Reprinted with permission from the Lyris.com blog archives.
By: Dane Christensen

There’s no question that search engines and email remain the most frequently used Internet applications since the inception of the Web. It follows that these would be the most powerful online marketing channels – and indeed they are. Despite the fact that there is a plethora of ways to market on the Web, you could certainly build your entire marketing program on just the one-two punch of search engine marketing (SEM) and email marketing.

However, while countless marketers are using these two technologies, very few are leveraging the dual power to its full potential. In this series of blog posts I’m going to present some ideas that will add serious muscle to this one-two combination, starting with campaign segmentation: using your SEM campaign data to better target follow-up email marketing.

How would you like to send out targeted email marketing campaigns that incorporate the recipients’ interests, even if they’ve only had one interaction with your Web site? For example, let’s say you have an online DVD store, (like Top 5 Flicks, our demo Web site). You could send email updates that highlight action flicks starring Angelina Jolie to the “frat boy”, and kids’ movies starring Macaulay Culkin to the “soccer mom”. Sound intriguing? Then read on.

Organize Your PPC Campaigns

The first step is to make sure you’ve organized your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns so they can pass data through your landing pages to your email service provider (ESP) (Read: 9 Tips for Organizing Your PPC Campaigns).

Basically, your PPC campaigns should be organized around the Campaigns/Ad Groups/Keywords structure that is built into all the leading search engine marketing platforms:

  • Campaigns should be focused on a central concept (in the Top 5 Flicks example that might be “genres”).
  • Ad Groups would then be based on some secondary concept (i.e. “actors”).
  • Keywords can be combinations of those sets of words combined with whatever words naturally go with them.

Add Tracking Parameters

With your PPC campaigns nicely structured, your next step is to add tracking parameters to the destination URLs of all your search ads. These URL parameters pass information about your campaign to the landing page – specifically the campaign, ad group, ad (if you’re running multiple ads), and keyword from which prospects originated. You can name the parameters anything you like, but their values are based on the search ad that displays.

So if someone Googles “action flick starring angelina jolie” and then clicks on your search ad, the destination URL will look something like this:

http://
top5flicks.com/lp.phpcampaign=action&group=angelina_jolie&ad=1&keyword={ KeyWord }

With these tracking parameters in place, you are sitting on a wealth of data that could be unlocked with a little bit of Web development effort.

Capture Campaign Data

Assuming your landing page is dynamically-generated it should be a fairly simple matter for your Web developer to take the values of those tracking parameters and place them into hidden form fields on your lead capture form. Now when the visitor submits the form, their interests will be passed along to your email database the same as any info they entered into the form themselves.

Segment Your Mailing List

With this information stored in each recipient record, a first-rate ESP like Lyris HQ will also give you the ability to create segmented email lists based on these fields. For example, you can create list segments for each of the movie genres. Then you can send out an action-oriented email only to people who responded to a search ad from the “action” campaign.

Send Dynamically Generated Email Marketing Campaigns

Lyris HQ also allows you to send out dynamically generated email messages with wildcards based on your recipient data. So you could send out email messages that include lines like:

“Seen any great {genre} movies lately? Well, when it comes to {genre}, a movie starring {actor} is a must have for any collection!”

You can also combine the segmentation capability with dynamic messaging to ensure that the look-and-feel of the email message matches the content.

The possibilities are endless. But it all starts with understanding that your visitors have expressed interest with their search engine query. Harness that SEM information in your email marketing and you’re sure to score a knock out.