E-mail service provider Responsys has teamed with Coremetrics, a hosted Web analytics firm, to let online retailers send targeted messages based on customers' behavior on the retailer's site.
Coremetrics will automatically feed behavioral data into the Responsys email marketing platform. Then retailers can deliver automated, pre-defined, triggered email campaigns based on a customer's recent behavior, such as what categories they visited, or whether they left the site without buying what's in their shopping cart. The companies connect behavior with email address by way of a cookie that's set when users opt-in to get email communications.
"E-mail marketing started by trying to send the right message to the right group of people. Then it got more sophisticated by trying to send the right message to the right individual," said Scott Olrich, chief marketing officer at Responsys. "What we're working with our clients to do now is not only send the right message to the right individual, but add the time element, so we can send the right message to the right individual at the right time."
The retailer can define parameters for each campaign, including what triggers a message to be sent and when the message goes out. The goal is to strengthen customer relationships and influence purchasing behavior.
Petco, the first joint customer to implement the integrated solution, will use the platform to automatically contact customers who abandon a shopping cart on its site, sending an email message from Petco four days later with a special offer for that item, as well as related items.
Customers' permissions are checked first to be sure they have opted in to receiving messages from Petco. If the customer returns to buy the item before the email is due to be sent, their address will automatically be removed from the list before the message goes out.
"Responsys' tools and the ability to build these sophisticated email programs keyed off specific customer behavior allows somebody like Petco to set these up, and they're automated. They don't have to go in and build a segment or a list every time," said John Squire, VP of product management at Coremetrics.
In the past, the way Coremetrics clients would do this is segment a list in Coremetrics, then export the list, go through the de-dupe and suppression processes, then set up a one-time campaign to people that had made relevant actions, such as abandoning a shopping cart, Squire said.
Targeted email campaigns like that have resulted in 20 times the number of clickthroughs and 7 times more revenues than on broader "batch and blast" campaigns for Coremetrics clients, Squires said.
"Their cost is lower, their return is higher, and their clients are happier because they're getting relevant messages specifically targeted to their needs. Long-term, those are the types of clients who are going to continue to subscribe to the email list," he said.
The platform can also be used to email customers who visit a certain page or section of a site once, or a pre-set number of times. The retailer can define parameters for each campaign, including what triggers a message to be sent and when the message goes out.
Olrich believes this is one of the first times a client has been able to leverage behavioral data before a purchase, since pre-sale information is typically limited to demographic information.
"We could really build some pretty sophisticated campaigns in the retention phase of the customer lifecycle. What's exciting to Responsys and our customers, is that through this partnership with Coremetrics, we can now take this powerful Web analytics data and create a whole host of new email programs, which ultimately can drive conversion," he said.
Coremetrics and Responsys plan to engage in joint marketing and sales promotions to their combined customer base. Four other customers have already signed on to utilize the integrated platform, and should be live by the end of the year, Olrich said.
In conjunction with this integrated product launch, Coremetrics has unveiled the latest upgrades to its own product, with enhanced measurements in the areas of marketing and merchandising effectiveness, site optimization, and profile marketing.
Coremetrics now offers accelerated reporting, allowing real-time analysis in several categories. The platform also makes it easy to tie marketing costs and revenues to performance metrics, so clients can determine ROI for a campaign. Coremetrics can also tie revenues to individual search terms and categories of search terms, so merchandisers can monitor and improve search effectiveness and increase revenues.
Users can drill down on the performance of specific pages and search terms, as well as identify which products are sold most frequently for a specific term, and which terms that are searched for in succession to help understand a customer's search intentions.
"If half your visitors use search, you should really know how it makes you money or loses business," Squires said.
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Kevin Newcomb joined ClickZ in August 2004, covering search marketing and other online marketing topics. He has been reporting on web-based businesses since 2000.
Before the bubble burst, Kevin was a marketing manager for an online computer reseller, handling copywriting, e-mail marketing, search marketing and running the affiliate program.
With a combination of real-world marketing experience and years of business journalism, Kevin brings to ClickZ a unique ability to deliver news and training materials that help online marketers do their jobs better.