There are many types of platforms that help us do great things and that do great things for us, for Harry Potter there was platform 93/4 that whisked him off to a magical place full of all things witchy and wizardy,  for Benny Andersson (the shorter male member of Abba) there was the platform sole that helped give his great stature, both horizontally…and vertically!, and for the modern generation there are technical and digital platforms that use and provide information on your online and browsing practices to help your business work for you.

What we do with these platforms and how we decide which ones to use is based on what we want to achieve from them.  For example, here is an everyday scenario showing how a platform can help sell  – you walk into a baker’s shop and the friendly baker says “your usual (insert your name here)?”… and proceeds to bag 4 morning rolls, a strawberry tart, and a doughnut. He also then says “you would love these new doughnuts I have baked today…” and goes on to sell you one more doughnut which is a limited edition strawberry jam filled doughnut because he knows you love doughnuts and strawberry tarts. Using your predictable behaviour the baker can put the products you want and are likely to be looking for right in front of you.

This is done by gaining an understanding of your customers’ browsing and purchasing behaviour.  Have you ever bought something on a site or searched for an item and the next time you log on to your computer pop ups or adverts for that item follow you around?  Now, there are many ways this can be done but I am going to look at two in particular, recommendation software and re-targeting software.

1)      Recommendation

This is the most straightforward yet one of the most effective types for any business and we have all seen examples of it at work on sites like Amazon when they make suggestions of products or recommendations. Amazon takes your browsing and purchasing behaviour (based on information collected from your cookies – see last week’s post) and serves you content based on your behaviour. This gives everyone a personal and tailored experience which is automated and not manually populated, which means your Daniel O’ Donnell back catalogue search will remain between you and your computer, and a clever bit of software of course!

These plug-ins can also recommend products based on people with similar tastes (you might see an “other people bought” recommendation) or even similar demographics as you. So if other 26 (a’hem) year old girls (a’hem) from Aberdeen bought woolly hats and gloves in March, and people in London bought shorts and sunglasses, you will be served the content relevant to you based on your location.

There are lots of different software platforms that do this, and Début Marketing can help recommend some of these providers based on your specific needs and requirements. The set up process simply entails dropping a piece of coding on your website, and these services are usually paid for based on number of people viewing your site, so don’t worry, you don’t need the marketing budget of Amazon. These plug-ins can make a huge difference to sales and upsells so can pay for themselves easily…plus there is a reason all the best sites use these plug-ins!

2)      Re-targeting software

This one is nice and simple to explain so I will steer clear of analogies; using the cookies and data gathered on your browsing, you will be retargeted and remarketed to based on what you were looking at on a particular website.

For example, have you ever wondered why after looking at black jumpers on John Lewis’ website, the next site you go to has a display (a.k.a. banner) advert with black jumpers from John Lewis on it? What a coincidence! Or is it?  As my Mum always says “there are no such things as coincidences” and she is right, for these are actually retargeting adverts which use your browsing history, and your cookie/IP address and follow you around the web.

There are numerous benefits to using this type of software, especially if your customer didn’t buy the item initially as it reminds them at a later date that they were looking at that item for a reason and it is great for small brands as it can make it seem like you have a huge brand presence. Also the sales benefits are huge as it increases conversion and purchases of these products. Lastly it allows you to make it feel like a personal experience has been delivered.

Another way of utilising this is with complementary products whereby you will automatically be retargeted with an add-on item that is normally purchased alongside your initial item. It would be like buying tiles and then being re-targeted with grout and sealant. Again a personal experience just for you all delivered by a cookie and your data being collected. Who would have thought cookies could be this good for us!

Again we at Début Marketing can help out with these services and put you in touch with the right people who can help facilitate this type of software and plug in.

Wow, all this talk of cookies has made me hungry so I shall leave it there and next week talk about something slightly less technology based – messages.  How they come across, how to get them across, when to put them across and what to put in them – almost as good as cookies in my book!

Have you had any experience of using recommendation or re-targeting plug-ins? Let us know in the comments what your experience was like.

Platforms and Plugins – the basics
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