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What is Subscriber Data Management for Email Marketing?

by Dayana Cadet

Consumers expect highly personalized experiences when engaging with your brand. If you fail to meet them on their terms, they’ll likely switch to one of your competitors.

This means that you must prove you care about your customers as individuals and try to understand their unique needs at every touchpoint—especially when you’re sending them regular marketing emails.

Luckily, there’s an abundance of data available to ensure your marketing and sales teams know the most effective way to interact with individual customers and prospects. That is, if you give your team the tools and knowledge they need to manage, track, and update this data so they can use it when it matters most.

Email subscriber data management often falls by the wayside when prioritizing acting fast, reaching out, and finding new customers. We get it—every business needs to drive sales. But you could be degrading your customer relationships if you’re acting on bad data.

And, as sales and marketing pros probably know, it’s much easier to keep an existing customer than it is to find and convert a new one.

That’s why it’s essential for your team to understand the importance of email subscriber data management and how to effectively audit and update your customer data.

What is email subscriber data management?

Email subscriber data management involves collecting, storing, and updating your customer data.

This includes information like email addresses, first names, last names, phone numbers, countries of residence, and notable purchases or subscriptions with your brand.

To make sense of this sea of information, teams most often use customer relationship management (CRM) software to serve as a hub for all customer data.

Some teams still rely on spreadsheets to store customer data, which requires an immense amount of manual data entry and maintenance—and plenty of room for natural human error.

These old-school processes typically fail to give marketing and sales reps an easy way to uplevel key customer insights in real-time.

Plus, teams miss out on the automation features that most CRMs provide—and ways to work smarter, not harder.

How to collect customer data

Sales and marketing teams can collect customer data through a variety of means, including online forms and surveys, insights from customer calls and emails, events and tradeshows, proactive research, transaction history, and other web-tracking software.

But remember: Nothing sours a once-promising customer relationship like unwanted or unlawful outreach from your brands.

Consumer privacy laws are tightening fast. In most countries, you must gain explicit permission from your customers to reach out to them through phone or email.

Legally, you also need to give them a clear way to opt-out of your communications. If you’re unfamiliar with the U.S. CAN-SPAM rule, you can learn all about it here.

These consent rules vary (and are usually much tighter) in regions like Europe, where GDPR reigns supreme.

Customer data needs routine upkeep

Most sales and marketing teams recognize consumer data as a force for good.

So, the more data you have the better, right? Not always.

There is such a thing as having too much data, especially because customer data naturally degrades over time. Your customers move, email addresses change, and their shopping habits may be significantly different than when they last bought from your brand.

And customers have different needs and preferences at different stages of their buyer’s journey—is a phone call really necessary if someone hasn’t purchased from your brand yet?

Effective subscriber data management requires your team to constantly assess your customer data quality and perform regular maintenance that keeps your data fresh and free of duplicates, invalid addresses, stale contacts, etc.

That way, you know you’re always working with trusted data and engaging with your customers based on accurate information—which will maximize your ability to earn their loyalty and drive ongoing sales.

Demonstrating the value of subscriber data management

All of your sales and marketing technology should integrate with your CRM. This ensures that everyone and every tool is working with the same view of customer data.

This is important in its own right. But it’s also critical to align team perspectives on customer data in order to pursue emerging technology that promises to make sales and marketing more effective.

Marketing, sales, and customer services teams increasingly rely on automation and AI-powered technology like chatbots to engage their customers. While these innovations can save time, they’re only as good as the data they’re fed.

Clean and complete customer data is vital for ensuring these technologies can drive the most value for your team, instead of frustrating your customers with poorly timed or inaccurately addressed messages.

Stakeholders should dedicate time to explain to their teams how poor data quality is making their jobs harder. When done convincingly, this should motivate them to update records more consistently and adhere to data standardization rules.

For bonus points, train them on customer data profiling (or enlist someone who can) so they know how to spot low-quality data or inconsistencies from a high level.

Keep your customer data fresh

The CRM space is a hot market. It’s no surprise, given that effective customer data management is vital for successful email marketing and sales, and CRMs are the best way to store that customer data.

The global CRM market size is expected to reach $106 billion by 2028, which reinforces just how in-demand these tools are.

But it can be difficult for your marketing and sales teams to juggle all of their daily priorities and keep their CRM records clean and up to date.

In the long run, shirking these duties will only lead to low-quality customer data. This in turn adds work to their plates, increases burnout, and makes it harder for your brand to build meaningful customer relationships.

To help your team succeed, invest time in educating CRM users about the impact of low-quality data.

If you’re looking for more resources to help, read our guide “7 Ways CRM Data Sabotages Sales and Marketing Teams.”

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