What’s the 411? Part 1

You might remember the phrase, “What’s the 411?” as early 90s parlance for “may I please have more information about the subject in question?” Yeah, it’s outdated slang, and we probably shouldn’t be using it to frame a pair of blog posts in 2014, but we think it works (plus, it’s a lot of fun). We think it’s all that and a bag of chips.

Reliving modern R&B’s heyday aside, we’re calling this week’s blog “What’s the 411?” because we want to talk about getting more information from your subscribers. Collecting info from your subs is the most effective way to determine exactly what they want from you, which will help make your campaigns more effective. Successful marketing techniques are born out of research and information, especially in terms of knowing about your audience.

But how do you collect that information?

Thankfully, collecting information from your subscribers can happen at any time – information you don’t get at sign-up can be gleaned from surveys or later interactions. Once you have the 411 on your subscribers then you can start using it to segment your market and more directly target readers with content of interest.

There are a couple of very effective ways to do collect that information, and fortunately, they work for both new and existing subscribers. Before we break those down, however, let’s take a quick look at what kind information you’ll need from your subscribers.

If You Only Knew

Here are a few of the most critical bits of information your subscribers can offer you:

Personal data: Items like age, zip code and job title can help you create sub-groups within your master subscriber list without getting too personal. Then, those groups can be targeted with only relevant information. Local offers, senior or student specials, and industry rewards (like hospitality discounts) can attract a lot of attention.

Specific interests: Regardless of industry, your business likely has several different niches, components, or areas of interest. Not all of those components will appeal to all of your subscribers, so give them the option to receive only the information they want. Let them trim the fat by identifying specific interests, and you’ll find yourself with much more engaged subs.

Sending preferences: Unfortunately, as we’ve covered before, there is no magic sending schedule suitable for all of your subscribers. Individual readers have individual needs, especially when it comes to the frequency with which they hear from you. Give your subscribers the option to decide how often they want to get your newsletters, and they’ll show you how much they appreciate it.

This is How We Do it

The first hurdle you’ll need to get over is your subscribers’ reluctance to share any personal info. Not only are people often hesitant to share their information online, they’re also frequently suspicious of those who ask for it. That puts you in a tricky position when collecting data.

So, how do you convince your subscribers your intentions are pure? It’s simple; be honest.

When you’re asking for information, be upfront and clear about why you’d like to get it. Tell your subscribers that you want to make your future marketing efforts more beneficial to both you and they. Let them know that you want to make sure you’re only delivering what they want, when they want it to help build a more engaged customer community.

They’re not stupid. They’ll know this is an attempt to build your business. But, they’ll also recognize your willingness to work with them instead of at them. That counts.

You can share your plan with both existing and new subscribers by simply adding it to your opt-in box. Include it in the information around your website or social media sign-up boxes (for new subs), or add it to an email newsletter with a link to your expanded opt-in process. Requesting a re-opt-in from existing subscribers will also help you identify those with an above average interest in your business.

And, don’t forget to tell your subscribers how the re-opt could benefit them. Try subject lines or newsletter titles like, “How Can We Be Better?” or even “Want to Hear from Us Less?” That may sound like a bad move for business, but it will actually help you communicate with your customers more easily.

No Diggity

Admittedly, “No Diggity” has no relevance to this section. We just wanted to keep the song title thing rolling and shout out Blackstreet, Dr. Dre and puppets. Worth it.

Back on track: now you know exactly what you’re looking for from your subscribers, but how collect all that sweet ino? We gave a few hints at the top of this article, but for the full scoop, you’ll have to come get jiggy with us next week when we diggity (nailed it?) into subscriber outreach.