What kind of personalization does Behavioral Targeting make possible?

In a previous post we examined in more depth the kinds of behavior that are interesting to segment users. Thanks to segmentation based on user behavior, we are able to establish groups of users with similar interests, something that cannot be achieved by means of segmentation based on demographic data, which falls into the trap of traditional stereotypes rather than attaining a truly personal level.

However, the point of Behavioral Targeting is not only being able to segment users on the basis of their real behavior, but rather that fact that you can interact with users in your website in real time, offering them a personalized experience. Leaving aside product recommendations, which can be regarded as a universe in itself within Behavioral Targeting, in this post we will see different types of actions that can be applied in Behavioral Targeting to personalize users’ shopping experience.


Even though establishing a redirection is technical quite simple, sometimes you will need to redirect if and only if a user has carried out a specific behavior. Let’s take a look at an example. A user is Googling “trekking pants”, and, because the page which is best positioned in SEO terms is the page for a specific product, the user reaches your store through the product page, instead of the category page specifically designed to show all trekking pants. In this case, when users reach the product page after searching “trekking pants”, they should be redirected to the category page, but in any other case users should remain in the product page.

Redirecting with behavioral targeting

Redirecting via Behavioral Targeting

The way in which a behavioral targeting rule works to force redirection. By this rule, if a user views a product page after Googling “trekking pants”, he or she will be redirected to the category page that displays all the trekking pants in the store.

Displaying a popup to capture an email

Another typical action to perform as an eCommerce Manager is capturing the email addresses of the users visiting the store. Achieving this is relatively simple in some eCommerce models, such as private sales, as they force users to register before being able to view the product catalog. But not all online sale models have the same capabilities, as, in order to be successful, you need to have a very good product range at a very good price, so that users find a significant added value in the mere fact of accessing your product catalog.

In other eCommerce models, email capture usually takes other forms, based on the store’s “aggressiveness” level:

  1. The most aggressive stores usually display a popup window asking for your email address as soon as you enter the store, thus forcing early loyalty capture. This option has the advantage of making it possible to capture leads early on, but it also has significant drawbacks, as many users reject this type of aggressive techniques and will leave the website if they feel pressured.
  2. Stores that are not aggressive at all usually wait for a user to make a purchase to capture the leads. In this way, users are not pressured, and they are allowed to navigate through the store until they find the products that interest them. However, it takes much longer to build a sufficiently large buyer database, and thus you will “suffer” more in the early stages of the life of your online store.
  3. Stores with intermediate levels try to speed email capture, yet users are not overly pressured. Usual practices are waiting for users to navigate through at least a couple of pages before trying to capture the lead, or waiting 30 seconds after the user lands before displaying the popup.

What do all these ways of trying to capture leads have in common? Basically, they follow completely static patterns. That is to say, the email capture form is presented to all users at the same time: as soon as the land on the website, after X seconds / viewed pages, or when a purchase is made.

If we give a further twist to this, we will realize that there as specific times (based on user behavior) in which users are more willing to give their email address or else they have greater value for us and we are more interested in obtaining their email. For example, when a user adds a product to the shopping cart for the first time, both aspects coalesce. The user is displaying a certain amount of interest in a product in your store, and there is a greater likelihood of purchase than if the user was just browsing. In addition, this is a user who in principle wants to buy an item, and thus is much more valuable, because you know that the user has a higher purchase intention, and you also know what he or she wants to buy!

One rule of Behavioral Targeting that can help capture emails via a newsletter is programming and action by which, as soon as a user adds an item to the shopping cart, they are asked for their email address. This is the type of strategy used by PoolFunStore, and has very good results in terms of capturing new emails which, together with a later email shopping cart recovery strategy by email and telephone, has generated a significant increase in its sales, and, most of all, its gross margin.

Capturing emails by means of Behavioral Targeting

PoolFunStore follows a very interesting logic to capture emails which has yielded very good results. When a user adds an item to the shopping cart, a popup is displayed to capture their email address, in a more personalized way.

Capturing emails with behavioral targeting rules!

Replacing/adding website content

Another interesting action to apply Behavioral Targeting is replacing or adding contents. This is what Amazon does in its stores to redirect traffic from one country to another. The following screen capture shows how when you access Amazon.co.uk (Amazon for the United Kingdom), even though you are allowed to continue shopping normally, Amazon reminds you that if you are coming from Spain you may want to access Amazon.es directly. To do so, it includes a content block with an image and link that are only seen by users coming from Spain.

Behavioral Targeting in Amazon based in geolocalization

Behavioral Targeting in Amazon based on geolocation

If you enter Amazon.co.uk, you are reminded that you can buy directly from Amazon.es. This website element is only seen by users coming from Spain.

Another possible application of this kind of action is related to use of creativities in the home page of online stores, and even in category pages. The campaigns and products to be highlighted in the home page are usually established in a generic way, selecting the bestselling items, the items of most interest, or even those that should be highlighted for other business reasons (agreements with brands, excess stock, etc.) However, these campaigns are often not particularly effective because not all users are interested. The following image shows how Toys’R’Us displays a number of “generic” campaigns, such as the one for Lego products.

Home Site to Toys´R Us Spain

The Toys’R’Us homepage, highlighting a number of campaigns picked “by hand”, which may be interesting for many users, but not for all.
If we take one step further, you may have a number of predefined generic campaigns, but setting Behavioral Targeting rules makes it possible to add visibility to campaigns that, despite seeming secondary, may have a strong impact in some of your customer segments. Suppose that Toys’R’Us determines that there is a segment of buyers who are not small children, but rather are interested in a Lego product range aimed at older children or adults who like robotics, like Lego Mindstorms.

It is easy to establish whether a user has this interest: if he or she has viewed a Lego Mindstorms item in the last 30 days, the user should be interested in this campaign. So, for this user segment, you can show a creativity that focuses entirely on Lego Mindstorms, like this:
Toys’R’Us homepage, personalized according to user behavior
One way to apply behavioral targeting is selecting the highlighted campaigns in the home page on the basis of user behavior.

Personalized deals, coupons, and discounts

One final action among the possibilities of Behavioral Targeting (although there are many, many more) is offering deals, coupons, and/or discounts, but not to everyone, but to users who “deserve” those rewards because they carried out actions of your interest. This kind of behavioral targeting rules are closer to gamification, but they are still rules triggered by user behavior.

Why offer rewards only to a few visitors? The answer is simple: not all users are equally valuable. That is to say, a user who makes a purchase every week should be treated much better than a user who views the website but hasn’t bought anything yet, as the latter has added no value to your business. Unfortunately, users who are merely browsing or looking for the best prices are often rewarded, and the best buyers are neglected. Customer loyalty is a very important aspect that should never be neglected, even though most online stores worry more about customer capture (which is ultimately an expense) than about customer loyalty (an actual investment).

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  1. These are some great ideas for behavioral targeting. Sometimes its hard to know where to start with the options are endless, but these are simple and straightforward. Thanks for sharing!

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