Data connection for email marketing: why is it necessary?

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29, April 2020

Email marketing is an important part of many marketing strategies, as it is one of the marketing channels with the highest ROI. Without data, you can no longer optimally guide your (email) marketing. After all, you can deploy email marketing most effectively when you are able to carry out a relevant dialogue with your customer. In order to do this, you will want to have the most up-to-date information (data) about your customer. And for this, a data connection is necessary.

We are often asked how data from system ‘A’ can be synchronised with Webpower or the other way round. For this you need a data link. But how do you establish a data link between your email marketing system and your existing data sources?

In this article I will first explain what data links are, and give a number of practical examples where a data connection is necessary. I will then give an exercise you can use to easily get a clear picture of your data. Lastly, I will provide an overview of systems to which an email marketing system such as Webpower is often linked. I hope that this will clarify things!

data connection

This series of articles about data consists of 4 parts. In this article we will address the highlighted part of this model. We will talk about why you should collect data through various channels. In the other articles you will be able to read about the other parts of the model.

What is data connection for email marketing?

A data connection involves transferring data from system A to system B. A link between these two systems is referred to as a data link. An email address that you transfer from your website to your email marketing system is therefore a data link. Data connection is an important aspect of the process prior to communication with your customer.

Why synchronise external data with your email marketing system?

Why should you establish a data link with your email marketing system? I prefer to reverse the question and ask why  should you not? You use email marketing in order to have communication with your recipient that is as relevant as possible, preferably through automatic one-to-one dialogue. For this, it is important that you personalise your content as well as you can, and measure the actions that your recipient carries out in response to this.

Broadly speaking, there are two reasons why organisations embark on linking data sources:

  • Communication on the basis of up-to-date data
  • Avoiding manual work in importing and updating data

In a later phase, organisations usually focus on the following cornerstones:

  • Working more efficiently
  • Increasing turnover by:
    – Expanding the database/profile enrichment
    – Optimising online (email) communication based on behaviour on other channels
    – Optimising times to send emails

Data connection for email marketing: some examples

The data you collect can be: demographic information (home address, gender, etc.), customer preferences (hotels, restaurants), transactional data (purchase data or average order value) and behaviour data (opened emails, browsed pages).

Examples of data links for email marketing

I can imagine that it is difficult to have a clear idea of everything involved when taking your first steps in data connection. I am therefore providing you with a number of examples of marketing, communication and sales objectives and activities for which you need to make data links:

  • When someone buys a bicycle, you will afterwards want to automatically recommend accessories in order to increase the value of the sale
  • A changed email address has to be changed everywhere this email address is used, so that you can continue communicating with the right email address at all times
  • You want to know when someone has realised the objective of your email flow (for example, registering for an event), so that he/she no longer receives any irrelevant information
  • Based on the preferences and interests of the recipient, you will want to automatically load the most relevant content from your CMS into your email
  • You want to convert Facebook visitors from Facebook Lead Ads into registrations
  • You want to send invoices via (traditional) mail to customers whose email address has bounced
  • To send more relevant emails, you want them to be based on your customers’ online behaviour
  • You no longer want to manually add your events overview (or the latest news) to your email, but load it automatically
  • You want to load your Twitter feed into your email
  • For people who are interested in your job offers, you want to automatically load your vacancies into the email
  • You want to be able to respond quickly and effectively to your customer’s opening and clicking behaviour in emails
  • You want to automatically send unique discount codes or gift vouchers to your customers
  • A photo and signature of, and perhaps a greeting from, the contact person/account manager is something you want to automatically conclude all your emails with.

As you can see, you need a data connection for a great many activities and objectives. I could inspire you with hundreds of such examples, but hope the above has shown you why email marketing and data connection always go together.

Get a clear picture of your data through the fill-in exercise

If you want to effectively implement data within your organisation, you need to fully embrace the concept of data. Step 1, therefore, always involves getting a clear picture of your data. Often, you already collect far more information than you think, both online and offline J. In the last step, you can already start to think about how you may want to use your data.

In the ‘Data and email marketing’ download, which you can download here later, you will find the fill-in exercise. This provides a useful way of getting a clear picture of your data.

Data links: which are the most common?

Below, for your convenience and for recognisability, many of the common systems to which Webpower is often linked are listed. Are these familiar?

  • CRM: Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Zoho,
  • CMS: WordPress, Blueconic, Typo 3
  • E-commerce platforms: Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce
  • Social: Facebook Lead Ads, LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms, Instagram Lead Ads

Tools for data links, and enriching and deploying email marketing

Each source of data that you use has its own strengths. That’s why you can link data in different ways, depending on your wishes and the situation. In the next article I will describe the possibilities in more detail and provide you with a useful framework that includes basic questions you can ask yourself.

We will examine linking methods such as SFTP, APIs such as REST and SOAP, the Zapier tool and customised links. Lastly, I will also describe how you can enrich your email marketing data and deploy it.

As I have previously outlined: there are so many possibilities, and data is a really fun puzzle that you should try to solve in the smartest way possible. I, for one, get an enormous amount of energy from this and look forward to sharing the next article with you!

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Questions about this article?

Sean Barten

​Client Service Director +31 85 773 99 90