How to Segment and Use Your Customer Data

Jul 31, 2012 2:44 AM  By

Most marketers would agree: the more data, the better. And while the platform you use will dictate the amount of behavioral data you have to work with, your subscribers need to volunteer their profile data during sign-up, check out or by using a preference center.

To provide a positive customer experience, most brands ask for an appropriate amount of data during each of these phases and require only the necessities.

Pretty basic, right? That’s the problem!

Compiling an arsenal of behavioral data is easier than ever. Centralizing that data is no longer a monstrous multi-team project. Consumers are accustomed to providing basic data points without much hesitation. Yet, many brands don’t use this data to target subscribers. Two of the top excuses I have heard for not leveraging subscriber data more frequently are “We don’t have the time!” and “We won’t make money!”

While these may have held true years ago, they are now just not reality. Technology has streamlined previously time consuming tasks and enough evidence exists to prove how leveraging customer data can be beneficial to your bottom line.

No one will ever have a fully staffed team running at 100% efficiency. The good news is that accessing and actually using subscriber data should be only a couple clicks away. Many marketers believe introducing complex segmentation will result in repetitive tasks that will increase overall email production time and inhibit the capability of quickly sending out an unplanned email. This is not true.

Complete a one-time exercise that kills the “master file” concept by defining subscriber segments that help you better target customers, measure results, and understand trends. A few segmentation categories that you could build and reuse are: new subscribers, non-openers, non-clickers, non-purchasers, one-time purchasers, multi-purchasers and inactive subscribers. These categorizations will help you to better understand where you need to focus promotion, reengagement, and loyalty efforts.

Identifying triggered message opportunities will be another benefit of classifying your subscribers. Using this basic list of segments, here are a few automated programs that require a one-time set up but minimal ongoing maintenance:

Welcome series
Go beyond a one-time welcome email by informing new subscribers about your social presence, blog, how to shop your site, and a special offer for their first purchase over a series of emails. I have seen a retailer’s optimized welcome series represent 30% of email revenue.

Reengagement series
Define criteria for inactive subscribers, such as not opening for 60 days, and trigger an email letting the subscriber know they are missed when that criteria is met. These programs can not only reactivate someone who has been ignoring your brand but also drive sales.

Profile data can mostly be used for personalization or dynamic content. Personalization should be easy enough to implement, while dynamic content can require additional creative components and some extra production time.

A subscriber’s birthday, however, is one piece of commonly collected profile data that can be easily leveraged for an automated program. Birthday emails regularly see above average engagement metrics, conversion rates and average order values.

Unless required to verify age for legal or reporting purposes, avoid asking for the year of birth, which may be considered too personal to share. If you have not been collecting birthday, or if you need to build a more complete subscriber profile, send a dedicated email to subscribers who do not have a birthday in the database explaining to value of providing the information.

Considering that the holiday season will start ramping up soon, it is important to start exploring opportunities to better leverage data and implement automated programs now. These supplemental email programs could be one of the keys to driving additional sales during the holidays.

Jim Davidson is manager of marketing research for Bronto Software.