The key to successful marketing is to focus on the customer. And to satisfy customers, you need to recognize and understand their needs. Obviously, the better you know your audience, the better you can appeal to their interests.

So the main struggle for marketers has been collecting the right information and using it to build profiles of their prospects. The goal is to get enough data for the full picture — when, where, why and how people purchase products — and convert it into strategically targeted marketing campaigns.

With marketing automation, collecting data and getting meaning out of it is so much easier. By creating workflows (visual representations of communication patterns) you can easily examine all the interactions between subscribers and your brand, see what’s working best, and identify areas for improvement.

You can go for truly sophisticated segmentation. You can not only create separate workflows for different subscriber personas but also appeal to their personalities, delivering an experience that enables individual subscribers to convert according to their temperament and preferences.

This e-book shows you how to use marketing automation to collect valuable data from your subscribers and align email marketing communication with their needs. You’ll learn how to use data to profile subscribers and guide them through the sales funnel.

You’ll learn how to dig into demographics, purchasing patterns, and other revealing data that help you integrate marketing and sales efforts to solve customer problems and make sure your sales department is ready to assist customers at the right moment.


You’ve probably heard a million times that knowing your audience is key to marketing and business success — ironically, that’s what I’ve written in the first two sentences of this e-book.

As Sir Richard Branson once said, “You learn so much about a business in the months before launch, but your education really begins on the day that you open the doors to customers.”

That’s when you realize that customers don’t buy products — they buy solutions and benefits. So if you want to establish valuable communication with your audience, first you need to understand their problems. When you know their pain points, you don’t just sell products anymore — you solve problems.

Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.
– Seth Godin

It’s essential to listen to your target audience and gather feedback from your customers, so you can develop products to meet customer expectations and improve the quality of services.

How do you know what your customers need? How do you keep up with changes along the funnel? Here are a few ways to keep in touch with your customers.


Try looking at your business from the customer’s perspective. Every once in a while, go through your marketing campaigns and look for ways to improve. You’ll be surprised by the number of things you change over time and by the impact incremental changes can have on your business.


Try to be where your customers are. Whether it’s a survey, newsletter, webinar, social media site, trade show, or event at your local store, take advantage of every arising opportunity to meet your customers and ask for feedback on your products and services. Find out whether they would recommend your company to others and why.



One of the best ways to motivate subscribers to provide feedback is to make it as nonintrusive and easy as possible.

That’s why more and more companies are using progressive profiling — collecting small chunks of meaningful information from users along the journey instead of flooding them with lots of questions during the first interaction with your brand.

Here are a few important reasons for trying progressive profiling:


By asking for bits of information across the customer journey, you can:

  • Provide a better customer experience (people don’t like to be bothered with too many detailed questions at once.)
  • Identify customers’ crucial pain points and address them one by one.
  • Provide them with useful information at the right time.


By collecting data across the funnel you can:

  • Drive more conversions.
  • Maintain a high-quality email list.
  • Focus entirely on the target audience and achieve more using fewer resources.

Progressive profiling is much easier with automation. The visual representation of communication in a workflow helps you identify critical information to collect at each stage of the customer journey. It helps you find the right moment to send a message with a question, quiz, or offer that will enable you to segment your list.

Make sure you ask only meaningful questions (decide whether the answers will help you personalize communication or improve products.) And don’t repeat yourself — nobody likes to be bothered by the same questions again and again.


Here is a short guide to help you set up your data collection plan. When it comes to progressive profiling, the old saying remains true: to keep your customers, keep it simple.


Start by answering the following questions: what information do I need to adapt my communication to my audience? What data do I need in order to send them meaningful messages and engage them in a conversation with my brand?

Depending on the nature of your business and the level of sophistication of your email marketing program, you’ll take different amounts of information into consideration. The basic areas to focus on are:

  • Demographics (age, sex, education, nationality, income level)
  • Interests
  • Personal tastes and preferences
  • Customer value (based on transactional data)

For more insights on the customer journey, integrate other online marketing tools, such as CRMs or social monitoring software, and track customer activity. There are so many tools to choose from and data to collect that you need to choose wisely and be equally precise about the data you don’t want to track.


Based on the data you collect, you’ll soon identify key factors that set your customers apart. If you aim for better personalization and high-quality lead generation, it’s important to find and address the differences between your main user groups.

Create several subscriber personas to help you segment your email list and address various customer needs.

Customer persona template from Content Marketing Institute
Img. 1 - Customer persona template from Content Marketing Institute.


Here are a few occasions to ask your subscribers for information to help improve your communication.

Web Forms

Web forms that allow people to sign up for your newsletter or webinar or download a free whitepaper are often the first touch point between your brand and subscribers.

You can start progressive profiling right away by gathering basic demographic information. Start with a standard form with a name and email address, and then add a few more custom fields such as gender, birthday, or zip code.

If you offer a wide selection of products, you can allow people to sign up to different campaigns based on their interest or choose their preferred communication frequency.

NOTE: Ask for specific data such as phone number or shoe size only if you feel it’s meaningful and beneficial to the customer. Explain why you need this information — when your subscribers feel safe, they are more eager to share sensitive data.

Nike starts profiling during sign-up.
Img. 2 - Nike starts profiling during sign-up.

For data collection, emails offer you plenty of opportunities along the subscriber journey. In fact, it works both ways: a carefully planned sign-up process helps with progressive profiling, and progressive profiling can help you improve your sign-up process.

By analyzing individual elements of your communication, you can identify crucial data you need at particular points. For example, at sign-up you may want to collect general information and then get specific information down the road.

Farfetch uses two CTA buttons that allow subscribers to choose a category.
Img. 3 - Farfetch uses two CTA buttons that allow subscribers to choose a category.

Start with marketing emails. But as soon as your subscribers become customers, pay close attention to transactional emails. These messages provide precise information about purchase decisions. You can check the efficiency of individual campaigns (such as promotional, cross-sell, up-sell).

Use transactional emails (cart abandonment, order confirmation, shipping notification, invitation to rate a product) to ask your customers for feedback about their buying experience, so you can measure customer satisfaction, create better products, and provide a better customer experience.


Pop-ups have a terrible reputation. But the truth is this: only irrelevant, unexpected pop-up ads are considered annoying by users.

Pop-ups that appear for a reason, such as opt-in, can drive 1375% more subscribers.

A pop-up with a clear incentive can be successful.
Img. 4 - A pop-up with a clear incentive can be successful.

TIP: Analyze the customer journey and choose the pop-up moment carefully. Then write excellent copy and make the pop-up responsive and easy to close.


Surveys have long been an excellent tool for getting information from subscribers, users, and customers. Look at your workflow to find the best moment to send a survey. As usual, keep it short and meaningful – so more people take the time to fill it out.

Some brands send great-looking quizzes and surveys that are fun to respond to.

Teavana ask subscribers to reveal their iced identity.
Img. 5 - Teavana ask subscribers to reveal their iced identity.
Usabilla allows you to complete a quick satisfaction survey with emojis.
Img. 6 - Usabilla allows you to complete a quick satisfaction survey with emojis.

Fun fact: 87% of people who create surveys collaborate on them:

  • 61% say the main reason they collaborate on surveys is to write questions.
  • 45% get help analyzing their data.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The Net Promoter Score is an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research. It measures a customer’s loyalty to a brand and based on responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? Users answer by scoring on a 0 to 10 scale.

Those who rate 9 and 10 are called Promoters: they are likely to buy more, remain customers longer, and make positive referrals.

Those who rate 7 and 8 are labeled Passives: their behavior falls between Promoters and Detractors.

Those who provide 0 to 6 points are labeled Detractors: they are less likely to exhibit value-creating behaviors.

Net Promoter Score explained (source: Technori)
Img. 7 - Net Promoter Score explained (source: Technori)


When planning your progressive profiling, focus on two types of data.

Here are a few important reasons for trying progressive profiling:


This information is unlikely to change during the subscription process and remains valuable in the long run. Once you collect data such as gender, city, or shoe size, you can probably use it as long as the subscriber remains on your list.


This is specific information that enables you to run highly targeted campaigns but remains relevant for a short period of time. For example, if you run an e-commerce business selling sports equipment, you could ask your subscribers about the kind of workout they plan to do in the following month and then run a targeted campaign based on their answers.


Segmentation is a powerful feature. Based on the information collected, you can group subscribers on your list and send them relevant information. Used well, it can turn email marketing campaigns into gold.

There are a lot of ways to segment a list. Obviously, the more data, the more opportunities. Let’s take a look at a few advanced techniques for segmenting your audience.


This is a good example of incorporating external data in an email marketing campaign. By using geolocation and weather data, you can match your email content accordingly. For example, you could check whether a warm jacket or a cup of hot chocolate would be more appealing on a cold day, find out whether it’s easier to sell umbrellas when it’s raining, or test promo campaigns for reflective running gear at night.

Brooks sets up multiple campaigns based on weather conditions or temperature ranges.
Img. 8 - Brooks sets up multiple campaigns based on weather conditions or temperature ranges.


Do you remember the Pareto rule? It says that about 80% of the revenue is generated by 20% of the customers. Identify the customers responsible for most of your revenue and look for common characteristics. You’ll be able to create segments of the most profitable customers and run high-value product campaigns to reward engagement and strengthen relationships with your brand.


Use the available data (from sources such as the email service provider, CRM, and behavior-tracking software) and search for patterns in subscriber behavior. When you create detailed customer personas and segment your list, you will be able to recognize similar and diverse reactions to specific email marketing campaigns.

You need to be able to track customer engagement with communications from your brand.

GetResponse subscriber history.
Img. 9 - GetResponse subscriber history.

Marketing automation allows you to monitor subscriber behavior carefully. You can even score and tag users based on their actions. For example, you could add points to the score for every activity in a workflow (such as link clicks, content downloads, webinar sign-ups).

Then you could assign the “engaged” tag to subscribers who reach a target score. The more specific the tags, the more detailed the subscriber information you get. For example, to discover their preferences, you need to know exactly what content they download.

Recognizing patterns in previous campaigns helps you plan future communications more effectively.


To increase revenue, create an environment where sales and marketing work together. Of course, there are variations — relations between marketing and sales differ from one organization to another.

Marketing teams try to figure out clear steps that prospects should follow to become satisfied customers. Sales teams engage prospects in direct conversations and therefore operate in a far less predictable environment.

Despite the obvious differences, it should not be difficult to align the teams, since they serve the same customers and share similar goals, KPIs, and technology. In fact, the technology that allows process sharing and data integration (automation software, CRM) can have a huge impact on communication.

Let’s take a look at how marketing automation can integrate sales and marketing processes.


How to generate leads? How to determine which leads are hot?

You can send hot leads to the sales team in real time, with a host of information about that particular lead, meaning you’ve done a lot of the groundwork for them.
– SmartInsights.



Remember that the main purpose of an email marketing strategy is to help you meet business goals. You need to understand the direction of your business and align the email marketing strategy accordingly. Analyze your business and determine the following:


  • Business model
  • Stage of growth
  • Business goals

Every piece of information will have an impact on the structure of the email marketing funnel in your company. Always keep your business goals in mind when designing the customer journey.


Successful marketing is data-driven. Marketers collect and analyze data to find out whether their campaigns produce the desired results. But to use data to make better decisions, you need to know what kind of information you’re looking for.

The email marketing funnel helps you understand what you want to measure. Success depends on your ability to uncover the meaning behind the metrics and translate it into business objectives. With the funnel, it’s easier to choose the right kind of information from a business perspective.

Use the email marketing funnel to determine the right key performance indicators (KPI) —measurable values that demonstrate how effectively you achieve key objectives. The clear structure of a funnel helps you align KPIs with each segment.


Start with customer persona templates and adjust them to your business reality. Relationships with customers vary from company to company, so your subscriber journey doesn’t need to be as long as the template. Analyze your business model, determine your business goals, and then align your email marketing strategy accordingly.

Decide what you want to achieve and plan email marketing campaigns to help you reach business goals. Avoid planning too many tasks — focus on core activities to avoid the risk of getting overwhelmed by too many items on your to-do list and compromising quality.

Take a look at your funnel and determine the right KPIs — decide whether you want to measure the number of subscribers, click-through rate, number of downloads or return on investment.

An example of an email marketing funnel.
Img. 10 - An example of an email marketing funnel.



Lead scoring is one of the features of marketing automation that is incredibly useful for lead nurturing. You can track subscriber engagement along the subscription process and assign scores to certain actions (signing up for a webinar, downloading an e-book, starting a free trial).

Based on scoring you can build personalized marketing automation workflows to help you achieve business goals. Identify the mostand the least-engaged subscribers so you can:

  • Build reward programs for your most valuable customers.
  • Build early warning systems to help you identify declining customer loyalty or engagement.

Every piece of information will have an impact on the structure of the email marketing funnel in your company. Always keep your business goals in mind when designing the customer journey.


Tagging allows you to label anyone in your contact database. Based on the tags, you can design marketing automation workflows to send personalized, relevant communication to subscribers.

Tags allow you to analyze individual customers and track their activity. You can assign or remove tags based on customer actions, such as engaged, active, responsive, customer, or prospect. Use tags to:

  • Search for specific subscribers on your list.
  • Identify various customer personas.
  • Segment tagged contacts to create targeted campaigns.
  • Trigger specific follow-up actions.


Online marketing offers you plenty of opportunities to find the people who might be interested in your products. Your job is to find the right tools and develop a marketing strategy that will draw them towards your brand, build strong relationships, and eventually turn them into satisfied customers.

Progressive profiling allows you to collect the right amount of data at the right time, so you can better understand your customers and align your business with their needs without overwhelming them with too many questions at once.

Marketing automation will help you grow your business and reduce workload. Use conditions, actions, and filters to create workflows determining every detail of your marketing communication.

Remember that combining marketing and sales efforts helps turn prospects into customers much faster.