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5 Tips for Collecting Data for Your Email Marketing (Without Being Creepy)

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Customer data is the lifeblood of successful email marketing.

It’s “the key to sending relevant and timely emails, through segmentation, personalization, and automation,” writes Andrew King, at Campaign Monitor.

But customer data can be challenging to come by – and for good reason. Information — including email addresses, income, and demographic data – is a valuable commodity that most people don’t part with easily, and for good reason.

“When your customers disclose their personal and financial information to you, they’re taking a leap of faith that you won’t lose, abuse or otherwise mess with it — accidentally or not,” writes Kim Lachance Shandrow, at Entrepreneur.

So, what’s an email marketer to do? How do you obtain data about your customers without being seen as a virtual stalker? Here are five tips:

1. First, help them learn to trust you

According to Justin Schorah, of Zer0 to 5ive, trust is the most important factor when it comes to obtaining data about your customers. And to gain trust, email marketers must “be authentic and serve their audience with relevant content.”

Building trust requires patience, Schorah writes.

“Warm up your audience with relevant content to the point where they start to feel connected to your company. Then you can ask for more details about them, and use that data to drive deeper segmentation and customization.”

Here are six types of emails that can help create and sustain trust.

2. Ask them to complete a sign-up form

A simple sign-up form that invites customers to share information about themselves can yield invaluable data, and it’s a transparent, decidedly un-creepy, way of learning more about them.

“Asking my customers for the right data in a friendly way unlocks potential segmentation data I would otherwise never have access to,” writes Kevin Lamenzo at Klaviyo. “A customized signup lets me ask my customers a question that I otherwise cannot answer with the available tracking data, and it gives my customers the chance to label themselves according to their own interests.”

Lamenzo says it’s important to keep the sign-up form simple and unintimidating and to ask only for data you need. “Asking for too much information can prevent a potential subscriber from signing up for your list,” he writes. “So, don’t collect data just for the sake of it, because this can act as a barrier when someone’s first signing up.”

Want tips for creating sign-up forms that convert? Here you go.

3. Make them an offer

People love free stuff, and they will often share their email address and other data to get something valuable without opening their wallets.

“Individuals are usually prepared to share their data with businesses if they feel they are getting good value in return,” writes Frédéric-Charles Petit at B2B Marketing. “This may mean supplying exclusive reports, whitepapers, or research results in exchange for e-mail addresses and contact details, or offering access to a limited or trial version of a product or service.”

Or how about inviting customers to “attend” a free email course? A key to success with this approach is to allow them to select courses on topics that interest them, writes Jason Dent at Campaign Monitor.

“A growing number of brands are finding success by creating email courses that offer subscribers a relevant and educational experience. The email course not only gives subscribers something of value, but it also gives brands new insight as subscribers interact with specific content with further opportunities to personalize the customer experience as they go.”

Not sure what to give away? Here are 11 ideas.

4. Survey them

Surveys are a great way to solicit customer views about your company – and at the same time obtain additional data to put to work in future marketing campaigns.

“Surveys are powerful ways of gaining great insight into your customers,” writes Neil Mason at ClickZ. “Well-managed surveys can help you discover who your customers are, how they behave (to some extent), and, most importantly, what they think and why they do the things they do.”

Mason’s tips for success include keeping surveys simple, making them engaging, conducting rigorous testing and being prepared to respond to issues they might raise.

Here are 34 ways to get a great response to your surveys.

5. Invite them to compete for prizes

Contests are fun. And because many people will gladly share their email address and other information for a shot at a prize, contests are also a useful way of collecting data.

Contests also have other benefits. They can help grow newsletter subscription lists, increase brand awareness, help drive customers to websites or stores, increase social media followers and even help retailers get rid of excess inventory, according to Lauren Ufford, on the Shopify blog.

Need contest ideas? Here are 50 of them.

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