Best Behaviour

By Tink Taylor

An interesting article in NMA last week on the hot topic of ‘behavioral targeting’.

A survey compared the fears amongst consumers towards behavioral targeting, with the fears amongst marketers of using this tool. The bottom line was that marketers overestimated consumers’ fear and so are missing an opportunity to effectively target their email marketing messages.

‘Behavioural targeting’ is such a hot topic that just last month it was debated at a round table event in the House of Commons, with a particular focus on Phorm – the UK’s most advanced ad-targeting player.

Privacy concerns and the specter of ISP’s turning into big-brother snoops are at the centre of the buzz of discomfort that surrounds this topic. But is ‘behavioural targeting’ in danger of becoming a big, dark word – just like the word ‘spam’ – that damns or frightens off all those marketers who use customer data to target their messages?

The ‘spam’ word is too often used as a generic term to describe all marketing emails – including those that are sent to opted-in, fully engaged recipients. So let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to ‘behavioural targeting’.

The use of behavioural targeting in email should not get mixed up with the privacy issues surrounding targeted ad serving. Email marketing is a permission-based industry, and the more relevant data that marketers can collect and use to target their email lists and content, the further removed from any concept of ‘spam’ the emails become.

Within our own dotMailer email marketing platform we have some very powerful and easy to use tools for enabling effective behavioural targeting, including behavioural reporting queries, segmentation queries, an integrated survey tool and dynamic content.

One segmentation query that all email marketers should consider using is segmenting your lists into those who open and click through from your campaigns, and those who don’t open them. Sending different creative to these two behavioural groups can help boost metrics by recognising that non-openers may respond better to different subject lines or different text or imagery in the preview pane.

Of course there is a focus on privacy when words like ‘big brother’ start being banded about. It’s a timely reminder for email marketers that they need to be clear in their privacy statements about how they intend to use the data they collect. But collect and use it they should.

Behavioural targeting in email is a question of sending the right message, to the right person at the right time. Now that’s not Big Brother – that’s Happy Customer and Successful Marketer.