Before I went into advertising, I spent a quick minute working in Employee Health Care and Benefits Administration.
When you looked at initiatives like wellness and nutrition (that is exercise and diet) and employee assistance (that is quitting smoking) they always came back to one thing—behavior change. People often know something is detrimental to their health (donut-rich diet, cigarettes), but getting people to change their behavior—that’s a tough business.
Advertising healthcare is about behavior change. This is definitely not a new idea, as behavioral psychologists and advertisers have been speaking to each other for a long time, but the ability to target and create seamless views of data from an adverting impression to a sale and then even to an up or cross sell has changed the way businesses can interact with their customers, and yes—change their behavior.
What’s different between the two industries is the magnitude of change needed. In health care, you may be able to target someone who is a three-pack-a-day smoker, but to get him or her to quit smoking is hard. In most cases when we talk about behavior change in marketing it’s more of a nudge. Generally the core of your marketing efforts is going to be less akin to getting someone to give up smoking, and more like convincing someone to put one lump of sugar instead of two in their coffeeThis is partially why Search Engine Marketing (SEM) makes up 50 percent of all online ad spending; it can easily allow marketers to target behavior as a product of keyword intent. Let’s take an ice cream company known for its vanilla ice cream as an example. From a behavior perspective it’s going to get its best rate of return if it targets people who already want or are interested in vanilla ice cream.
So this could be keyword search queries like “vanilla ice cream,” “top rated vanilla,” “best vanilla ice cream,” and of course its brand terms “X Ice Cream” and “X Vanilla Ice Cream.” This is more a behavior/sales harvest play, as you have the ability to market to someone already either interested in your particular product (“X ice cream”) or the kind of product you sell (“vanilla ice cream”).
There’s also the ability to negatively target people exhibiting certain kinds of behavior via keywords “vanilla ice cream recipe” for instance. Someone, who is looking to make vanilla ice cream and not buy it.
The key is to align your content with keyword intent, to make modest behavior changes. If someone is searching for “vanilla ice cream” the company should explain why they are the vanilla ice cream they’re searching for: “blue ribbon winning taste,” “all natural ingredients,” and so on. A potential searcher for “Ice Cream Company X” may just need content to get some additional information about the ice cream or even a coupon to get it in the grocery store. These are customers who just need a little convincing, a little push or nudge to get them to take the behavior you want.
None of these ideas are new, but what I plan to investigate over these next few months is how different online marketing channels and data points allow marketers to gain great insights into their customer behavior, and to use those insights to drive value for the business.
Such insights could include digital video watch time and viewer behavior, long sales cycle retargeting strategies (B2B Information Systems), keyword intent, or content alignment (competitive keywords versus brand keywords). What do we need to do as marketers to get potential customers to modify their behavior slightly to our benefit? Where are those customers that just need a little push? Think of this as a health and wellness look at marketing data and your sales pipeline.
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