See the Trees: Revisiting the Beauty of Data Fundamentals

  |  March 12, 2013   |  Comments

Taking time to revisit the beauty of data fundamentals can help you find efficiencies for more involved initiatives while increasing subscriber engagement and driving sales.

We clearly see the forest. According to a study by NYAMA, 91 percent of senior corporate marketers believe that successful brands use customer data to drive marketing decisions. We struggle, however, to see the trees. From the same study, 51 percent believe sharing customer data within their organization is a barrier to effectively measuring their ROI.

One problem is that we are too ambitious. Often the data we are trying (and clearly failing) to share and leverage in our programs is just too complex, unstructured, and, let's face it, out of reach. Not only does this make it challenging to make the data useful but it also adds the risk that you are investing massive amounts of time and resources into programs that bomb. Don't misinterpret this to mean that automated programs involving multiple data points are a waste of time. Quite the opposite. Data leads to relevance and automation saves time - a revenue-generating combination. However, you must be practical in your approach and understand that you may not have every shiny bell or chirping whistle when you launch. The best data-driven initiatives evolve over time, gaining insight into what's working and building upon a solid foundation.

You probably have a few meetings on your calendar to discuss a data-centric project, an integration with one of your data sources, or just a review of your current segmentation strategies. All worthwhile meetings that can help combat some of the data-sharing issues many organizations encounter, but I propose you squeeze in one more meeting to your busy schedule.

It's time to look at the trees. The most basic data points pack a lot of power, are more likely to exist on a subscriber's data profile, and should be easily accessible. Here are a few to add to the discussion:

Subscription Date

Keeping your brand top of mind with your subscribers will encourage your customer to visit your site, and not your competitors, when they are ready to shop. The increase in marketing messages consumers receive each day and the impact subscriber engagement can have on inbox delivery makes subscriber involvement more important than ever. Even if you have a formal loyalty program, use a subscriber's subscription date to trigger an anniversary email thanking her for being a customer. This email will provide a break from more promotional-themed messages, add some personality to your email program, and, if you include a special "thank you" offer, a reason to shop.

Last Open and Last Click

Using these recency measurements in tandem with subscription date will give insight into when new subscribers begin to disengage with your email program. Timing an automated message to combat this period of potential disengagement can help maintain interest in your brand and build longer-term engagement. Data hygiene is another benefit of measuring the distance between subscription date and flat-lined open/click engagement. Attempt to reengage subscribers who are clearly ignoring everything you send them and consider removing them if these attempts fail. Freeing your list of dead weight can decrease the risk of deliverability issues and provide clearer insight into your open, click, and conversion rates.


Perhaps one of the easiest emails to launch, "Happy Birthday" emails are also massive money-makers, often seeing twice the conversion rate of a regular promotional email. In addition to driving sales, these messages will provide a thoughtful reminder that your brand values its customers. Include a limited time offer and send a reminder close to the expiration to drive urgency to buy.

Overlooking the obvious to focus on the complex is an easy trap for overly connected marketers. Taking time to revisit the beauty of data fundamentals can help you find efficiencies for more involved initiatives while increasing subscriber engagement and driving sales. It's time to quit staring at the forest and check out a few trees.

Trees image on home page via Shutterstock.


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Jim Davidson

As an expert in email, mobile, and social strategies, Jim brings 15 years of experience in online marketing, managing email and cross-channel programs for top retail clients. From strategic vision to implementation, Jim has led clients to successfully meet aggressive revenue and performance goals. As Bronto's head of research, he regularly publishes industry-focused white papers, research reports, and contributes to the Bronto Blog.

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