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RISMEDIA, August 23, 2010—(eM+C)—An increasing number of consumers want marketers to know what types of offers they like, whether they’re a new or returning customer, their communication preferences, and shopping habits. In fact, 64 percent of consumers want marketers to know what types of products or services they’re interested in. This insight comes from Manifesto for E-mail Marketers: Consumers Demand Relevance, a recent report from e-Dialog’s Centre for Digital Marketing Excellence.

Preference capture isn’t enough to satisfy consumers’ taste for relevant messages. In part one of this article, which ran in the July 23 issue of “All About eMail,” I explored three tactics to help email marketers successfully capture preferences from both new and existing members of their lists.

Here are ways to increase the relevance of your campaigns by overlaying existing email and website behavior data with the preferences of your subscribers to ensure you’re sending relevant messages.

Gather essential ingredients first: email behavioral data. What consumers say they want is often different from how they act. Therefore, examining behavioral data is an essential step towards increasing message relevance. As an email marketer, you likely already have easy access to important behavioral data. Open, click and conversion rates directly relate to how your subscribers are acting. By analyzing this data, you can begin to incorporate behavioral preferences into your program.

Monitor how frequently your subscribers are engaging with you to identify active, lapsed and inactive subscribers. Based on this information, alter message frequency to further boost engagement. Metering marketing messages can help turn inactive members of your list to active members, and help decrease unsubscribe rates.

For subscribers that exhibit declining response rates, test sending less email at a slower cadence until response rates improve. The opposite can prove true with active members of your list. Try testing an increase in message frequency to see if your active subscribers enjoy an increased mail volume — but be sure to maintain relevance.

Top off with added extras: site behavioral data. Using email behavioral data is a great foundation to increasing the relevance of your messages. If you run a more sophisticated program and would like to achieve optimal relevance, incorporate site behavior data into your program.

Your website hosts an abundance of aggregated data; as an e-marketer, start thinking about ways you can incorporate this information into your program. For example, consider using a web analytics tool. Web analytics tie site cookies back to the behavior of subscribers on your list, allowing you to send relevant messages based on shopping behavior, which will resonate with consumers.

Try sending an abandoned cart trigger email a few days after a consumer saves an item in their virtual shopping cart without making a purchase. Dell Latin America developed a program similar to this in an attempt to reconnect with shoppers who saved an item but didn’t finalize their purchase. The program, which mails to 42 countries, has delivered strong results, with open rates across countries ranging from 65 percent to 100 percent, and conversion rates as much as eight times higher.

Marketers must augment behavioral targeting in combination with a more robust management of subscribers’ stated preferences. AirTran Airways proves this through its A+ Rewards program for its most loyal customers. AirTran revamped its existing A+ Rewards email campaign to incorporate 42 pieces of personalized information, including email and site behavior data such as credits available, number of trips to date, home airport and favorite destination. Incorporating this data produced strong results, with click rates improving by more than 70 percent and unsubscribes decreasing by more than 50 percent.

A blended approach to email and site behavior data is needed to make your messages more relevant. Consumers have indicated that their appetites will be spoiled if marketers fail to adopt practices that embody relevance. Determine what the best strategy is for your program, and begin to develop your own recipe that will increase the relevance of your campaigns.

Andrea Orvis is the group director of strategic services at e-Dialog, a Burlington, Mass.-based provider of email marketing solutions. Reach Andrea at aorvis@e-dialog.com

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