How behavioral targeting can help your e-mail marketing efforts

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Behavioral targeting can be a highly effective way to increase response rates and strengthen relationships with customers, but it is also an area that many marketers struggle with. BtoB spoke with David Daniels, VP-research director at JupiterResearch, about what b-to-b marketers can do to improve their behavioral targeting.

BtoB: Based on a JupiterResearch study, only 31% of marketers target individuals based on click behavior. What is the main stumbling block for b-to-b marketers?

David Daniels: There are a couple of contributing factors. One is that most marketers simply lack the time and the resources to dedicate to e-mail marketing to accomplish some of the more advanced targeting tactics. … The other real barrier is that some of the e-mail marketing applications, especially those geared toward small b-to-b businesses, don't make this data available, or at least do not make it accessible in an easy way. There are certainly, however, tools that exist that make it rather easy to go beyond the macro-level click-through rate and drill into the "clickers" versus "nonclickers."

BtoB: Why is it so important to do behavioral targeting?

Daniels: It allows marketers to target their efforts based on the engagement level of their audience, to focus differently on the piece of the audience that isn't clicking. It is critical to review the engagement level of the list to also determine if there are dormant addresses on the list. For example, it is quite common for individuals to have two and three e-mail accounts, and if they signed up for a free account but no longer access it, then it could become a spam trap account, as many ISPs are doing so with dormant accounts. Even before fixating on the benefits of targeting by behavior, investigating click behavior is simply a necessary thing to do from a list hygiene perspective. If there are individuals that are haven't clicked in well over six to nine months, then the marketer should consider mailing to them differently or not at all.

BtoB: What is the biggest benefit to targeting based on click behavior?

Daniels: The biggest benefit is that if you market to the individuals already engaged, or target a different offer to those that are not engaged, your e-mail marketing performance will improve. We have found it is one of the easiest things that can be done to quickly optimize your efforts. In a study we conducted last year, "The ROI of E-mail Relevance," we found that those marketers targeting individuals with click-through data not only out-performed broadcast mailings bu, when taking into account the additional planning and production costs, their targeted mailings were more profitable. For example, targeted mailings generate 16 times more improvement in net profit than do broadcast campaigns.

BtoB: What can an e-mail marketer on a limited budget do to use behavioral data?

Daniels: Start with the click-through data from your e-mail campaigns. If there are individuals that show no activity for a prolonged period of time, then try sending them a survey or an e-mail with polling questions included. People like to give their opinion, and using polls and surveys is a good way to determine if there is a pulse at the other end of that e-mail address. Another tactic is to alter your frequency based on click-through behavior, mail to nonclickers less frequently or try a different creative approach to illicit a response from the dormant group.

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