Whenever starting a new marketing position, some of the first questions to ask concern the business's customer database. Investigate where they are holding their historical data, what data you have access to, as well as reviewing what platforms they are using for their Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) and email marketing campaigns (Email Service Provider or ESP).

Whilst I'm now working agency side, I spent more than a decade working client side in the travel industry, and a huge part of my roles were improving email marketing campaigns, so I thought I'd share some wisdom from my experience.

To plan effective email marketing campaigns, life is so much easier if you have all the data about your customers and prospects in one place. I have started positions where customer and prospect data is stored in numerous spreadsheets, meaning the first job is to decide on the most suitable CRM and pull all of the data together. Does this sound familiar?

I have personally worked with separate CRM platforms (including Salesforce and Alterian), which I used to pull relevant data into my ESP (including Communicator, Email Manager and Campaign Monitor) for my email marketing campaigns. With this option, your Single Customer View (SCV) data will sit in your CRM.

At Adido, we have chosen to use a CRM platform which also has email marketing functionality (Active Campaign). This works really well for us because we have our SCV data in one place, and can also set up email campaigns based on that data with ease, and without needing a technical expert to help (most of the time!). It's very marketer friendly, and covers our requirements for our campaigns.

So this works for Adido right now, but when making a decision about which route to go down, and which platform/s to use, there are so many options available on the market. When you are either reviewing your current platform, or trying to choose a new one, there is no one size fits all, so ask yourself some questions to help with your decision:

  • What is your budget?
  • What are your resources for managing your data journey? How complex a system do you need? Do you have specialists in your team or do you, as a marketer, need to be able to manage it yourself?
  • What are your objectives for your SCV? How much data do you need, and importantly, how will you use it?
  • How will you combine your transactional data with your SCV, plus your email marketing data, to drive the most effective email marketing campaigns?
  • How complex do you envisage your campaigns to be?
  • How important are dynamic emails and automations to your marketing plans?
  • Also consider if you would use ‘scoring data’ if added to your SCV. For example, adding a score to a record every time they open a specific type of email.

If you pick the right platform for your business and can build profiles of your customers and prospects, and understand how to best use the data you hold to hit your targets, you’ll hit the sweet spot that is ‘the holy grail' of a single customer view.

Only then you can plan your segmentation, create relevant campaigns and ensure your email marketing is working in the most effective way.

Email marketing is a great way of maximising the use of your data and SCV

Take the hotel industry for example, they should be regularly using data to rejuvenate their customer loyalty programmes, and are using systems such as Salesforce and Communicator in tandem. Using the data collected by Salesforce about customer transactions they can build rules as and when required to send automated, and dynamic emails based on specific booking patterns, targeted offers and promotions, occupancy rates and room types, all powered by detailed information held within their SCV and inventory systems. Sending a seemingly personalised message to the right person at the right time, could just get them the response rates they need.

To have the opportunity to ‘deep dive’ into individual records, and build a personalised journey of your various target audiences is invaluable to make decisions about what to send to who, and when in order to have maximum effectiveness.

“An example would be, knowing how often a customer had engaged / booked / what they had booked / spend / where / when (even down to the detail of their preferred type of room, food, pillow), which then helps to build a journey that sends exactly the right message at the right time, and can potentially generate a huge increase in both loyalty customers signing up, and most importantly, bookings and revenue. Ideally, you would also set up a journey for new prospects which is automated, to encourage future engagement.”

Claire Ralston

Marketing & Events Manager

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We have to be data driven; but as marketers, we must never lose sight of understanding our customers on a more personal level. Having a well rounded picture of how your customers engage with you is invaluable when making email marketing campaign decisions.

Why is having a solid SCV so important for email marketing?

Quite simply, because if you gather every single piece of information you can about your customer or potential customers in one place, in the most efficient and relevant platform for your business, you can literally transform the success of your email marketing campaigns.

Whatever your objectives, whether they are lead generation, engagement, bookings, purchases or asking for reviews or referrals, the more you understand your audience on a granular level, the more you can make sound decisions about your messages (when, what and who).

It stops ‘blanket’ email marketing campaigns, sending irrelevant emails to people who aren’t interested (and therefore may unsubscribe), and offers a more personalized touch that your audience will connect with.

We have a wealth of experience with data and email marketing and would love to help you maximise the effectiveness of your campaigns

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What should I do with my customer data?

Whichever platform you choose to store your data (and whether or not that is the same platform as your Email Service Provider), make sure you consider the following:

  • For what purpose am I collecting the data about this person? Will it help me in my future campaigns. With the hotel example above, the power of a detailed customer view helped maximise bookings (and continues to do so)
  • Keep your data clean. Consider how old the record is, tag the record if they haven’t engaged with you in a while, and make decisions about how long you will continue to communicate with them before you archive or remove them from your database
  • Also tag your records who are actively engaging with you on a regular basis, and track what activity they are engaging with
  • Stay GDPR compliant!

And above all else, make your data work for you.

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How much data is too much data?

There can be too much data at times! With many ways to track users via GA (and other website analytics tools), as well as recording customer details and preferences it can be quite overwhelming at times.

Think about the information that will help you in future marketing decisions. It’s easy to say, there’s no such thing as too much data, but if it’s not providing a useful purpose, then it will just make your SCV too complicated.

I’ve personally been looking at our own SCV and the information we have been tracking, and questioning which information I actually use.

A key point with your database and a SCV is to consistently look at it, review and question it, and then cull where necessary.

Also consider how invaluable first party data is. First party data is the information you collect directly from your audience or customers including data from behaviours, actions or interests across your website or app. Although the world without third party cookies has been delayed, it will happen at some point in the future, and your first party data will be of an even greater importance.

"My advice would be to collect as much necessary information as you can when building a customer record, BUT review it regularly and archive any information which you know won’t be of use for future campaigns."

In part one of my email marketing series I went into detail about how to successfully use the data you hold to progress from ‘blanket’ emailing the whole database, to using it to target the right people at the right time, with the most attractive message to maximise your ROI.

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In summary, the last two blogs have highlighted the importance of how data and email marketing go hand in hand. Next up, I’ll be sharing lots of examples which I hope will continue to inspire you to revisit and review your email marketing campaigns.

Interested in making more of your CRM and email marketing data?

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Meet the author ...

Claire Ralston

Marketing & Events Manager

Claire is responsible for our own marketing, from arranging our sold out events like Attention and 20:20 digital debates, to keeping our subscribers informed via the monthly ...