Six quick tips to maximize your data

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Erik Gabrielson
Erik Gabrielson

When properly leveraged, data is a weapon that can ratchet up the performance of your e-mail marketing efforts. If your campaigns have flatlined, spending time fine-tuning your subscriber data will pay off tenfold.

When performance of a campaign disappoints, often the first reaction is to enhance creative. This can provide gains, but don't overlook enhancing (or properly using) your subscriber data. Remember, rich data enables every other aspect of e-mail marketing to succeed. Get started maximizing it with these easy tips.

Enhance data in stages: It's tempting to gather a ton of subscriber information upon signup, but don't make it a barrier to entry. Get subscribers in the door easily by requesting only the most critical data points and backfill their profile later. Testing different versions of your preference center will uncover how much information you can successfully request.

Segment lists: If you're sending the same message to the same list at the same time each week, you're falling behind. Interaction, demographics and preferences are key data points that provide valuable, actionable insight. The depth of your data determines the sophistication of your segmentation, but it's okay to start small.

Personalize: This is a no-brainer; however, many marketers are sitting on a data goldmine but are under pressure to get the e-mail out the door. Today's e-mail marketing platforms make personalization a breeze, so there's no excuse not to do it. Personalize with products or content of interest.

Clickstream data rules: What users tell you and what they actually do are two different things. Clickstream data shows how your subscribers interact with your Web site. Aligning pages viewed and time spent on these pages gives you better insight to what really interests subscribers. Discuss this option with your Web analytics team and e-mail services provider.

Don't overdo it: It's easy to drown in data. Keep your strategy simple by using a handful of data attributes at a time. Yes, you might be able to change the background color on messages based on dozens of subscriber attributes. But does it move the needle?

Finally, remember it's a constant battle. Don't neglect the health of your lists. I've seen cases where stalwart house lists shrink by 30% in no time. You can minimize attrition by keeping your current subscribers and backfilling new ones.

Providing relevant content through segmentation and personalization is a great way to keep subscribers. But unfortunately e-mail addresses generally go bad in nine to 12 months. Encourage your customers to self-report address changes and to provide a secondary e-mail address to ensure they don't miss a thing.

Gaining new subscribers is always a tough job. Provide prominent e-mail registration throughout your site. Make your preference center intuitive with minimal barriers to entry. Rich subscriber data is arguably the most important aspect of e-mail marketing — no matter what the creative folks say.

Erik Gabrielson is e-marketing strategist at Premiere Global Services.

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