DMF 2011 | Using Social & Customer Data for Sure-Fire Email Relevancy

By Kaitlyn Smeland Dhanaliwala | Feb 3, 2011
More Articles by Kaitlyn


This presentation is all about integrating different channels to gather customer data- and then using that data to personalize your email marketing strategy.  At Search Mojo, we are big proponents of integrating Social Media with Search.  So in particular, I’m really excited about this idea of tying social media into email marketing. The session speaker, Stephanie Miller, isVP of Email & Digital Services at Aprimo.  (And once again the snowpocolypse is wreaking its havoc- speaker Sarah Welcome is stuck back east).

Stephanie makes the point that email marketing has the potential to generate ROI, but the channel is moving away from a broadcast strategy to a segmentation strategy.

There are two big trends in email marketing today:

  1. The inbox is fragmenting.  People have multiple inboxes (one for business, one for personal use, one for junk mail, etc.)  And in addition to that, inbox management tools allow for all kinds of prioritization/starring/sorting techniques.  If your email is stuck in the “everything else” section that gets lost in the inbox, it might never be seen.
  2. Engagement is the new metric to watch.  Although engagement has always been somewhat of a factor (as it influences spam rates), it is more of an issue now.  And given the fact that the inbox is fragmenting, engagement is a way to adapt.

In order to adapt to these trends, email marketers should shift from constantly pushing sales to a more “lifecycle-based” technique.  Keep in mind the length of the relationship you want to maintain with your contacts.  Don’t push the sale too hard in every email.  And at least 10-15% of your email communications should be tailored to the interests of the individual contact.

So how can email marketers get data about those interests and preferences of individual users? There are various sources of data: the customer herself, the sales team, CRM systems, and online customer data.

Five Steps for Incorporating Online Customer Data with Email Marketing:

  1. Audit Data Sources. Not all data will be helpful for email marketing.  Often, self-reported behavioral data will be more informative than mere demographic data.  (So try asking customers about their interests).  Also think about ways to gather data from different channels (SMS v. mobile web v. website forms, etc.)
  2. Translate Information Into Data.  Think of opportunities to offer customers something of relevance based on customer data you have.  What were their recent purchases (with you or partner companies)?  What have they been saying on their Twitter streams about topics related to your offerings?  Fold all that data back into your CRM system, which will inform email strategies for that user…
  3. Model and Prioritize. This is where you should formulate a method to market to a user based on the data you’ve collected about her.  Is a user an active reviewer of products on your site?  Then maybe an appropriate email strategy would be to send more info about those products of interest, ask for even more feedback from her, suggest similar products.
  4. Test Segmentation.  Test out different segments based on behavioral and demographic profiles- as well as the offers that you personalize for each segment.
  5. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Perhaps test new email strategies on one line of the business before you roll it out to the entire organization.  Gather even more data.  Keep digging deeper and targeting more deeply.

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