An Ode to Google – Reasons I love Boutiques.com

I recently tweeted Google’s Boutiques.com launch and a few hours later received a message from an old friend – she absolutely loved the site. My own impression of the site was good, but with my strong preference for menswear I couldn’t really get a feel for the site… so here is Janine Stein’s view and a good insight into how well boutiques.com worked for her…

fashion

fashionista

I love that the style options on the left hand side are real and easy to understand. (I am Casual Chic btw and not Romantic or Edgy or Street or Boho. I’m not Classic either)

I love that it’s not defined by age.

I love seeing how my style plays out in all kinds of ways (through the tabs just under the top line) from blogs to celebrities to retailers to recommended things.

I can imagine buying something quickly that I see and realize I need.

I love that it becomes almost like a website for fashion ideas just for my style.

I love that it recognizes that fashion isn’t just for some, but for all.

I wish there was a High street option for retailer.

I wish it was in the UK.

I wish there was more suggested combinations like the sets in Polyvore.com (which I love too)

I can see that I will spend hours playing here, and I will recommend to all my friends.

I love it because I need a site like this more than most, as I need all the help I can get style-wise.

Quite fascinating in my opinion, to see a whole new level of browsing experience, tailored to you. It’s all about you and what you want. Not what others want. I love Google’s innovation and it will be interesting to see how retailers react to this…

now go check out Janine Stein’s blog

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How “Stupid” is Behavioural Targeting?

With so much talk about Behavioural Targeting’s opportunities to us Internet Marketers, it’s worth a little reflection on the purpose of Behavioural Targeting and a few of the issues which need ironing out.

stupid-behavioural-targeting

stupid-behavioural-targeting

The Purpose of Behavioural Targeting

It really is quite simple; track a user’s interaction with your website, and serve ads, promotions or recommendations based on what others do.

These ads, promos or recs could be within the same site the user is on, on another website you own or any other website which accepts and subscribes to one of many behavioural targeting ad servers.

So the purpose is, with my customer advocate hat on, to enrich and personalise the user experience by offering the right message to the right customer.

However my marketer’s hat suggests it is a great way of increasing click through rates and conversion per user. It’s like a store assistant following a customer around holding the items they just looked at in the hope they might actually add the item(s) to their basket.

One could say this is quite convenient for a customer and perhaps a little persuasive (pervasive?). Maybe I will buy it after all since you hounded me so politely…

It could just as easily become quite annoying. Picture yourself window shoppping. You know you can’t afford this particular item but you’re just taking a look… like a holiday for example… 14 nights in the caribbean perhaps? So you leave the site and jump back onto your surf board across the internet…

Targeting is not child's play...

Targeting is not child's play... (image:aboyandhisbike|flickr)

Next time you check your email, you notice the banner ad displaying the exact holiday you were looking at. You ignore it but when browsing the latest news see the ad in numerous places… now you’re getting upset. Quite annoyed in fact. You feel teased.

Behavioural targeting is not exact science

Behavioural targeting for e-commerce that doesn’t use anything more than your clickpath data through a website is severely lacking in one crucial ingredient – what you actually bought. Whilst the last 5 people that clicked around a website like you did may have all purchased item X, you bought item Y. You’re different, unique in fact.

Extending intelligence

Even if the targeting software held data on your past purchases, how could it predict your next purchase? If a customer bought a variety of apparel such as jeans, shirt and shoes, how can you predict their next purchase? Aggregation and segmentation. Whilst the propensity to buy something is not an exact science one can identify triggers and signals in data to determine cluster behaviour.

I can safely predict what time I’m going to want to eat but I won’t necessarily know what I am going to eat. This magnifies the problem online – not only are we trying to close a sale, but best predict what they might buy in order to increase the basket value.

Combining a user’s click data together with history of purchase can only take us as far as predicting their behaviour based on groups of similar consumers.

Behavioural targeting vs personalisation

When crowd behaviour creates pigeon holes, not everyone’s going to appreciate it – even personalising content can become a broadbrush without various other magical ingredients…

So taking our annoyed subject, she won’t be enjoying a hotel break anytime soon.

So how could this form of behavioural targeting be improved?

The Conversion Funnel

Don't stalk your consumer!

Don't stalk your consumer! (image:tomconger|flickr)

This is an assumption, that our subject had indeed visited the website and would really have loved to part with her money, had she had some. However how closely do site owners think about the conversion funnel? This is where behavioural targeting can become really clever. Not only base a recommendation or banner ad based on behaviour AND past purchase behaviour but also on what step of the journey the customer may be on. If you’re targeting a user that has clicked around a particular hotel more than others and maybe even stayed at your hotel chain, have they stayed at this one? Is your brand functional or aspirational? Should you perhaps woo your prospect or are they simply after the best deal?

There is a deep level of intelligence we can delve into, to really uncover the depths within the consumer’s thoughts, their needs and desires, to fully develop a truely personal experience that betters the high street and then, right when we think we’ve mastered it all…. a law is potentially being delivered banning the exact things we believe will help bridge the gap between the high street and online experiences (to an extent)

Is behavioural targeting really just plain stupid? I think not. However businesses need to reassess WHY they’re doing all of this and listen to the consumer – as with any change there will be those that protest but if the consumer feels they’re getting more benefit than not, surely they’ll stick it out…

How Buying Online Can Be Worse Than The High Street

digital camera with womain posing in mirror

image courtesy of "theonlyanla" via Flickr

I wanted to purchase a digital camera. My 5 mega pixel camera from years back had its time, I was now looking for a 14.1MP camera – yeah baby!

I saw an ad on the TV over the weekend (yes the old medium still works) which prompted me to take a look at this particular camera, 14.1MP now half price! Quids in!

Searching online, I typed the model number into Google as you do and clicked on the 3rd result down which was below the official site and a well known review site. Great I thought, looks like Google Product search has found me an even cheaper outlet. By this time I felt the power of the internet running through me as I was ready to buy within minutes. Beat that high street!

So clicking through, I was not only presented with the camera I was interested in, but also some alternatives around the similar price. Ah, I thought, wonder what I get if I pay a little bit more.

By the time I had finished looking at the alternatives was I ready to buy? No! Now I wasn’t sure. I then started researching the various options trying to understand the digital photography lingo and whether shutter speed would make any difference at all… I was lost.

See the problem here? Had I walked into a store from the TV ad and said I really like this camera, the store assistant would have closed the sale, probably with a 3 year extended warranty, SD card and case that I never intended to buy.

Instead we are at times so fixated with e-commerce sites in providing the customer with choice, we sometimes overlook the simple fact that a customer may simply want to buy this product. Or better still we throw everything at the customer from ‘you should buy this because someone else did’ or ‘buy this because ultimately you don’t have a clue’. As responsible internet marketers we need to understand and respect the consumer much better.

How do you behavioural target a consumer that knows exactly what they want? Do you push the boundary on increasing the basket value with an up-sell or increase your likelihood to convert by placing a little faith in the consumer?

I’m now going to purge my experience and go back to the original camera I was interested in. I won’t fall for mind-games, up-sells and promotions… not at least until the next time I want to buy online…

Do you agree that online shopping can be arduous? Or perhaps I’m over analysing this as an expert (of sorts)?