Providing individual relevance is the only way to achieve higher deliverability and more involvement in email marketing and can be achieved by reading user behavior.

The opening and clicking behavior of newsletter recipients and their movements on site is in general measured by email service providers, but only a fraction of potential customers are usually coming through newsletters to a website. Therefore it is necessary to track the behavior of all visitors without regard of their origin as a filter. In the concept of behavioral email this integration of email marketing and web analysis is implemented in the software.

Behavioral email means that content and delivery time of emails are based on individually collected and stored behavior of a user. The knowledge of current preferences and past activities allows advertisers to submit their offers to the right user in real time.

Effective behavioral email marketing is based on a database for contact and tracking data. It stores historical and current data through interactions with emails and the website. It can also be enriched with other CRM data and help automatically generate individually relevant emails that are sent at the optimal time. When is the best time/offer/etc. can be tested easily.

Behavioral email in practice

If the historical data proves that a customer buys a dress every month, it makes sense to proactively offer dresses to this specific customer at the right time. If current tracking data also shows that this person has looked at blouses on the website, this opportunity should be used for cross-selling - automated and in real time, as long as there is a need and it has not been yet satisfied otherwise.

Especially with event-driven interest, such as, before birthdays or major gift giving holidays like Christmas, the pace is crucial. Who is frantically looking for a present needs individually relevant offers in real time, not only at the next transmission date of the newsletter. Instead of inflexible standard programs, there are differentiated behavioral triggers for all kind of segments, which are formed on the basis of customer behavior. I am not talking about trigger email, such as order confirmations, which are made immediately but are standardized and have therefore nothing to do with personal preferences.

Another example: a cinema operator is struggling with numerous booking crashes. Several offline and online advertising campaigns have lead many visitors to the site that go into the booking process, willingly give their contact information and consent to communicate via email, but still half of the customers leave the site before finishing their booking. The website of the provider is furnished with tags, so that the individual online behavior of each visitor can be recorded and tracked. Segments are formed, based on the data from the web analysis, which can be confined by movie interest and behavior in the booking process.

The behavioral analysis clearly shows that the majority of potential customers back out of a deal at the third stage of the booking process and that is where behavioral email marketing comes into action. It can achieve tremendous success through the seamless integration of email marketing and web analytics. It is very unlikely that same results in lengthy exchange processes across interfaces between separate email servers and Web analysis tools would be possible.

Incidentally, the merging of personal and behavioral information in a database corresponds to current law. In the case of behavioral email it is about consent on two levels: email and web tracking.

In order to send emails, it requires a declaration of consent of the recipient. In many countries without opt-in, email communications is illegal. Web tracking via cookies is common practice and merely requires an explanation on the website and users can withdraw their consent at any time. However, experience shows that recipients appreciate the personal and highly relevant content of email communication as a real added value. The cancellation rates for behavioral email programs are well below the industry average, because it is really annoying when it is not just in-boxes that are clogged up with completely uninteresting and irrelevant emails.

Principle: Single Customer View

The more consistent data sources are all integrated according to the principle of RFM (Recency - Frequency - Monetary Value – see Part 1 of the article), the more precisely the individual needs of each client can be estimated and the email communications can then be set-up accordingly.

Only if the handling of emails, the browsing behavior and purchasing patterns are merged in a single customer view, an automated, comprehensive, database-driven eRFM strategy becomes possible (take note: e-like engagement is not electronic).

Such an integrated, data-driven email strategy includes regular mailings, automated, customer-lifecycle-related emails and behavioral trigger emails alike, thus achieving maximum individual relevance.

We will see when behavioral email finds acceptance in Asia. Fact is that the future of email marketing belongs to those email service providers who can offer an integrated approach that determines the future of e-commerce companies that rely on their solutions.

By Daniela La Marca