Behaviorally Targeted E-mail Communications, Part 2

  |  October 25, 2007   |  Comments

How to get a behaviorally based e-mail program up, running, and measured. Part two of two.

Targeted e-mail messages based on past behavior enable marketers to create more personal, relevant communications. These should result in higher revenues. Better-targeted communications can break through clutter and help marketers enhance their relationships with customers.

Part one of this two-part column covered how to segment a house file and offered suggestions on tailoring messaging based on past customer behavior. Part two provides a checklist to consider when implementing a new e-mail campaign, together with e-mail related metrics.

Behaviorally Targeted E-mail Checklist

Expanding an e-mail communications program to include more behaviorally driven messaging can pose significant challenges. Topics and questions to consider include:

  • Contact strategy. Do you have a strategy for communication frequency? Does it take into account non-e-mail communication channels? Are these channels coordinated?

  • Message conflict. How do you manage customer messaging to ensure customers don't receive multiple or conflicting messages from your firm within a given time? What processes are in place to determine which messages get priority?

  • Dynamic content. Are systems in place that allow you to tailor e-mail content based on customer preferences or behavior? If not, how can you modify your e-mail strategy to achieve similar results?

  • Database and e-mail system support. Does your firm have systems to support these types of communications? How long does it take to specify and implement changes to e-mail management systems? Are there other systems that may be affected by these campaigns that must be coordinated?

  • Creative approach. Have you assessed how to provide appropriately branded, attention-getting content? Quality must be consistent with other e-mail communications. Targeted communications reach a smaller segment of the house file. As a result, it may be difficult to justify your usual creative resources.

  • ROI (define) justification. Is it necessary to prove an ROI hurdle rate? If so, how do you collect the necessary information?

  • Fulfillment. Do you have sufficient product to meet customer demand? Do you have a high-enough headcount to support promotions, regardless of how customers communicate with you?
  • Must-Have Features

    Ensure e-mailings help customers to achieve their goals. To this end, always include the following in your e-mail:

  • Search box. Customers may use e-mailings as a reminder and want to search for other products on your site.

  • "Buy Now!" button. Let customers purchase a promoted product without going through a complicated purchase process.

  • Link to e-mail registration. Since the communication may be forwarded from another party, allow recipients to click a link to sign up for personal e-mail.

  • Forward-to-a-friend functionality. While this functionality in an e-mail tends to get low response, don't overlook those readers who wish to use it.

  • "Contact Us" link or button. Provide a means to communicate with your firm to overcome objections and close sales.

  • Preference center. Offer readers e-mail options in terms of frequency and targeting. According to Ashley Johnston, senior marketing director at CheetahMail, providing these choices can help retain customers on a house e-mail file.
  • E-mail Series Metrics

    When addressing the effectiveness of an e-mail series, metrics to track include:

  • Customers mailed. Track the number of customers contacted by e-mail type or series. Also, count the number of new registrations generated by various entry points.

  • Opens, clicks, and links. Monitor the number of unique e-mail messages opened as well as which items/content motivated readers to click through. Track the most popular links customers click on to determine which content is most attractive to readers.

  • Unsubscribes/bounces. While every mailing generates unsubscribes and bounces, analyze results to ensure that on a relative basis these newer forms of e-mail messages aren't causing list erosion. Monitor the churn rate or percentage of readers who leave your list as well as hard bounces. This is an important indicator of your list's health.

  • Revenue. While these e-mail series may not generate significant revenues individually, as a group the series should be examined in the context of incremental sales and profitability. They may be a valuable way to avoid price-driven promotions.

  • Lifetime value. Evaluate the lifetime value of an e-mail address or customer. This metric takes into consideration both the acquisition cost as well as ongoing marketing costs matched against revenues over time.
  • Due to the low cost of e-mail marketing and deployment relative to revenue generated, e-mail marketing programs should be assessed on the additive value they provide to your overall campaign. Expanding segmentation and personalization opportunities through the use of e-mail series allows marketers to provide readers with real value. This can translate into communications that result in relationship building and increased revenues.

    Want more e-mail marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our e-mail columns, organized by topic.

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    Heidi Cohen

    Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital,, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.

    Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.

    Her blog,, was nominated as a finalist for Top Social Media Blog of 2012 by Social Media Examiner.

    Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.

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