The Email Marketer’s Guide to Data

You may not have heard. But data is a pretty big deal when it comes to email marketing.

In fact, without a solid data strategy, businesses are only able to execute the most basic of email campaigns. Resulting in disengaged recipients, poor results, declining brand image, and losing out to competitors.

Unfortunately, data can be daunting. And the mere mention of it can strike fear in even the most experienced email marketer.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be this way.

With the help of our guide and expertise, you’ll soon be on your way to data success. Delighting your recipients with engaging campaigns. And the wider business with impressive results.

  1. Why data is essential in email marketing
  2. Types of data to use in email marketing
  3. Steps to using data in email marketing
  4. Data-led email campaign examples

Why data is essential in email marketing

Let’s begin by jogging your memory and exploring just a few of the reasons why data is so essential to email marketing.

Audience understanding

Modern marketers can no longer afford to send one-size-fits-all communications. Meaning understanding their audience is essential.

Data offers marketers ongoing insight into who their audience are, their likes and dislikes, and their behaviours. Enabling them to target their emails effectively, and ensure a much more personalised experience for their recipients.

Increase engagement

Data enables email marketing tactics, such as segmentation and personalisation, that can increase engagement. And with inboxes becoming an ever-competitive space, anything that marketers can do to give themselves a competitive edge is essential.

And of course, the more data the marketer can collect on individuals, the more targeted their emails become, resulting in further engagement. 

Customer retention

As we mentioned, data supports email personalisation. And whilst this is key for engagement, it’s also key for retaining customers.

When a customer regularly purchases from a brand, they expect a certain level of personalisation in their buying experience. And when businesses fail to achieve this, customers may start looking elsewhere.

Save time and resource

Data supports the automation of email processes.

With the help of any good automation platform, marketers can utilise their data to automate targeted and timely communications. Whilst barely lifting a finger.

This could include purchase confirmations, order updates, and abandoned basket reminders.

In turn, marketers can save time to work on more strategic and creative strategies, whilst ensuring their recipients remain engaged.

Continuous improvement

Knowledge is power. And for marketers, data equals knowledge.

By being able to gather data on their recipients’ behaviour, such as the types of emails they open and engage with the most, marketers can continuously tweak and improve their campaigns for better engagement and better results.

Types of data to use in email marketing

Data can be overwhelming, so it can be helpful to break it down into different types to understand what data a marketer needs to gather, and why.

First-party data

This type of data is collected first-hand by a business directly from its audience.

That means no purchased email lists, referrals, or third parties are involved to overcomplicate or cause issues. Just you and your audience.

First-party data is one of the most valuable types of data your business can gather and utilise. Being direct from the individual means it will be more accurate, but most importantly, it will be explicitly opted into. Meaning your data will comply with privacy regulations.

In addition, first-party data is generally cheaper to collect than working with a third party. And you will have far more control over it. Which is reassuring to your business, but also to your audience’s privacy.

Contact details

Now onto an obvious but essential data type. Contact details.

For some businesses, an email address may be all the contact details they require. After all, email is a fail-safe when it comes to communicating with audiences. With 95% of marketers agreeing that email marketing is an “outstanding” channel to drive business results.

And without an email address, marketers will struggle to begin to influence the consumer’s buying journey. So this data should be collected as quickly as possible, whether it be via email sign ups, account creations, or competitions and offers.


As mentioned, marketers need to have at least some understanding of who their audience are to support their targeting efforts. Demographic data is the first step in achieving this.

Marketers need to determine what data is going to be most useful for their email campaigns, and go about collecting it via sign up forms or progressive profiling.

This data could include age, gender, location, or job role, for example.


Now we’re getting to the good stuff.

By tracking behavioural data, marketers can really start to understand what makes their audience tick.

Behavioural data refers to types of pages and products browsed, emails opened and clicked, and when their audience are most likely to engage. This data offers an ideal way to understand what specific audiences are likely to buy or consume, even before they’ve made a purchase.


Purchase data is one of the most useful sources of information for marketers.

They can identify the products consumers are most interested in, the amount they spend, and how often they make purchases.

This is clear, objective data that can hugely improve the targeting of email communications. And the more customers are encouraged to purchase, the more data a marketer can gather.

Steps to using data in email marketing

It wouldn’t be fair for us to discuss all the benefits of data for email marketers, without offering you advice on how to use it.

Data can make or break an email marketing strategy. But good, high-quality data doesn’t come easily. So bear in mind these steps.


The first step in using data in email marketing is, of course, capturing it.

To get the most from your campaigns, it’s essential that the data you are sending to is high-quality. This means ensuring your data is captured organically and reliably, and provides the most relevant information for your business from the start.

As this step is essential to move onwards with your email marketing, here are a few tips:

Simple opt-in forms

When using opt-in forms, focus on capturing the data that is most important. Without overwhelming consumers with a vast amount of unnecessary questions that produce data you’ll never use.

Progressive profiling

Gradually capture small amounts of first-party data from your consumers throughout their customer journey with progressive profiling forms. This allows you to create detailed profiles, with no GDPR violations.


Provide a newsletter for consumers to sign up for, to be the first to hear about your latest news, sales, and product launches.


Often coupled with newsletter sign ups, discounts can be offered to consumers in return for their email address.

Abandoned form emails

And for those consumers who get distracted whilst filling out any of the above forms, you can automate abandoned form emails.

This is useful for forms that capture more than just an email address, and encourage recipients to provide you with more quality data.


Once data is collected via numerous channels, it’s common for it to sit in multiple places. From CRMs to CMSs, ERPs to old-fashioned notepads.

Unfortunately, this can cause messy and inconsistent data that is easily duplicated and often disconnected between departments. Therefore, data needs to be integrated and hosted in one centralised place. Regularly recorded using the same processes and formats, and accessed by all relevant departments.


Now that your data is sitting in one central place, it needs to be managed on an ongoing basis.

If data is left unchecked, this can soon become a significant process. With email marketers having to clean up potentially thousands of contacts. Therefore, proper data management is best carried out from the very start.

When managing data, special attention should be given to the following:

  • Ensuring data is continuously integrated with other systems, and being fed into a centralised place.
  • Removing duplicate data
  • Cleaning email addresses that are generating regular bounces
  • Ensuring that contact details are up to date, such as correct email addresses and names.

All of the above ensures that databases are kept orderly, emails are sent and received smoothly, and personalisation is possible.


To utilise data in a sophisticated way, the right technology has to be implemented.

By choosing a good automation platform or ESP (email service provider), businesses can make the most of their data and segments to design, build, and send emails that are highly personalised, targeted, and automated.

This will of course save time, resource, stress, and (in the long run) money.

Even better, the right technology will provide information on how recipients are engaging with their communications with the use of advanced reporting and data insights.

Ethical usage

When using data to send email campaigns, a responsible marketer needs to be aware of ethical usage.

Most importantly, this refers to only using data in a way that the consumer has explicitly consented to. So, if a recipient has only opted into newsletters, you can only send them newsletters. Their data should be held by a business securely and privately, meaning no sharing with third parties, and correct measures to be taken to avoid data breaches.

Offering a preference centre is the perfect way to give the recipient control of their data. Allowing them to manage the information you hold on them, as well as their communication preferences.


Once your data is managed, segmented, and used ethically to send out fantastic email campaigns, it’s time to measure the success of your efforts.

As well as offering insight into your audience, marketers have access to a plethora of data to help them report on their email campaigns. And make the necessary improvements, guided by the data.

Any email marketer will know that it’s easy to get caught up in endless KPIs and metrics, so to help give you focus, here are the metrics that we consider to be most essential:

Inbox placement

Identify whether your emails are landing in the inbox, or the dreaded spam or junk folder.

Conversion rate

Understand if recipients are taking the desired actions, or disengaging from the buying process post open or click.

Unsubscribe rate

A small amount of unsubscribes is natural, but keep an eye out for any peaks which could suggest something more serious with your data or email content.

Email client

Learn which email clients are used by your recipients to ensure your communications render correctly on them.

Lead source

Identify where your leads are coming from, and the direct impact email has on these results.


By using heatmap data marketers can identify the areas within an email that have been most viewed and clicked, and how far the recipient has scrolled.

Data-led email campaign examples

All of this information is useful. But sometimes we need to see some examples to really give us some creative inspiration.

Read on to view some of our favourite types of data-led email campaigns.

Dynamic content

We wanted to give a special mention to dynamic content in email marketing, as it opens up possibilities for a wide range of personalised emails, with little effort required.

Dynamic content blocks use data to automatically populate emails with content, copy, images, products, and banners (the list goes on) that are relevant to each and every individual.

This means you can send out thousands of different emails, and only have to create one template.


Product recommendations

With the use of data, email marketers can avoid generic product recommendations, instead focusing on timely, personalised emails that showcase the products the recipient is going to be most interested in.

This could be in the guise of upselling, stock and pricing updates, or abandoned basket reminders.


Celebration emails are simple but effective.

Only a small amount of data is required, such as date of birth or even just the date of first purchase. Then by using automation and dynamic content, marketers can trigger date-based celebratory emails to make their recipients feel special.


Simple segmentation of data can be used to identify your most special customers, such as highest spenders or frequent purchasers.

These customers should be focused on regularly to ensure they remain loyal. This can be achieved through offers and promotions, exclusive access and launches, or inviting feedback and input.

Lapsed and at risk

As well as using segmentation of data to identify your most valuable customers, you can also identify those most at risk of disengaging with you or shopping with a competitor.

These customers can be separated out and sent email communications that remind them of your brand, promote the most relevant products, and entice them back.

And of course, a discount code or voucher goes a long way to achieving this.


A drastically underutilised type of data is location.

By identifying where in the world each of their recipients are, marketers can practice geotargeting alongside using dynamic content to promote their closest bricks and mortar stores, offer opening times, and provide a map with directions.

They can ensure that their communications are in the correct language or include accurate pricing and currency.

And they can even send out product promotions based on the season or specific weather on the day.

Is your business suffering from data overwhelm?

Data doesn’t have to be daunting.

With the right support from email marketing experts, any business can soon be using their data to send out the most relevant and engaging campaigns possible to happy recipients.

If you need a little help getting started, or advancing your current data strategy, then get in touch. We’d love to hear what you’re up to.