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I’d Test That: How Williams-Sonoma Can Use Behavioral Targeting to Increase Revenue


Besides being one of the most popular high-end cooking stores, Williams-Sonoma is savvy about testing. They take full advantage of Test&Target, with multiple mBoxes active on their home page.

After taking a look around their site and researching their demographics, the Brooks Bell team brainstormed and came up with some ideas for interesting tests. And while we have no way of knowing what the analytics folks at WS are testing, this idea is definitely a potential revenue booster.

Say you’re shopping online, specifically for a really nice knife. You visit Williams-Sonoma.com and spend some time looking at the selection, the ratings, etc. Then you leave to give it some thought. A good knife is an investment, and requires some consideration.

This is where WS can use behavioral targeting with their testing program, which will in turn give their customers a compelling incentive to make a purchase upon their return to the site.

Case in Point—Successful Behavioral Targeting

Giving the customer what they want isn’t new. In fact, that’s why we’re suggesting it; it’s a proven winner. Online giants Amazon.com use behavioral targeting on a regular basis—visit their site, return later and you’ll find a module on the home page containing what you’d previously viewed. Dell ran a test on their Japan site, populating the home page header with monitors when people returned after a previous monitor search. It beat their control and led to a significant increase in conversions.

So what would we suggest?

WS could start by identifying the three top-selling categories. Let’s say they are cookware, cutlery and electrics. For each of these, they could create a corresponding header for the home page that will drive that targeted visitor back to their original shopping point.

Let’s go back to the knife example. I’m coming back to the site after considering what I’ve seen, and I might even be ready to make a purchase.

Wouldn’t it be great to land on the homepage and see a targeted header featuring knives? Even better would be to see the top-rated knives on WS. The groundwork for this has already been laid, as there’s an existing top-rated page for knives.

Why not serve these cookied customers with a hero shot of a top-rated knife, the five- star rating and a customer review and a clear call-to-action that drives them to the top-rated knife page? This could be tested against the regular WS homepage, which is where return users currently land.

To take the test even further, it would be really interesting to highlight the fact that all the knives on the top-rated page are below suggested retail price. Saving money on what would normally be an expensive knife is a compelling call-to-action that could be leveraged for a significant increase in conversions.

We love a company like Williams-Sonoma. Not only is their site gorgeous, they also get the importance of constantly testing and optimizing. It would be really interesting to hear the results of further targeting their focused shoppers and find out how it affects conversions.

What do you think? What sort of testing would you around behavioral targeting? Have you had any experience or luck of your own with this tactic? We want to know!