Data can be a tricky unwieldy beast, as even the smallest company still has incredible amounts of it that may be difficult to decipher.

It doesn’t help that over the years data has been acquired using various different methods and channels, and is also held in different silos and used for different purposes. 

Using this data to launch a new email marketing strategy requires not only bringing it all into one place, but sifting through it to remove anything worthless.

The report even suggests the need to re-contact the entirety of a database to gain updated information and relevant permissions.  

Here’s some advice from Ed Armitage, head of ecommerce at Hobbycraft:

It was a painful process but we dramatically trimmed the database to get down to contacts who were good quality. A business sees a large database as an asset but those large numbers are about vanity. It can seem counter-intuitive to trim it.

Often when companies cleanse their data for more segmented email campaigns, they realise the information they’ve been requesting doesn’t match their needs.

The view that a company has of its customers needs to be accurate. That’s why companies are keener to build their own email lists from data acquired across channels than buying it in.

Of course this is difficult when less than half (48%) of consumers haven’t shared any information in the last 12 months, according to research from the DMA’s Customer Acquisition Barometer 2014.

Although encouragingly email is the second most trusted channel for customers to share information across.

Jonathan Dicks, ecommerce director of Hudson’s Shoes suggests the following:

Customers in our lists are gained from those who buy from us direct. We don’t get anything fed from stockists and we don’t share our information with them.

List growth is primarily achieved through competitions on social media and making it clearer on the website for customers to ‘join our family’. The goal is to increase that list. The more you communicate with them, the more customers click and convert.

As you can see from the following chart, prospect lists built in-house provide the best cost-per-acquisition (56%).

One of the key ways to achieve this is through community building. Customers are more likely to share their information with you if they not only trust you and the channel, but also if they see that their peers are in the same network.

It’s important to use your customers own passions, no matter how supposedly niche, as part of any data accruing exercise. Deeper, more emotionally resonant information allows for much more specific segmentation and therefore much more relevant communication.

For lots more from the report, including insight on personalisation, automation and the move to mobile, download Bridging the Gap in Email Marketing.