In Search of Attention

Live Audience: In Search of Attention

For more than a decade, the business of email marketing has largely been concerned with The Big Six:

Send times
A/B testing
Subject lines
List segmentation and suppression

When is the best time to send? Did my message get delivered to the right tab or was it sent to the junk folder? What offer inside the email worked best? What was the winning subject line? Who should get this message and who shouldn’t?

Those are a tremendous number of variables to balance and test for.

With so many variables, there has always been a lot of wood to chop. And with the high ROI of email marketing, the effort to optimize against all these variables has kept many email marketers in the office until all hours. Email’s tremendous ROI has made it worthwhile.

In a environment where your opted-in subscribers could only be contacted via a 1st-party newsletter, spending this kind of time made a ton of sense. When you collected an email address, you intended to send email to it. And you needed to make the most of it.

But once you work through this playbook what else can you do? Triggers?

Now you can use your email data – your segments of lapsed, best, most recent, and or category customers – to reach your subscribers outside of the newsletters that you send. You can use your email address data to reach subscribers without sending another email message to them.

This is called CRM ReTargeting.

You may have heard this called something different. Facebook calls its version ‘Custom Audience’. Twitter calls its ‘Tailored Audience’. Salesforce calls its ‘Active Audiences’.

LiveIntent calls its LiveAudience.

What all of these applications have in common is the use of ‘encrypted’ or ‘hashed’ email data as a targeting element in third party media. Wow. I know that was confusing.

Email addresses are unique. Other than your grandparents, basically no one shares them. And email addresses have evolved to be the unique identifier and login credentials used for everything from the Apple Store, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, Netflix, The New York Times and pretty much anywhere that has a username and password combination that grants access. Whenever you login to these sites, you use an email address and then the system uses a hashing algorithm (usually MD5) to convert your email address into a 32-character string.

Everytime you md5 an email address, it will convert to the same string. There is no algorithm that will convert it back. So you can send a file of these alphanumeric values to another party and they will not be able to convert them back to email addresses. So they cannot start sending mail to your subscribers.

What they can do is match the strings to their logged-in users.

Facebook was the first to popularize this. It let businesses upload segments of hashed data, along with an ad creative, a URL and a bid. When you are spending time on Facebook, you are logged in and paying attention. Facebook monetizes this attention by running an ongoing auction. Retailers and others bid to place ads in the newsfeed based on matching to their email segments. You only pay to place an ad when you match one of your users AND win the bid (which is CPM$ just like email).

LiveIntent did this first, but we are happy Facebook popularized it. What LiveIntent LiveAudience allows you to do is load up your segments – maybe lapsed customers or people who opened your last campaign but didn’t convert – to LiveIntent Bid Manager; assign creative, campaign timing, and a bid amount; and target these customers when they’re reading other publishers’ newsletters.

Your subscribers may only open up 15 or 20 percent of the mail you send them.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t like you. They’re just paying attention to another publisher or message. You don’t need to send them more email to reach them. You can reach them using display ad creative in other newsletters, Facebook, Twitter and soon many other publishers who have realized that known customers – email subscribers – are more qualified and have higher potential than mere cookies.

So before you decide your strategy is going to just be ‘mail more’, understand maybe email doesn’t have to be just about sending email.

LiveIntent is a valued WhatCounts partner, helping our clients market smarter every day. 

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