Explore our Email Marketing and Marketing Automation Toolkit

Integrate search and email marketing using intelligent personalisation

Author's avatar By Kath Pay 04 Oct, 2013
Essential Essential topic

An example of Holistic Email Marketing

Here’s a taster of what you can look forward to on October 8th at the free International Digital Marketing Summit  from Plan To Engage. It’s a free summit held At Your Desk, so why not register? If you can’t make it on the day, register anyhow and view the sessions on-demand. In my session: 'From Search to Conversion: 3 keys to a successful customer journey' we will be addressing the below tactic.

When we think of the words ‘personalise’ and ‘email’ we more often than not think of including the subscribers name and possibly their Company name within the email. But this is the most basic of ways of personalizing the experience within email and quite frankly, impresses very few. Personalisation can be achieved numerous ways by utilising the following types of data:

  • Explicit data such as filling in a form
  • Implicit data such as Browsing behaviour, Click behaviour and Transactional behaviour

However, people’s behaviour (implicit) can oftentimes be more accurate than informed data. The old adage of “Actions speak louder than words” comes to mind.

This post’s aim is not to discuss the merits or demerits any of the above methods which are often used,  but aims rather to draw our attention to a little-known tactic to leverage when personalising emails – that of search behaviour.

But before we begin, we also need to understand the difference between a pull and a push channel.

Websites and search are both pull channels, whilst email is a push channel.

The strength of search being a pull channel, is that people are on a mission – they have a purpose and are focused on completing that mission.

The strength of email as being a push channel is that it is able to push the valuable content and offers to the subscribers inbox.

What we ideally want to do here is harness the strengths of each of these channels to deliver a personalised and relevant subscriber experience. By doing this we are performing what I like to call Holistic Email Marketing.

Similar to the types of implicit data mentioned above, search terms can be used to personalise the experience of your leads for both B2C and B2B brands.

Let’s take a look at a fictional software company – BrandX.

A person goes to Google and searches a generic term such as:

“money management software”

and they are presented with both natural search results and Adword results from the software company BrandX.

Regardless of which result (natural or Adword) they select of BrandX’s, they are taken to a customised landing page which has been designed for the generic search ‘money management software”.

Armed with the understanding or assumption that this generic term generally means that the searcher is at the beginning of their search, BrandX have created a landing page aimed at educating, nurturing, building trust and data capture – rather than hard selling. A more specific search term such as ‘money software BrandX’ would indicate that the searcher is further down the line and would be treated as a hot lead, rather than a cold lead.

Within the data capture form (using a Free Trial, a whitepaper, a report etc. as an incentive) on this landing page is a hidden field such as

‘Source = money management software natural’
(if the search is natural)


‘Source = money management software Adword_367485’
(if the search is Adwords – it’s best to be very specific so you know which ad is converting the best).

You can also add another hidden field called

‘Search Term = money management software’

which will be added to the subscribers data and can be used to provide the relevant content to the via dynamic content.

In addition to this you would also add them to an email category/segment that reflected their position in the buying cycle i.e. cold lead, warm lead, hot lead and speak to them appropriately via a lead nurturing programme.

So if you manage this process correctly, you will now have the following information to personalise the subscriber experience by using search terms:

  • The search term ‘money management software’ has been added to the subscribers profile data and can be used to dynamically serve up the appropriate information according to where the subscriber is within the buying cycle.
  • The source has been added to the subscribers profile data – to understand which search terms and acquisition sources are best converting into leads and customers. Moreover, if you start to calculate LTV, you can also find which sources/search terms are actually delivering your best customers. However, this in itself is another blog post.
  • The subscriber has been added to the appropriate category/segment in which an automated lead nurturing programme has been set up to deliver the right message and content according to where the searcher is within the buying cycle i.e. each programme begins at a different starting point within the buying cycle i.e. cold, warm and hot.

And don’t forget to join us at the International Digital Marketing Summit and take away some great tips and tricks!

Author's avatar

By Kath Pay

Kath lives and breathes email marketing and devotes her time to developing customer-centric journeys using a holistic, multi-channel approach. Kath is internationally recognized as one the leading email marketing thought leaders and is CEO of Holistic Email Marketing. You can follow Kath on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

Recommended Blog Posts