Behavioral Targeting Applied to E-Mail

Behavioral targeting isn’t just for Web advertising. E-mail marketers can now employ the technique on rented opt-in lists.

Return Path’s PostMasterDirect email list rental division launched a service that looks at subscribers’ past behavior — what they have clicked on — to better target marketers’ mailings to its partners’ lists. PostMasterDirect works on behalf of publisher partners to gather and manage lists of people who opt-in to receive third-party mailings on specific topics.

“We’ve always tracked click activity. So, in other words we could send a campaign to just people who have clicked on this list,” said Michael Mayor, president of PostMasterDirect. “The next layer is what did they click on. People who have clicked on a music offer, for example, could be sent another music offer.”

Mayor said Return Path did just that during four to five months of beta testing on the new offering. It found that doing things the usual way — sending emails containing a music offer sent to a music-related list — generated a 10 percent click-through rate. The behavioral method involved sending the same music offer to members of a broad shopping-related list who had previously clicked on music offers. That approach resulted in a 21 percent click-through rate.

In the same way, emails to a music-related list, for example, could be targeted more precisely based upon users’ responsiveness to CD offers, country music offers, or concert ticket offers.

“It’s really fascinating,” said Mayor. “The promise of behavioral marketing is that it will extend the publisher’s real estate and we’ve kind of proved that it does.”

Return Path will initially offer behavioral selects at no charge, then come up with a pricing model after the company establishes its value with clients.

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