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Behavioral targeting and BTBuckets - an interview with Phillip Klien

BTBucketsRecently we discussed some of the low budget tools for onsite behavioral targeting on our blog. One of the tools we discussed was BTBuckets, probably the most famous one in our line-up. Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing on the co-founders of BTBuckets, Phillip Klien (@pklien). Phillip Klien is considered to be one of the innovators in the field of behavioral targeting and frequently asked to speak and conferences about the subject of behavioral targeting and tool development in events around the world. He is also co-founder Predicta, the leading technology firm in Brazil.

In our interview Phillip shared some of his expertise to help Joomla users to get started with onsite behavioral targeting and BTBuckets.

Our questions about onsite behavioral targeting

To start off, we asked Phillip a few questions about onsite behavioral targeting.

Analytics for Joomla: How important do you believe onsite behavioral targeting is within the whole spectrum of website optimization?

Phillip Klien: We believe that onsite behavioral targeting (or personalization) is crucial for an engaging user experience on any type of website, and behavioral plays an important role in any personalization strategy. If you’re a publisher, behavioral targeting can be incredibly important in helping you segment and monetize your audience.  For corporate sites and brick-and-mortar businesses, it can help personalize your messaging to specific geographies + languages and/or specific products + services.  And if you’re an ecommerce site, behavioral targeting is probably secondary to fixing your conversion funnel -- but it can be an important strategic tool for merchandising and ad campaigns.  The bottom line is that competition on the web is more fierce than ever, and marketers need every extra advantage they can find to improve conversion rates and squeeze value from their ad dollars.

Analytics for Joomla: What is the number one suggestion you can give to people who are getting started with behavioral targeting?

Phillip Klien: Have a plan.  Many people get excited by the idea of behavioral targeting and “personalization”, but don’t have a clear vision of what it means for their site.  Onsite behavioral targeting is really a combination of tools, processes and people.  Decide what you want to do, and then figure out how behavioral targeting can help you achieve that goal.  Also, start small.  Get comfortable, and grow into a behavioral targeting strategy.  And make sure you always have a good control group - you want to be able to truly understand the impact of any targerting.

Analytics for Joomla: What do you need to get do before starting with onsite behavioral targeting?

Phillip Klien: Make sure you know your visitor and web analytics data.  To create a successful personalization strategy you must be able to identify the characteristics to bucket your users. Correctly building your segments is critical to getting value from your targeting strategies.  Think of it like this: segments are the ingredients for your targeting recipe. If you forget an ingredient, the meal turns out wrong!

Analytics for Joomla: How many visitors or revenue does your website need to generate before you should get started with onsite behavioral targeting?

Phillip Klien: I think that the correct question is: does our website have the measurement maturity necessary to begin personalization and on-site behavioral targeting?  If you are still working on funnel configuration or KPI definition, I strongly suggest you get these functioning properly before embarking on a personalization adventure.  Correctly measuring lift impact on your KPIs is crucial for any on-site BT strategy.

Analytics for Joomla: Can you share some general guidelines or insights about tracking personalized content and reporting on the successes?

Phillip Klien: The exact tracking & reporting strategy will depend on your analytics solution.  The ideal approach is to capture both segment and personalization information (e.g. variation) for each visitor.  For example, BTBuckets integrates with Google Analytics, and makes it easy to pass your bucket-generated segments and/or personalization strategies directly into GA as custom variables (customVars).  It’s then easy to later run reports analyzing the on-site behavior of visitors by each segment or personalization strategy.  And always have a control group so that you know that the personalization was responsible for the lift and not some external factor.

And our questions about BTBuckets

Joomla users can use our Joomla plugin for BTBuckets to easily add the BTBuckets tracking code to their website. I asked Phillip a few questions to better understand the tool and the future ahead.

Analytics for Joomla: Did you involve the end-user in the development of BTBuckets?

Phillip Klien: Predicta, the parent company of BTBuckets, is a leading technology consulting firm in Brazil.  We’ve built BTBuckets based on hands-on strategy experience with our clients, and we’re avid users of the tool ourselves.  We also definitely listen to our customers, and welcome their feedback. Most of the features implemented last year were based on end-user suggestions. In fact, we’re actively looking for input right now, as we plan our roadmap for the next 12 months.

Analytics for Joomla: What is your favorite feature of BTBuckets? And why is this your favorite feature?

Phillip Klien: Features are just a means to an end; we’re more interested in what it can do.  One favorite implementation these days is it’s ability to manage and create audiences for Google AdWords remarketing. BTBuckets lets us build very specific audiences based on user behavior, and then serve those audiences segment-specific ads on the Google Content Network. 

But most of all, I just love the simplificty of BTBuckets.  You can create buckets from within the Google Analytics reports (with our plugin) in just a couple of minutes.

Analytics for Joomla: Can you tell us something about the future of BTBuckets? Into which direction will it develop?

We actually just ‘pivoted’ BTBuckets and created a separate new product with lessons learned from our clients:  SiteApps is combination of a tag mangement solution with a marketplace for website apps.  Imagine using your BTBuckets’s segment data and serve users pre-built personalized content in a couple of clicks?  We believe that ACTION will be the most important part of a web analytics strategy in 2011.

This interview is part of a series, in which we interview several leaders in the field of onsite behavioral targeting and tool development. Next week: Dennis van der Heijden from Reedge.

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