The relationship between merchant and buyer has evolved into a more complex and dynamic exchange, more specifically one that requires sellers to adopt behavior-driven targeting strategies to maximize conversion rates.

Often in the rising world of e-commerce, the browsing behavior of each visitor can offer retailers clues as to which emotions drive specific onsite engagement. This is particularly the case when the merchant can both view and measure the historical context of each visit. For instance, vital information can be revealed by examining a range of different activities, from data on the number of page views, to the amount of time spent viewing a shopping cart.

In the case of online stores that enjoy a high repeat purchasing history due to consistent sales from such items ranging from dietary supplements to specialty apparel, the digital footprint of those site visitors gives retailers important insights that may well lead to tangible leads and eventually, to actual conversions. Meanwhile, a first time prospect without a prior purchase history, is unlikely to be considered a serious shopper.

However, in the case that a new user does make his/her first purchase on the site, the merchant is then very well positioned to establish itself as the primary supplier of specific items similar to that user’s recent purchase. This positioning can help reel in more regular, repeat purchases. Therefore, it is vital for merchants to explore methods that will help them identify new potential repeat customers. Capitalizing on such opportunities requires adopting an aggressive strategy that examines user browsing activity in real-time. This could be in the form of presenting a one-time offer that recognizes both the level of caution displayed by the prospective buyer, but simultaneously appeals to the expressed interest reflected by his/her behavior. At Fanplayr, we refer to this as segmenting and targeting, with these strategies producing significant results:


Segmentation essentially tries to understand and classify the emotions behind each engagement, all while minimally impacting the user experience and without requiring explicit revelations or onsite registration. Data that underpins visitor segments are well known to most online merchants and include the following attributes among others:

  • Number of page views
  • Time on site
  • Page views per second
  • Source of visit
  • On site url history
  • Value in cart
  • Item/brand in cart
  • Time of day, day of week
  • Geographical location
  • Bought X number of items in the past Y days
  • Received X number of discounts in the past Y days

These attributes can be derived from the first visitor’s page view activity and are updated with each subsequent page view as each visitor navigates throughout the shopping site. As these values change during the visitor session, the visit itself is regularly evaluated and re-evaluated to determine which, if any, segments the visitor qualifies for. In this way, the data collected within each visit that comprises the basis for which segments are defined and visits are evaluated, is determined to be actionable.


Targeting is the action taken when a given visit qualifies as a segment. Once you as a retailer understand the emotions driving the engagement, you are best equipped to launch a call-to-action (CTA) that directly relates to that specific emotion. Such actions include: displaying a personalized message that provides a link to a product page (area of intent), a solicitation to register for a promotion or newsletter, and most effectively, an offer or set of offers that improves the price of certain items solely for this respective cohort. Again, these actions can directly translate into increased conversions. The following are good practices for effective targeting:

Visibility: The call to action must have a relevant audience. Segmentation should group together cohorts of similar interest, but neither be too restrictive or too “narrow” that no one qualifies in the segment. In order to generate redemptions, segments must generate user traffic.

Exclusivity: Visitors need to know that the offer is intended for them, and them alone. More specifically, the offer should effectively draw attention to itself, while not distracting the visitor via peripheral messages that are more generic in nature, what is often referred to as “bells and whistles”.

Responsiveness: It is considered positive for the visitor to establish a connection between the offer and some of their onsite activity. This engagement could be as simple as a page view, adding an item to the cart, or slowing down their pageview per minute rate. If the visitor sees an offer that seems to be in a response to their activity, this promotion will more likely grab their attention as it creates a sense of dialogue between the merchant and customer.

Improved Experience: Visitors need to feel that their actions are rewarded, that they have an earned stake in an enhanced shopping experience just from simply navigating the site. For example, an offer can enhance the visitor’s experience by providing options that are exclusive to that visitor. If two offers are collected with different minimum purchase requirements, the visitor can chose the most advantageous offer that fits his or her budget. However, there is no guarantee that those same offers will be presented in subsequent visits.

Conversion Facilitation: Last but surely not least, effective targeting implies the ability for ecommerce retailers to increase their visitors’ conversion rates. Ideally, the mechanics of receiving and redeeming an offer should facilitate conversion and not inhibit it. As a rule, promote offers only when they are necessary and then kindly get out of the way of the buying process. A/B Testing.

Among its advantages, segmenting and targeting results can also be easily measured. Fanplayr includes simple analytics features wherein the merchant can decide how much segmented traffic will be subject to targeting and how much will be held as control, i.e. they aren’t exposed to an offer. This method, also known as A/B testing, produces results that are subject to the effectiveness of the varying segments. The screenshot below is of a recent campaign we ran on behalf of a leading and well-known online furniture and fixtures store. Note the 25.54% improvement in total net revenue, an 11.44% bump in the conversion rate, and a 12.65% bump in average order value (AOV). Impressive, right?

We understand the e-commerce philosophy that not all visitors are created equal. Some are there with a clear intent to make a purchase, with the potential for every extra onsite action to deter the buyer. However, there are plenty of curious shoppers out there in the need of a little push, and the type and magnitude of that engagement largely depends on the state of mind of each visitor. Additionally, the behavioral targeting strategies introduced above should look to align the interest of the merchant with that of the potential buyer. It is really possible to pinpoint the emotions that trigger people’s responsiveness to an offer. More importantly, the fundamental purpose of segmenting and targeting is to understand a visitor’s purchase intent and interest, and to align offers according to the purpose of each visit. Thus, the technique acts in the interests of both merchant and visitor alike.

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