Jeff Hirsch, president of behavioral targeting firm Revenue Science, works with companies such as Oracle, TheStreet.com and WashingtonPost.com to help them uncover the effects of past behavior on future purchases as well as overall visitor behavior. BtoB recently spoke to Hirsch about the uses of behavioral marketing.
BtoB: Why should behavioral marketing matter for b-to-b marketers?
Hirsch: As a businessperson, my experience with b-to-b advertising in the online display world is that I always had a very difficult time reaching the right audience. As an advertiser, you can go out and look for specific sites that may have the right visitors, but they are pretty hard to find. I know myself; I don't go to a lot of sites that are specific resources for businesses. The closest I come are the blogs I read and they are not frequented by a lot of people who are decision-makers. So what we've seen is b-to-b marketers having to throw out a large net and see who they can catch that meets their criteria. Clearly, they are spending a lot of money only to reach people who are not part of their target audience.
Behavioral marketing changes this because you can finally target very specifically. By understanding a person's behavior on the Web—the types of searches they are doing, the articles they read, the sites they visit—you can create rich profiles around people and can target them with specific messaging based on what your product is. Instead of throwing a large net, you're sending out a much smaller net reaching only those who you actually want.
BtoB: Are there any downsides to the practice?
Hirsch: This positive aspect of behavioral marketing is actually also the potential negative: When you go in and specify an audience, you're limiting your overall audience and sacrificing scale. This is why—although any company can benefit from behavioral marketing—you want to be careful not to use it as your only form of marketing. If you're targeting too granularly, you might be missing someone who you didn't know or understand might be a great customer for you.
Another caveat is the way you need to think about behavioral marketing. You need to realize that each target group needs its own creative. Right now, too many people are putting one set of creative out there regardless of the audience. At a minimum, the audience is going to be different based on where they are in the buying funnel. So if you're using the same creative across the board, you're not really taking full advan-tage of the possible benefits. M