How to generate rich consumer profile data


On average, email users receive nearly 90 emails a day. While many of these may be important messages sent from coworkers or friends, the rest of your inbox is likely cluttered with businesses clamoring for your attention. So, how can you break through the clutter?

If you want your readers to engage with the emails you send, you need to cultivate a relationship with your readers. Good relationships are built on shared interests. It's up to your paper to understand the interests of your readers, segment your emails and only send them content that will directly appeal to them.

Understanding the interests of your readers may seem like a tough undertaking, but there are many quick and simple ways you can use to build rich consumer profiles. Check out these four ideas for developing your consumer profiles:

1. Quizzes

Quizzes are an opportunity to collect tons of data. First, you can understand general consumer interests by the quiz topic itself. With a "What Type of Car Should You Drive?" quiz, you can tag your user with an interest in automotive.

Beyond that, a question about the number of passengers could allow you to tag the user for future promotions and interactive content related to families. A question about their oil change preferences could tag them for future marketing campaigns with a prospective local advertiser.

2. Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes aren't just excellent list builders, they can also build rich consumer profiles. When it comes to designing your sweepstakes for data collection, there are two aspects to keep in mind.

First, consider the prize for your sweepstakes. Prizes like a spa package, season tickets to your local sports team, or a new air conditioner should have you tagging users for salons and spas, local sports and home owners. If you have a lot of home improvement advertising dollars in your market, running sweepstakes with a specific prize can help you quickly generate a database of interested users.

Additionally, if you're providing a great prize, consider adding on a couple survey questions to collect more details on your entrants. Take a look at these two contest examples. The survey question in the first could be used to tag users for marketing campaigns with more potential advertisers. In the second, the Northwest Herald, collected data to help them learn more about their readers' interests for sending them future content or newsletters.

3. Photo Contests

Everyone loves a photo contest – they drive tons of ad impressions, get shared across social media and create great content for your site. They're also excellent for collecting data about your consumers. In this first example from the Lexington Herald-Leader, a fun Halloween pet photo contest can be used to identify the pet owners in your audience. Plus, with a prize of a $200 pet goody basket, they helped drive in qualified entrants.

This second example comes from The Examiner. Their "Cutest Babies, Kids, and Siblings" photo contest doesn't just identify users with families, but their three age-specific categories give them even more details for future campaigns. This is excellent consumer data for their sponsor, a local pediatrics facility.

4. Ballots

Not only are ballots huge revenue drivers, but they are an excellent tool for cultivating data about your audience. Since users choose which categories they want to vote in, you know explicitly what businesses a person cares about (and what they don't).

In the Commercial Appeal's annual Memphis Most metro ballot, users cast their votes in over 150 subcategories. Based on what people pick, they can tag the users with interests in dining, nightlife, home improvement and much more.

Understanding your audience and providing them information related to their interests is a crucial step in forging a relationship with your readers. Whether you're running a sponsored photo contest, a list-building sweepstakes, or anything in between, make sure you're leveraging your campaigns to cultivate rich consumer profile data about your readers.

Matt Coen is the president and co-founder of Second Street, a leading provider of private-label online promotions platforms and partner success services for media companies based in St. Louis, Mo. He can be reached at (314) 880-4902 or


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