Earlier this month at MediaPost’s Email Insider Summit, about twenty professionals gathered for a roundtable discussion to share knowledge and insights on customer data. I thought this would be a good place to share the great information that came out of that discussion. So here are the top 6 customer data tips, from our peers.

  1. Partner better with IT. It’s easy to fall into the trap of avoiding IT (after all, don’t they say “no” an awful lot?), but eventually you will need them on board to accomplish a critical goal. Thinking long term, see if you can get annual goals set in a way that ensures joint accountability. In the short term, share results with your IT counterparts when you share them with your boss. So few colleagues remember to do this, IT often feels left out of the loop with no real understanding of how their hard work impacts the company overall. You’ll be surprised how a little bit of sharing can go a long way towards making strong partnerships.
  2. Work on your lobbying skills. Getting budget and resources can be next-to-impossible. A few of the roundtable participants likened the process to Washington D.C. lobbying efforts. Learn how colleagues get things done within your organization so that you can imitate and get your goals met as well. It’s almost always easier to gain forgiveness than permission. Almost. Sometimes, knowing what not to do can be more important than knowing what you should do.
  3. Make touchpoints play nicely. Email doesn’t work alone. Make sure you get all touchpoints working together. How? See tips 4 and 5. The payoff can be excellent. One roundtable participant pointed out that just making links between web analytics and email could lead to some significant remarketing opportunities.
  4. Create a marketing datamart. Customer data belongs in your customer database. But some of it can be shared with a marketing datamart. The point of the datamart is to create one place to find all the information you need for push marketing campaigns, so that you aren’t waiting on the customer database for your list pulls. Since the design of the databases are very different (which makes sense, since they have different purposes), a marketing datamart can be much faster at list pulls than your primary customer database.
  5. Capture everything. It’s not just about opens and clicks anymore. Tag your content so that you can understand what types of information your customers are looking for. Backward append demographic data. Capture likes and follows on Facebook and Twitter and ask for the ability to email them and access their profile. Link profiles to social monitoring tools. Link your web analytics database to your customer database. Don’t forget: make sure all these data points are shared to the marketing datamart.
  6. Structure how you’ll use the data. The point of having this data is to create value for both consumers and your company. Set up regular meetings with internal stakeholders as well as agency and vendor representatives to identify the smartest questions to answer with the data you have.

It’s worth adding to this list two points that all summit attendees were aware of: use the data responsibly, and make sure it’s secure. These are far more critical than any of our top recommendations above, and deserve far more attention than this column has room for today.

Do you have a data tip to share? Please comment below.

Originally posted on MediaPost.com’s Email Insider blog. View comments there.