Tools for Data-Driven Email Marketing: A Guide

Jim Dougherty is an expert on social media and technology who blogs at Leaders West.

Odds are you have an email list. You may even your list segmented into smaller lists. Yet it may seem as if there’s a disconnect between the potential of your list and what you’re accomplishing with it.

You’re not alone.

Two-thirds of businesses plan to integrate social media with their email this year, most with increasing budget. Once upon a time an email list and something to share was enough, but the competition for attention is stark. The conversations that were previously conducted in a closed loop are happening on Facebook, Twitter and blogs, and as a result customer expectations have increased.

These tools will help you maximize the effectiveness of your email list by making the data around it more robust.

Rapportive - Rapportive is an extension for Gmail that shows publicly-available social information for any person with an email address. If you need a quick snapshot to segment audience, or if you’re responding to a lot of customers, this is a must-have app.

Anyone using Gmail for business needs to use Rapportive. It was recently purchased by LinkedIn but maintains its autonomy.

IFTTT / Zapier - IFTTT (if-this-then-that) and Zapier both work in the same fashion. They tie different social and business applications together by creating an action in one channel after being triggered in the other.

For instance, if you were having a Facebook conversation you could have IFTTT send you an email when your customer posts their Facebook reply (and you could respond via Rapportive). You could also automatically post your email correspondence to social networks, or do millions of other automated tasks in the hundreds of channels they support.

Rapportive: an email marketing must-have

Goo.gl (and other url shorteners) – There are plenty of URL shorteners, and my favorite is Goo.gl. If you don’t have robust reporting for your email marketing, replacing native links with shortened URLs can give you data about which links customers are clicking.

The reason I like goo.gl is that it will give you multiple links for the same page (if you are signed into Google). This makes it easier for multiple campaigns and A/B testing.

Microsoft Excel - Everyone should understand how to use the Excel VLOOKUP function.It gives you the capability to tie data from two tables together. If you were able to collect Twitter handles and emails, you could tie them to tweets exported from Tweet Archivist or SocialBro. You could even create an ad hoc CRM system if you had enough data.

Retargeting - Retargeting is an advertising tactic where people who visit your site get a cookie in their browser that triggers banner advertising on other sites.

When you use retargeting campaigns with your email list, you are advertising to the people most likely to buy from you: former customers. You can segment your retargeting by using different landing pages, so it’s a very agile tactic as well.

One of the best rundowns of retargeting companies I’ve read was this one from SEOMoz (which is a little dated). There are many services now that will facilitate retargeting through Facebook, too.

If that sounds like a lot, that is. That’s why the last recommendation probably should be the first:

CRM software - A good CRM solution can perform a lot of the functions described above and with a lot less technical aptitude and likelihood for error.

Think about it: if two-thirds of businesses are going to integrate email and social, should you try to create an ad hoc CRM in Excel using VLOOKUPs, cuts and pastes? Probably not. Rapportive is a revolutionary app, but a CRM solution is much more robust, is automated, and is integrated into all of the other marketing functions.

Consider the Vocus Marketing Suite as an example: All of a customer’s social profiles are associated with email and consumer information. Not only that but the intelligence of the solution suggests tasks that you should accomplish, be it outreach or in response to a social action. Email segmentation is easier, email tracking is easier, follow-up is easier. And ultimately, ease-of use makes a CRM solution much more scalable than a working with an email list.

There are a bevy of techniques and technologies that can augment an email campaign or tie together customer data.With all of the tools at businesses disposal it’s inexcusable not to use them to enhance campaigns.

With two-thirds of businesses aligned towards CRM software, integrated solutions are the future for digital marketers.

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