For today’s email marketer, data has become just as valuable as physical currency for driving opens, clicks and sales. Yet, commenting on his detailed findings from nearly 1,300 email marketers, VentureBeat research analyst Jon Cifuentes said: “The single most surprising insight was to learn just how bad end users are at capturing data and applying it to decision-making.”
Cifuentes continued, “There’s an education problem at play, both in the vendors’ understanding of what end users need, and end users lacking data management skills.”
Data’s increase in volume, variety and velocity coupled with shifts in technology contribute to exposed data management gaps for brands of all types. Data that brands can potentially leverage in email comes from both online and in-store sources. Data can be used to achieve many different email objectives, from recapturing abandoned carts, cross-selling products and re-engaging lapsed customers. But there’s a common misconception that “big data” is the core problem when the real challenge is turning big data into smart data.
Some common data management pain points I often hear from email marketers (and marketers in general) include:
1. How to handle large data sets where spreadsheets don’t cut it.
2. How to eliminate silos and centralize data from multiple sources.
3. How to automate, analyze, and take action based on data in real time.
4. How to tie together storage, access, and ability to take action on data.
Technology lies at the heart of tackling these pain points, and brands traditionally have two choices when it comes to implementing data management technology: build it, or buy it.
For most brands managing large amounts of email data (what is likely just a part of their overall marketing data), building a technology platform isn’t efficient or even possible. However, completely outsourcing data management can also cause problems with control, access and security. Brands that outsource data management often sacrifice the ability to make real-time adjustments as their email campaigns evolve and become more sophisticated.
Some large brands choose a middle ground by keeping their email data in-house — but partnering with someone who can provide data management plumbing while the marketing team pulls the necessary levers. Another option is to harness existing data integration capabilities native to various content channels. This way a brand doesn’t have to build a solution from scratch, and it can also have full control over their data management including the ability to store, access, automatically integrate and action data all in near real time.
Data management across a global picture can produce another layer of complexity for email marketers. As brands expand into new markets and language and culture become yet another layer for email in an increasingly omnichannel world, their software should be able to scale accordingly.
Email data management doesn’t need to be difficult. Yes, it requires resources (both human and technology), and it also demands that email marketers decide on what KPIs take priority (e.g. unique opens, clicks, sales) and how they’ll be measured. For brands in retail, financial services, travel and other sectors that commonly rely on email, data is a common denominator. The right technology that enables brands to enjoy the advantages of both in-house and outsourced data management can alleviate the pain points and help drive long-term success.