Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Email Experience Council blog. It is part one of a two-part series co-written by DEG Senior Relationship Marketing Strategist Travis Mccan.

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Data. You hear it everywhere—but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming, especially if you are just getting your feet wet or don’t know where to begin. This article will take you through the first of two strategies to turn your email data into dollars.

Strategy 1: stop and assess

This may seem like common knowledge, but the very first step you should take here is to begin with your marketing goals. Goals should clearly state what is the main objective of your work. They should be realistic, measurable, and specific to your channel.

Assess your email subscribers. Break your subscribers down into different categories: new customers, new leads, and inactive. The way you speak to these groups should be different.

Evaluating your email data is vital to a strong foundation. What I mean by this is to regularly cleanse your email file to ensure you are avoiding bad email addresses such as spam traps, frequent complainers, disposable, and role accounts. There are several platforms that offer these types of services, but my favorite is FreshAddress.

Once your email file is pristine, the last thing you need to do during this stage is look into what your current email service provider (ESP) offers for capabilities. For example: can your provider send dynamic content? How many fields can a record have, and do you have the capability to update fields in real time? How detailed is your reporting?

Not sure where to start with your email data? Leverage what you already know about your database to craft messaging based on the segments you are targeting.

Strategy 2: segment your audience

Personalization versus customization versus segmentation: one of the most important things in this section is to know your terms. We all use these terms, but what do they actually mean?

  • Personalization and customization are usually the two that get confused the most. In the end, they both provide the customer with a similar result: a unique product or service based on a customer’s individual preferences. However, personalization is done without explicit input from the customer.
  • Segmentation is a type of marketing strategy that involves taking a target market and breaking it down into smaller groups based on customers’ perceived interests, common needs, and/or priorities.
  • Customization is taking a basic product or service and modifying it so that it fits a single customer’s unique preferences.

The next step is taking the right approach to your email data.

  • The Pyramid Base: Data Collection—The key to both segmenting and personalizing experiences is having the robust customer data. The richer your data, the better the understanding of your audience, and the better you can segment and personalize experiences based on that data.
  • The Mid Level: Segmentation—Once you’ve collected enough valuable data, you can start analyzing it and looking for interesting correlations between groups of customers.
  • The Top Level: Personalization—Real-time, one-to-one personalization can only be achieved if you have enough data, and if you know who your audience is and what your most valuable segments are for your business.

Where to start?

Leverage what you already know about your database to craft messaging based on the segments you are targeting.

2019 Marketing Trends Across Digital Channels

Common segments most marketers have available:

  • Purchase history
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Geography
  • Product interest
  • Satisfaction

Stay tuned for part two of this blog series where I will cover how to engage with your audience and drive conversions.

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