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By Stephanie Burton 

Data is powerful. Companies that use data to send smarter campaigns outperform their competitors by 85% in sales growth, according to research from McKinsey.

In the world of email marketing, data gives marketers the power to personalize emails that drive conversions and ROI.

While most marketers know the value of data, collecting and using it can be challenging. Between complicated data collection programs, siloed information, and sporadic automation practices, putting data to good use is hard.

Fortunately, by selecting a modern email service provider (ESP), you can gain access to a host of tools that turn customer information into actionable intel. Ready to learn how? Here are five ways you can use data to send more relevant emails.

1. Encourage subscribers to use a preference center.

You need to know your subscribers in order to deliver relevant emails. You need to know their likes, dislikes, birthdays—you name it. The more information you have, the better.

So, how do you go about collecting information? Data collection is an ongoing process, but you can start by setting up a preference center.

An email preference center is designed to help you learn more about subscribers so that you can provide them with the content they want. You can ask questions, encourage subscribers to select the kind of content they’re interested in, and get basic demographic information like age, location, and gender.

Subscribers love preference centers because they let them control the messages they receive, while companies love them because they result in a ton of rich data.

Flight Centre uses a preference center as a core part of their email marketing strategy. The travel company learns everything from the subscriber’s birthday to their most-used airport.

Using the information collected, Flight Centre can send more relevant emails. For example, if a subscriber signed up for the Club Red newsletter and prefers to fly out of Ottawa, they’d receive the following message.

Flight Centre can use the information from the preference center to segment contacts by travel preferences, send deals based on the airport of choice, or curate a newsletter full of travel itineraries based on a subscriber’s age. The options are endless, and it’s all possible thanks to a data-collecting preference center.

2. Dynamically change content to fit subscribers’ interests.

When you have data on your subscribers, it’s much easier to send relevant, valuable emails that they’ll open and click. But, crafting relevant messages can be time-consuming. Enter dynamic content. With dynamic content, you can change an aspect of an email based on recipient.

For example, if you’re hosting a fall clothing sale, you can entice customers to come to your store by showcasing some items on sale. It would be most relevant if the women on your list got pictures of women’s styles while the men saw their own styles, right?

Rather than segmenting your list and creating two separate emails, you create one email and use dynamic content instead. The images and content in the email will dynamically change based on the gender of the subscriber.

For example, Adidas uses dynamic content to send relevant styles based on gender.

3. Send emails based on important milestones.

The more relevant your emails are, the stronger the connection you make with subscribers.

One of the best ways to build a relationship with a subscriber is to celebrate milestones with them. Milestones include a birthday, anniversary, or even a purchase anniversary.

For example, on a subscriber’s birthday, you can send a special promotion. When a subscriber reaches one year as a member, you can send an email celebrating this milestone.

Mom365, a company focusing on newborn photography and parenting tips, sent a personalized offer to a subscriber for her daughter’s birthday. The subject line was hyper-personal, including both the mom’s name (Lisa) and the daughter’s name (Adalyn) and a special offer.

This email couldn’t be any more relevant to the subscriber. It’s a special offer designed to celebrate a milestone.

4. Change your cadence based on email activity.

A lot of email marketing relevancy is based on customer data, but it’s not the only kind of data you can use. You can also track a subscriber’s email activity. If a subscriber opens an email or clicks a link, these actions can fuel your email marketing decisions.

For instance, Personal Creations sent a promotional offer to its VIP segment. Then, based on email activity, the company sent a follow-up email.

If a subscriber opened the first email, a second email was sent giving those subscribers additional time to take advantage of the offer.

Using email automation, the company can set up an automated journey, so when a subscriber opens the first email marketing campaign it automatically triggers the second email to send the next morning.

5. A/B test different aspects of your campaign.

When you create an email campaign, you make a lot of decisions. You pick a layout, craft a message, select a color scheme, add images, create a call to action (CTA), hyperlink text, draft a subject line – the list goes on.

How do you know if the series of choices you made resonates with subscribers? Data to the rescue (again).

You can create different versions of your email and send them to two small test groups. The idea is to see which email gets better response rates and let that data dictate which email is ultimately sent to your subscribers.

You can test nearly everything. Here’s a quick glimpse of things you can test:

  • Subject line wording or length
  • Personalized features vs. non-personalized features
  • Images
  • CTA buttons vs. hyperlinks
  • Layout
  • Copy
  • Tone

Campaign Monitor makes it easy to A/B test your email marketing campaigns. Simply create two versions of your email in the campaign builder and we’ll send the emails to two subsets of your list for you. We’ll gather the results and send the email with the highest open rate to the rest of your contacts.

It’s another great way to use data to send smarter, more relevant emails.

If you need a little help with testing, we’ve got you covered. Check out our A/B testing guide that can help you integrate testing into your strategy.

Wrap up

Email marketing isn’t about blasting messages to every contact on your list anymore. Today’s email marketer is smarter. Today’s email marketer relies on data collection and strategic decisions to send the most relevant, successful emails possible.

By Stephanie Burton 

Sourced from Business 2 Community