Integrating E-Mail Marketing and Web Analytics

Are marketers finally ready to integrate and use Web site clickstream data with email campaigns?

The notion of using Web site clickstream data to create email segments and target email campaigns isn’t new. I first wrote about it in 2001. The industry was littered with startups promising to leverage this data to drive truly targeted email communications based on site behavior. The idea was ahead of market demand, relegating many of these firms to the dot-com graveyard or mergers that basically shelved the technology.

Until now.

Fast-forward to 2005. The latest crop of vendor briefings looks a lot like the ones in 2001 did. The difference is the market is now poised to adopt the tactic. A recent Jupiter Research survey indicates 41 percent of marketers plan to deploy tools to incorporate clickstreams into their email targeting tactics in the next 12 months.

Another major difference is email marketing and Web analytics technologies have matured. We’ve progressed from server-side Web analytics (e.g., log files) to client-side page tagging, which allows for more efficient site traffic analysis. The real progress, though, has been within the last six to eight months, which resulted in true packaged integration of these disparate disciplines.

Vendors Doing Real Integrations

Here are just a few Web analytic firms that have integrated offerings with email service providers (ESPs):

  • WebTrends integrated with ExactTarget. WebTrends’ browser overlay functionality allows the user to see the Web metrics on top of her email campaign performance. The user can literally drill into site click behavior to create segments.
  • Coremetrics has seven ESPs partners, including Responsys, Digital Impact, Yesmail, and CheetahMail. They’ve built connectors to the application so the data flow easily between the applications.
  • Digital River acquired Web analytic firm Fireclick and ESP BlueHornet. Though each has mutual clients, the integrated product offering will provide both firms with greater sales opportunities.

Small Doses of Relevancy

This tactic is ideal for improving a mailing’s relevancy because it leverages a visitor’s actual page view behavior to craft highly targeted messages. Many companies, from banks to retailers, use this approach to improve campaign performance. One consistent challenge, however, is the relatively small portion of the email list that lends itself to clickstream targeting.

Clickstream data are collected from nearly all site visitors, but marketers will only have email addresses for some of them. Similarly, only a portion of subscribers will click through to the site, ultimately lowering the number of individuals who can be targeted with the Web site data.

Though this approach is effective, it should be used in tandem with existing campaign tactics. It’s an iterative process; over time, more of your list can be moved into the clickstream segment. One retailer who uses this approach regards these opportunities as “seducible moments.” You can easily identify pages visitors looked at, and where they left the site, and use this information to craft a highly targeted mailing. Many vendors can automate this task.

Clickstream Targeting Correlates With Improved Performance

In an upcoming research report, I correlate this approach’s value and its effect on top- and bottom-line results. There’s value in using different targeting tactics, from triggering to lifecycle campaigns, and the report offers nearly a dozen real-life examples of how to make this work. We’ve even been able to quantify a significant positive effect on campaign performance when using these tactics.

Though this targeting approach isn’t new, it’s promising that easy-to-use, affordable tools are now available, which should encourage adoption. As with everything else, testing will really identify if this tactic is right for your organization. I hope this approach makes your mailings more relevant. Good luck, and let me know how it turns out.

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