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16 Feb

For How Long is Web Behavior Useful?

Author: Larry Kavanagh

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Direct Marketing

How long is Web Behavior Useful?

An industry blogger and a list brokerage/circulation consulting firm recently told their clients that web behavior data is only useful for a month or two at most. They suggested that there is no point in saving/using web behavior data older than that. Neither offered proof in which they compared the SALES of customers with web behavior to those without. As you’ll see below, both also gave the clients/audience really bad advice.

Here’s a response analysis for a mailer who’s been tracking web browsing behavior for over a year.

Response Analysis Chart to Track Web Browsing Behavior

The analysis looks at a mailing that completed recently and only considers customers who last purchased more than two years ago…pretty old names. I’ll say again, these are 25+ month buyers!

Chart: Web activity boosted the sales per mailed by 50 percent.Chart 1

As you can see above, web activity boosted the sales per mailed by over 50%. Now, the next question, does it matter how old the web activity is to provide this boost? Here are the 30,932 customers with web activity broken down by the month since their last web visit.

So while the blogger and list broker were correct that recent web activity is more valuable, they completely missed the ongoing value of web activity as long as 12 months ago! Visits 10-12 months ago, during the previous high season for this cataloger, drove the second highest response rate vs. customers without web behavior.

Months since visit is an important variable. We’ve found, though, that there are several other data points that are also very predictive. We retain more than 200 data elements and are continually testing to find ways to use them effectively.

Applying customer level web activity to catalog mailings is a new direct marketing discipline. As with anything new, be sure to check that the person giving you advice actually has relevant data and experience to back up their opinions. There are, unfortunately, folks who will pretend that they know a lot more than they do. Don’t be fooled.

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