connect-the-dots

Connecting the Dots to Deliver Context

  |  July 22, 2014   |  Comments

The scattered data "dots" of your email marketing strategy need to be connected and put into action in order to create a successful, contextual email marketing experience.

I often use (or overuse) the phrase "connect the dots" to summarize the process of synthesizing information to come up with a conclusion based on a set of data/input points. This phrase works for me across a multitude of scenarios in which marketers derive insight or realize progress thanks to an increased understanding of their customers' behaviors and preferences.

Steve Jobs also referenced the art and science of dot connecting at his Stanford commencement speech in 2005, saying, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."

If you've ever done a connect-the-dots image in a coloring book, you know how the page initially looks like a bunch of scattered dots and by connecting them, a distinct shape forms. A similar process of connecting the data dots is an integral component of contextual marketing. Your consumer email lifecycle marketing strategy depends upon a bunch of scattered implicit and explicit data "dots." These scattered data dots need to be connected in a meaningful way and put into action to achieve a contextual marketing experience.

Data drives experience in today's marketing machine, with data and automation forming the perfect union to deliver the right message to the right place at the right time - with the end goal of driving specific consumer actions.

A first step to connecting the data dots is to assess available data based on actions across channels. Below are useful and commonly available customer interaction data types listed by channel:

  • Email: Opens and clicks on content such as articles, offers, products, surveys/poll, social links, preference centers, and more.
  • Social: Clicks to social links, sharing links, social login, social content, and social data.
  • Mobile: Mobile email and site engagement data such as email opens, device type, mobile app downloads, alert actions, mobile account access, mobile purchases, text to join email, and more.
  • Display Retargeting: Response to incremental display touch points driven by site browsing, email response dormancy, and more.
  • Web Commerce: Visits, time on site, browsed products, carted products, wish lists, and favorite products.
  • Click-to-Call or Chat: Clicks to get additional assistance are key behavioral triggers.
  • Real World Dots: Email sign-ups in-store or at an event, catalog or direct mail response, and purchases are all valuable data dots.

Understanding how channels work together to drive consumer experience and actions is key. By combining customer interaction data from brick-and-mortar, events, Web commerce, email, social, mobile, display, phone, and even direct mail catalogs, marketers are able to paint a more accurate picture of individual customer behaviors and preferences. As automation puts the data into campaign action, the goal is to create a one-click contextual ripple effect, where insights gained from previous interactions inform subsequent messaging to more effectively drive future customer engagement.

As marketers, you've earned those click actions, so put them to good use to fuel your automated email and cross-channel experiences. Then, once you have a clear strategy of how to put your data into action, test your theories and, as Steve Jobs said, start to "trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."

Image via Shutterstock.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Magoffin

As director of strategic services and team lead at StrongView, Catherine focuses on providing clients with proven Present Tense Marketing strategies to drive action and conversion across the customer journey. She thrives when helping organizations navigate and accelerate cross-channel digital strategies to achieve measurable marketing results across Web, email, mobile, social, display, search, affiliates, loyalty initiatives, and more. Catherine has held marketing strategy roles at Responsys, Janrain, and Yesmail, and past clients include Cost Plus World Market, Vitamin Shoppe, New Egg, REI, Hewlett-Packard, CLEAR, Warner Bros, and more. Catherine holds a B.S. in journalism and English from The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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