What if we told you that there was one thing you could do that would significantly enhance your email marketing?

That one thing is to use the data that you already have about your subscribers. You see, data is the key to sending relevant and timely emails, through segmentation, personalization, and automation.

In this post we’ll discuss the types of data that you should be using, how this data can be used to enhance the relevance of your emails, and finally, how to get that data into Campaign Monitor.

Types of Data You Should Be Using


This is your basic A/S/L (age, sex, location) data that you might collect from subscribers when they sign up or make a purchase. This type of data generally doesn’t change very often; people don’t change their name, gender or location much (although all of those things could change), which makes this type of data ideal for basic segmentation, personalization and automated emails.


The San Diego Chargers preference center asks for a number of demographic details

Examples of demographic data

  • Name
  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender


Preference data is usually collected through the same kind of preference center that was mentioned in the San Diego Chargers example and might include data regarding your subscriber’s preferred products, services, brands, size or frequency of mailing.


Lastminute.com ask for demographic and preference data in their preference center.

A good thing to remember is that preference data can change and become irrelevant over time. For example, someone might tell a travel company that they’re interested in visiting New Zealand, but that doesn’t mean you should only send them emails about New Zealand for the next two years.

It’s also important to note that most people won’t update their preferences if they do change, unless prompted, so it’s a good best practice to remind your subscribers to update their preferences periodically.

Examples of preference data

  • Product
  • Service
  • Destination
  • Category
  • Size
  • Frequency


Liberating your transactional data from your e-commerce platform is one of the best things you can do for your email program. Importing this data into your ESP (email service provider) can dramatically improve your segmentation and personalization, and opens up a new world of automated emails.

This data allows you to identify who your best customers are, who’s about to lapse, or who hasn’t made a purchase yet.

Examples of transactional data

  • First purchase date
  • Last purchase date
  • Total amount spent
  • Number of purchases
  • Average order value
  • Past products purchased


Recent behavioral data is the most reliable indicator of what your subscribers are interested in right now. This type of data might be collected from an email (opens/clicks) or from your website (pages browsed/items carted).

The most common type of behavioral email is a cart abandonment trigger, which usually goes out within 24 hours of subscribers abandoning their cart. However, many technologies are now available which allow you to follow-up pretty much any action that a subscriber takes on your website. That sounds a bit stalker-ish, but I assure you that it can be used to send helpful, relevant emails based on the products, services or topics they have recently browsed.

Connecting Lytics and Campaign Monitor can give you access to this type of behavioral data. Lytics combines your users’ behaviors from your other marketing tools with historical email data. This enables you to create custom segments based on how your users interact with your brand.


Examples of behavioral data

  • Product/service/web page browsed
  • Cart abandonment
  • Form abandonment
  • Email opens/clicks

What can you do with the data?

There’s no point in doing a data integration if you don’t know what you plan on doing with the data. Typically, your plans will fall into three buckets – segmentation, personalization or automation.


Having a rich data set within your ESP opens up some great opportunities to create highly targeted segments, which combine demographic, preference and transactional data.

For example, you could target people of a particular gender, who are interested in a particular product category, have made a purchase in the last year, and spent over a certain amount. Now that’s a targeted segment!


Birchbox used segmentation to identify their churning customers and target them with this win-back campaign.



Personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates than non-personalized emails, but 70 percent of brands fail to take advantage of that, according to Experian Marketing Services. This is most likely due to a lack of data, easy-to-use personalization tools, and the time-consuming nature of testing personalized email content.

However, with the right tools and data, it can be very easy to implement. A few examples of how I’ve seen brands use personalization include:

  • Offering discounts in bulk emails which only certain subscribers can see
  • Personalizing the content of a birthday email, based on the year that the subscriber was born
  • Showing products based on the subscribers brand and size preference
  • Aggregating data from mobile apps for end of week/month/year summary emails

Fitbit has used the data from its mobile app to send this highly personalized weekly summary email.


Automated emails

Sending automated emails would not be possible without data. Whether it’s a new subscriber joining your list, a birthday, or a cart abandon, data is required to trigger the correct email.


The timeliness of these emails is also extremely important — there’s no point in sending a shipping confirmation email after the package has arrived. Topshop take email automation seriously. The example below is sent within hours of a subscriber adding items to their cart and not making a purchase. As you can see, they have taken a customer-service approach to see if the subscriber had any issues finding an item or making a purchase. They have also nicely personalized the content of the email with the actual products that were abandoned.


So how do I get this data into Campaign Monitor?

Now that you’ve determined what data you have access to and what you’d like to do with it, it’s time to figure out how to get it into Campaign Monitor.

Generally,  you have three options.

Manual upload

Manually uploading data is one of the easiest and quickest way to get data into Campaign Monitor. The downside is that it can open you up to human error (uploading the wrong list) and you can’t send timely automated workflows if you aren’t uploading your new data on a regular basis. However, if you’re new to email marketing this may be a good first option to begin with.


Hopefully you’re aware that Campaign Monitor has an API? This allows developers to automatically sync data between your CRM, ecommerce system or apps on a regular basis, so you don’t need to worry about refreshing your data. The other benefit to this is that automated workflows can be triggered as soon as the data enters Campaign Monitor.

Pre-built integrations

Want to integrate with your external data sources, but don’t have access to a developer? Don’t worry, we have over 100 pre-built integrations. These integrations allow you to easily connect with some of the most popular ecommerce and CRM tools around such as Salesforce, Magento, Shopify and Woo Commerce.

In conclusion

Having an integration can seem like a daunting task for many marketers, but it doesn’t have to be complex — even simple pieces of data such as location, gender, and product preference can open up a number of possibilities.

Now that you know how to use data to enhance your email marketing, you can implement segmentation, personalization and automation. Let us know how you are using data in a creative ways.

Your turn: How do you use data to improve the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns? And what have you found the results to be? Share your experience and best practices in the comments below.

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  • Karen Zadra

    Talking about personalisation: all our subscriber names are entered as full names. Does that mean that if we want to personalise emails by using only the first name (eg Hello Karen), CM can separate the first name from the second name if our sign up forms don’t include separate FIRSTNAME and LASTNAME fields? Does that mean we’re forced to use “Hello Karen Zadra”??

  • Andrew King

    Hi Karen

    Thanks so much for reading.

    It’s a great point you make in that with Campaign Monitor the standard “Name” field often used in subscription forms will automatically create First name and Last name variables for you, with everything after the first space character considered to be a subscribers last name.

    You can certainly personalize using Firstname only, in fact it’s built in to our editors and available in the Insert > Personalization section where you can easily insert any personalization field including First name, Last name, Full name & Email, along with any custom fields you may have created for your list.

    If coding your own HTML, the syntax to insert First name personalization is [firstname,fallback=customer]

    For more information on using personalization, please see https://help.campaignmonitor.com/topic.aspx?t=33

  • Simon

    My comment was too long, so it’s split in to two parts (handily at the gap where I effectively had two questions anyway)

    This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to get our IT team to build for a while, with deeper integration from our internal ecommerce database to the Campaign Monitor database via your API. When I originally briefed in CM to them back in 2012 they did quite a lot but left a few bits out (we have loyalty points that I wanted to be able to log the amount of, and I wanted the last order date and total order values, etc…) but that didn’t make it due to limitations on time they could put in to it/competing priorities – the normal sort of business/IT record issues we almost all know far too well :)

    Since then we’ve made a TON of use of exporting the CM list, exporting Excel reports our end, mashing them together all manually (colourcoding emails from the CM list, emails from our list, de-duping, manually cutting out those that weren’t highlighted as duplicates… nightmare… time consuming and very easy to get wrong – luckily we never have, but it’s been close) and re-uploading the changed subscribers back in to the existing list (of which we have several too, due to multiple sites each with their own list). Having it automated is very much top of my wants, and at the moment I’m just trying to work out a way to brief in to the IT team exactly how we’d want it to work – both the ‘updating CM with the right data’ and the ‘building a report our end’ (not to mention the automation of it happening every Thursday at 4am, every hour, every 3 hours on a weekday, etc…)

    But it leaves me with some difficulties as to how we’ll do it.

    Mainly the “Past products purchased” as per your example in the blog – we have thousands of products, each with a 9 digit product code SKU. People buy anywhere from 1 (or none) but 1 to many products. I can’t see how we can get that data in to CM – yes there’s the custom fields, but they have a data limit of 250 characters, so wouldn’t allow for the amount we want in there for a single custom value, even if we separated them with commas for example such as ABC000123,ABC000999,ABC000567,ABC123456,ABC654321 etc… We’d only be able to get 25 products logged per custom field.

    Maybe a sort of workaround is to have multiple of those custom fields (PreviouslyPurchased1 PreviouslyPurchased2, etc…), but still it wouldn’t be enough to store all of the values, and they too are limited at some point (50 custom fields – we use about 15 or so already, and with some other integrated bits I’ve already got in my “wishlist” of API integrations from our end to CM, we’ll be using up maybe another 7 to 10).

    Is there a limit to the number of values a “Multiple Options (can select many)” custom field is able to hold?

    Of course only logging the SKU just means we know they purchased something, not the date. Really we’d want to know the date too so we could then target people who purchased x product between y and z dates for example, or purchased x but hasn’t since gone on to purchase since that. We could get that info from our database, and tag the user in a separate custom field (eg: how we’ve been doing it manually – having “PurchasedXYZ-30Days” for example) and sending to those people, but that’d have to be our end, and again is going to either mean a limit on the number of custom fields/data in them, or a ton of reporting being run our end and sent via the API as it’d have to be refreshed every day for every single customer to remove them from the 30 days or to ensure that the rules of “tag this person” is actually still accurate (they may have gone on to buy y or z for example – which logging the product SKUs separately would allow us to see and act upon).

  • Simon

    Question 2:

    We’ve always used CM only for people who have “subscribed to our newsletter/emails”. So everyone on our list (lists) is signed up because they’ve specifically wanted to do so. What we’ve never used CM for is emailing cart abandoners, nor people who have signed up for product availability notifications (we log those on our own internal database and have to send to them manually using our own mail server – totally separate from any CM system or any subscription preference). There’s also a possibility of sending product updates (your product has been upgraded/patch released/new feature added for free) which again at the moment we do manually because only a percentage of previously buyers will be subscribed to our newsletter list on CM. If we had all their previous purchases logged in CM (using the product code SKUs) then we’d be able to do that, however only to subscribers (same as we could import those subscribed people with a value in a tagged custom field as we do at the moment), but what about all the other people who haven’t subscribed for the newsletter? we’d be no better off in that case.

    So the question here is are we (anyone, not just us) able to email those people who aren’t subscribed “to the newsletter” but have purchased, or abandoned the cart, as per the examples in your blog post above. We don’t want to just add them to “the list” because then they’d look like they were normal newsletter/email subscribers, as opposed to a “person that abandoned the cart, that we’re emailing via CM to get them to hopefully come back, and hopefully they’ll buy and also subscribe to the newsletter”.

    I think other services (no names mentioned) call these Transactional Emails, rather than them being emails to subscribers…? Almost like it’s two separate things – you aren’t adding these users to the “subscriber list” as they aren’t yet (or they may be, but it doesn’t matter if they already are).

    Help! I need some really expert CM thoughts here on how to make this work… :)



  • Kevin

    Great blog post Andrew, this covers a lot! We would love to make people aware of another type of personalization, only using images instead of Text Merge. We are seeing customers get over 30% increases in click through rates, just by using personal data they already have. So instead of “Hello Andrew”, you can use their name in an image like this example:


    Just making sure people see what’s available Andrew!


  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Hi Simon, I hope you received my earlier message and email. I’d absolutely love to offer you our “really expert CM thoughts” on how we can help JustFlight in this scenario, so I hope we can have a chat in the coming day or so. Thanks, Simon – I look forward to your response!

  • Stephan Hovnanian

    love this article. To answer your question, I do engagement scoring with my subscribers, and as such, have the ability to create segments for brand champions that get special messaging and even different calls to action when I send a campaign to my whole list.

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