big data spelled out in lettersIt has been almost a year since CASL, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, went into force. Wow! Since its inception, many marketers have asked us what information they need to keep in their database on their email recipients, to ensure they are doing their due diligence and are in compliance with CASL.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the information that I was relaying to marketers about what they needed to store could be used in many more ways than just storing; it could help improve deliverability.

Regardless of CASL, there is certain information all marketers should be storing about their email recipients, at a minimum. It is important to have this information to mitigate your risks, because a recipient could have a .com email address (looking rather American) and still live in Canada. As well, if your marketing activities ever cause a complaint with your email service provider, they are going to request this information to get it resolved, and getting it after the fact is troublesome.

Here’s the data you need to capture and store:

1. Physical/billing address – City, State/Province, Country, Zip Code, P.O. Box
2. Type of opt-in – webpage, sign up, paper, verbal, trade show
3. Example of webpage or form used for opt-in
4. IP address – connecting IP of email recipient (if applicable)
5. Timestamp of opt-on – date, time
6. Credit card issuer – only if they purchased something from your company

This data can be captured at time of opt-in or through progressive profiling on your forms. You could also build out a campaign requesting it from clients, stating that you are in the process of updating your database and want to make sure the information you have about them is correct.

So, once you have the information, what do you need to do with it?

What to do with the dataDataTableSample

First of all, make sure you update all databases within your company, or create a master database with the information. Also, it will be important to backup the data. Going forward, you will want to make sure the data is secure and updated regularly.

Secondly, there’s much more you can do with this data beyond just letting it sit there. As a marketer, one of the hottest topics on everyone’s mind is big data and how you might use the data to better your marketing efforts.

In deliverability we constantly consult with our customers on key items that will help them get their emails into the inbox. Segmentation of data is one of those items. The more you segment your lists according to different valid characteristics, the more relevant you can make the content. The more that content speaks personally to a recipient, the more engagement you will get on the emails. So start segmenting.

Here are some ways you can better segment based on the data you get from your email recipients:

  • Time zone sending – it’s ideal to send emails in the time zones your recipients are in.
  • Targeted emails – using certain types of opt-in can help you build out certain first-time communications for end recipients, such as “Welcome” and “Thank You for Downloading…”
  • Event attendance – this allows you to follow up appropriately. If someone took the time to register for and attend an event, they’re probably worthy of more attention.
  • Geography – when and where you can, send promotions based on geography, such as local in-store promotions.

One action, three benefits

As you can see, if you gather as much information as possible on your customers and email recipients, and use that information well, it will help you better target your messages for optimal deliverability – as well as making sure you are compliant with the information you have on the people in your database.

I recommend that all marketers start looking at your internal databases. See what data you currently have and look for what’s missing. Decide how you’ll work with your recipients to gather the types of information you don’t have (and should). As you fill in the gaps to become compliant, you might fill in the gaps for better marketing as well.

segment arrow no text mostly flatTuning up your database to make sure it contains all the information you need will take care of three things for you: compliance with CASL, readiness if ever you cause a spam complaint that needs more investigation, and putting more, and more useful, big data at your fingertips.

Oh, make that four things: As a result of your improved data base, your better segmentation and more-targeted emails will improve your email deliverability.

Speaking of data, if you like working with data and uncovering the stories it can tell, check out Act-On’s new Data Studio. It lets you visualize your data, move it around in new ways, and plug it into any business intelligence tool you work with.

Speaking of data, part 2: in order to do any good, numbers have to mean something. Check out the free eBook: The New Marketing Metrics for B2B, and learn how to choose the key performance indicators that will help you get the right data to make the best decisions.