How do I get more profile information for customers without asking them?

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There are many ways to make your e-mails relevant to recipients and, as your sophistication level grows within the e-mail channel, so should your segmentation and targeting strategies. Many marketers use demographic and preference information to provide customized versions of messaging that appeals to each subscriber’s interests. But providing relevant messaging is not based solely on using self-reported profile questions asked during the registration process or surveys.

The most successful e-mail marketers take previous brand interaction into account. Who are the recipients most engaged with your organization? How long have they been customers? Are they active or just “window shoppers”?

Finding behavioral data to use in creating dynamic content that speaks to individual interests is not as difficult as some think. In order to understand when your customers interact with your brand, keep a log of behaviors that identify the actions customers take and track engagement behavior over time and in multiple channels. Look at such behaviors as previous clicks in e-mails, information accessed or requested on your website, products viewed or purchased, programs attended, social media activity and such user-generated content as customer reviews or other information in your outside CRM system. Leverage these data to create dynamic messaging that is highly personalized. Make your use of this information obvious enough that the customer can recognize the relationship but keep it discreet enough so as not to come off like big brother.

Using this information to segment your audience and provide customized versions of your e-mail will go a long way toward creating messages that appeal to each subscriber’s interests and, ultimately, lead to increased engagement for your e-mail program. Highly engaged consumers are more loyal; the more you can customize the experience for your customers, the better your messaging and brand will be received.

Amanda Hinkle is online marketing strategist at StrongMail (, a provider of e-mail marketing solutions.

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