Nine Ways Inbox Data Can Help Marketers -- Beyond Email

In discussions about integrated marketing, I sometimes find email treated as a siloed practice, with specialized teams and data that don’t translate into other channels.

Organizations that share this view find that beyond syncing creative, the email channel isn’t truly integrated at all.

This needs to stop. The email channel is unique in many ways, but the data it captures on consumer preferences, behaviors, and purchase trends can and should be applied across the marketing department.

One obvious application is for managers of online advertising, direct mail, and other channels to use email marketing results to select high-performing messaging and offers for their own efforts.

But there’s a far bigger opportunity available to virtually every consumer brand to use real inbox data, which shows how subscribers engage with messages from all commercial senders.

There are a number of sources of this kind of information collected directly from people’s actual inboxes, usually in exchange for access to mailbox apps. Seeing what happens aggregately in the mailboxes of millions of actual email users provides powerful insights. This is the kind of data I’m referring to in this article.



Today the most common use of this sort of data is gathering competitive intelligence -- checking out how the campaigns from other brands perform, and which messages and offers engage subscribers. Knowing this information is clearly useful, but I see it as an overly narrow view of inbox data’s potential.

Let me suggest a few alternative uses of this “email panel” data:

1. Take a segmented approach to tailoring offers to audiences by examining what kinds of offers work with different types of users (discount, free shipping, exclusive offers) across all companies in your vertical (or across multiple verticals).  Build lookalike models and create “best offer type” attributes for every subscriber on your list

2. Use transactional inbox data to conduct a review of competitive pricing strategies to identify what is driving sales for different classes of customers.  Are your competitors selling more in bulk or via replenishment programs for consumable products?  Are your competitors charging different customers different prices?  What kind of price experiments are they running?

3. Conduct a study of “product affinity” across your competitors. What products (that you don’t stock) are really interesting to users who buy your best-sellers?

4. Overlay purchase and campaign data to track the loyalty impact of non-email programs (as well as direct-marketing email programs).

5. Identify prospects on your site (or on your email list) who should be buying from you -- but are instead buying similar products or services from your competition.

6. Use engagement and transactional data to discover the calls-to-action that work with different types of users across all companies in a given vertical.

7. Explore transactions to understand the optimal time for nudging customers to buy, comparing the hours at which they most often purchase -- not only in your sector, but across all vendors.

8. Examine shipping fees charged by direct competitors and other vendors with whom you share customers to understand whether they win business because of distinct fee structures.

9. Conduct an in-depth study of the mix of service bundles for competitive telecommunications providers or banks. Use transactional data to see who succeeds at cross-selling products, and which offers are most effective to migrate clients to multiple products.

These ideas represent only a handful of the ways in which email marketers can work beyond their practice areas and truly collaborate with their departmental colleagues to deliver better customer experiences and generate more revenue from all marketing efforts.

How would you use this kind of data?

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