Consumers are increasingly skipping the malls and turning to online shopping for gift purchases. For marketers, even gift-giving presents an opportunity to get to know their consumers and nurture those relationships throughout the year. Observing consumer activity should be second nature for the online retailer. Even the most rudimentary ecommerce systems allow retailers to track what consumers are searching, clicking, and buying. One would naturally assume it would be easy enough to make sense of each consumer's behavior and use this information to offer quality product recommendations. But you know the old saying about assuming things. One major challenge for retailers is distinguishing between when consumers purchase for themselves and when they purchase gifts. These gift-giving "micro-moments" can easily skew an individual consumer's profile.
Consumers want online retailers to guide them in the right direction. One of the benefits of shopping online is that it's easy to discover all of the relevant products and services available. Personalized recommendations make product discovery and purchasing that much easier, getting you in an out of the online store with time to spare. Often, retailers miss the mark and turn off consumers with irrelevant recommendations. This can incite frustration, leading a consumer to think, "This brand doesn't know me" or "I'm wasting my time here because I'm not finding what I want." Not only are those retailers missing an opportunity to make a sale or drive a cross-sell or upsell, they are also missing the opportunity to build a lasting relationship with the consumer that will keep them brand-loyal.
The key for marketers is to ingest various types of behavioral data and understand contextually what the consumer's intent is at a particular moment in time, regardless of the touch-point. For intelligent retailers, this means understanding a number of variables that go into creating an individual's precise consumer profile.
For example, recently my friend visited the site of a top online retailer and purchased a new wine refrigerator for his wife. He recently complained to me that since his purchase, he continues to receive recommendations for wine refrigerators. And not only that, but the retailer also continues to recommend the same one he already purchased. What are the chances he needs to buy another?
To avoid frustrating consumers and permanently turning them off of your brand, online retailers should consider the following wavelengths of consumer behavior:
Passions: These are long-term bedrock behaviors that don't change often (for example, brand affinities).
Interests: These are behaviors that change periodically but stay relatively stable (for example, a new hobby or interest).
Intent: These are behaviors in the moment, when the consumer is providing real-time purchase-behavior data, such as clicks and views (for example, if I am on a camera product detail page, you can assume, at that moment in time, I'm looking for a camera. This can be classified as shopper context).
Successful behavioral targeting leverages information collected on an individual, based on their online activity across each of these wavelengths. With the growth of behavioral targeting, before a recommendation is even made, a marketer can determine if the consumer is likely to respond. Clearly, the retailer my friend purchased the wine refrigerator from is not applying each of these wavelengths to its recommendations.