Automating Your E-Mail Marketing Database - dummies

Automating Your E-Mail Marketing Database

By John Arnold

You need a database so your automation software can find the information it needs to send your marketing e-mails based on the criteria you specify. Automating your e-mail marketing saves you time in the long run, but you need to do some up-front work to set up your automation system and preferences.

The quality of your automated e-mails is directly proportionate to the amount of information on each person in your database, the qualify of that information, and how you can put that information to use.

Adding automation fields to your e-mail marketing database

Because every business and organization is a bit different, you may find the need to add fields to your database to help with automation, including adding fields to the default database fields an EMP sets up for you.

The types of database fields useful for e-mail marketing purposes include

  • Currency field: For when your customers use different types of currency.

  • Date: For recording birthdays, anniversaries, and other important calendar dates.

  • Date/time: Helpful when you need to keep track of the time of an event, such as the time of an appointment so you can send an appointment reminder. A date field causes your e-mails to go out on any day of the week with that date.

  • Day of week: If you need your e-mails to go out only on certain days, use a day of week field instead of a date field.

  • Drop-down: Useful for slotting your customers into categories.

  • List box: Useful for identifying multiple interests.

  • Numeric fields: For numeric information such as number of purchases, total amount of cumulative purchases, number of family members, or number of miles from a store.

  • Percent: To store numbers as a percentage such as the percent of discount that applies to a particular person.

  • Phone number: Use to follow up with automated phone calls and text messages in addition to your e-mails.

  • State: Use a state field if you send e-mails to different states.

  • Text: Store information here that doesn’t fit in a category.

  • Yes/no: Use to group people into two categories.

Collecting automation data for your e-mail marketing database

You can collect and store the data you need for automation at two points:

  • When people first sign up for your e-mail list: The amount of data you can collect is limited by the context of the signup. You may be able to collect a lot of information if you’re signing up people for your e-mail list during a purchase, but not so much if you’re asking people to sign up so they can receive your e-mail newsletter.

  • After people first sign up for your e-mail list. You can collect additional data manually or automatically:

    • Manually: Keep track of the interactions you have with your prospects and customers and then type the information into your database.

    • Automatically: Use online forms and click-tracking code tied to specific actions in your database. EMPs with automation functions allow you to create online forms and tracked actions that feed your database.

      EMPs allow you to build forms to collect data for automation. [Credit: Courtesy of Infusionsoft]
      Credit: Courtesy of Infusionsoft
      EMPs allow you to build forms to collect data for automation.

Adding tags to your e-mail marketing database

The data you collect can help you group people into useful categories and subcategories. Subcategories in an e-mail database are often referred to as tags, and adding tags helps identify people who are part of one or more groups and send them e-mails specific to their interests.

You can manually enter tags into your database records, or you can assign a tag to be added in response to a specific type of action. Customer behavior can determine the tags you add. Create a tag when

  • You add a new person to your database by using an internal form or data upload.

  • A specific action is taken, such as clicking a link or filling out a form.

  • A purchase is made; you can add the tag automatically through your point-of-sale system or manually if you process transactions without a computer system.

  • Someone receives a series of automated e-mails or receives the last in a series of automated e-mails. That way, you can move people from one subcategory to another before or after a certain number of e-mails are delivered.