Behavioral targeting is a digital marketing technique in which you gather and analyze user data, create user profiles based on this data, and then design unique ads and offers to improve your campaigns’ success. 

To create a user profile, you’ll need data points such as website visits, search history, click-through rates, purchase history, and demographic information.

For example, if you’re a retailer selling beauty products and your website visitors browse skincare products without purchasing them, you can serve targeted ads to those visitors promoting the products they viewed. 

In a nutshell, behavioral targeting is how you reach prospects who are already interested in your products, thus increasing the likelihood of conversion and seeing better ROAS.

behavioral targeting

Behavioral Targeting vs. Contextual Targeting

Before moving on, let’s quickly analyze the difference between these two marketing approaches.

As we discussed, with behavioral targeting, you’re analyzing user behavior (website visits, search history, purchase history, etc.) to create user profiles and serve targeted ads to these profiles. 

In contextual targeting, however, you’re serving ads to users based on the content they are currently viewing

How does the difference show up in the everyday tasks of a digital marketer?

Suppose your brand sells swimsuits and other swim-related goodies. 

Behavioral marketing means targeting users who previously searched for “swimsuits,” “beachwear,” or “summer clothes” with your ads, thus increasing the chances of conversion.

With contextual marketing, you would serve ads to users currently browsing beach-related content, such as an article about the 10 cheapest beaches in the world.

One deals with what the user has done before, while one exclusively focuses on the present behavior. 

However, it shouldn’t be a topic of behavioral targeting vs. contextual targeting – they aren’t mutually exclusive. 

For example, suppose a user visited a specific swimwear company’s website in the past. In that case, you can use on-site behavioral targeting to show ads for that company on the travel site they’re seeing now. 

Behavioral Targeting in the Post-Cookies World

Evidently, might be thinking about cookies, or rather the lack of them.

Now that user privacy is on top of everyone’s minds and we can’t relate to third-party data anymore, how can we get information about our users?

Easy: leverage your zero and first-party data and seize every opportunity to collect it. 

For example, you can use newsletter subscriptions, gated content, or vouchers to get visitors’ data and then build their profiles.

You can then create personalized ads to guide these users through the customer journey or leverage a tool such as Omniconvert’s Explore to personalize the website experience for your users.

Since its inception, marketing has always been about finding exciting ways to connect with our audience. 

As retail shifts from clicks to relationships, marketers everywhere must become genuinely customer-centric and leverage their data as much as possible. It’s a challenge – but it’s worth it! 

How Behavioral Targeting Works

Looking at your ads from a creative perspective, they need to feel like a direct conversation with the prospect; otherwise, they won’t convert. 

To achieve this natural tone of voice and showcase your products in a relevant manner, you need to get an intimate knowledge of the diverse personalities of your consumers, their expectations, and the products and offers they need.

Since you can’t possibly grab a coffee with each customer and each website visitor, your next best chance is getting to know your target market through your data. 

Incidentally, your data is crucial to behavioral targeting.

This brings us to the first step of behavioral targeting: 

Collecting Consumer Data

Use tracking and analytics tools, eye-tracking software, and website optimization solutions to capture information about consumers’ behaviors, including the products and services they’re interested in, their roadblocks on your website, and any other interesting details you can find.

Several data points can offer helpful information and help you create comprehensive and complex profiles:

  • Website (session) Behavior: page views, search terms, consumed content. 
  • Browsing History: the customer behavior on your website – which pages he visited, how much time he spent on them, and what he searched for on the website. 
  • Purchase History: whether he’s a new visitor or an existing customer, how much he spent, what he visited before he made the purchase decision, what type of products he purchased, how often he returns, etc.
  • Form Data Entries: his inputs if he filled out a contact or subscription form. 
  • Survey Data: only applicable if he filled out a website survey. 
  • Browsing Device: whether he’s an Android or iOS user, he visits the website on a phone, tablet, or PC, whether he uses Mac or Windows, etc.
  • Location: you can get information about where your prospect lives based on his IP address. 

This first step is all about using all the available tools to gather as much data as possible (without being creepy about it) about customers and prospects to build a strong enough foundation for your profiles. 

The more data, the better. However, remember that you can always go back and add to user profiles based on any new information you learn during your relationship with these people.

Create Profiles

Once you have all your data, it’s time to create detailed user profiles based on the shared characteristics of your behavioral target market.

To do so, you must first pick a segmentation model to follow. The model can be based on demographic data, on-site behavior, RFM segmentation, user attributes, etc. 

Pick what works best for you and brings you closer to your goals.

For example, if you want to target advertising on users who visit your website often and add products to your cart, your model will be based on on-site behavior, as NPS isn’t useful for new users. 

On the other hand, if you want to target your high-value customers with a loyalty program, demographic segmentation isn’t practical. Instead, you will segment customers based on the RFM model.

Segmentation helps you decide which ads to show to what segment of your target consumers, when, and how often. Usually, your data management platform will do it for you, automatically distributing customers according to their shared characteristics and creating the customer profile.

Omniconvert Reveal helps you improve your Customer Profiles by adding new data to your CRM. Use metrics such as revenue, margin, and the number of placed orders to identify your most valued customers and see your full customer history in one place!

After all this research and leg work, the last step is orchestrating and implementing your marketing strategy tailored to your audience segments.

Types of Behavioral Targeting

You can use different behavioral target approaches depending on your advertising goals, targeting method, past experiences, and product assortment. Here’s a rundown of the most common types found in the wild-wild world of digital marketing:


When retargeting users, you’re serving a personalized ad to someone who has previously interacted with your website, ads, or products. 

For example, if someone lands on your product page, clicks on a specific product, and leaves without buying, that visitor will see ads for that product the next time he’s online.

Predictive Targeting

While not as straightforward, predictive targeting is more effective, as it can serve more relevant ads and increase user engagement. 

Predictive targeting involves using ML algorithms to analyze data and predict the products that users might need or be interested in – enabling you to serve more personalized ads to prospects.

Geographic Targeting

This approach is as straightforward as it gets. With geographic targeting, you’re using users’ locations to create their profiles, then serve them your ads. 

This approach is practical when promoting products used in a specific region; for example, barbeque gear in the US region before the 4th of July. 

Psychographic Targeting 

While psychographic data (values, lifestyle, problems, desires, etc.) is harder to obtain, psychographic targeting allows you to serve users with meaningful, relevant, and moving content with the highest potential to convert. 

To collect psychographic data, you must conduct qualitative research through surveys, interviews, or focus groups. 

The Importance of Behavioral Targeting

It’s a marketer’s dream to understand the diversity of consumer personalities, expectancies, and consequently, the products and the offers they prefer.

After all, a very important condition for persuasive communication is to send tailored messages for each audience type. 

Being an interactive medium, the internet has this advantage: it can get instant feedback and then match in real-time segments of users with messages, offers, and products specially designed for them.

For marketers, this is an extremely important technique, as it enables them to understand customers better, orchestrate better campaigns, and create meaningful content.  

For consumers, behavioral targeting offers the opportunity for an enhanced shopping experience. 

Finding products easier on a site, getting personalized offers and coupons, or just discovering new products that they might like are some of the positive things a customer could enjoy on a website. 

While some reluctance towards giving private data still exists, this can be fixed by providing an opt-out option for visitors who are sensitive to this issue.

Benefits of Behavioral Targeting

Moving on to a more pragmatic chapter, let’s go through the tangible benefits of behavioral targeting:

Reduced Cart Abandonment 

With behavioral targeting, you can identify prospects who showed clear purchase intent but didn’t go through with the purchase, abandoning their cart. 

On-site behavioral data will show you the products customers prefer and those they choose (added to the cart). This information alone is enough to re-engage these prospects and persuade them to finish the buying process.

Nurture long-term relationships

Relationships are vital in eComm & Retail since you should always be in the customers’ minds.

Behavioral targeting empowers you to constantly communicate with your customers, serving them subscription or loyalty program ads. 

Convince Indecisive Prospects

Just because someone landed on your website doesn’t mean they will also buy from you. Visitors may be interested in your products, yet still need to research your products more to clear any doubts. 

If the prospect shows high potential through frequent visits and regular content consumption, you can serve curated ads adapted to his needs.

Higher AOVs

On-site behavior also reveals a prospect’s (and even a customer’s) interest. Look at his behavior pattern to understand the visitor’s preferences, then serve curated recommendations, helping him discover new products. 

By showing him relevant product recommendations, paired with enticing upsell promotions, you can incentivize the customer to place an additional order besides the product he was going to buy in the first place.

Behavioral Targeting Ideas

So, how does it all look in the real world of digital marketing?

We’ve put together 3 behavioral targeting examples meant to get you started. No matter the industry or vertical, these behavioral targeting examples will indeed work for you!

Cart Abandonment Emails

*will work only if you’re mindful of the timing.

Use on-site behavior analysis to figure out the exact timing for these emails. They should feel like a gentle reminder, not an aggressive push. Pull data from customers’ previous behaviors: how much time passes between adding to the cart and returning to complete the purchase?

Write emails (or ads) containing a reiteration of the products’ benefits, a special discount (if you can afford it), and even a scarcity push: “Only two products left in the store!”

Dynamic Landing Pages

When a landing page is personalized to the visitor’s needs, he will likely click on the CTA, subscribe, or complete any other action you’re optimizing for, then on public pages.

Analyze on-site behavior and identify the visitors’ preferences: which pages is he viewing the most? Which products is he browsing? What type of content does he read? 

With this information, you can create website personalization experiences or navigation shortcuts, serving visitors precisely what they need. The page’s relevancy will, in turn, trigger the buying decision.

Use Omniconvert Explore to set up seamless and advanced segmentation for optimized customer journeys. Forget about Google Optimize and get your hands on the most complex CRO tool, allowing you to turn website visitors into paying customers!

Reactivate Lost Customers

Most customers are a sore spot for retailers. While a natural churn does occur in every industry, when customers leave because of bad experiences, it hurts your business. 

However, with behavioral targeting, you can reactivate these customers. 

To do so, you’ll first need to research all customer data stored in your CRM across all your relationships and understand who these people are, which products they loved more, and why they left. 

Then, craft a highly tailored special offer for lost customers and target them through behavioral marketing, showing them they have a proper reason to return. 

*Note: be mindful of who these customers were before they churned. If they were low-value customers, it might not be worth reactivating them. Focus your audience targeting on your power customers.

Wrap Up

As we approach the end of this discussion, it’s important to note that behavioral targeting can become unethical – unless you’re mindful and respectful of your customers’ and visitors’ privacy. 

Sure, technology will continue to evolve, and more and more tools will emerge, helping you track, gather, and use customer data. 

Tread lightly and don’t cross any boundaries, and you’ll soon be able to create personalized content that resonates with your audience, creating a stronger bond than ever before.

Good luck and happy targeting!

While it may seem like an unspoken rule, this concept states that prospects need to hear about your brand at least seven times before they buy. 

While the number isn’t set in stone (luxury items tend to take even more time), it’s clear that you need to show up again and again in a prospect’s life before he becomes a customer. 

How do you go from a website visitor to a lifetime customer?

Easy – through behavioral targeting.

Today’s post walks you through the whole process: from what it is, how to use it, and even ideas to get you started. Keep reading and learn how to use behavioral targeting to live rent-free in your prospects’ minds while increasing their orders’ frequency and monetary value!


What Is Meant by Behavioral Targeting?

Behavioral targeting refers to using data on user behavior to inform ads and content creation, tailoring your creatives to the specific interests of an individual user.

Analyzing data points, such as a user’s browsing history, search queries, or past purchases, allows you to create targeted marketing campaigns that are more likely to result in engagement and conversions.

What Is an Example of Behavioral Targeting?

For example, if you analyze on-site behavior and create a navigating pattern for user A, you can then create a personalized experience for this user.

Next time he lands on the website, you can show him the content he usually clicks on, thus keeping him more engaged and increasing conversions.

What Are the Three Types of Behavioral Targeting?

There are various behavioral targeting types you can use. Here are the three most popular approaches.

Retargeting: serving ads to users who have previously interacted with your website or social media pages.
Predictive targeting: using machine learning algorithms to predict a user’s future behavior based on their past behavior. 
Contextual targeting: Analyzing the content a user is viewing, then displaying ads related to that content.

What Are the Different Types of Behavioral Targeting?

Other types of behavioral targeting include demographic targeting, psychographic targeting, and geographic targeting. Demographic targeting uses information such as age, gender, and income; psychographic targeting uses information such as personality traits, values, and beliefs, while Geographic targeting uses location-based information to target users in specific regions or areas.