Thursday, December 30, 2010

Content Targeting and Why It’s Important

For those of you that do not know me personally, it’s great to meet you. Before we jump into my inaugural blog post as an Ektron team member, I thought it was important to provide a little context as to who I am and why you should consider reading this blog.

I have spent the past nine years working at an evolving web development firm, working on a wide range of web projects ranging from SMB and local government to international organizations and enterprise deployments. Over that time, I have seen a lot of success (and a few failures), and learned from each of them. I have also gotten a chance to learn a lot about client requirements and expectations, to get beyond KPIs and ROI, and to see how the work we’re doing can translate into real results.

I recently accepted a position at Ektron, Inc. to serve as a Midwest Regional Sales Manager. For some of you, you probably just saw my title and clicked away. However, I strongly believe that the Ektron community is one of the biggest assets our clients gain when they choose Ektron, so anything I can do to contribute to it, I will. And with that, I present the inaugural blog post.

Content Targeting and Why It’s Important
A man walks into a used car dealer and asks the salesperson for help. The salesperson looks at the man and sizes him up, then looks at the car he drove in. At this point, the salesperson has already started learning about the man without yet having asked a single question, and in essence, has started the sales process.
We've all met this guy!

On the web, we don’t have the luxury of physically looking at the man, seeing the car he drove in with, and completing a pre-qualification so to speak. But, web visitors do tell us a lot about themselves before they click past our home page.

We know:
  • Where they are coming from both geographically (based on their geo-location) and web-wise (via the referring URL)
  • What they searched to find our website if they used a search engine
  • Which device they are using to view our website (PC/tablet/mobile/etc.)
  • And usually, we are able to identify the purpose of their visit. For example, if a man searches for 2011 BMW 5 Series, we know he’s probably not interested in the deal we’re running on Prius’ right now, no matter how amazing it is.
This is where the idea of content targeting comes into play.

No Longer Just One Website
Ektron has recently introduced content targeting capabilities into the latest release of CMS400.NET. These technologies allow users to configure different versions of your website based on the information that a web visitor is providing.

For example, most sites have some kind of image/banner rotator on the home page that shows the latest and greatest elements. Typically, these banners have three or four entries, and provide teasers into the areas on our websites that we want users to go.

In the example of our car shopping friend, imagine if rather than seeing three or four random graphics about cars he’s not interested in, he saw only banners highlighting the 2011 BMW 5 Series and associated offers? It's pretty powerful stuff.

So How Does It Apply to You
In the sales example, it is easy to see why this technology is so effective at increasing conversions, but what if your ROI is based on customer or member satisfaction as opposed to revenue. There are targeting tools for that as well.

Imagine members searching for 2011 XYZ Annual Conference seeing content about the agenda and links leading to registration. Furthermore, if your site allows users to register, there is a whole host of conditions that can be used to target content after a user is logged in as well.

To apply it to your situation, simply ask yourself what visitors are looking for on your site, and try to identify ways to get them that information, faster. That’s what content targeting does.

The Bottom Line
Content targeting started years ago with things like ‘if you like this, you might like that’ and other similar tools, but now it is widespread. Users are telling you a lot before they interact with your website; it’s up to you to decide what you are going to do with that information.

For more information, please check out the following links:

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