The number of companies relying on behavioral segmentation took a dip this year, according to eConsultancy’s fourth annual Conversion Rate Optimization report.

In 2011, 60% of companies surveyed said they were using behavioral segmentation in their online marketing efforts. Only 53% of companies reported using behavioral segmentation in 2012, a 7% decrease.

The most likely explanation for this drop: Behavioral targeting is taking a backseat as more companies are focusing on geographic (70%) and demographic (64%) targeting.

But is that a smart move? Even the most basic behavioral targeting can have a huge impact on the customer experience and ROI, especially if the website in question leverages visitor behavior in a unique way.

Case in point: L’Occitane en Provence, an international manufacturer and retailer of skin care, body care, and fragrance, is using behavioral targeting to improve relevance to two critical segments: new vs. returning visitors.

L’Occitane tested serving up content based on whether a visitor has been on the website before and it’s been very successful. In one test, new visitors were greeted with a lightbox that offered them a special deal if they signed up for the company’s email list.

The campaign, which was run during a holiday season, generated a 37% lift in new business for L’Occitane.

For returning visitors, L’Occitane raises the bar a little higher on delivering a personalized website experience. The company has estimated how long it takes a customer to use products that are part of a daily regimen (face wash, moisturizer, etc.) and then deploys lightboxes to remind customers when it’s time to reorder.

While it requires a certain amount of agility to be able to serve up such targeted experiences, L’Occitane’s use of behavioral segmentation is paying off in a big way. And combined with geographic and demographic targeting, it’s a tactic that can still have an impressive impact on the company’s bottom line.

To learn about even more of L’Occitane’s successful targeting campaigns, download a copy of the new customer story, “L’Occitane: The Art and Science of Extraordinary Customer Experiences.”