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Scaling Personalization Through Big Data: 3 Takeaways for Marketers

Feb 27, 2014   |   3 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

person behind email addressWondering how to better engage with the person behind the email address? You’re not alone. “Scaling Personalization Through Big Data,” an interactive roundtable hosted by email marketing strategist Phil Davis at last week’s 2014 MarketingSherpa Email Summit, provided email marketers like you the expert advice needed to take email personalization to the next level.

Couldn’t squeeze the roundtable into your Email Summit schedule? Check out three key takeaways for B2B and B2C email marketers here:

1: How Well You Understand Your Data Indicates Your Ability to Personalize

With just around 25 minutes to get to the heart of attendees’ needs, Davis kicked off his facilitation of the roundtable by asking those in attendance to define what email personalization meant for them and where they were in the process of incorporating personalization into their email marketing strategies. What he found ran the gamut.

“There was a real variety, but where they were on the spectrum was directly attributed to how well they understood and managed their data. The marketers with a comprehensive data strategy had a better handle of their data-how to get it, how to store it, how to make it usable-and were further along,” Davis said. “Others indicated they still need to create a cohesive program that ties their personalization needs with their data collection practices.”

Takeaway: Before you can effectively personalize your email marketing, you must first consider your data practices to ensure you are collecting and managing the right data elements.

2: Define the Data That Will Benefit Your Organization Most

No matter if you’re a B2C marketer trying to boost short-term sales or a B2B marketer looking to better segment your upcoming nurturing campaign, you want to engage with your customers in a more productive way. The key is to identify the data point or points you can use to help move the needle of engagement. This will help you focus on acquiring the data you really need.

B2C marketers at the roundtable agreed that purchase data is critical to collect, but demographic data is what really moves the needle for engagement. “In retail, you get a lot of misses when you make assumptions based on what a person purchased. For example, you have [email protected] who bought a red blouse. You say, ‘Let’s show [email protected] slacks that will match.’ The problem is Sam is a man who bought the blouse as a gift for his sister’s birthday.”

There are seven key fields that help most email marketers better understand who their customers are, empowering them to create better engagement. “Getting demographic and lifestyle data tied to the initial entry point allows marketers to make a move significant first impression. Some combination of gender, age, income, marital status, knowing if they have children and knowing if they’re homeowners can change up how they engage and have the biggest impact.”

“Two B2B marketers in attendance indicated the most important thing they can know about a lead or customer is the industry he or she is in,” Davis said. “They both came to the realization that their data collection practices were not fueling their email marketing needs. Both of them realized they could easily re-focus on getting industry data up front in order to impact how they engage.”

Takeaway: Don’t focus on gathering as much data as you can. Focus instead on gathering the data most needed to meet your marketing goals.

3. Let Your Engagement Goals Drive Your Big Data Strategy

Hyped-up industry buzzwords like big data have a funny way of muddling your marketing goals and the tactics you use to achieve those goals. That’s why Davis emphasized the importance of defining your marketing goals before you begin collecting data. “The goal shouldn’t be to collect more data because you want big data; the goal has to be to engage your customer better, and then make sure you get the data you need in order to do that,” he said.

Davis took it a step further by suggesting replacing the buzzword “big data” entirely. “Big data is the wrong term,” he said. “In this world of automation, we should start talking about fast data, which is getting the data points that are critical for you to move the needle and be able to take action using those data points in a fast, automated way.”

Takeaway: Develop your big data strategy based on your marketing goals, not the other way around.

Want to learn more about better engaging with email subscribers using big data? Check out this free eBook!

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