Excitement is building around here as we get closer to the 2014 Adobe Summit, scheduled for late March. The Summit is one of my favorite events of the year—full of energy, knowledge, and opportunity. Participants can network with other marketers, get face-to-face time with Adobe Marketing Cloud experts, and learn about innovative tools and solutions.

At this year’s Summit, I’ll be hosting a session on personalization and optimization, key elements in any successful marketing campaign. Leading up to this, I thought I’d talk a little about how businesses can—and should—use predictive targeting for more successful campaigns.

Who Are Your Customers?

Although demographics are important, they shouldn’t be the sole basis of your market analysis. All too often, a business owner will create a profile, such as “my ideal customer is a woman between 25 and 35 who lives in the Tri-State area, works full-time, has two children, and makes more than $50,000 per year,” and use that as the foundation for a campaign. To truly understand your ideal customers, you need to go beyond outward appearances.

Psychographics can help round out the picture, going beyond cold, hard facts to find out what makes buyers tick. Using a tool like Adobe Social, marketers can pinpoint a customer’s emotions and sentiment toward your brand and their experience, which can also be drivers of purchasing behavior and loyalty.

Behavioral targeting goes beyond demographics and psychographics, and looks at what customers are actually doing. Campaigns are targeted based on a variety of customer activities, such as

  • Visits to your website (frequency and duration)
  • Site navigation, clicks, and specific page views
  • On-site searches
  • Purchased items (and conversely, abandoned carts)
  • Entry of customer data into online forms
  • Technical information (i.e., device used, browser type, and geolocation)
  • Customer value (total amount purchased)

Using predictive analytics in the Adobe Marketing Cloud, you can identify specific market segments, score customers based on expected response, and conduct marketing attribution across all digital and offline channels.

Considering all of these data types is the only way to form a well-rounded, 360-degree view of your customer—which in turn enables you to give them precisely what they want and need, at just the right time.

Expand Results with Off-site Targeting

Behavioral targeting doesn’t have to be limited to a prospect’s interactions with your site. Display ad retargeting, as well as search retargeting, has proven highly effective in capturing new customers.

For example, Marriott may want to target travelers who have searched for “luxury hotels” on Google, but haven’t actually visited Marriott’s site. Using search retargeting, Marriott could display targeted ads to these users, triggered by their Google activity.

Another predictive strategy is “lookalike targeting.” Your current customers are already converting, so you already have access to precise clues for how to target new ones. Based on your existing customer profiles, you can actively seek out similar, qualified prospects. One method is to identify websites where “lookalikes” are likely to visit and then use display ad retargeting. Or, if your business caters to a local clientele, you can tailor your campaign to prospects who share the same geolocation as your current customers.

Using these strategies, you’ll be able to capture a new audience that shares many of the same characteristics and behaviors as your current visitors and customers, but have not yet visited your site. A tool like Adobe Audience Manager can help you augment your audience information from multiple data sources.

The Ever-Evolving Customer Profile

Behavioral targeting is a highly effective way to connect with more qualified prospects and boost customer value, simply by leveraging historical and in-context data and using real-time analytics to target your audiences. With so many sources of information, it’s easier than ever to build a thorough, cohesive profile—and to turn those insights into action.

In my next post, I’ll talk about the importance of retargeting, and making adjustments to campaigns based on customer response (or nonresponse).

Each of your customers has a story to tell—are you listening?