You know that ever-growing spam folder in Outlook and Gmail? It turns out that a lot of marketing emails survive the spam test and end up in customer’s inboxes. Who knew?!!? We know, thanks to big data. If you thought that email marketing belonged in the same category as sandwich boards and milk carton ads, you couldn’t be more mistaken. Email marketing is more powerful than ever before. Email represents the third most influential information source for reaching business customers (B2B). Even in a world where Slack, Facebook messenger and texting exists, corporate leaders still prefer email. It’s an established, dependable form of communication. The reason that you probably feel email marketing messages are doomed to a short life in the spam filter is because as a consumer these messages aren’t that effective. But for B2B, email marketing is the holy grail. But there’s a problem. How do you find the gatekeepers and decision makers that can make a purchasing decision for their business? When should you send a marketing email? Do messages that come into an inbox in the morning have a better chance of being opened at some point during the day, or will your message get lost in the shuffle? This is where big data comes into play. By scraping the digital crumbs of the virtual world around you, it’s possible to discover important insights that turn questions into data-driven decisions. 1. Big Data is Used to Personalize Email Marketing Messages One example of big data is your internet browsing history – something that can be collected by the manufacturer of your internet browser, your internet service provider, or spyware on your computer. This information is collected, and in some cases sold to marketing companies. Proactive marketing firms use any source of data they can find to learn about their target audience. The information they find is then used to personalize the header text, body text, color scheme of the email template and more. This is often referred to as data based segmentation. The end goal is to make it more likely that you will open the email, read its contents and take a desired action. I’ve found that this email personalization strategy works very effectively. With nearly 270 billion emails sent every day, you need to be able to stand out from the crowd. And that starts with a plan. Email automation platforms like Campaign Monitor aggregate data from disparate systems like Salesforce CRM and Shopify eCommerce to personalize emails based on data you already have about customers. Age, gender, geo-location and purchasing history can all be used to trigger highly personalized emails. 2. Big Data Helps Email Marketers Respond to the Customer’s Activity When a website visitor reaches your website, do you get notified? No, I don’t mean a bell ringing. I mean software like Google Analytics that can be baked into your website to help you understand the customer journey. The process of collecting big data starts with small breadcrumbs. It’s critical to analyze this information in order to make data-driven decisions. But, if you don’t have the data in the first place, how can you analyze information to make informed email marketing decisions? Find ways to monitor how each individual contact on your email marketing distribution list is interacting with your online presence. By understanding what they’re spending time reading, you can gain insight to where they are in the purchasing decision journey. A personalized bump in the right direction, reassuring the customer that your product is the best solution for them, is a powerful digital closer. And if they’ve spent a considerable time on your pricing pages, offer them an introductory discount to seal the deal. 3. Big Data Collected from Your Market Fuels Predictive Analysis If a customer purchased a toothbrush on Monday, what will they purchase on Wednesday? Predictive analysis seeks to answer these questions by looking at big data to identify trends. You can look at your existing customer data to see how different items are purchased together. Don’t limit yourself to individual orders. Look at a customer’s entire order history. Are there items that are ordered at regular intervals? Do some of the items in subsequent orders compliment or replace previous purchases? Savvy email marketers use this information to position offers to existing customers, based on what they are likely to need in the future. Combining order data with online interactions offers compelling insights into the needs and desires of one’s customers. 4. Big Data Gives the Rear View Mirror Context Imagine you’re driving a car down the highway. The car is your business, and you’re pushing the accelerator pedal as far down as it will go. Billboards and exit signs are flying by. Then, all of a sudden, the engine begins to sputter. You’re out of gas. You look in the rear view mirror to see if you can spot a nearby gas station, but you can’t see anything. You know the path ahead is uncertain. You try to rack you mind for visual hints that a service station might be nearby. This is what it feels like to go through the ups and downs of running a business without big data. You know where you are, but you can’t be certain how you got there. You need to know what did and didn’t work. Big data can inform email marketers on the effectiveness of specific email marketing messages. Cookies, tracked URLs and other tools should be deployed to tell your site or inbound team why a customer is contacting you to do business. If you understand what generated yesterday’s business, you can pour gasoline on the fire today. In conclusion, big data is critical and tracking interactions with site visitors is the best way to get it. Bonus points if you can get them to part with personal information in return for a white paper or coupon. Once you have a customer in your system, monitoring how they interact with your email marketing messages and broader online presence will give you the insights you need to close more sales. How are you using the data you have about customers to drive email marketing results?