Two Ways to Get Data for ‘Personalization 2.0’

‘Personalization 2.0’ was one of 5 key marketing and digital trends, not just for 2020 but for the next decade, put forth by Ashley Friedlein’s marketing & digital trends for 2020 to 2030, published by eConsultancy in January of this year. He said that personalization needed redefining, noting:

“… what is targeting vs customisation vs personalisation? If we’re honest, actual individual-level ‘personalisation’ for most has only extended as far as “Hi [first name]” in emails anyway.”

We at Webbula couldn’t agree more. But in my experience, it’s not that email and digital marketers don’t want to do more customization, personalization, and/or targeting of campaigns, it’s that they lack the data to do so effectively.

Sometimes they have the data for some people on their email list, but not all of them. For instance, a retailer that tested using zip codes to determine which of their brick-and-mortar stores were closest to the recipient and saw a boost in revenue from including this information in each email message. But when they went to roll this out to the entire database, they only had zip codes for about 30% of their list.

Other times an organization doesn’t have the data they need for anyone in their database. Like a trade association that paid a consultant to develop personas to use to segment their list and target content accordingly, only to find that they didn’t have any of the demographic data needed to implement the plan.

If you find yourself having some or none of the data you need to take your email or digital marketing efforts to the next level, there are two ways to go about gathering it: Progressive Profiling and Data Append. They aren’t mutually exclusive, many companies use both, but it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each before you start.

Progressive Profiling

According to OptinMonster, Progressive Profiling is a method of collecting relevant information on your leads in small bits rather than asking for too much data all at once. It’s also a way to go back and get data that you didn’t think to ask for when the person first opted in.

Back in 2018, Laura Thompson wrote a great piece, with real-world email examples, titled Edge of the Inbox: Creative Approaches to Progressive Profiling, for the Brightwave blog. It’s two years old, but if you’re looking for inspiration, this is still a great place to begin.

In addition to messaging that’s included in existing email publications, stand-alone email missives and on your website, you’ll want to have an online system where people can view their information and add what’s missing.

The big advantage of Progressive Profiling is that it’s inexpensive; the one-time cost to create the messaging is minimal. The downside is that it takes time to get a significant portion of your list to provide the data you’re asking for. The lower your email open rate and the less your email subscribers visit your website, the slower the process will be.

Data Append

Just as Progressive Profiling, Data Append is a way to add additional data to an existing database. The big difference is that instead of going to your subscribers to ask for the information, you work with a third-party who has already gathered it.

With data append, there’s no need to look for inspiration, develop messaging, or have an online system for people to provide their information. You just identify the data you need, contact a data broker, and see if they can provide it.

Most data brokers (Webbula included) will have you send them a small sample of your list and tell them what information you’d like to append. Then they’ll see how successful an append would be and send a matchback report back to you with the results. This helps you gauge the benefit you’ll get from an append, as well as estimate the cost (since the fee is typically based on the type of data and how many matches there are).

The big advantage of Data Append is that it’s quick; you can often get the same amount of data that would require months or years of Progressive Profiling in a single Data Append. While it’s more expensive than Progressive Profiling, you are able to gather and use the data more quickly, allowing you to recognize the benefit and any associated boost in response and/or revenue sooner.

The Best Part: You Don’t Have to Choose

Companies that are serious about improving their ability to customize, personalize, segment and target their email and digital marketing more effectively do both.

Some do a Data Append to ‘jump start’ their efforts, then use Progressive Profiling to get subscribers whose information wasn’t provided by the append to self-report. Others start with Progressive Profiling for a three- or six-month period, then use a Data Append to retrieve data on those subscribers who don’t respond.

One more note: you don’t have to limit yourself to just one Data Append provider. Data brokers don’t all trade in the same information. So a Data Append from Broker A might provide the information you’re seeking for 35% of your list; sending the balance of your list to Broker B could net you that same information for another 25% of your list.

Want to Learn More?

Earlier this year Webbula, in conjunction with Convince & Convert, published 5 Unbreakable Commandments for Email Marketing & Data Enrichment.’ It includes client case studies on Data Append as well as List Hygiene.

Vince Cersosimo
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Few people in this world know more about email than Vince and his Webbula co-founder, Douglas Egeth. For ten years now Vince and Doug have guided Webbula into a leadership position based on a strict adherence to truth — a position that is unusual in this often contentious industry. Vince is honoured to be a long-time member of the Email Experience Council (eec).