Painting The Right Picture With Data

I recently received a letter from my kids’ school stating that they had missed too many days this year, threatening that we would have to report to truancy court if the trend continued.

I was taken aback by the letter. I have good kids, and I’m a responsible parent!

Once I digested the reality of the situation, it reminded me of a recurring shortfall many email marketers make when it comes to personalization.  

Let me explain.

While my kids have missed several school days due to illness, the reality is that all three of them are in accelerated classes, achieve straight As, have no history of disciplinary problems and are involved with volunteer programs at the school.  

The issue with the letter was that it fixated on one piece of data (days absent) the school had about my children.  As a result, school administrators failed to paint an accurate picture because they didn’t use all the information available about my children’s academic history and good standing.  



Many brands today are making the same mistake when making marketing decisions. They key off of a single data point to try and achieve personalization, when in reality this myopic view could get it all wrong. Good decisioning needs to leverage enough data points to tell the right story.

For email marketers, this means taking the following steps:

Develop all-encompassing engagement metrics. In order to understand your customers, you need to get a more accurate depiction of how they’re interacting with your content across channels and devices. Open and click rates are a start.

But are customers opening your email multiple times? Are they replaying videos in your email? What do they show the most interest in, and how can you use that to your brand’s advantage? Use all-encompassing engagement metrics that take into account the various other channels in which your customers may be interacting with you to inform your email program.

Extend the view beyond email. Our analytics team recently noted that they view email as an extension of the web experience. If you’re not viewing your email experience that way, you should.

The beauty of the web is that when consumers conduct a search or navigate through a product menu, they are providing insight into their intent — factors missing in email. By pulling website behavior into the analytics funnel, you can now bring intent into the equation for decisions about email content. For example, you can drive message content to consumers based on past (or better yet, real-time) browsing behavior, making your email messages smarter and more personal.

Get a more succinct view with transactional data.  Nothing signals consumer intent quite like a purchase. Leveraging transactional data via email allows you to develop more relevant messaging around the purchases customers make.  

Ask customers to review recent purchases, or offer them a complementary product in your next marketing communication. Better yet, anticipate their needs based on that purchase and deliver.

For example, you may have a video to help instruct customers how to best use their recent purchase, deliver FAQs, next likely purchase or “others who bought” content to extend the conversation and the value you bring to that conversation.

By leveraging third-party data to enhance your view of the customer, you can take it even deeper to help you see where else your customers spend their money, and how often across categories and brands.

Bring in more types of data. Incorporating demographic, psychographic and other attitudinal data into your email program can help you gain a better view of who your customer really is. Does she run 10Ks on the weekend or spend the day with a good book? Having this more detailed information can help you make better choices about how to message to her.

Bringing together these data points (and more) in a meaningful way will increase the likelihood that you’ll gain a more complete view of individuals and ultimately deliver a message that is relevant to them.  Paint the right picture with your data to ensure your customers don’t question the relationship they have with your brand — and to avoid the nasty-gram from the school.

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