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Beyond Demographics: How to Collect Valuable Subscriber Data
by Irek Klimczak last updated on 0

Beyond Demographics: How to Collect Valuable Subscriber Data

Subscriber data is the backbone of successful email marketing. It’s really simple – the better you know your target audience, the better you communicate with them. We often say that email marketing allows you to collect a lot of data about your subscribers. But what does “a lot” really mean? What kind of data should you take under consideration? In this article I’ll show you 3 email marketing data categories you can track apart from demographics.

It’s a fact, the amount of marketing data is already overwhelming and still growing. If you want to use it effectively, you need to carefully pick the information that has an impact on your business. That’s why we’ll start with bare minimum.

Usually, web forms with a single form field drive the most conversions. Take a look at the following example from Best:

example of simple opt-in form
Image 1: A pop-up form promoting a sweepstake. Clean design with a single form field and a clear call to action.

All you need to do in order to enter the competition is provide your email address. But an email address alone doesn’t tell much about subscribers, does it? You need more information in order to personalize further communication. Let’s take a look at a few data categories that will help you with your email marketing efforts.


If you want to start building subscriber profiles from the very beginning (with the signup form), demographic data comes in handy. You can ask people about gender, day of birth, or city of residence at signup without causing much friction.

(if you’re interested in targeting your subscribers with relevant messages, here’s my article on how to start segmenting you list).

Here’s an example from Converse:

converse example of collecting subscriber data
Image 2: A pop-up signup form requiring email address and a date of birth (gender optional).

Some companies (e.g. Crayola) successfully use longer signup forms:

example of Crayola sign up form.
Image 3: Longer signup forms increase the quality of your email list but might cause friction (some people won’t be willing to complete it).

But what else is there apart from demographics? Is there any particular data worth collecting?

Well, that’s subjective and it depends on the nature of your business. You need to analyze your business goals and determine a dataset that will help you run great email marketing campaigns yourself.

However, I suggest you to take look at the following data categories (I added a few examples in order to help you plan your own assets):


Interests or preferences are crucial for creating engaging content and building long-lasting relationships with subscribers.

People want to receive information they consider interesting, so when you inform them that you send emails based on subscriber preferences, they are likely to provide you with the necessary information.

Longer forms don’t need to be cumbersome. In order to make it easier for the subscriber, you can use checkboxes. Here’s an example from Stanley:

opt-in form example from Stanley that features interests
Image 4: A signup form designed to determine subscriber preferences: level of expertise and interests.

And one example from Pew Research Center:

Pew Research opt-in form example based on interests
Image 5: A signup form with checkboxes allowing people to subscribe to multiple email programs. Extensive, yet easy to complete.

As you can see, checkboxes offer multiple options without making it difficult to subscribe.


Behavioral data informs you about subscribers’ engagement, current interest, and funnel position. By tracking opens, clicks, and website activity, you can react fast to the current needs of subscribers.

The following email fragment presents different product categories. Based on the clicked links, we can assume product preferences.

bath and body works example of email based on behavioral content
Image 6: A fragment of an email from Bath&Body Works showing product categories.

Based on the links clicked in an email and visited URLs, you can run highly targeted campaigns presenting recently viewed products. Here’s a fragment of an email from UncommonGoods reminding me of the products I saw in the email and on the website:

uncommon goods email example
Image 7: A fragment of an email reminding of the recently viewed products.

Events like an abandoned cart are time-sensitive. You’d better act fast, if you want to win back customers who left your website without a purchase. Here’s a fragment of an email American Giant sends you when you leave an empty bag:

abandoned cart email example from American Giant
Image 8: An email reminder about an unfinished purchase.


Transactional data allows you to track conversions and tie your email marketing activity to sales. You can use e-commerce data to segment your email marketing list and target your subscribers based on their purchase history.

You can use transactional data to run email marketing campaigns significantly improving customer experience. A simple email informing customers that their order is already on the way helps them estimate the delivery time.

Here’s a transactional email from Blue Bottle Coffee with a delivery tracking option:

Blue bottle coffee email example
Image 9: A fragment of a shipping confirmation email with a link allowing customers to check shipment delivery status.

You can also use transactional data to up-sell. Perhaps a few customers would like to a add something to their order before shipment.

An example from Dollar Shave Club:

dollar shave club example of upsell email
Image 10: A fragment of an email allowing to add products before the order is shipped.

There are, of course, many more ways to use transactional data. Based on the purchase history you can engage your customers and ask for an opinion about your products, create cross-selling and up-selling campaigns, and segment your customers based on the average order value, etc. Don’t be afraid to experiment and run A/B tests to see what’s working best with your audience.

Up to you

What subscriber data do you collect? What information allows you to run your email marketing campaigns? Share your thoughts in the comments below and help us create a community of data-driven email marketers.

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