Thursday, October 30, 2008

Relevancy Matters in Email Marketing

Let's begin with a profile of a customer who received an email from a large retailer.

Name: John S
Gender: Male
Age Range: 40 -50
Relationship: Married
Location: Seattle, WA
Profession: Executive in an Interactive and Technology Company
Hobbies: Golf, Madden 09,
Shopping Habits: Shops at, mostly interested in shoes and have borught a lot of them from Also buys shirts, trousers and other male clothing items. Loyal customer at and Nordstrom for many years. Has an account online and login quite often when browsing.

From what it sounds like he is a perfect customer for any male clothing items that Nordstorm wants to sell. He will be very keen to look at Nordstrom promotions. He has opted-in for an email from Nordstrom.

Last week, John and I were talking about e-retailers, targeting (in particular Behavioral Targeting), personalization and product recommendations online. During our discussion he said “you have to see an email that I received from Nordstorm”. He forwarded me the email which is shown below:

Now my questions to Nordstrom or other etailers who are sending similar emails is, “Why would you do that?” You have so much information on your customers (John in this case) why not use that information to power your emails?

John was not annoyed with Nordstrom for this email(he is a huge fan of Nordstrom. Good for the brand.) but he was disappointed. He would probably have bought something if Nordstrom had sent something relevant to him in that email.

Here is a customer waiting to convert and you are disappointing him with irrelevant emails? Why?

Don't you want happy customers who are ready to open their wallet and give you money? Don’t waste your and his time with irrelevant emails send them relevant emails.

Here are few ways to create relevancy in emails
  1. Use his browsing history to look at what has been looking at but has not bought yet – Target the correct promotion
  2. Use his past email click-though behavior to determine what might interest him
  3. Use his checkout funnel abandonment history to determine what to send in an email
  4. Use his past purchase history and make proper recommendations
  5. Use the frequency and recency of his visits to the site to determine when to send him a coupon and type of promotion
  6. If you do feel you have to send something unrelated to persons interest (e.g. provide him an opportunity to see what else you sell maybe lure him into buying something he might not have considered) then send it along with something relevant to him. E.g. send discount on women apparel along with some discount for men stuff
  7. If you don’t have anything relevant to send then don’t send an email. Consumers are bombarded with irrelevant emails every day, you need to stand out and make your email count so don’t send anything irrelevant

Sending relevant emails is not rocket science. Most of the email tools/services have a way to send highly customized emails. You just have to explore them.

Do you have examples of irrelevant emails or relevant emails that you would like to share? Send them to me.

Comments? Questions?





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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Company with Giant Internet Footprint enters Behavioral Targeting

Akamai, a content delivery network with relationships with publishers, ad networks and advertisers across the internet, is getting in to behavioral targeting with the purchase of acerno. Akamai bought acerno for $95 million. Acerno uses shopping cart data to predict what the consumer is interested in buying next. Acerno network reaches nearly 100% of online shoppers in US.

The combined solution will use browsing data available from Akamai with the shopping data available from Acerno to deliver behaviorally targeted ads to the consumers. Like most of the other behavioral ad networks this system claims to be anonymous.

What makes Akamai Behavioral Targeting Different from others?

According to Mike Afergan, Akamai's CTO and senior vice president of Advertising Decision Solutions, the solution is ideal for larger campaigns since it doesn't require pixels, JavaScript, or beacons, which are time-consuming. "[Customers] are able to roll out bigger campaigns in a much quicker way. Conceptually that's the right way to think about what we do" he said.
I am sure Akamai will face the privacy concerns unless it is proactive and make it a truly opt-in system, as I proposed in my 5 Step Process to ease Privacy Concerns.

Due to stiff competition in behavioral targeting network space, recently few of the behavioral targeting networks have closed their doors. Akamai sure does have a better reach than a lot of Behavioral Targeting networks out there. Akamai’s new venture might further cause some other Behavioral Targeting networks to go under as well, provided it can ease the privacy concerns.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

eMetrics Washington DC 2008

I am heading off to D.C. tomorrow morning to attend eMetrics. eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit is the a premier conference for Online Marketers and Web Analysts. It is a great place to learn from and network with online professionals from around the world.

My Session on Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral Targeting is a topic that I cover extensively on this blog and have spoken on at past eMetrics. In this session I will talk about the benefits of BT to consumers, publishers (site owners) and advertisers. I will show what vendors are available to help with different types of BT and review various aspects of BT, from the available technologies to the tried and true techniques to the preponderance of privacy pains. I will also present 5 step process to successful Behavioral Targeting and is not just limited to online advertising but also how these techniques can be used for onsite advertising and content and product targeting as a part of onsite campaign and email marketing.

If you are going to attending eMetrics, I would love to meet with you. Look for me there or drop me an email (batraonline at with your phone number.

Here is a partial list of other presenters at this conference (I took it straight from Jim Sterne’s email)
Gray Angel, Tim Ash, Douglas Brooks, Jason Burby, Joseph Carrabis, Terry Cohen, Matt Cutler, Justin Cutroni, Bryan Eisenberg, Vanessa Fox, Bill Gassman, Andrew Goodman, Rob Graham, Ann Green, Mike Grehan, Stephane Hamel, Alex Langshur, Pat LaPointe, John Lovett, Neil Mason, Jodi McDermott, Liz Miller, David Millrod, Angel Morales, Jim Novo, Bob Page, Katie Delahaye Paine, Todd Parsons, Laura Patterson, Eric Peterson, Michael Stebbins, Robbin Steif, Pat Stroh, Jennifer Veesenmeyer.

See you guys in DC.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Direct Marketing Association's Behavioral Targeting Survey

Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is seeking marketers from companies with behavioral targeting programs to take a 10-minute survey on their companies’ experiences. The survey contains 24 questions and aims to answer:
  • How much companies are spending on behavioral targeting

  • How much revenue it’s producing

  • What are implementation issues

  • Which behaviors they are using

All respondents will receive a top line report of the results of the survey. I will also post the results on this blog. If you are currently engaged in Behavioral Targeting, this is a great way to contribute to a report that will clarify the state of behavioral marketing today.

Take the DMA’s Behavioral Targeting Survey

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Yahoo Web Analytics - Let's Get Started

IndexTools was bought by Yahoo earlier this year and yesterday they rebranded themselves as Yahoo! Web Analytics.
Dennis Mortensen, Director of Data Insights at Yahoo, writes:
The re-branding also includes the launch of a new website and changes to the analytics product itself. It also includes a few enhancements to the tool, beyond making it scalable and compliant with the Yahoo! stack. From a user perspective, the first most noticeable fact is that we are moving to a single sign-on provided by Yahoo! and your account will be tied into your overall Yahoo! account.
As part of this announcement, we are also opening up further access to the tool and are now actively supporting:
• Yahoo! Store
• Yahoo! Developers (Y!OS)
• Yahoo! Head Advertisers (Microsites)
And for these, this is not just random access as in handing out 15000 logins, but well thought through integration with the platforms themselves. If you e.g. are a Yahoo! store owner you can enable enterprise-class web analytics by simply ticking a box and we then automatically inflate the correct tracking script variables at runtime. You are of course allowed to turn this off and take control yourself if needed. If you are a developer you will probably not even notice that it is us, as we fully instrument on the fly and create reports through the YWA API. All very exciting stuff I will elaborate on in future posts.
As you can read, this is not a free-for-all-come-and-get-it launch, but a carefully planned controlled access launch, which will keep all of our functionality in place and even enhance it. There is no dumbing down of the tool in any of the engagements above - and we will be working hard to add to the list of customers who can get access. So expect the above list to grow rapidly over the course of 2008. Anywho; The official PR message is:
Yahoo! Web Analytics will be released in stages to various business units and eco-system partners!

Some blog posts and articles (e.g. Yahoo Web Analytics claims faster updates than Google Analytics) are comparing Yahoo! Web Analytics to Google Analytics. In my opinion this tool is a lot better than Google Analytics and there is no real comparison between Google Analytics and Yahoo! Web Analytics. Yahoo! Web Analytics (IndexTools) compares more to the likes of Omniture SiteCatalyst, WebTrends Analytics etc. There are a lot of Omniture, WebTrends, Coremetrics customers who do not use (or need) the full functionality of these tools and Yahoo! Web Analytics tool could be great fit for these companies.

But how do you get Yahoo! Web Analytics?

ZeroDash1 (now Ascentium) is Yahoo! Web Analytics partner and can get you started on this tool. If you are interested in learning how we might save you thousands of dollar on web analytics tool email me at batraonline at, make sure to put “Yahoo! Web Analytics” in your subject line.

(As I was writing this post I saw Eric Peterson’s blog post that you might want to check out Yahoo Web Analytics does not compete with Google Analytics)

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mobile Analytics

According to Nielsen Mobile the adoption of the mobile web has reached a critical mass. Nielsen says that, as of May 2008, 15.6 percent of mobile subscribers in the US make regular use of the mobile Internet on their devices, totaling some 40 million subscribers. This is just a subset of the 95 million US mobile subscribers who pay for access to the mobile Internet (through data plans or some other setup) but don't use it quite so regularly.

Despite such a surge in mobile internet usage business are lacking in measuring the mobile traffic. A recent survey by Omniture found that 71% of businesses are not measuring mobile traffic to their sites. It also found that 50 percent of businesses do not even know how many unique users landing on their sites originate from a mobile device.
Measuring Mobile internet traffic, also called “Mobile Analytics” is not easy, we are still dealing with the accuracy issues with web analytics and now Mobile analytics provides its own set of unique challenges.

Judah Philips in his post on Metrics insider covers a comprehensive list of challenges that Mobile Analytics faces.

Some of the key challenges he lists are

  • Data Collection –JavaScript is the most common way of collecting data for web analytics, but not all the mobile browsers execute JavaScript.

  • Unique visitor identification - due to lack of cookie support and the changing of IP addresses it is a challenge to uniquely identify a user.

  • Traffic source detection - Determining the source of traffic, such as search, email, direct entry, RSS feeds, and marketing campaigns can be challenging in the mobile space.

  • Geographic identification - Where are the visitors viewing your site coming from? But not all devices enable geographic detection because the gateway’s IP address is used, not a GPS signal.

Mobile Analytics Solutions

A lot of Mobile Analytics solutions have sprung up in past year or so and more are coming up (See my prediction for 2008). Some of the established web analytics vendors are also now offering Mobile Analytics solutions. These solutions widely differ in their technology, process and capabilities. Which solution will work for you will depend on your needs (In future I might compare some of these vendors on this blog, but meanwhile if you would like help in evaluating a solution you can email me at batraonline at Below is the list of current mobile analytics vendors that I am aware of.

Other Resources you might be interested in

Did I miss any tool/solution? Email me at batraonline at

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