It is important, I think, to define what is going on and what is out there in the market regarding trigger email marketing, behavioural email and remarketing, phrases thrown around and often confused but which have key differences.

I want to hazard some definitions of these terms, and of course I am open to having these challenged...

All businesses pinch vogue terms and use them to describe what they do. The bigger the issue and phrase, the more companies try to ride the bandwagon.

‘CRM’ was the classic example. I wonder how many people out there thought they understood what it meant until before seemingly every supplier in the market place twisted it and applied it to describe what they did!

1) Trigger email marketing. Triggers are emails that are automated to respond to an event. For instance, someone completing a registration form can instantly receive a ‘thank you for signing up’ trigger or if they abandon a basket, an email is triggered to that person to encourage them to complete the purchase.

Triggers are straightforward. To allow the trigger to be sent, an individual needs to be signed into their account at the time in order to identify the individual’s email address. CSM platforms have trigger facilities and most web analytics businesses provide facilities to link visitor information to your email service provider.

2) Remarketing is the phrase lent to the process of sending a second email to web visitors driven to the site directly from an email. This process is enabled by the fact that the site’s web analytics picks up the visitor information from the email tag which allows for an email to be sent to that individual.

The problem with this process is that it ignores individuals who come from any other media and therefore who do not have the email address as part of the tagged information. In my experience for most organisations the volume of traffic driven direct from email is less than 20% and can be as low as 3%. Which, of course, means that as much as 97% of the opportunity is spurned by this approach.

3) Behavioural email marketing is based on an online database that collects all web and email engagement information and can also be fed by offline behaviours and information. Thereby it automates and constructs emails based on recent web engagement information and indeed any other information available to the database.

The key is the fact that behavioural email marketing is driven by an online database that integrates web analytics and email data. So rather than just delivering a basket abandonment email about the specific product/s in the basket, the incentive to complete the basket may be to discount a separate product that the individual has browsed recently, for instance ‘Complete your basket and get this product 15% off’.

Behavioural strategies are based on the whole interaction with the customer or prospect as held in the database, and not simply the last event. Customer history, together with current engagement,is used to enable more relevant and timely automated emails.

In my opinion behavioural strategies have the long term edge for organisations that have a high reliance on email as a media for three primary reasons. Firstly, the reach of behavioural email is as much as 5 times the reach of remarketing and triggers.

Secondly, an online behavioural database will increase the relevance and thereby income of future emails and, finally behavioural strategies, that allow for dynamically driven automated email marketing, also minimise costs and human intervention.

Matthew Kelleher

Published 23 October, 2009 by Matthew Kelleher

Matthew Kelleher is commercial director as RedEye and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Comments (2)

Tim Watson

Tim Watson, Email Marketing Consultant at Zettasphere

A good summary with nice and clear definitions. Within the consultancy and best practice advice we provide to our Digital marketing clients, this accurately describes how the terms are used.

Perhaps with just one tweak that remarketing does not have to mean a second email. Remarketing to customers based an abandoned shopping cart or products viewed and not purchased, could be an first email with the customer identified by being logged into the eCommerce site. But then remarketing is a special cut down case of behavioural marketing?

Without question the way forward for the future successful Digital marketer is behavioural marketing. Looking at the stats from millions of emails each month it can't be clearer that relevance is absolutely the number one thing to get right that makes a big difference. Get it wrong too often and you are left with an emotionally unsubscribed and disengaged customer. The future winner is the behavioural marketer.

over 8 years ago


Gautam Tandon

Check out ellipsis dive! at ellipsis dive! is an online search engine designed to dive into the internet and extract email addresses from relevant web artifacts. It uses popular search engines including bing, google, yahoo!, altavista and ask to search web pages.

over 8 years ago

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