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Today’s article comes from Deanna Zaucha, Webs Retention Marketing Coordinator. 

In business, we are bombarded by the importance of “Big Data”. How we must strive to collect, analyze, and use it to make strategic business decisions. Amazon paved the way with predicting our purchase desires in the email inbox, and now we see it in production in a relative newcomer, Netflix.

Netflix, for those who may not be up to date on this whole “Internet” thing, is an on-demand Internet streaming service available with your $7.99 subscription and addiction to any TV series or movie. It even helped coined the term binge-watching – “The practice of watching television for longer time spans than usual, usually of a single television show” – Wikipedia.com.

You most likely suffered from binge-watching due to the Netflix original series, House of Cards. Don’t worry…no plot spoilers in this post, so please keep reading. Instead, I may just spoil the idea you decided to like this TV show on your own.

Let me explain.

According to many articles, best explained by SALON here, Netflix used its vast amount of subscriber data to perfectly collect the components of a hit TV show. Based on the playing, forwarding, pausing and rewinding of its large database of movies, Netflix saw the same subscribers who loved the original BBC production of House of Cards (a program coincidentally up for purchase in 2011) , also loved movies starring Kevin Spacey or directed by David Fincher. Therefore, by bringing these elements together, Netflix had no doubt House of Cards would reap the success it has surely seen.

So this begged the question, how far is too far with data-driven content?

Yes, I love relatable items showing up in my shopping cart, or websites I frequent show up first in Google, but what about the companies that go further than that? Remember Target and their preemptive advertisement to a 16-year-old’s father that his daughter was pregnant, or the pair of pants that followed this guy around on the web from Zappos?

All of these companies meant well, but “Putting all one’s focus into forecasting what a buyer is most likely to do, ‘takes over [one’s] ability to learn what a consumer would do naturally…When we get too focused on behavioral targeting, we get tunnel vision. It’s important to expose—not push—our prospects.’” (Direct Marketing News)

So how can we use behavioral targeting effectively, without crossing that privacy line?

Here are 4 ideas to get you started:

1. Your Website: In understanding click patterns and most frequented pages, you can make decisions on strategic placement. For example, if you know certain profitable pages are visited often, you can place those pages in the navigation to analyze their performance. User testing is often the best method for judgment.

2. Your Email Strategy: Emails are the most data-filled resource you could use to your business’ advantage. Based on behavior from your site, you could send Abandon Cart emails; or based on clicks and opens, you could send a follow-up to your original message. The choice is yours! Just remember to send only CAN-SPAM compliant emails, and to an audience who will gain value from your message as well as provide value to your company.

3. Your Retargeting Advertisements: Retargeting to your customers at tactical points in the purchase cycle can do wonders for your profit margin. However, setting rules to not overwhelm your customer with your message is essential. For example, limiting your message to a certain number of impressions for one user.

4. “The Extras”: Assess the need of your audience for extra help during their experience with your brand. For example, providing faster service with an app, like pharmacies for prescription refills, or having a presence on social for support or updates on the company itself.

The important thing is to test as much as possible, learn from your audience, and don’t get too caught up in the prediction aspect. This is obviously a topic that most big brands are still learning about, so don’t feel discouraged if you find it difficult.

And of course, we are always here to help! Any questions you have in making your online marketing tactics more effective you can consult our blog for more articles or leave your question in the comments!

About the Author: Deanna Zaucha is the Retention Marketing Coordinator for Webs. Can be found on a dance floor, or on her iPhone keeping up with trends in marketing and tech. 
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