Customer data is only as valuable as you make it. If you can successfully integrate it with your small business goals and combine it with the other sources whereby you gain insight into your consumer, the information you are able to glean through analysis of your email and social media participants can power you to the upper echelon of your market sector.
If not, then you’ll just be among the many small business owners and managers who take a half-hearted plunge into online marketing and then dejectedly shrug their heads when they don’t really derive anything of solid value from the project.
Identify & segment who is interested in you
It’s not sufficient to be able to secure email subscribers for your newsletter list, you have to find out as much about them as possible. Polling and surveying through your missives, as well as providing valuable and alluring incentives to drive the followers to your email newsletter campaign’s Preference Center, can provide critical demographic and geographic data.
Leverage the data to craft custom tailored content
Every single byte of data you can obtain about your email subscribers can provide significant insights which can help you categorize and segment each customer and potential customer in such a manner that you can deliver specifically tailored content to them.
If, for example, you’re operating a sports goods business you can apply this “online intelligence” to drill down through the data and come up with a remarkably complete “portrait” of the consumer which will allow you to provide them with the precisely accurate content they will respond to.
Customer sample: The non-athletic sports fan
The demographic information tells you that this person is 54 years old and lives in Minnesota. Their behavior shows that they spend an inordinate amount of time in your football section and primarily click on and/or order NFL Vikings jerseys in a 3XL size, team beer mugs, and a purple tailgate BBQ emblazoned with the helmet’s famous horns.
To make a shallow determination that this person is suitable for your football segment is not sufficient. According to the data obtained, is this customer going to be interested in a $250 Men's Air Zoom Alpha Talon TD Football Cleats shoe? Not likely, as their segmentation should show them as a non-active, obese football fan primarily interested in watching games, drinking beer, and enjoying tailgate parties at Mall of America Field.
NCAA Conference merchandise to a Canadiens fan?
Just as it would be a strategic error to provide that couch potato customer with content better suited to the early 20s athletic participant in local flag football games, it would also be irrelevant to promote to the athlete a sale on your 3XL jerseys and jackets.
The rule of thumb in both social media and email marketing content provision is to offer only the specific category of goods and services to your customers that resonate with their preferences and requirements.
Therefore just as the Montreal Canadiens hockey fan in Lac St-Jean, Quebec is going to fundamentally disconnect with merchandise emblazoned with NCAA Southland Conference team logos, the non-athlete is going to react differently to gear specifically intended for athletes, and so on.
These sports examples can be readily applied to any small business sector from computer equipment to auto accessories ad infinitum. If there is a level of segmentation which is too fine, it is certain that no online marketer has ever reached it.
In a perfect world, small businesses would have the time, energy, manpower, and resources to craft individually targeted content specifically for an individual by hand. That is unfortunately not possible for all but the tiniest companies, but there are ways to use sophisticated mail merge technologies which can derive data from your customer records and come up with acceptable substitutes for hand-written missives.
Small business owners and managers should scrutinize these options as soon as possible and implement a software-personalized segmentation strategy which will see them speaking directly to their customers about the products and services that they really want, not just what you’re trying to move off the shelves!
Curt Keller is CEO and Founder of Benchmark Email, one of the world's top email marketing services for small business.