Offline behaviour the key to cracking online connection

Behind every device and online visitor is a real human. This sounds obvious but it can be easy for marketers to get tunnel vision about leveraging online behaviour for targeting, to the extent that the person ‘behind the mouse’ is sometimes forgotten.

In a digital setting, marketers should care even more about offline context – because online search and content consumption, and true brand affinity and intent, do not necessarily a match make.

For example, a 40-year-old man might like reading about or watching football, but it doesn’t mean he’s in the market for sports gear. He could be David Beckham – but, more likely, the man behind the mouse is a weekend couch potato who shapes his waistline courtesy of a large bag of chips and several beers.

The missing link in many online marketing campaigns is insight into the characteristics of the real life consumer and the reasons behind their online behaviour. Looking only at online consumer behaviour only considers the pattern of activity in one channel, missing many of the nuances and context of that behaviour across other channels. This dilutes the potential impact of online messaging – and brands already trepidatious about online marketing soon become disenchanted with the hit-and-miss results they see from their digital efforts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting marketers abandon their click-stream analytics or forget about cookies, Google Analytics and all the powerful information you can pull from the digital domain. There’s no doubt recent online consumer behaviour is a consistently strong predictor of ‘armchair interest’ and possibly future intent. But it’s simply not enough to provide adequate insight to sharply tailor content and win eyes, hearts and minds. Online behaviour is only one strand of data, and cannot provide the full picture of a consumer’s attitudes, beliefs, characteristics and consumption patterns.

Although the internet is increasingly pervasive, we still live our lives in the ‘real world.’ Humanised insights are still meaningful and, when leveraged properly, offer clever new ways to optimise customer engagement across all channels – including online.

What offline data matters? While the easy answer is ‘everything,’ the reality is there are certain traits, behaviours and attitudes that carry far more weight from a targeting point of view. Traits such as life stage and affluence, category engagement and transitional events such as the birth of a new child are powerful targeting elements.

While using this kind of data in the offline environment is second nature, linking the offline identity to a digital one has been a sticking point. Establishing an identity match requires identity elements to be shared with a brand across both online and offline channels, and frequently they aren’t.

However, thanks to new technologies such as SuperTag, matching online to offline is becoming easier – particularly when complementary brands work in collaboration to identify consumers.

SuperTag ‘carries’ a user’s real world characteristics across sessions and between SuperTag partners, allowing a brand to leverage real world characteristics in real time to drive dynamic content. This simple, easy to implement tool drives content personalisation, based on who a visitor is, not just where they’ve been.

The challenge for marketers is that the real underlying triggers for a potential purchaser are not likely to be deduced solely from a consumer’s recent search and online consumer behaviour.

Effectively merging the real time behavioural information captured online with information about more stable and enduring characteristics of the person behind the mouse provides marketers with a far stronger toolkit to optimise targeting, messaging and customer management strategy.

This integrated approach offers a breakthrough for marketers – a means to sort through and make more sense of disparate online behaviours, and increase engagement across the consumer purchase lifecycle.


Chris Smith
BY Chris Smith ON 15 October 2013
Chris Smith is general manager of Inivio, the marketing services division of Veda.