There are numerous ways to obtain data. The main sources for us is the returns from email marketing campaigns and from cookies, but there are many others. For instance, you could talk to your customers, expand that into focus groups, use one of the many types of survey, such as telephone, mail, email and internet, all of which will produce useful data.
It is one of the most irritating of truisms: not all data is equal. To be of use it must first be relevant, in other words about something you want to do, such as sell, obtain subscribers to your email marketing list, etc. Whilst it might be interesting to know the average height of your subscribers, if you are selling pens then it only clutters up your database.
It needs to be accurate. No information is 100% but it is possible to get it to a level where any risk assessment would suggest you can invest your time and money in the expectation of a decent return.
Probably most importantly, it needs to be current. Data has an eat-by date and if you plan a campaign using yesterday's information you won't even get yesterday's returns.
So remember, Relevant, Accurate and Current. A strength of email marketing is that all three requirements come as a given with campaign returns, information from your website and other digital methods. But everyone in the business enjoys that. You need to be one step ahead.
Assume you produce items around the birth and initial stages of a baby's life. You know what products sell well, what colours are in, whether four-wheeler baby carriages are preferred by the majority to three-wheelers, and what premium your customers are willing to pay for that extra wheel.
Whilst the methods and products of other successful businesses in your sector give a pointer as to the way to go, what you want to know is what new product will put your subscribers into a frantic purchasing mode.
You could try a survey of course, and we will cover these at a later date, but let's look at something that's much cheaper; surfing the internet.
Let’s take one of the more obvious websites. The prime minister has condescended to Mumsnet, thereby increasing its online presence. From his point of view, it is seen as a lobbying concern, but it has other aspects. Parents, mainly women, but there are a considerable number of men, post/talk about their problems, including products they have bought and are un/happy with, those they wish did something differently or slightly better, etc. This is customer feedback, and it is free. Further the criticisms have no negative aspect for you, unless it is about something you sell of course.
There are other ways of using the information you gain. If a certain product, such as a pram, has a reputation for unreliability and you know the one you sell is remarkably robust in the relevant area, then the Subject Line of your next email marketing campaign has just written itself.
The information we obtain through email marketing software is relevant, accurate and current, but there is more out there, updated minute by minute, and is there for the taking.