Deciphering Behavioral Marketing Web Sites

Why your Web site may not be helping visitors choose you

Is your Web site confusing your readers or clarifying things for them? As a Conversion Scientist, my job is to cast a critical eye on the sites of my clients. In my recent ClickZ columns, I’ve turned that critical eye toward behavioral marketing vendors. “The Language of Behavioral Marketing” parts one and two are designed to help readers understand what behavioral vendor Web site mean and to underscore some of the mistakes they make.

I think any B2B marketing team could learn a bit from these columns.

In Part One, I highlight why these sites weren’t helpful to me in my quest to better understand the industry. Are you making these mistakes?

Everyone’s the “Leader”

There’s something we’re trying to say when we say we’re the “leader,” but rarely do we say what it is. Are we the highest volume provider? Are we the low-cost leader? Do we have the most market share? Or are we just trying to look bigger than we really are? If it’s the latter, pick something that defines your leadership and say that.

Let your participation in industry events help you define your leadership. Be the thought leader with helpful, smart content.

Shooting at the competition

The sites that I reviewed took great pains to define who they are not. This is understandable as there are hundreds of competing ad networks joining the industry, many of which don’t hold themselves to a standard that big brand advertisers want. Nonetheless, it is far more powerful to tell the story of who you are than to throw stones at your competitors. It just takes more work to define and tell that story.

Everyone does everything

Pick your place in the market and be willing to walk away from the rest. The companies whose sites I reviewed are capable of applying behavioral targeting to a wide range of industries, and don’t want to limit themselves. However, I think they would be well served to select some turf to dominate, and be willing to concede some part of the market in the short term.

Pick the bucket you want your visitors to put you in, or they’ll put you in their own buckets, which may be the “not sure what they do best” bucket.

Valueless value propositions

The power of picking your bucket is that you can create a value proposition that differentiates you and establishes you as a desirable partner.

The businesses I reviewed clearly wanted to work with major brands, but don’t want to walk away from small and medium-sized businesses. Picking one might reduce their appeal to the other, but it doesn’t have to. “We’re Big Brand Behavioral Marketers” appeals to big brands, but offering a white paper on the site entitled “Why the Big Brands Win in Behavioral” would appeal to smaller brands without undercutting the basic value proposition.

In short, use powerful positioning statements to establish your ground, but use innovative content to finesse your offering.

Playing it Safe with Content

Once you’ve stepped out onto the skinny branches of defining who you are as a business, you’re content has to reinforce that. It should do it emotionally, passionately and without compromise.

There is little copy less emotional, passionate and compromising than “corporate communication,” and this is where most Web copy is drawn. Corporate communication is for proposals, the prospectus and the quarterly report. It is not appropriate for marketing communication.

Add a little attitude to the video. Title your reports and white papers in unexpected ways. Have some fun with your executive bios. Remember business people are humans.

Brian Massey's social graph

Image courtesy http://www.sxc.hu/profile/nighthawk7

  • Agree with the points you made above Brian. Quite insightful.

  • VoiceTranscribing

    Thanks for the article Brian. Yes, more and more of our clients use our transcription service http://voicetranscribing.com to transcribe their podcasts, webinars, interviews and generate content for blog posts.

  • Hi Kristi,

    I can respond with a lengthy comment, arguing the futility and wastefulness in running A/A or A/A/B etc. test, but I’ve already done an article on that back in 2014, so I’ll just share that: http://blog.analytics-toolkit.com/2014/aa-aab-aabb-tests-cro/ If you’d like to check it out and, hopefully, respond to it I think it will be beneficial for the readers of this blog.

    Kind Regards
    Georgi

    • Thanks, Georgiev. When you have a test setup that spans multiple domains, servers and security features, an A/A test is critical. We have been saved by A/A tests. In response to your excellent article I ask, “Which is more wasteful: Running a series of A/A tests or running a series of A/B tests that result in the wrong decisions?” The latter can impact sales for months or years.

      • Sounds like an unusually complicated test setup there, Brian. What kind of problems did those many A/A tests reveal? Randomization issues? User experience uniformity issues? Statistical engine issues? I’m just thinking there has to be a better way to detect & debug most of these, but the statistical engine ones…

        • We never really found the smoking gun, but we suspected cookie persistence issues, iframe security delays, page load times, etc. We redesigned the approach and verified the setup with an A/A test.

  • nrennie

    Thanks for removing my comments @bmassey:disqus.

    Surely constructive criticism is part of making things better, and excluding a market leader from your “Top tools” was exactly this?

    So my valid point was why not include Maxymiser? It’s a huge gap in your post.

    • Cut the sarcasm, @nrennie. It’s never appropriate. You commented on the wrong post here. I assume you meant to post on “The Most Recommended AB Testing Tools by Leading Experts”. I’ll reply to your comment there, but we didn’t list Maxymiser because nobody recommended it. Our team used it for one client and found it lacking on several key features.