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Bounce Exchange Shares Why Behavioral Marketing is Crucial

June 3, 2015
By Phil Davis

Why-Behavioral-Marketing-CrucialNo one can dispute the power of email, especially in the age of big data. However, as email rises in importance, marketers are still challenged by acquiring their prospect’s email addresses. When it comes to email acquisition, no one does it better than our friends at Bounce Exchange—the software company that helps clients to increase conversion and improve email acquisition by serving up content targeted to specific segments.

This month, we took a few minutes to chat with Sam Crosby, Business Development Manager at Bounce Exchange, to talk about behavioral marketing, best email acquisition practices, future trends and, of course, the power of email.

TowerData: You’ve been in the industry for quite awhile, and you’ve been with Bounce Exchange for more than half a year. Tell us about some of the changes you’ve experienced. 

Sam Crosby: I think email has gone through this roller coaster of being cutting edge to being borderline spam. Now smart marketers have figured out how to make it personalized and targeted, which consumers respond to positively. Relevant emails are good emails for both businesses and users.

Also, I think there was a time when many companies weren’t fully acknowledging the value of email, or didn't focus on it in terms of acquisition. They would just assume they’d get customer emails when they made a purchase, completed a full registration or attended an event. They didn’t really see email capture as an incremental step toward becoming a loyal customer. Now an email address is recognized as a very targeted, very controllable piece of data for remarketing channels.

TD: Email has a tremendous amount of value. Do you think this has grown since marketers started discovering things like the hashed email?

SC: Absolutely. It's essentially a personal identifier. I think everyone's starting to catch up on that. Most everyone realizes that it’s an important acquisition channel—at least as a starting point toward full customer acquisition. The thing is, most ways of asking for email can be pretty abrupt and aggressive, and some companies are not fully versed in how to achieve email acquisition in subtle, interesting ways.

TD: Obviously Bounce Exchange solves a major challenge for many marketers, which is acquiring more email addresses. What, in your experience, is hindering them from being most effective in capturing emails?

SC: I think what's hindered marketers the most is not having the ability to test different email capture options. Email capture gates can require five engineers, plus a product manager and a designer, all focused on that one activity. That's expensive! We're able to circumvent that process by using messaging overlays. Because they're overlaid on top of the site, they don’t interfere with any other code. Also, what we’ve found, is the emails you capture through a better user experience tend to be much better emails. That’s because you're giving them the opportunity at the right time.

TD: Bounce Exchange seems to talk a lot about micro conversion. Can you tell me a little bit about micro conversions and how companies can use them?

SC: What we look for across the board—and this is certainly related to email, but not exclusively—is the series of actions users take when they come to a site. They're most often inconsistent, and the bigger the website, the more ways they click around the site. What we try to do is analyze the behaviors across these different actions, and the different paths they follow, and find out what the series of what we call “incremental valuable activities” we can encourage them to take.

If they've added something to their cart, and they've entered the funnel, we’ll push messaging that drives them toward the check-out. The same applies for registration, or a full application in the case of a B2B company. If it’s a publisher, we’ll push them toward other content on the site.

It's really just about tracking a user and determining, when they click on something, the most relevant messaging related to that category or subject matter—instead of just showing the same generic messaging to everyone.

TD: How much data do you need to collect before you can determine where those micro conversion points are going to happen?

SC: The shortest answer? As much data as possible. Typically we look through all our clients’ user analytics, all of their Google analytics or, for e-commerce sites, their customers’ order history. Once we have our software implemented on their site, we track users using cookies in order to serve them better messaging.

For example, if they've seen an email capture campaign and they submit the form, we exclude them from all future email capture campaigns. Also, if we show them an email capture campaign four times and they never submit it, that's probably indicative that they're not interested. We always test that number on a site-by-site basis to make sure we hit the right thresholds.

We also do a lot of testing. For example, for publishers that offer subscriptions services, we'll work to figure out how many page views or article views within a time period are indicative of being likely to purchase a subscription. For those users, we show them subscription messaging. For those who haven't shown that behavior, we'll show messaging asking them to sign up for a newsletter or another relevant action.

TD: Behavioral marketing has become a buzzword lately. What are some of the trends you've experienced, and why do you think it's finally becoming so huge?

SC: I think it’s because most companies have just now started to experiment with behavioral marketing and behavioral data. Historically, people would gather data for a day, allow a system to crunch it and then build a series of campaigns. First of all, being able to do that onsite, while the user is still engaged with the page, has helped marketers evolve from "Let's send an email tomorrow to the users who signed up today," to "Let's show a message to that user right now."

Also, retargeting and display technologies have shown businesses that behavioral marketing is effective, and that we can gather a lot of information from a user’s last action. For example, let’s say I buy all my clothes on the J. Crew website, and I've only ever bought men's clothes. Then, for some reason, the data shows I’m looking at women's jewelry. Maybe it's because I'm buying a gift, or maybe it's because my girlfriend is using my computer. Either way, it’s probably the most relevant current action. In that case, promotions should be shown around women's jewelry, and not men's clothes.

TD: You guys also talk about using “digital body language” to determine customer intent. What do you mean by that?

SC: Here’s a metaphor we use to explain this: Let’s say you go to a store, and you're looking at a certain type of clothing. Let’s say shoes. A sales person will read your body language. They're not going to come up to you and say, "Hey, did you know we have a discount on pants?" because that’s not relevant to your action. Also, if you start to get disinterested, or you seem a little lost or confused, they may approach you and ask if they can help or offer to show you other sizes.

The same holds true for our messaging overlays. It's all about reading “digital body language.” If your prospect seems to be disengaged, you want to make sure to keep them interested. So, you might show a related message that says, "Check out our most popular categories!”

TD: Do you think customers expect behavioral targeting?

SC: No, I don't think they expect it. I would actually say, if it’s done well, they shouldn’t feel they’re being targeted with anything. Similar to a good sales person, messaging shouldn’t be there to trick prospects into buying something. Also, like with a good salesperson, the overlays are there to make your experience and the conversion process easier.

Now, I'm not talking one-on-one personalization here by any means, but if J. Crew can't figure out that I've never bought women's clothes and I still get these women's sales emails, that's a little ridiculous.

TD: There's been a lot of change in response to the growth of mobile usage, especially with last month’s Google “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update. What are your thoughts on mobile and behavioral marketing, and how do you address this trend?

SC: What we're doing is enabling businesses to show the right messaging in the right context. For a long time, people didn't realize that a good experience on mobile isn't just about taking a website and making it look good on mobile. You have to understand that people interact with your brand in different ways on a mobile device.

Also, mobile conversion rates are, at best, about a third of desktop. So, if purchase conversions are not the primary action on mobile devices, then what is? And, how can we steer people toward those actions? One of the best options is by sending an email. Instead of a message that says, "Hey, we have a sale right now," we’ll say "Enter your email and we'll send you a promo code!"

Alternatively, especially in the B2B space, we’ll emphasize phone numbers during business hours. We'll set the campaign to be live between 7a.m. to 7p.m. And it might say, "You can fill out your application here, or you can apply for a demo here." Or "Just call us" with a simple tap-to-call. That's often the better experience for people on their phone.

TD: What are some of the hot trends you're anticipating the rest of this year and maybe into 2016?

SC: I think we’re going to see more solutions for cross-device identifications. Facebook, Atlas and their social log-in targeting will certainly be beneficial, as will tying device IDs to email addresses. You can start finding ways to target people across the board.

Also, I personally think a lot of businesses are realizing true one-to-one personalization can be an uphill battle. Sometimes the best answer is to get into smarter segmentation and figure out activity-based or historical behavior-based segments. Those segments are, I think, where a smart marketer can look at the segment as a group and say, "Oh, this is the kind of messaging that this group should see" rather than saying, "I need to have some data science team compute the most complicated algorithm that's ever existed, is going to take 12 hours to run through my whole database and tell me what emails to send to them tomorrow." I think there's huge value in smart segmentation.

Bounce Exchange knows better segmentation leads to higher quality leads and increased ROI. Discover how to improve your segmentation with TowerData’s Email Intelligence! TowerData's Email Intelligence Services

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