Email marketing basics: Getting your data ready and using it wisely


When it comes to marketing, data is the modern day currency for businesses. For those that can effectively collect and analyse data, it can be a significant driver of revenue.  Marketing blogs are full of articles discussing the value of data, the prevalence of big data and the need to have access to it.

Many of these articles fail to mention the most important thing - that having the right data is more important than having the most data.

What good data looks like

Good data is a prerequisite for any email campaign. Without it, you run the risk of getting into serious trouble. Sending to recipients who don’t wish to receive mailings runs afoul of email laws and non-compliance can cause you to lose emailing privileges. Additionally, going against established emailing guidelines can get you tagged as a spammer, rendering your mailings practically useless.

We talk about list-building in our email marketing ebook, but to summarise: there are two ways to build an in-house mailing list: opt-ins and soft opt-ins.

Opt-ins are subscribers who have specifically requested to receive emails from you, perhaps via a newsletter signup.

Soft opt-ins are subscribers whose email addresses were obtained during a sale or negotiation of a sale. Business owners and marketers can offer assets on their website that prompt people to enter their information to receive it. Some examples include helpful checklists, guides, white papers, case studies or other pieces of content in which your audience is interested.

Soft opt-ins are eligible to receive direct marketing communications, provided that certain conditions are met. Firstly, the communications should be related to similar products or services as the initial purchase. Secondly,  the recipient must be offered the opportunity to opt out at the point their data was collected, and also via subsequent communication.

Alternatively, you can  buy a list - but this isn’t always a good idea.

However you collect the data, the best data should include:

  • First and last names

  • Personal email address (Avoid info@ email addresses at all costs)

  • Business area of interest(if you sell different services, it pays to know what product or service the customer engaged with or is interested in)

  • Whether they’re a customer or a prospect

The benefits of segmentation

Email segmentation is the act of splitting your list into smaller, more targeted group based on any number of factors (preferences, demographics, behavior, etc.) Segmentation is a critical aspect of email marketing today, when consumer and client expectations are higher than ever. The ability to personalise your marketing for the many different audiences and personas is vital.

Research shows that segmented campaigns regularly outperform non-segmented campaigns: opens are 14.13% higher for segmented campaigns vs. non-segmented and clicks are 63.03% higher.

Mass marketing is no longer the status quo. While some of these “broadcast marketing” tactics are still in play, the smartest marketers rely on segmentation and personalisation to reach prospects with tailored, custom messaging. This is especially true for email marketing. Emails perceived as relevant by the recipient can drive an 18-fold increase in revenue than mass marketing emails.

There are tried and true ways to personalise but we can a/b test some other customisations as well. Some great tactics include:

Anniversary emails - celebrate the anniversary of a customer’s first purchase or the date on which someone signed up for an email communication. It’s a small touch that shows people you’re paying attention.

Praise good behaviour - sending a note to “top users” can trigger a positive reaction from people. Perhaps they’ve been consistently opening your emails, perhaps they downloaded an ebook, perhaps they upgraded the service. Relating email activity to account activity can be highly effective.

Give suggestions - sending an email with similar products or services to the one your customer recently purchased not only shows you’re aware, but provides useful information that may prompt that person to make an additional purchase. Only about 39% of online retailers currently send out personalised recommendations through email.  

Be dynamic - Dynamic content is a simple, efficient way to personalise while working within the same email template. For example, personalised subject lines are better opened by 26% than generic ones. You can address people by their first name, or pull in other personalised information so that it appears you’re only emailing them.

Be smart - email intelligently

With the abundance of data floating around out there, it’s important to remember that quality trumps quantity. It can be tempting to build a gigantic list, cast a wide net and attempt to snag as many buyers as possible. This is a mistake. Concentrate on a limited demographic, and offer them  value in a meaningful way via your newsletter or other email marketing.

When you colour too far outside of the lines, your message loses meaning or is wasted on the wrong recipients. Focus instead on establishing and deepening relationships with quality prospects who you’ve identified through persona creation or other market research.

By properly managing your email data, you can set yourself up for success and remain ahead of the herd. Your mantra should be “quality over quantity”. Building the right data and using it to personalise offers and messages provides the greatest value to your customer and prospects.