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May 12, 2006

If it’s good enough for PPC, it’s good enough for Email

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We thought now would be a good time to remind you about your email campaigns. You remember, it’s that thing you haven’t touched since you sent out your first one. Yes, that. Consider it our gift to you.

There has been a lot of talk concerning behavioral advertising lately, specifically when dealing with your PPC campaigns. But how about using that information and applying it to your email campaign instead? We thinking employing behavioral advertising to better target emails can make the difference in whether your email campaign converts or dies.

Behavioral advertising targets users based on previous searching and buyer behavior. It’s tracking and analyzing your customers’ interests by using their IP address to monitor their movements across the Web. This typically involves using cookies to track what sites your customers visit, what content they viewed and how long they stick around.

While regular targeting shows you how to appeal to the whole, behavioral targeting allows you to appeal to specific customer groups.

For example, if a user frequently visits sites like Men’s Health, Maxim and WWE, behavioral targeting would likely classify this user a male, likely in his late teens to mid-20s, interested in health and fitness. Creating this profile will allow you to better target this user in the future, you may even want to create a specific email campaign just for users similar to him. The strength of behavioral targeting comes from its narrowed focus.

And while we think behavioral advertising will help increase conversions, there are some experts touting large obstacles. Many associate behavioral advertising with the coming of ‘big brother’. They paint a grim picture of corporations spying on their users to find out what information they’re looking at. That’s not how we view it.

We view behavioral advertising as the analysis of the data you should be collecting anyway. You should know who your target audience is. You should be tracking customer activity and email campaigns to see who is clicking on or showing an interest in what. You should be keeping records of what this customer has bought in the past and what they have expressed interest in seeing in the future. Doing this is not spying, not doing it would be bad business. If a customer is making daily trips to the LA Times site, you’re not reading the articles they’re interested in, it simply tells you they’re interested in current events.

Of course, this task gets harder as more people disable cookies, and spyware programs urge users to delete all personal information. Also, it’s possible that multiple people are using the same computer, causing their IP address to show up for a variety of sites. Mom may be reading Cosmo, while Billy is checking out sports scores. If you find this is the case, send out an email addressing your customers and ask them what sites they frequent, how often they’re online, what are the things important to them, etc.

Once you have this information you should break your customer base down into different groups. We recommend using personas to help you in this process. If you’re a shoe company, maybe you want to create one newsletter for users who have a history for buying sandals, another for those who only buy running shoes and one to users who buy business shoes.
By targeting your campaigns based on past behavior, you will see a higher rate in conversions as you continue to give your customer base what they are really interested in. It will also increase goodwill as customers feel like you are really listening and addressing their needs. Remember, the purpose of your email campaign isn’t to get clicks, it’s to increase conversions.

For more information regarding Behavioral Targeting, read our latest Branding article. Or if you just need help setting up an email campaign, including newsletters, we can help you with that too.

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