Data Collection and Recording
One of the most popular questions is what data to collect for email marketing software. For once the answer is simple and straightforward: as much as you can get.
Become a hoarder, although within the limits of the Data Protection Act (DPA). Retain as much information as you can that will help you predict the behaviour of your subscribers and, most importantly, enable you to classify them sufficiently to segment your lists.
To give an instance: the way a person signed up to your list can be extremely useful. You want to know if it is worth your while to go to trade fairs when compared to other methods, such as e-newsletters.
The next step is to discover if those who subscribed via, for instance, the website behave differently to those from trade fairs. Any variation might have a rather prosaic cause. Maybe trade fairs for your type of business are mainly on Mondays and therefore timing of a marketing email should avoid that day as a matter of course. You should certainly consider taking trade fairs into consideration when segmenting emails.
It can work in reverse. You need to find common ground for those who fail to open an email on specific days. Run the data through your email marketing software and you might find, or rather probably will, that a number have certain characteristics in common. Perhaps 20% signed up via counter promotions. This might well mean that they are out of office during the day.
But there is a caveat, one that everyone tells you is an essential: clear and precise classification. You must do it from the start as well, and certainly from now.
If, for instance, your business is mainly B2B, then simply defining some as middle management is not enough. It is virtually useless when segmenting an email marketing list. You need to know what these people do, what their responsibilities are, and not what they call themselves. If their job includes buying replacement ink cartridges, then that is how you should classify them.
To answer the original question fully, record everything the DPA will allow and define it precisely.