What Big Data Means for Today’s Email Marketer
Technology has grown smaller and more accessible while the volume, variety and velocity of data it collects has exponentially grown larger. Websites track how we interact with content, traffic sensors measure how we use roads and now there are even mannequins that can collect information about what clothing appeals to us. Bits quickly add up to bytes as we track and measure seemingly everything. In fact, according to an IBM study, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day.
Big data, once the sole domain of big enterprise, is now a mainstream trend. Metrics and analytics have become the language that everyone from the solo entrepreneur to the large enterprise is eager to use in order to mine a treasure trove of data to gain access to business intelligence that will give them a competitive edge.
Management consultant Peter Drucker said, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." The challenge facing many businesses today is managing the measuring itself. Big data is useless if you don't choose the right things to measure and lack the means to turn data into usable business information.
Data has always been a central element in email marketing. We track and measure open rates, unsubscribes, clickthrough data and more to assess and refine email communications. What's changed over the years is the availability of more and detailed information about how campaigns are received, responded to and used. Now that we have all this data, what do we do with it? Below are five tips for using big data in your email marketing program:
1. Standardize best practices. Big data can give you a dynamic, real-time view into prospective buyer behavior. You can use this data to equip your sales teams with real-time information, predict trends and discover new opportunities. This data can also be used to standardize your best practices so that they're always repeated. Use data to determine the content type, frequency and sequences that yield the best results. For example, if your data reveals that a video demo followed by a personalized email yields the best results, standardize the practice.
2. Segment for success. Use big data to segment your audience into specific subgroups. You can combine a number of data factors — e.g., job title, location, items/services purchased, pages viewed — to create an audience segment. You can then create highly targeted communications specific to each group. For example, you can deliver tips specific to chief marketing officers in a specific industry or create a bundled offer to buyers who have purchased a specific product or service in the past.
3. Up your game with integration. Integrate information from different systems to capture, analyze, report and then act upon the intelligence you've collected. Multichannel information can be used to gain visibility into user behavior and help you tailor smarter strategies for reaching and engaging your audience. For example, your website, CRM data and email campaigns all yield streams of information. By pooling these individual streams of information you gain greater insight into your customers’ behaviors, likes, dislikes and buying patterns. You can use this intelligence to not only customize more relevant content, but also tailor the delivery channel and timing to optimize results.
4. Use this … and then use that. Use big data to create automated triggers based on user behavior. You can take the insight from big data to develop specific follow-up actions prompted by customer behavior. For example, a visitor that reads a blog post on marketing may be prompted with a message that directs them to a marketing software demo. An opt-in form from female CEOs in Arizona may trigger an immediate follow-up call from a sales representative. An abandoned shopping cart might prompt a follow-up email with a special offer for completing the transaction.
5. Data strengthens data. The inflow of big data can help you to become more efficient about what's captured, stored and used. What questions do you need to answer? What data yields usable insights? You can identify the data that's most relevant for your business. This focus will allow you to deploy your resources more efficiently. You can save time in analysis by only storing only what's important to your business needs, thus saving on data storage costs.
The goal for email marketing has long been to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Big data provides an unprecedented opportunity to be more precise in targeting individual customers. Marketers today know not only what their customers are reading and clicking on, but how they're accessing, consuming and sharing that information. Customers, through their online behaviors, are telling you what they want. With the right tools, you can show them you're listening. This not only impacts your bottom line, but your relationship with customers as well.