Power Your Marketing with Email and First-Party Data

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain the importance of subscriber opt in.
  • Describe why an email address is key to identity-based marketing.
  • Explain how each email message helps enrich first-party data.

What It Means When Customers and Subscribers Opt In

Email has long been the foundation of marketing—and for good reason. First off, when customers give you permission to send them emails, they’re volunteering to stay connected with your company. That means your message resonated with them. They want a relationship with your brand—you can feel honored!

When subscribers opt in to receive email from you, it also indicates they’re willing to give you information about themselves. That is where the customer journey begins. They fill out a profile giving you basic data (name, contact info, location, interests). Don’t use this as an opportunity to pounce. Take that information and use it to send your first few emails, personalizing the content with the information that you have. Then add more data to their profile over time by asking subscribers to complete their profile.

Pay attention to which content or offers your subscribers respond to, and add information from other sources, like purchase history. Adding additional data to a user profile is known as progressive profiling. Don’t scare subscribers off by getting too personal, too fast.

With Every Email, You Learn More About Each Other

With any relationship, the longer you spend with someone, the more you learn about them. Your relationship with your subscribers is no different. With every interaction, your subscribers tell you a little more about themselves, their interests, and how you can best connect with them.

This first-party data—location, content viewed, when they read your email, or what subject lines they responded to—is as valuable as gold. Your organization owns it, and you can use it to personalize each message. Why guess your subscribers’ interests and preferences when you could just ask?

Start by giving subscribers a special offer, such as a sneak peek of a product announcement, and use that as an opportunity to engage a little deeper. Ask a few simple questions that give you more insight about each subscriber. All this data can help you create an amazing experience for your prospects.

The Email Address Is the Key to Identity-Based Marketing

Consider an email address as your golden ticket. Everyone uses email to sign in to apps, social networks, shopping accounts—basically anywhere they go online. Email addresses house our virtual identity. And as marketers, you can use this very important nugget of information to create a single view of the customer. You can bring all your data together, no matter where it comes from—your data warehouse, CRM, point of sale (POS)—to create a picture of each subscriber.

This kind of exchange between marketers and their subscribers is rooted in trust. Marketers must honor and respect their subscribers’ preferences, opt ins, and opt outs. So before you press Send on your next email to subscribers, ask yourself this: “Is this something my subscribers want or need, or that can improve their relationship with us?” If the answer is yes, press Send. If not, find a way to add value to the experience. Provide content that helps your subscribers get more out of your service, get better at their job, or just get smarter.

Marketers Control the Message

Now that you’re rich with data, it’s time to start using it to forge stronger relationships with your subscribers. Every time subscribers open an email, click on an image, or update their preferences, they’re giving you clues about what they want. You’re solving the mystery of customer success by getting closer and more personal. Just like a good detective, you’re unraveling clues in the data to provide a better experience.

Here are some clues you can find in your customer data, along with action items you can take in response.

Data Clue
Action Item
When are most subscribers opening your emails?
Adjust the time you send your emails to when most of your subscribers open them.
Which call to action (CTA) was most effective?
Use the CTA that drives results, testing different words, button sizes, and button colors every few months.
Which words in the subject line drive opens?
To improve open rates, find ways to use the words that resonate most with your subscribers.
Which emails drive the highest click-through rates?
If one email is performing really well, use that as a template and take elements from it to test in other sends.
Which images or links are customers clicking?
This data is extremely powerful. You can use it to find out what your subscribers are most interested in. You also can use it to start adding to the subscriber profiles so you can include targeted content in your next email.

This video talks more about how artificial intelligence can identify trends in your data based on user behavior.

Now take a look beyond just your email data. Look at the goods, services, or products your subscribers have purchased. Look at when their last service appointment was, or when they last downloaded a video or white paper. You have so much data!

Let's look at some more clues.

Data Clue
Action Item
What have customers purchased before?
Use this data to segment your audience and to categorize your subscribers by product interest.
What information have customers downloaded from your site?
Use service or product-interest data to create special offers or to segment your audience based on category of interest.
When was their last appointment or purchase?
Use this data to remind customers of annual purchases or appointments, or even for something that needs to happen more often, like renewing a subscription or scheduling an oil change.

To recap, when you prepare to send emails to your subscribers, start with the data you have. Then add to that data based on subscribers’ click paths on your website and responses to the emails you send.

When subscribers purchase anything, use that information to make your emails to them more personal. For example, if they buy items displaying your company’s mascot, you can use that information to send them emails showing other branded items you sell. In other words, you can use that data to send them personalized content that drives them to act.


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