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Progressive Profiling: How to Collect Data for Personalization

It’s no surprise that most digital marketers are turning to personalization to up their email game. Personalized emails have 6X higher transaction rates and over 41% higher unique click rates than non-personalized emails (Marketing Land). And although tactics like including a name in the subject line may increase opens, it’s not enough to stand out among your competitors when so many brands are doing it. You have to truly personalize emails with unique and valuable messaging.

How do you do that? By using quality customer data to build your email campaigns. And the first step is figuring out where you’ll get that data from.

Gathering data

We know that preference centers aren’t the answer. Many marketers had high hopes for the data mining potential of preference centers. But we’ve learned over the years that they have low participation rates—only 38% of users will specify at least one preference (Yahoo).

And it can be just as difficult to gather in-depth profile data from opt-in forms. In order to get specific information on demographics, buying behavior and preferences, you need to ask the consumer a number of questions. But increasing the number of form fields from three to just six will decrease conversion rates by 66% (QuickSprout).

What does work? Progressive profiling with live polls. Live polling is a form of gamification that lets marketers engage customers with polls in an email. According to M2 Research, gamification can lead to a 100% to 150% increase in engagement. We recently feature one of our favorite examples of live polling in email—a campaign by Ticketmaster with an open rate that exceeded Ticketmaster’s average by 182%. Using the data collected in polls to gradually build a customer data profile gives you a database of information to pull from to build truly personalized messaging.

Progressive Profiling 

Progressive profiling allows you to continuously collect deeper insights about a consumer, while creating an engaging, interactive email experience that encourages subscribers to participate. For example, if you’re in the travel industry, you can send out an email asking your customer what kind of vacationer they are. Who doesn’t want to take a few minutes out of a busy work day to daydream about their perfect vacation. Then, follow up with personalized offers tailored to their vacation style that they’ll be more likely to act on.

Progressive profiling

If you’re in retail apparel, give your subscribers an opportunity to vote on which style they identify with more, and then offer a custom-made outfit with a discount.

Progressive Profiling

By gradually collecting data on your customers—in a fun and engaging way—you’re getting access to information that builds messaging that will more likely lead to a conversion.

Progressive profiling best practices

Here are a few best practices we’ve found success with:

  • Make an emotional connection. Phrase your questions in a way that will elicit a more genuine, emotional response.
  • If you’re a B2B company, ask what the reader’s role is in their organization to narrow down specific pain points and offer targeted solutions.
  • Use the data to tailor future email content, as well as personalize offers.