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Using Web analytics to improve e-mail marketing

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Sometimes sending out an e-mail campaign feels a little like playing darts with a blindfold on, said Satnam Singh, VP-analytics with Javelin, a marketing agency based in Dallas. “You need to add vision to see which ring you're in,” he said. For many marketers, Web analytics can become the eyes of an e-mail campaign because they show not only where a Web visitor entered a site but also where they were referred from, how long they were there and where they went when they left.

“Businesses should be watching how customers and prospects are behaving online and what kind of information they are trying to gather based on their browsing history,” Singh said. “It's only by doing this that they can more efficiently target e-mail.”

Singh provides these tips to help you get the most out of your Web analytics:

  1. Watch for bounces. Web bounces—when someone comes to one page on a site but doesn't go any farther—can help marketers identify the last thing a visitor viewed. With frequent visitors, a bounce might mean they are just checking in for a little more information. Of course, it could also mean they didn't find what they wanted so they simply left. You can test the waters by sending users an e-mail with a topic-specific call to action. If they click through, you know they may be deeper into the sales funnel, Singh said.
  2. Use analytics for up-selling. When you can match customers' previous purchases to what they are currently viewing, you're providing a more relevant message, Singh said. “Someone may have already bought a specific part, but then you see that they are looking at other areas of the Web site,” he said. “That's a customer that may be ready to buy again
  3. Let Web history assist your e-mail offers. You may think you know what motivates a customer, but Web analytics can show a clearer picture. If, for example, someone comes to your site and types in the search word “discount,” you know that person is looking to buy but may need a special offer to close the deal. Someone else might spend time in your community section reading about customer service; that person may not need a discount. Instead, he or she may value more hand-holding or a specific service-level agreement bundled in with the sale. “What you see may definitely change your strategy,” Singh said.
  4. Put stock in click-stream data. If you know a prospect came directly from a competitor's Web site—or left your site for your competitor's—you know that they are considering that competitor's features, benefits and service. Don't beat around the bush, Singh said. Provide them with an outline of your positives and negatives, and possibly follow up with a phone call so your salesperson can address any competitive concerns. “E-mail should be used to get people to the information that they are looking for,” Singh explained. “Analytics help you figure out what that is.”
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