In case you haven't heard, it's Shark Week, Discovery Channel's annual ode to all that is shark. Here in the Northeast, we've also had a slew of Great White sightings that have beaches closed and seals sleeping with one eye open. Sharks have always loomed large in our imaginations, and films like Jaws only reinforced our fears, but with Shark Week's increasing popularity, we're learning more about sharks than ever before. And that increase in knowledge is resulting in respect and even admiration for the efficient predators.
Now, I'm sure you're wondering what sharks have to do with e-mail marketing, and on the surface, it's not much, but I think it's actually a good metaphor for the lack of insight and fear marketers have had when faced with managing customer data to create targeted, relevant e-mail marketing campaigns. Just as the traditional reaction to a shark has been to get out of the water altogether, marketers have shied away from complex data-driven e-mail because they just don't know enough about the process and how to make it work. But that's changing, and marketers are seeing the powerful results that can be achieved when moving beyond knee-jerk batch and blast campaigns. Here are some steps to take that will help you get more comfortable working with data.
Step one: be familiar with the types of data you have. Do you have basic demographic data, web behavioral data, e-mail open and click data, online purchase data, in store purchase data, social media data...the list can be quite long, and you need to identify and classify your data so you can figure what kinds of campaigns you can create. Don't be afraid to get in the water and take an up close look at exactly what customer data you've got to work with.
Step two: start interacting with and manipulating your data. Build segments you think may yield a viable audience for a mailing. Also, look at available content to see what might increase relevance and entice customers to open and click. Different audiences respond to different content, whether it's based on something simple like gender or more complex like products previously placed in a shopping cart.
Step three: start testing. See if your use of data is increasing relevance and campaign performance. Are recipients responding, and are they responding in the way you want, either by purchasing more, interacting with your brand by sharing your content with their social networks, contributing product reviews, or other KPIs?
The last step is to manage your data and safeguard it. It's a valuable asset! Perform regular list hygiene, run re-engagement campaigns if you see response rates slipping and remove recipients that have stopped responding at all.
Hopefully I've convinced you to get back in the water, so to speak, and not be afraid to see what you can do with all that scary customer data lurking on your servers. If not, you can always check out the schedule for Shark Week programming on the Discovery Channel!
Liz Lynch, communications editor, e-Dialog