How ALM is Capitalizing on Behavioral Data
There is an adage that states "you are what you do, not what you say you'll do." But until very recently media companies only considered what people said, relying solely upon self-reported data (such as online registration forms) for marketing purposes. Not only do these profiles quickly become stale, but frequently they're not even accurate to begin with, as readers had little incentive to properly fill them out. By way of example, the most selected job title for ALM publication readers (primarily attorneys) who filled out an online profile form to access ALM articles in 2012 was "other."
In the 3.0 publishing world, however, media companies no longer need to be limited to self-reported data and through "Big Data" can access a whole host of relevant information to target readers. This is critical because reader ad fatigue is increasing -- as is indicated by everything from rising email opt-out rates to lower click-through of online banner ads -- while marketers are getting more sophisticated and requiring better, more-targeted performance from their publishing partners. To combat this issue, publishers should leverage the first-party behavioral data of their readers, including products purchased, newsletters subscribed to, events attended, articles read, etc. By applying this knowledge in outbound campaigns, publishers can both increase campaign effectiveness and reduce email opt-outs (i.e., protect their valuable audience database).
To understand the performance difference between a traditional "profile-targeted" approach and a next-gen "behavioral-targeted" marketing approach we recently conducted a test. Our test focused on a client campaign for the Crisis Strategies Summit, an event focused on the intersection of legal and reputational risk and how to balance the public relations, leadership, governance, security, and regulatory issues attorneys face in a crisis.
The traditional (profile-targeted) campaign was emailed out to 20,000 qualified leads based on the reader's job title: "In-house Attorney, PR, and Partner." Separately, we emailed the same creative to a target set based on their behavior. More specifically, we reviewed the agenda of the program and identified the key themes and discussion points. Then we leveraged our taxonomy and master data management system (which houses our big data) to build our "behavioral-targeted" list. We came up with 7 topical areas and determined that we would only select readers who had viewed more than 10-plus pages in the past 6 months on content relating to communications and media law, white collar crime, internet law, entertainment and sports law, criminal liability, products liability, or personal liability.
The traditional email campaign contained more than 20,000 records and had an open rate of 15%. The behavioral email campaign had less than 4,000 records but achieved an open rate of nearly 25% and saw a 600% higher CTR. The end result being the behavioral campaign actually drove more leads than the traditional campaign (even though it had 5X less names).
The above was just one of several recent campaigns we've sent out where ALM has seen significantly higher results from campaigns that rely on user behavior rather than self-reported information. We are finding that this approach not only drives efficiency, but also saves on overall database churn.
On a final note, while this was specifically an email campaign example, the application of Big Data is becoming ubiquitous for us. Our investment in a big data foundation will help ALM drive things like ad delivery, product sales, content delivery, and personalization. They say content is king but if that's the case, data has to be the queen.
Jeffrey S. Litvack is ALM's chief digital officer and president of ALM Intelligence. Robert Schultz is senior director of business intelligence at ALM. Read more about the technology behind ALM's big data initiative here.
Jeffrey Litvack is the Managing Director of Xcel Advisors and CEO of ClearView Social. Previously he was Group President and Chief Digital Officer at ALM and head of global product development at the Associated Press. Jeff has received numerous awards for his ground-breaking work in transforming media companies to be digital and mobile first.