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.