What’s Inside Behavioral Data?

Personas have been used for a number of years by B2B digital marketers to craft content that aligns with a visitor’s context. But we all know that personas are also so… 2015. The rise in personalization has revealed both the limits and challenges of persona-based content creation — creating and maintaining content for every persona is a lot of work and getting that content in front of the visitor at the right time is tricky.

Move from personas to personalization

In order to get that content in front of the right person, you have to know a bit about the visitor. Usually that’s done with either first party or third party data that you’ve gathered or obtained about the visitor. But both regulatory changes (see GDPR) and industry practices (see ITP 2.1) are going to limit the effectiveness of such tracking in the near future. So you’re going to have to take a different approach to identifying and segmenting users.

Using behavior data and contextual data for segmentation is one way to be able to deliver relevant content in an environment where persona data may not be available. With this approach, visitors don’t need to hand over any personal data for you to best understand who is visiting your site and what their goals are, and what content they need to see to progress their journey.

There are two types of behavioral data 

  1. Historical behavior: What pages have they visited? What have they viewed on the site? What articles did they read? Where have they clicked? What content have they downloaded? Marketers (especially with the help of advanced technology like text analytics and machine learning) can make use of all of this aggregate behavioral and contextual data to model patterns that are associated with task achievement. 
  2. Real-time behavior: Models are great, but putting them to work is where the magic happens. The real-time data related to a  particular customer’s experience (the pages they look at and the context of those pages)is compared to the model. Task predictions take place and content effective at progression towards those tasks are presented to users. At a minimum, contextual data can be used to recommend related content.

Understanding past behavior is the critical input to being able to predict effective future journeys. This type of personalization reduces the workload on content creators because it maximizes the use of content that you already have on your website. It’s also content that your visitors have already told you is effective. 

How do you use behavioral personalization on your site?

Getting started with personalization can be difficult. Many integrated MarTech stacks include personalization capabilities but many companies don’t use those capabilities. Often that comes down to one of two choke points: IT teams enabling some of the capability, and/or content teams creating the content to be presented.

Behavioral personalization can mitigate some of those concerns by using the content that you already have, data that’s readily available, and easy to deploy technologies to offer content suggestions that progress journeys towards completion. 

Despite fitting your persona classification, your visitors and prospects are wildly diverse with no two achieving their objectives in the same way. No amount of information about demographics or firmographics will help solve that journey diversity problem. Behavioral data packs a wealth of knowledge about not just your visitor, but their relationship to your products. Use that and you’ll connect more visitors with the content that matters.

Madeline Moran

About Madeline Moran

Madeline is the Marketing Assistant for SoloSegment, an AI fueled software company that makes website conversions easier through personalized content recommendation.

Companies that avoid change management, eventually change management

Digital transformation is all around us–no company can escape. Most companies recognize this, and focus on managing the change in an effective way. But then there are others that think they can avoid digital.

I have been in meetings with clients in which I patiently explained all the forces buffeting their business and what they needed to do to at least cope. (They weren’t ready to compete.) And, on many occasions, I heard excuse after excuse for why they can’t make the needed changes.

My favorite was the time that the manager leaned back in his chair and said, “We understand what you are saying, but it’s just not in our DNA.” I leaned forward and reminded them, “You know that your company can get new DNA, right?”

Six months later, I heard that the manager was let go. When companies avoid change management, eventually they change management.

Don’t let this happen to you. Maybe you think you can ride this out. Maybe you think that digital is coming. It’s not coming. It arrived quite a while ago. If you think digital is coming, you are going.

Instead of waiting to get disruption, you should be figuring out how you can disrupt. I especially see this change avoidance in my largest clients. Instead of trying to avoid the changes, it’s time to embrace them. (Give them a big hug.)

Big companies fail to realize that they have an advantage in digital that upstarts lack–data.

AI has changed the game–large companies are sitting on gobs of data that AI can analyze to find patterns that unlock huge return on investment.

Instead of letting that data lay fallow, it’s time to start using it to unlock the value that AI can bring. To do that, you need to change.

Change, or get changed out. Your choice.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, check out my workshop in June on using analytics to increase conversions at the Marketing Analytics Summit.

Originally posted on Biznology

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About Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm.

Are You Considering Behavior-Based Personalization?

If you are like most marketers, you’ve probably been salivating over personalizing your website for years. It has always seemed like a good idea, but it’s never seemed possible.

At first, you thought, “If Amazon can do it, we can do it!” But then your IT folks told you the way Amazon does it. Amazon has so many products and so many purchases in its history–and so many repeat visitors–that it is relatively simple to guess what people want. But your site isn’t like Amazon.

Then you thought, “Well, if we know something about our visitors, we can use that to personalize.” But no one wanted to register on your site, so you didn’t know who they were. And privacy regulations came along, and you weren’t sure you wanted to know anything.

Does that mean that you have to give up the dream? No!

You actually can personalize using your visitors’ behavior. With the right technology, you can watch what visitors do on your site. With a bit more technology, you can find the patterns that lead them to success. And with one last dollop of tech, you can use that data to suggest successful paths to others on that same journey.

That’s the beauty of behavior-based personalization. It doesn’t require registrations. It’s GDPR-compliant, because it doesn’t require any personally-identifiable information. It doesn’t require a a slew of products or  return visitors. Or heavy traffic.

If you’ve been waiting for the easy way to add personalization to your site, it’s time to check out behavior-based personalization.

Originally posted on Biznology

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About Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm.

Meet Behavior-Based Content Recommendation

The new personalized approach to B2B content recommendation

Understanding customer behavior is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to professionals. The right data that provides you with a glimpse into their intent will allow you to effectively connect potential customers to the content that is going to help them achieve their goal. So where do you find intent data? It exists in the systems you use today. Behavior-based personalization is a strategy to offer intent-based content recommendation. If you know where to look and you have the ability to mobilize that data you can use it to progress journeys, convert more business and win more often.

Intent: Let your customers tell you

We often talk about website search as being the most common personalized experience. Website visitors identify their need, and if the search engine works well it delivers the content that answers their question. It’s the simplest, most direct method of personalizing the customer experience. Personalization isn’t the only thing that search does. It is also the first inklings of the data you need to drive effective content recommendation.

The search box on any website fulfills not only the search term input function, but also gathers meaningful data about customer intent. This is the real source of search’s power. There are lots of topics that a searcher can query. Many of those also give you insight into why they’re asking those questions. Successfully deciphering intent can not only lead to better search results, but more importantly can lead to more conversions.

Simple Intent: The Keywords

Let’s consider two searches.

“Product X Value”

“Product Pricing”

It’s obvious that these searches will yield different results. If you deliver a results page with relevant content it will help the searcher move forward in their journey. But what’s more important than the topic they’re interested in is what the topic tells you about their intent.

That first term probably indicates someone who is in the interest phase of the process. They’ve gotten beyond the top of funnel messages and are going deeper. Not only are they going to need the right content to answer the question, they may be ready for messages that move them into consideration.

Nosing around pricing content is a clear indicator of someone who is considering a purchase. This is where journey progression becomes even more important. Answer the question effectively and they’re doing business with you.

Both these search terms give actional information about the intent of the visitor. They provide signals about what you should be serving them at this stage of the buying process.

Complex Intent: All that other data

Intentions that are apparent in search term data can also be found elsewhere. One of the most effective places to look for how intent manifests itself in your data is in your web analytics system.

The patterns in visitor journey data can illustrate intent very clearly. If someone is spending a lot of time with content that is in the consideration stage of your journey, that’s an obvious signal. But what if the signal is not readily apparent in the data?

This is where advanced data science tools can be brought to the challenge of understanding what the visitor is trying to achieve. For one of our clients, we’re beginning to use unsupervised machine learning techniques to interrogate tens of thousands of visitor journeys each month.

These methods help us construct models that show patterns of visitor behavior that are associated with intent. Once you can identify the snippets of behavior that are more closely associated with goals, you can understand what behavior signals intent for those goals. Knowing this you can recommend content at just the right moment to help drive visitors to those patterns.

The value of behavior-based content recommendation

The value of behavior-based content recommendation can be directly measured. Reduced exits and bounces that increase top of funnel progression are the first signals you’re onto something. You also likely have some conversions associated with specific tasks, such as downloads and contact forms, that can be directly measured.

Of course, what you really want to measure are the purchase conversions. In a B2B world making those connections can be difficult, especially if channel or field sales are a big part of your sales engine. However, you’ve been dealing with this challenge for long time. Instrument the tasks and activities that lead to contacts and monitor the activity. All things being equal, if you can reduce the top of funnel abandons (i.e. exits and bounces) you’re going to see more come out at the other end of the funnel.

Want to get started? We might be able to help. Connect with an expert right now.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

SearchChat Podcast: Is AI Bigger than the Internet?

In a recent study,  63% of CEOs agreed that AI will have more impact on their business than the internet. Think about that for a minute. The internet. And yet, 23% said they had no plans to do anything about it. Why? Partially, people tend to overestimate how much data they need to get to a reliable result for utilizing AI

Steve and I think it’s possible for most businesses to start implementing machine learning. The new exciting thing is behavioral personalization. Among privacy concerns and the world of GDPR, behavioral personalization is a way to use data that isn’t identifying. Instead, we can match patterns with other user’s patterns. You have more data than you think. You need less data than you think. And adequate new data is more accessible than you think.

What ways can you implement AI using the data you have now, to totally change the visitor journey? It’s about creating patterns and solving problems. Take a listen! And if you’re interested in learning what SoloSegment is about, feel free to connect with us.

0:00 Intro

1:50 Behavioral personalization changes customer experience

9:30 Are you planning for the AI future, now?

21:35 AI and behavioral personalization combine to create a new visitor journey

27:50 Outro

SearchChat is available on

Search Chat is SoloSegment’s podcast dedicated to all things search AI and content marketing related. Who is SoloSegment? We’re a technology company focused on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to improve search results, increase customer satisfaction and unlock revenue for your company.

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Will AI Kill Emotion in Marketing?

Artificial intelligence is a huge buzzword across marketing right now, with over 60% of CEOs saying AI will have a larger impact on their businesses than the internet. Let that soak in for a moment. A larger impact than the internet. ‘Cause, y’know, that’s been a non-event over the last couple decades.

Of course, I’ve talked with a number of marketers who worry that this shift will make them obsolete — that once the machines are in charge, their creativity and passion and emotion will take a back seat to algorithms, to math, to machines.

But is this true? Will AI kill emotion in marketing?

Let’s get the obvious answer out of the way. No, AI does not kill emotion in marketing. Not even close. Suggesting that artificial intelligence kills emotion in marketing is like claiming email, or the internet, or television or whatever technology came before or will emerge in the future kills emotion in marketing. Because marketing is about connecting with customers. And customers, in pretty much every case that I’ve run into across my career, are, y’know, people. And people are emotional. Always.

In fact, I’d argue most marketing, most sales, depends on emotion. IBM famously used to close sales with technology leaders by reminding them, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.” If that’s not an emotional sell, I don’t know what is.

Instead, here’s what artificial intelligence will do — and in many cases, is doing already. AI does a great job of content recognition and recommendation. My friends at SoloSegment have worked with one client to expose the right content to around 20,000 additional customers every month. These are customers who knew what they wanted, were well along the way on their customer journey, and still were failing to find the information they were looking for on the client site. Even if each of those customers only convert about 1% of the time, that’s two hundred additional conversions — 200 additional sales opportunities — every single month. That’s incredibly powerful.

That effect is even more powerful when combined with the kinds of emotionally-resonant content that great marketers know how to produce.

AI can also help marketers process huge amounts of data. In fact, artificial intelligence often requires large data sets to learn how to provide the best value to marketers. The upside is that it makes understanding that data quite a bit easier. You know why you haven’t heard folks talking as much about “big data” over the last couple years? Because, as a friend of mine always says, AI makes big data little. And better still, most marketers don’t like spending their time digging into data. They’d rather spend their time focused on customers. That’s a Good Thing™. But the algorithms can process the data about what your customers do, what they care about, what motivates them to guide you to deeper understanding of the people you’re trying to connect with. Let the machines do what they’re good at. And that will let you focus on what you’re good at: Emotion. Passion. People.

Let’s be clear, AI isn’t going away anytime soon. But neither are people. The marketers who will achieve the greatest success in the coming years are those who know how to harness the power of artificial intelligence and pair it with a deep appreciation for people, for emotion, for passion. It’s not “AI or emotion.” It’s “AI and emotion.” It’s technology and people. It’s logic and passion.

AI continues to dramatically shape marketing. But so will the creative choices you make as a marketing professional. Use it to better understand your customers, to better connect customers with the content that matters to them, and to continue to deliver emotionally-resonant, customer-focused messages. Who knows? You might just learn to love it. And that’s an emotion we can all use more of, today and every day.

Fell in love with the idea of using AI to shape your marketing? Connect with us to learn how to increase conversions, fast.

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

AI and … Pizza?

The Italians first invented pizza roughly 1,000 years ago. We can only assume the first developer meeting was scheduled for ten minutes later. Otherwise, whatever did they need the pizza for?

Now, seriously, it’s fair of you to ask what in the world pizza has to do with AI and digital strategy. A lot more than you might think. Here’s why.

Pizza was one step into the future, a dish that would last a thousand years. AI is another step into the future. Just the far future. In fact, it’s a reality right now. One of my favorite quotes says “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.” It took centuries for the chewy, wonderful goodness of pizza to make its way around the world. It will take time before AI is “everywhere.” But don’t think it’s not around just because you don’t see it every day.

Google, YouTube, and Facebook use AI in the algorithms that determine which websites, videos, and shares you see on their respective platforms. The Associated Press, Washington Post, and other media outlets routinely use AI to develop content and create rough drafts — and not so rough drafts — of articles for publication. And one of these days, you can bet someone’s going to teach an AI to develop the world’s perfect pizza.

The point is that it’s time for you to start thinking about how you plan to use AI to improve your business. And the best way to do that is to order a couple of pizzas.

No. Seriously.

Jeff Bezos at Amazon popularized the idea that to get something done effectively and efficiently, think in terms of “one pizza teams” and “two pizza teams.” By which he meant that the best teams — where best is defined by quick and effective — were teams that you could feed with no more than two pizzas. Any more than that and you’ve got too much overhead, too much cross-talk to truly be effective. There’s a bunch of well-understood math that explains why two pizza teams make sense. (BTW, Fred Brooks’ classic project management text, “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering,” said the same thing almost 45 years ago. He just didn’t use the terms “one pizza team” and two pizza team.” I suspect that Brooks was probably more of a chateaubriand guy than a pizza connoisseur).

The reason some companies are struggling to figure out where AI fits into their businesses is that they either have too few people working on the problem or — far more likely — too many.

The right way to figure out how AI is going to work for your business is to assign a small group, one that you can feed with a single pizza (or two, tops), to investigate business problems that:

  1. Have clearly defined outcomes. You know what you want in terms of results. And…
  2. Currently flummox your organization. Even if you know what you want to accomplish, the issue to date has consistently resisted efforts to automate and improve.

There’s an old joke that claims a camel is nothing more than a horse designed by a committee. Want a better horse? Kill the committee. Focus on the folks who add value and ditch the rest.

If the puzzle you’re trying to solve requires a group larger than a two pizza team, break it into smaller pieces — kind of like “slices” — and assign those to your small, nimble team. When successful companies talk about “agile,” “lean,” or associated methodologies, that’s what they’re doing too.

Artificial intelligence isn’t some magic pixie dust you sprinkle onto existing initiatives in hopes that it will make some spectacular difference. It takes work. That work can be at enabled by focusing your team’s efforts in an effective direction and reducing the friction that frequently limits success. And, of course, fueled by a slice of pepperoni, mushroom, or plain ol’ cheese pizza.

So grab a pizza. Or two. But no more. Then round up a few folks at your company who like pizza and like learning to get started on putting AI to work for your future. Or reach out to us at SoloSegment to talk more.

Happy Pizza Day, everyone!

  • Footnote 1. Yes, I’m aware pizza had a number of precursors like flatbreads that probably existed for thousands of years before the date I’m citing above. I’m using Wikipedia’s dating. Go fight with them if that matters to you.
  • Footnote to Footnote 1. Also, the stuff we think of as “modern” pizza probably only dates back to the 1800’s before emigrating to New York and New Jersey where we perfected it.  [Editor’s note: We also think Chicago deep-dish is pretty delicious.]
  • Footnote 2.Though I’d argue that the folks at Razza in Jersey City already have developed the world’s perfect pizza. Fight me.
  • Footnote 3. Just please, dear God, no Hawaiian. Yuck. [Editor’s note: Our correspondent could not be more wrong on this one. Who doesn’t like pineapple on pizza?]
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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

SearchChat Podcast: How Facebook Got Sent to App Jail

Facebook is having a terrible week. After experiencing a barrage of trouble over the last few months, they’ve finally crossed a line Apple won’t tolerate. They made available an app that gave themselves a scary amount of access to your device. It’s opt-in, but Facebook seems aware that it’s invading privacy — and appears to be preying on young people.

As Steve’s previous post asks — how long will business models based on personal data survive? With every bad press day it seems harder and harder to use personal data to personalize.

How well do people understand how you’re using their data? 

We also discuss the top trends people are talking about in 2019. After some keyword analysis and the input of sites like BiznologyCMO and more,  we can tell you all the most important digital marketing trends to watch. The biggest name will be no shock: Artificial Intelligence.

But do executives really know how to implement AI technology in a way that works, to create a seamless learning experience? The secret is starting small, with just what you know. That’s what we do at SoloSegment — check out our technology solutions if you’re interested in more.

0:00 Intro

2:05 Facebook’s in App Jail

14:45 What are Top Trends pages saying?

17:40 How can executives get started with machine learning?

24:15 Seamless customer experience

27:00 Outro

SearchChat is available on

Search Chat is SoloSegment’s podcast dedicated to all things search AI and content marketing related. Who is SoloSegment? We’re a technology company focused on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to improve search results, increase customer satisfaction and unlock revenue for your company.

Originally published on Biznology

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

2019 Themes in Digital Marketing

This year has started off strong on my end, but we’re also looking ahead towards what’s next. I’ve spent a fair amount of time talking to digital marketing professionals about what’s important to them, sharing some of our product roadmap, and seeing where there’s alignment and where there may be market opportunity.

While I try to structure these conversations to touch on a few specific topics, things usually don’t go as planned. The diversity of industries, experience and job roles of the people means that each conversation takes a unique journey through the landscape.

During the discussions, three themes have emerged. I’m sure you’ll see some of your challenges and focus areas in these. We’ll be paying attention to these as we build solutions and go to market.

AI/Machine Learning gets tactical in 2019. Businesses will stop waiting for some magic bullet and start taking very specific shots at specific pain points, starting small, going fast and iterating to find value.

Getting started with ML can be difficult. But it’s necessary for marketers to keep your seat at the table. One executive I spoke to last week said that their way forward started with a domain where they had some expertise. They were in familiar territory. Familiar data, familiar business processes, and familiar business stakeholders made it easier to solve problems where they understand the value. The key learning point here is not to succumb to sales pitches for products that work on problems that you don’t fully understand. Find the familiar and start there.

For many of our customers  that means their starting with visitor journeys. They have lots of data that can be explored and mobilized in interesting ways that reduce exits and improve the overall customer experience.

Mid-Funnel content gets the attention it deserves. When I speak to content authors one of the laments that I hear frequently is the fact that landing pages and top of funnel content get most of the attention from digital marketing. At the other end of the journey, conversions are instrumented and waiting to be counted. But the paths between the two anchor points aren’t well understood and thus don’t always get focus on their importance in the conversion process. Content owners also are discouraged that they’ve produced something that basically gets ignored both internally and by customers and prospects.

From a product perspective, this is a place where we’re looking at the data we have around what happens after those initial success, whether it’s campaign driven or search driven, and figuring out how to use mid-funnel journey data to get the right content in front of prospects to extend journeys. Early signal from the data should allow us to start some beta work with customers in 2Q/3Q to figure out if this mid-funnel problem is fixable.

Data-driven automation improves productivity. A lot of on-website marketing activity continues to be hand crafted. The placement of content on pages, whether that content is static or rules-driven, continues to be a big part of the workload of B2B marketing teams. A marketing executive at a large tech company spoke of the challenge of dealing with website pages that aren’t part of their current marketing cadence. Getting the right calls to action, content recommendations, etc. doesn’t scale beyond the team.

Content recommendation engines can help here. Enabled by algorithms that look at a lot of the data your already have about visitors, journeys and content allow them to suggest content allowing marketing professionals to continue to focus on top priorities while putting data to work to help improve visitors who are elsewhere on the site.

I’m sure I’ll find other common topics as I speak with digital marketing professionals but this seems like a good list to focus on during 1Q. What are you top predictions for 2019? What are you focused on improving? Where are you learning? If you think we can help, connect with us.

Originally posted on Biznology

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Why AI Has Come a Long Way Since HAL in 2001

January is a special month in AI history. Because in both the novel and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, January 12 is when the HAL 9000 sentient computer — (spoiler alert!) the story’s antagonistic artificial intelligence — goes live. Depending on whether you date HAL to its “birth” in the film, the novel, or when those media originated, HAL is anywhere between 22 years to 51 years old now (For trivia buffs, of which I’m one: The book and film were released in 1968, making HAL’s conception over 50 years ago; if you go by the dates given in the film or the book, respectively, HAL is either 27 or 22 years old). HAL is then placed aboard the Discovery One spacecraft to participate in a journey of, well, discovery to the planet Jupiter.

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.