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Internet Retailing webinars. Review: Understanding behavioural email and how it can improve your online business by RedEye

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Making email campaigns relevant to your website visitors can be highly effective in converting them from browsers to shoppers. Behavioural data is a powerful tool in doing just that. Internet Retailing recently hosted a webinar, in association with RedEye, where participants gained an insight into behavioural email and how they might use it to benefit their businesses. Our speaker was Matthew Kelleher, commercial director at RedEye.

Retailers who want their marketing emails to be opened and acted on know that they have to be relevant to their audience – this, according to Matthew Kelleher, commercial director of behavioural email specialist RedEye, is “the Holy Grail of email marketers.” Behavioural technology means that emails can now be relevant as never before, reflecting not only users’ buying history but also what they just did, just now, on your website. Kelleher set out in this Internet Retailing webinar to explain exactly what behavioural email is – and how it can be used to best effect.

Behavioural email, explained Kelleher, draws not only on data about users’ behaviour on a website – which products they browse or whether they abandon a basket, for example – but also on data about how often they buy and how they engage with a site or brand. By using automation, retailers and marketers can send out mass messages which are, thanks to dynamic content, personal to each individual who receives it. “Dynamic content allows for every recipient to receive a specific creative and copy treatment based on their interaction with your brand,” said Kelleher.

Finally, it’s also crucial that the emails reflect where those individuals are in the lifecycle of a purchase process. For while sending newsletters and opt-in emails helps to engage potential customers, highly relevant, targeted emails help to keep shoppers buying. And, unlike social media, said Kelleher, emails are the only channel the marketers can fully control. They are also, today, cheap, dynamic and data rich.

So how exactly does behavioural email work? “The key to making behavioural email marketing work is to use a deployment tool that is able to merge all the possible data sources that you have available to you,” said Kelleher. The goal, he said, is to bring together those sources in the most relevant way. Those sources include, first, the customer database, with its historical data such as the recency, frequency and monetary value (RFM) that define the customer’s loyalty and value. Then, secondly, data from email, such as when the customer opened emails and what links they clicked on. The third part of the equation is the web analytics data mapping online behaviour, such as what products they looked at on your website and at which point they left the site. Business rules can be set to take all of this data and create a highly relevant email, text message or direct mail. It’s important to remember, said Kelleher, that the database needs to be able to process data in real time. “Too often these days, 24 hours later is not quick enough and you can’t deploy the message in a timely fashion.”

A holistic approach to the data can help to create loyal customers. That means considering what point the customer is at in the customer lifecycle – from acquisition, and conversion to development, retention, and reactivation – and targeting them accordingly. “The Lifecycle stage that they exist in will determine not just what you say to them but how you’re going to say it,” explained Kelleher. “For instance, you will most likely have one goal for a prospect in the acquisition phase, and that is to convert them into a customer, and an approach, commensurate with your brand, is needed to get them over the line.” Email messages, with an appropriate tone, might respond to abandoned baskets or take the form of a welcome to the site.

Everyone who visits a website in response to a previous email leaves behind valuable data, said Kelleher. Thus someone who visits a site and look at product x should not be targeted with a blanket email promoting product z. Instead, email programmes should identify which stage of the consumer lifestyle an individual is at, and what products they have previously looked at, using behavioural data.

Illustrating this, Kelleher showed the audience an email produced for Haven Holidays. Haven used behavioural search criteria to make sure emails sent out at a time customers were browsing and researching a potential holiday were as relevant as possible. Kelleher explained: “Internal search criteria or holiday browsed data can be pulled automatically into the dynamic templates from an online database and deployed automatically.”

Such an email can be sent in response to a static trigger, and the first version of this email did just that. But, said Kelleher: “When we modified the template to automatically pull in the behavioural data on the search and browsed variables, the last click revenue performance increased by 61%.”

Not only that, but there’s a real competitive advantage to be had by using such emails, argued Kelleher. RedEye was called in by Evans Cycles because open rates from its newsletters were falling. After 18 months of lifecycle and behaviour-driven email, income from such emails is up by 103% while return on investment was touching 2,400%.

Generally, said Kelleher, between 10% and 20% of emails are opened, and consumers click through on 5% to 10% of them. But when engagement and behavioural data are brought into play, benchmark open rates can rise to 50% and click-throughs to 35%. Evans’ open rates for behavioural emails rose as high as 84.9%, compared to rates of 16% to 25% for generic newsletters, while click rates rose to 40.5%, compared to generic email rates of 3.8% to 5%.

“For many consumers,” said Kelleher, “relevancy is actually the product that they were browsing for and that behavioural data has provided to you.

“But it is also a mechanism that allows for relevant email when the customer is not in the buying window but you want to keep communications going, waiting for the next time they want to buy the product or service you sell.” But, he warned that this was not a replacement for the traditional Thursday or Friday newsletter sent to the base. It is just a far more relevant way to address your engaged customers and it improves return on investment significantly.”

To hear the webinar for yourself, to view the accompanying slides and hear the question and answer session, visit the webinar page on the Internet Retailing page here.

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