In my last post, I introduced “10 Questions for the Future of Third-Party Data.” With this post, I’d like to go a step further and tackle the question that topped the list:

How can we use the available data to supply the right content to the right person at the right time?


If you’re not from Utah, this billboard might be lost on you. Fry sauce? Ask any Utahn and they’ll tell you the only way to eat French fries is slathered in a creamy mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise. We invented the dipping sauce (and perfected the 1 part ketchup: 2 parts mayo ratio), and we won’t hear otherwise.

When Fiat planted this billboard beside a busy Salt Lake City highway, they were using their data on Utah to deliver targeted marketing. “Fry sauce” is the right content for Utahns. There are other types of targeting at play, of course: marketing the sporty imports to drivers in a town known for its resorts and business just makes sense. The right content to the right people at the right time (and place)? Check, check, and check.

What Can We Learn from a Roadside Billboard?

Personalizing a single billboard in a fixed location for a limited market is one thing; delivering localized, up-to-date content to individual visitors across multiple pages in real time is quite another. But digital marketers should still strive for the written-just-for-me personalization Fiat delivered in Salt Lake.

Fiat didn’t need Big Data to pull this off. They only needed to focus on the data relevant to a particular region and a particular kind of customer. This kind of good old fashioned segmentation and targeting is making a digital comeback.

Is Your Data Going to Waste?

Many digital marketers are struggling to utilize multiple, independent data streams, which they must access and manipulate separately. This way of organizing data is laborious and limiting, and companies often spend all their energy on one data stream while the others slip by. Or they divert all streams into one giant reservoir, only to realize they don’t have the technology to filter and treat it. Then all that valuable data sits stagnant.

How can we use data to supply the right content to the right person at the right time? The answer lies in integrated, individual visitor profiles.

Give All Your Visitors a Mini-Pool

What if instead of one giant reservoir, each visitor had their own personalized mini-pool? The growing field of customer data management (CDM) is working fast to make this “what if” a reality. When data is organized around unique visitors, it becomes more personal, responsive, and effective.

Creating data-rich profiles is about integration, integration, and integration. When a visitor lands on a site, he or she can become immediately visible as a cluster of relevant data: age, gender, geographic location, or registration data make up their mini-pool. If you are accessing third-party data, a visitor’s past purchases, browsing history, subscriptions, and other insights will fill their pool as well. Finally, as visitors move from page to page, they generate behavioral data that sales can respond to in real time and marketing can use to optimize site content.

Profiles Meet Personalization

Visitor profiles enable you to deliver creative personalization that will dwarf any billboard. With the abundance of data available, it’s easier to target folks online than it is in print. Here’s how you can use some of the most common data streams to create responsive web content and boost conversion:

  • Third-Party Data

With third-party data, your company can get access to comprehensive visitor profiles already created by other companies.

The moment I access your site, you can detect my age, gender, income, and location. To unlock some great geotargeting, tie localized content or regional ad campaigns to my geographic data. If I saw an image of Utah and a reference to fry sauce splashed across a webpage, I’d be blown away.

  • Behavioral Data

As soon as I reach your site, you can measure and store my behavior. Am I engaging with certain products or solutions? What kinds of links, images, and assets am I clicking on that tell something about me? Do I linger on some pages and immediately abandon others, and how does that indicate interest? All this internal data enriches my visitor profile and enables better and better personalization with each return visit.

For example, by combining third-party data on income with my first-party browsing behavior, you can determine which product I’m most likely to favor. Got a deal for the family-focused career man who likes to ski? Show me! You might highlight items I can afford, replace generic copy with a personalized call to action, and offer custom discounts to smooth the path to conversion.

  • Registration Data

If I’m still intrigued after browsing the site, I might request a quote, subscribe to an e-newsletter, download a report, or make a purchase. The forms that accompany each of these transactions are a great opportunity to solicit more detailed information from visitors.

If I am choosing to sign up or buy in, I’m probably willing to answer a couple brief,

noninvasive questions about myself. Ask for my industry, or see if I have a personal website. This info goes right into the visitor profile, which helps marketers provide personalized digital experiences as well as assists the sales rep who contacts me, boosting personalization the next time I visit the site.

Is there more you could be doing with your visitor profiles?

The challenge of the day is not acquiring, but personalizing Big Data. Visitor profiles offer a way to organize, integrate, and make good use of your data so you can focus on content and conversion.