross-sell and up-sell. For example, the data gathered shows not only what a visitor is looking for at present, but also what they have looked for in the past, and by inference, what they are likely to look for in the future. When a potential customer views a product, they can be shown the same product along with several alternatives on the next visit.

Privacy Issues?
There are some who object to behavioral targeting on moral grounds, and will never accept it no matter what you do. These are the same people who object philosophically to advertising and commerce on the Internet in general. But for the most part, society has gotten over this objection, and both advertising and commerce online has come to be widely accepted. Most recognize that techniques such as tracking and behavioral targeting are necessary parts of the advertising model that actually drives the growth of the Internet.

That said, privacy issues remain important, and when you undertake behavioral targeting, a notice on your website is appropriate to inform visitors that you collect data, place “cookies”, and either share or don’t share that information with third parties.