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Next-Gen Analytics: Combining E-Mail and Web Site Data

  |  November 8, 2004   |  Comments

Two forthcoming solutions integrate e-mail marketing and Web analytics into a virtually seamless tracking system.

If you want more accountability from your email marketing campaigns, you’re in luck.

Soon, you can follow the clickpath from delivery, open, and click-though to Web site clicks, conversions, and purchases.

Is this a new concept? No. Many of us develop unique landing pages, entire minisites, or other mechanisms to tie email campaigns with resulting Web site behavior. We then pore over the resulting Web analytics to determine return on investment (ROI). But the mechanisms involved are time-consuming and costly to create. The reports are often just as difficult to read as they are valuable.

No more. I recently saw two forthcoming solutions that integrate email marketing and Web analytics into a virtually seamless tracking system. And I can’t wait to use them. I’m betting these next-generation applications will be a must for all serious email marketers, just as open rates were when they first became available.

First, a little on why I’m so high on the concept. Then, the skinny on the firms behind the solutions.

There are three key benefits to this marriage of email and Web analytics:

  • You can calculate ROI in the same way direct marketers do in the offline world.

  • You can quickly and effectively, and with minimal manual labor, target future campaigns based on past site behavior.

  • You can conduct apples-to-apples comparisons of email campaigns with other on- and offline marketing channels; again, with a minimum of time and effort.

Calculating "True" ROI

Early in my marketing career, I worked with a system called ARGI. Our version ran on a mainframe in our computer room and was accessed with a dumb terminal (which sat on my desk next to the PC). Even then, we considered it archaic. Reports had to be printed on that very wide, green-and-white striped computer paper; you couldn’t view data on the screen. Sometimes, the really large reports had to print overnight.

That said, I became very fond of ARGI. The data it provided were invaluable for determining the outcome of my offline direct marketing campaigns. It took a bit of doing to put in all the costs, each individual list, test panels, and so on. But the returned data (response rate, average order, breakeven, ROI) and level of detail (by test panel, list, etc.) were fabulous.

This new generation of analytics does for email what ARGI did for direct mail -- only better. You have to put some effort into entering the raw cost data (remember: garbage in, garbage out). Once that’s done, everything is at your fingertips. Better, the data can be viewed either on top of a site snapshot (the visual clearly matches links to URLs), or export to an Excel spreadsheet.

Targeting Based on Web Site Behavior

Better still, once you view the analytics you can segment a list based on what you’ve seen, without manipulating the data out of the Web analytics package and into the email marketing interface. Identify the activity to segment on (landings, clicks, conversions, purchases, etc.), and the application does the rest, filtering the list based on your criteria. Save that filter, and update the list each time you send. Or, create new filters at the drop of a hat.

Compare Campaigns Across Channels

Since the data has the same benchmarks marketers use in other channels (ROI, average sale, etc.), it’s easy to see which channels perform well and which don’t. Since Web analytics packages typically allow this type of reporting for search engine and other Web marketing, you can compare email to these efforts without leaving application. No re-keying data into a spreadsheet. It’s all achieved pretty much on the fly.

Solutions I’ve Seen

Drum roll, please. I first saw this type of fully integrated solution in Chicago, at an email conference organized by Jill Keogh of PointnClick Inc. Keogh invited Jordan Ayan, CEO of SubscriberMail, and John Marshall, CEO of ClickTracks to demonstration their version of this solution. If you’re a regular ClickZ reader, you may be familiar with these two organizations; both are ClickZ award winners in their respective areas.

The two companies are kindred spirits. Both aim to design user-friendly systems for marketers that don’t require IT staff to configure them or deliver the data. Marshall says it’s not that marketers "aren’t smart enough to pull together the email and Web analytics manually. It’s that they don’t have time."

The common goal and obvious synergy lead to a formal partnership. It offers tracking and reporting that’s "much deeper than traditional email marketing solutions," according to Ayan. I agree completely.

Two weeks later, I spoke at ExactTarget’s user conference and saw a similar application that company developed with NetIQ’s WebTrends analytics tool (another ClickZ award winner). Again, I was very impressed.

Peter McCormick, cofounder and VP of product development and strategy for ExactTarget, told me they approached their solution in much the same way. They asked, "How much does the user need to do?" to get the full picture on an email marketing campaign. "No IT staff required" was a goal for the solution. From what I’ve seen, they’ve succeeded.

Jason Palmer, NetIQ’s VP of product management and product marketing, said the new solution allows marketers to "see where you’re having issues [and” where you’re losing people in the conversion process." It’s the type of analysis we’ve all done. Now, it’s much faster and easier.

Again, the match seems made in heaven. The two organizations have nothing but good things to say about each other. It seems the partnership is off to a great start and will last for the long term.

Want to Learn More?

SubscriberMail and ClickTracks are beta-testing their solution. If you’re a current client of either company, you can contact your account manager to learn more. They’re taking on a few more test sites; if you’re interesting in taking part, let them know. As with all beta tests, be prepared for bugs (that’s what beta tests are for!) and be willing to provide feedback on what you like and don’t like about the application.

If you’re not currently a customer of either company, you can email beta[at”clicktracks.com to join the beta test or sales[at”subscribermail.com to speak with someone about the new integrated solution.

ExactTarget and NetIQ plan to launch their solution concurrently with the WebTrends 7.1, scheduled for later this month. If you’re a current customer of either company, you can contact your account manager to learn more. If not, you can request more information by emailing sales[at”exacttarget.com or info[at”netiq.com.

These are the two solutions I’ve seen. I have a hunch more email service providers will add this type of user-friendly, seamlessly integrated analytics to their stable of products. Watch for them, and start getting more accountability with less work for email marketing campaigns.

Until next time,

Jeanne

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanne Jennings

Jeanne Jennings is one of the World's Top 50 Email Marketing Influencers (Vocus, 2014). She has more than 20 years of experience in the email and online marketing and product development world. Jeanne's direct-response approach to email strategy, tactics, and creative direction helps organizations make their email marketing initiatives more effective and more profitable. Clients include: ConsumerReports.org, FDANews, Hasbro, PRWeb, Scholastic, Verizon, and WeightWatchers. Want to learn more? Check out her blog.

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