How to build user profiles of anonymous visitors and convert them into loyal customers

25 Jul 2017 | By Tobias Arns

Today, marketers find one of their biggest challenges is converting anonymous website visitors into loyal customers. Research shows more than 98 percent of website visitors are anonymous. It may seem ambitious and a bit naïve, but most brands want every single person who visits their sites to make a purchase and come back for more. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, how do brands turn anonymous visitors into loyal customers?

For every brand offering any type of product, there are a hundred others offering the same thing. Just step into the grocery store and look at how many different types of laundry detergent there are. The prices don’t vary much, making it even more difficult for customers to make decisions. Similarly, publishers and media houses are continuously competing with one another for more readers. While most content is available for free and shared widely across social media, publishers are struggling to make a significant profit. Given this, how does one brand outshine the other and convince a one-time visitor to return as a bona fide customer?

Brands must understand their audiences and personalize their messages to turn unknown prospects into loyal customers. The difficult part for marketers is customizing content when they know absolutely nothing about the user. However, there are steps brands can take to increase the likelihood that an anonymous visitor will make a purchase, subscribe to a newsletter or register for a mailing list.

It all begins with data.

Build Anonymous User Profiles Based on Past Behavior and Interests

To personalize online interactions, marketers must know their customers inside and out. However, most times when a visitor enters a website, a brand knows very little about that individual.

While putting a face to a stranger may seem like an impossible task, there are a number of ways to unmask an unknown individual.

The first thing marketers should do is leverage their known data (first-party data) that is already available within the organization using data management platforms (DMP). DMPs collect data from a brand’s own digital platforms, such as websites and apps, as well as data from customer relationship management (CRM) systems. CRM tools can help marketers gain insights into users quickly and determine whether or not someone has visited the domain before. Hidden behind that information is a world of data. Where did those visitors go last time they were on the site? Did they make a purchase? The answers to these questions can help marketers better understand how to (and how not to) message to that specific visitor.

If a user hasn’t visited the website before, DMPs can also gather data from a number of second- and third-party sites and applications. This includes data from partners and other sources, such as subscription data, social media, CRMs, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, content management systems (CMS) and other analytics systems.

Using these tools, marketers can discover if a specific topic or product is trending among a group of similar people or is being consumed by others in a look-a-like segment. They can then extrapolate the data points about those other similar customers to form a clearer picture of the anonymous user.

Analyze Users’ Behaviors in Real Time

It’s important to serve content that is mapped to the information marketers have readily available. While users are navigating the website, they are providing plenty of fresh data in real-time to help marketers understand their interests.

Once users have spent some time on the website, analyze their behavior and history to start predicting their intent. A DMP can help to analyze and collect that data in real-time to push more personalized content their way. Use this data to ask questions like: What pages are visitors clicking through? Do they spend more time reading articles about the environment or more time on articles about sports?

Knowing users’ intent can help you serve them relevant content, offers and ads. It also provides marketers with the opportunity to test out teaser campaigns to show visitors what they could get if they paid for the service or product brands are selling, helping to drive them further down the conversion funnel.

Personalize the Experience in Real Time

Having this rich data available in real-time makes it possible for marketers to create a personalized experience for visitors every time they visit a brand’s site and increase user engagement.

However, most vendors struggle to analyze data and take action on the insights it provides at the same time. If the data is old, the experience won’t be accurately portrayed. If marketers don’t personalize users’ experiences, the data collected serves no purpose. Combining the two will give marketers a rich picture of what viewers are interested in, helping to develop relationships that will make them feel more attached to the brand’s product or service. Using this approach, Winnipeg Free Press, a Canadian newspaper, doubled the number of articles users read in one week. The publisher learned that relevancy and timeliness are key to creating an engaging experience that leaves users wanting more.

Turning an anonymous user into a loyal customer all begins with data. Even if marketers know absolutely nothing about the user, it is possible to develop a customer journey that is tailored to his or her personal interests. Using first-party data and supplementing it with second- and third-party data to develop user profiles that give marketers the chance to really customize each and every interaction, whether it is the first or 10th time visitors have come to the site. It’s all about getting a 360 degree view of a prospect to create a personalized journey that will encourage them to make a purchase and continue to come back for more.

This article was originally published on Data Informed.