Stop hoarding data

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Jim Davidson
Jim Davidson

Headlines about struggles with Big Data are almost as common as doomsday prophecies that “email is dead.” Most marketers reading this article probably rely on email as a core part of their job, so I think we can collectively agree that email is not dead. But in the case of data…we do have a lot of it!

If you've ever watched one of the reality shows about hoarding, the hoarder is usually living comfortably among the clutter and has evolved ways to function in their daily life. We marketers can easily fall into the same trap with our data deluge. There are always methods of cleaning, consolidating, adding new platforms or functionalities, or you can shift your perspective and focus on more immediate, campaign-specific data.

Remailing is one example of using campaign-specific data over a short time frame. Remailing, or sending another email to subscribers based on interactions with an initial email, is an often underused tactic that can help increase sales. A common remailing mistake is to remail everyone the same content with a slightly tweaked subject line. Marketers may call it remailing, but from a consumer's perspective, she's just receiving more email from you. This delicate balance needs to be understood and respected.

Let's look at four segments that you can easily create that will put your data to work and position you as a nimble, strategic marketer especially during the upcoming holiday season. After sending your initial email, this set of four segments, which are based on subscriber interaction with that first email, will account for all recipients. All past behaviors and any profile information can be left in that data hoard.

Purchasers: Sending another message to purchasers could tip that balance between over-mailing and strategic marketing. Consider including them only in the final email of the campaign and excluding them from other remailings like “2 days left” reminders.

Non-purchasing clickers: This audience got the farthest down the purchase funnel but did not purchase. The potential customer could have decided to research other sites and compare prices. The list of reasons for cart abandonment, such as the total cost including shipping, could also apply. But you know this population had a high level of interest in making a purchase at some point. Incorporate a greater sense of urgency into the subject line to help the subscriber understand that this offer is available for a limited time. If creative resources are available, feature an email design that relies on copy rather than product images. This will keep the promotion's value proposition top-of-mind rather than encouraging the subscriber to shop other products.

Non-clicking openers: Whether due to your interesting subject line or the subscriber's habit of opening your emails, interest was shown. The subscriber may not have clicked for multiple reasons, like not seeing any products of interest, functionality issues, or wanting to comparison shop items shown in the email. Encourage the subscriber to click through to your site by strengthening calls-to-action in both the subject line and the body of the email. Let the customer know they can “Shop the entire Holiday Collection today” or “Free Shipping with a $50 purchase. Use promo code FS50.” Augment the subject line by continuing the theme in your pre-header text, like using “More than 500 new products under $20” with the “Holiday Collection” subject line.  Shift calls-to-action within the body of the email toward the shopping experience, such as “View full specs” or “Compare to other products.”

Non-openers: The timing of the message or the subject line could have been a deciding factor for a subscriber to not open. Shift your subject line strategy from the original message. If you were overly promotional--listing the products, brands, and prices or discount--move to a succinct subject line that relies more on copy and tone than products and savings. An initial subject line of “20% off (including 2012 deluxe models)” could become “You're missing out.” Remailings can be effective when paired with a sense of urgency. Time your remailings to coincide with the time remaining for an offer—“3 days left to save,” “Ends tomorrow,” or “Hours left.

Expect remail metrics such as open, click, and conversion rates to fall below the benchmarks for your standard messages. Engagement may be highest for the initial announcement of the promotion but the incremental increases in sales for the overall campaign will be noticeable. Monitor unsubscribe rates and abuse complaints continually for any spikes that could mean the remailings are not well received by your subscriber base.

The flexibility and minimal amount of time needed to execute remailings means that you can bake them into your holiday communication plan or decide to expand an under-performing promotion into a multi- message remail campaign to gain additional sales.

Jim Davidson is manager of market research at Bronto Software. Follow him on Twitter @JimSaidIt.

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