What’s the Difference Between Email and Engagement Data?

What’s the Difference Between Email and Engagement Data?

Email marketing is a tried and true marketing tactic.  From one-to-one emails from small business owners to complicated automated workflows at Fortune 500 companies, email is everywhere. No matter where you look, you would be hard pressed to find a marketer who hasn’t run a handful of email campaigns.

With the wide adoption of email, companies continue to look for different ways to innovate traditional email and build on its success.  HiP’s take on this idea is engagement data.  To put it simply, engagement data looks to embrace early engagement points that are traditionally discarded in email marketing.  To explain the difference further, we need to look a little more at both techniques.


Email Marketing

We’re all familiar with email campaigns. You put together a list of targeted contacts, send an email directing the recipients to a landing page, and fill out a form on the landing page to get a piece of content or a blog subscription.

It’s a pretty simple process.  A portion of the audience opens the email, a portion of the email openers click the link to the landing page, and a portion of the landing page visitors fill out the form.  The very small portion of the initial group that completes the form is moved on to further nurture or outreach from sales.  The remaining (majority of) contacts are banished back to the database to wait for future broadcasts.

The basic idea is to use the barrier (the form) to qualify contacts that have more “significant” interest relative to the larger group.  That way, the salespeople are spending their time following up with the contacts “most likely to convert.”


Engagement Data

An engagement data begins very similarly to an email marketing campaign.  In both cases, you put together a list of targeted contacts and send an email directing the recipients to a landing page. The difference comes on the landing page.  An engagement data campaign doesn’t use a form, generally the page will contain a link or a button to directly access the content.

Procedurally, engagement data is also similar to email marketing.  A portion of the audience opens the email, a portion makes it to the landing page, and a portion of those users make it to the asset. Those who reach the asset are designated for follow-up. The difference is, due to the lack of a gate (form), more contacts pass through to the “qualified” stage and fewer potentially interested individuals are lost.

The tradeoff for securing additional engagement is having to deal with the added contact volume.  The form completion weeds out a lot of contacts, but it also loses much of the harvest along with the weeds, so to speak.  Without a form to vet interested contacts, it takes more time and resources to sort through engagement, but the potential upside is also much higher.


It Comes Down to a Form

When you get down to it, the difference between engagement data and email is in the form – or lack thereof.

Let’s talk about what a form does: A form collects user data, validates existing data, prevents accidental access, and confirms interest in an offer.

Collecting data – As we established before, email campaigns of all kinds require having the data up front.  Data collection will never be the primary purpose of email campaigns.  It is possible to pick up new information through the sharing of a landing page, though this isn’t particularly common.

Engagement data makes no attempts to collect data.  It focuses efforts on the development of contact interest as opposed to collection. While there’s an arguable loss of value in forgoing data collection, it’s a tradeoff proponents of engagement data are more than willing to accept.

Validating existing data – Information changes rapidly in B2B companies.  Updating and validating info is critical to success in future endeavors. Forms do a fair job at validation, however, user-provided data will never be perfect.  Form data can provide value in the form of confirmation but lacks the reliability for updates.

There’s more than one way to validate data. External methods, like phone validation, can do both confirmation and data updates effectively.  That’s why you’ll often see such a system paired up with engagement data campaigns to mitigate the inherent lack of validation.

Prevents accidental access – You don’t accidentally fill out a form. A user who takes the time to input the requested information has obviously intended to do so.  While browser autofill has made forms no longer foolproof, there is still value in the prevention of false positives.

Engagement data campaigns confirm interest through a series of clicks.  Technically, it’s possible to accidentally click a button on an email and landing page, but not particularly likely.  Forms are a bit more efficient in this area, but the difference isn’t massive.

Confirms interest in an offer – Getting through a form requires an exchange of information for some sort of content or other offering.  The implication is, the user feels the offering is worth at least as much as the information being given away.  Individual users will value their personal information differently, but nobody hands information out for nothing.

On one hand, a form confirms a level of interest.  On the other hand, the form prevents users who could be interested from getting more information.  It’s a double-edged sword – and it’s the most important split between email and engagement data.

Proponents of engagement data value additional contacts moving forward into their funnel.  Proponents of traditional email prefer to thin the herd before moving on.  Neither approach is inherently better.  It all depends on the needs and the resources of the company.


Putting It All Together

Engagement data isn’t out to replace traditional email, nor should it be. Engagement data and traditional email are two sides of the same coin – distinct but related. They’re two different ways to approach a problem. Some circumstance will necessitate one and some will necessitate the other. The key is to know the right time for both.



Let us know what you think:

  • Have you tried running an engagement data campaign?
  • What was your experience with engagement data?
  • How would you compare engagement data to traditional email?



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Matt Leap

Director of Marketing at HiP
Matt Leap is a marketer who enjoys wearing many hats at HiP. Among other things, he handles HiP's content marketing efforts and acts as the editor-in-chief of the HiP Blog. Matt is also a regular contributor to the blog. Matt brings five years of digital marketing and blogging experience to HiP, having worked in both the B2B and B2C sectors. Matt's expertise includes content marketing, content strategy, marketing automation, lead generation, SEO, and SEM. In his personal time, Matt enjoys sports, movies, technology, reading, and writing.
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