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After years of email marketing being determined as something that has faded into obscurity, brands and companies of all sizes have embraced email marketing once again. Not only have they incorporated it into their marketing strategy, they’ve also given it a 21st century makeover.

The days of email marketing campaigns including emoticons, grandiose promises, special symbols and characters and inundation are long gone. Today, it’s all about subtlety, quality, analytics and respectful of recipients’ time and intelligence.

With email marketing continuing to change and reinvent itself, it may have another component to it: big data. That’s right. Soon, big data and email marketing will go together like peanut butter and jelly, Batman and Robin (not the horrible 1997 rendition) and martini and olives. Big data and email marketing integration is excellent for a wide variety of industries and businesses.

Big data has seeped into every aspect of our daily lives. Big data is used in professional sports. Big data is used in the Internet of Things (IoT). Big data is used in television advertisements. Like content marketing in 2015, it’s safe to say that big data has become the biggest buzzword of 2016, and perhaps beyond into 2017.

Email marketers may soon want to implement big data into their strategies and campaigns. And why shouldn’t they? Big data is a hot trend in the world of marketing right now, and everyone is jubilantly proclaiming how they’re taking advantage of all of the data by slicing, dicing and serving it up with action. They’re not wasting the vast sum of data that’s at their fingertips.

Prior to launching yourself into an endeavor of merging big data with your email marketing, here are five aspects of big data that you have to take into account when working with this trend:

  • Complexity
  • Variability
  • Velocity
  • Veracity
  • Volume

In early 2015, Econsultancy asked marketers the following question: how will email marketing evolve over the next five years? As the word cloud below highlights, data, content and personalisation were the most used.

big data

AdAge was correct when it wrote the following:

“Marketers have seen the number of channels used to access customers-email, CRM, social, mobile, etc.-grow. Each of these channels typically siloes its data. The challenge then for email marketers is harnessing the data within all the various channels while still reaching a given customer or segment of customers-and at the same time more effectively converting sales and building customer loyalty. No small feat; so how do email marketers do it?”

Well, here’s how SMBs and marketers can mix their email marketing campaigns with big data:

Customer Relationship Management Data

It’s true that companies have a lot of tools available to them when they integrate CRM data with data from websites and emails. They don’t incorporate this into their understanding of the customers. In order to actually get to know each customers, you have to take data from point-of-sale (POS) data, call centers data, email subscription data and even customer service surveys.

Utilizing CRM data to find and segment your audience will help produce content that is relevant, engaging and interesting for certain groups. Ultimately, taking advantage of all of the CRM data will result in enhanced email marketing metrics, which leads to a larger bottom line.

Website Analytics Data

The data from your website analytics is imperative because it provides you with insight into what exactly your audience is reading and what they clicked through to get there. We all know that readers come from somewhere to click through your website and to come to an endpoint (a landing page). You can use this to your advantage because once you study their behavior on your website, you can establish a clear call-to-action (CTA), whether it’s downloading a white paper or registering for an upcoming webinar. Monitor your analytics, find out what content is popular and then optimize. All of this big data is actionable for you so don’t waste it.

Micro-Targeting & Micro-Content

When working with big data in your email marketing campaign, there are two aspects you have to concentrate on when it comes to client data types: micro-targeting and micro-content.

Micro-targeting will consist of marketers honing in on a one-on-one relationship, which means personalization. In order to achieve this, brands need a lot of data. And this is first-party data. Meanwhile, micro-content is more like content for mobile that consists of search engine optimization (SEO), convenience and social media.

Today’s generation of consumers want both convenience and personalization. Big data achieves this.

Email Analytics Data

As you send emails to your subscribers, you can understand what content is the most engaging. We can extract a lot of important information from email analytics data.

For instance, if you send emails about news regarding industry products and it is generating a lot of viewership then you may need to produce more content in that area. However, if your free products (ebooks, webinars, white papers, etc.) aren’t generating any interest then you will likely need to change it up a bit.

Where does big data come in? Well, you merge your CRM data with your email analytics data. This where you determine what audience segment is clicking and reading (see below).

Segmentation & Automation of Big Data

When you’re looking to use the power of big data, you’ll have to find out what exactly is the best data to select. Indeed, this will prove to be difficult, especially if the data is managed in silos rather than integration. It takes a lot of power to extract cross-channel data or analyze data for your email marketing campaigns. However, after you upload this data into your email marketing service provider, you can easily leverage the effectiveness of big data.

After you’ve culled all of the big data points, you’ll have to now hone in on conversion rates, sales and customer loyalty like a guided missile. In order to achieve this, marketers will be required to align the data with a customer segment. This is where automation comes into the picture because marketing automation complemented with an email marketing service provider will focus your attention on a specific channel or customer segment.

These five ways of big data-email marketing integration will lead to six crucial benefits:

  • Sophisticated analytics to improve the decision making.
  • Increased open, click-through and engagement rates.
  • Big data can assist you in real-time monitoring of your campaign.
  • Unique and timely insights into your campaign and metrics.
  • A boost in customer loyalty and client relationships.
  • Personalized products and customized service propositions.

Final Thoughts

Big data has become more than just a buzzword. It has become the way of life for marketers. Soon, you’ll have no choice but to integrate big data with your email marketing efforts. If you refuse to adapt to the trend, you could start to lose out to your competitors. And nobody wants that.

Any project that consists of big data will likely be immense. With a larger size comes with headaches, feelings of being overwhelmed and a paucity of precise knowledge. Remember, big data is now a science. To avoid this, you’ll have to break it down into defining the problem, preparing the elements and launching the project. Once you do this, everything will be easier.

Email marketing has indeed evolved in the last 20 years. With big data being added to the mix, can we now stop saying that email is dead? Let’s hope so!

Andy McGowan
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