Tag Archives: data

5 ways to simplify the customer journey

Every consumer would like the brands that market to them to show a better understanding of their needs. The problem is many people remain reluctant to share the personal information that would make this an easier task for brands. Meanwhile, the volume of data that organisations can collect is growing so quickly that it’s often hard to know how to firstly identify ideal customers and, secondly, target them.

Insight is the key to unlocking better marketing practices. It can help you understand and simplify the complexity of customer journeys at all contact points and major life events. However, just like the term big data, insight is in danger of becoming an overused – and undervalued – term.

There are many ways to develop an insight strategy, many facets to insight and many possible outcomes. We think that if you set out with five essential goals in mind, your approach to insight will be smooth and seamless, likewise creating a similar brand experience for customers.

1: Work out which customers you want – and how to make them buy
Lots of brands have a ‘funnel problem’. They opt to send tons of direct mail to a vast pool of people, resulting in many potential customers dropping from the acquisition hopper thanks to poorly targeted campaigns. Clearly, mass mailing can work for some brands with almost universal target customer types, but others – high-end car companies, for example – need a more restricted, probably affluent group. The answer to this quandary is to take your own or external data and use insight to discover the right people to talk to and the best channels to use to do that.

2: Delve deep into data to fully understand your customers
It’s one thing to tempt prospects into becoming customers. Smart businesses don’t see a purchase as a one-off, though. It’s the first of (hopefully) many opportunities to ‘know’ that person better and ensure they keep coming back. Gaining deeper customer-level insight is vital. This granular understanding can be gleaned from in-depth analysis of the wider customer database but also databases for individual products. Profiling, mapping and segmentation are the pillars of this insight-driven quest for customer knowledge.

3: Don’t stop at one product sale: cross-sell and upsell
Throughout any customer journey there are various chances to highlight your wider product portfolio beyond what’s already been bought. Amazon is the classic exponent of this “you might also like” opportunism. Meanwhile, banks are another example of core cross-selling and upselling strategy: limited product portfolios make a good basis for a structured approach to contacting existing customers offering more financial help. But really the concept can apply to most businesses, think also of dealerships selling a car then immediately offering extras such as a service plan and insurance.

4: Spot behaviour shifts and respond to those triggers
As we all know, life isn’t simple and every so often something good or bad will come along to change the way we act – not just in our personal relationships, but in brand relationships, too. Clever organisations will be using insight to spot these shifts in behaviour and respond with relevant communications. For example, banks can see via current accounts when someone is having a bad month (have they lost their job?) or a good one (a bonus seems to have been deposited). Meanwhile, the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s with their masses of loyalty data can use insight to recognise when nappies and baby wipes suddenly become a regular fixture of the weekly shop, and offer personalised promotions on items for the new family member.

This step is not always easy if your organisation does not have very regular contact with customers. But it could be possible to achieve good results by using external data, using Bounty pack information in the instance above, for example.

5: Ensure product and customer retention is maximised
All the data you have, and lots of information you don’t own but could buy in, holds the key to a long-term relationship with your customers. It’s cheaper to retain than acquire customers, so using insight to spot when and why someone might be looking elsewhere for your product and service is vital, especially for cyclical brands like insurance or breakdown cover.

Look at all your data, make sure you understand when renewal is due and where you might have a problem with attrition. Target customers with renewal offers almost from the moment they first sign up, not two weeks before they’re due to say goodbye. Constantly improve the relationship and give them a reason to stay. Equally, this stage loops back to point 1: it’s a good opportunity to assess the real and lifetime value of customers to see which individuals or groups are truly worth having, and which you would be wasting marketing budget trying to retain.
The vast number of channels and recorded interactions now in play means so much more can be done with insight to really understand customers. Remember too that consumers’ knowledge of the importance of their own data is constantly improving so the more you can demonstrate you are thinking and acting wisely when using their information, the more sales you will make.

By DMA guest blogger Dougy Watt, Professional Services Director, Occam

Not to be forgotten: assessing the continuing fallout from the ECJ’s Google Spain decision

The full impact of the ECJ’s right to be forgotten ruling against Google  has started to be felt in recent weeks as Google begins complying with some of the estimated 50,000 deletion requests (and counting) it has received. The decision’s continued waves have prompted both the ICO and the Article 29 Working Party to issue statements, with UK Coalition Government Justice Minister Simon Hughes making his government’s position very clear at a Parliamentary committee hearing on 9 July.

The ICO has endorsed the ECJ’s finding that search engines are data controllers and accepted the ICO’s enforcement role in the event that a search engine fails to adequately respond to a deletion request. However, the ICO is taking a pragmatic approach and allowing search engines time to put processes in place to consider requests. Thereafter it will focus on those cases which are “linked to clear evidence of damage and distress to individuals”.

The ICO has cautioned that the implications of the case should be kept in proportion, and that it does not equate to an absolute right for links to be removed. Companies operating and advertising online are also reminded that section 32 of the Data Protection Act 1998 provides an exemption for the publication of journalistic, literary or artistic material in certain circumstances.

Article 29 Working Party welcomes ECJ’s decision
The Article 29 Working Party (which brings together representatives from national data protection authorities, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European Commission) has welcomed the ECJ’s decision as a crucial “milestone for EU data protection […] in the online world”.

At its June plenary the Working Party committed to identifying guidelines in order to establish a common approach for EU data protection authorities on implementing the ruling. In the meantime, it has encouraged all search engines to voluntarily put in place user-friendly tools to enable individuals to exercise their right to request deletion and has welcomed Google’s development of a form which enables individuals to do so.

Justice Minister Simon Hughes dismissive of ECJ’s decision
In contrast, in his evidence to a House of Lords Committee looking at up-and-coming EU data protection reforms, Coalition Government Justice Minister Simon Hughes was dismissive of the ECJ decision and of the right to be forgotten generally.

He felt it was technically unenforceable and would lead to thousands of misconceived complaints. He complimented Google on their “co-operative” approach in the aftermath of the ECJ decision but felt it was “difficult and uncomfortable” for them.

The UK Government did not want the law to develop in the way implied by the ECJ judgment, he said, and did not agree with the equivalent wording in the current draft General Data Protection Regulation.

Why this matters for business
Although the current “right to be forgotten” focus is on Google and the obligations of search engines, despite Minister Hughes’ trenchant criticisms, advertisers and companies operating in the online environment would be well-advised to take note of the ECJ’s decision, and the Working Party and the ICO’s comments in respect of it. Whilst it remains unclear how the ruling will impact on which results will be blocked, companies will need to bear in mind that relying on the continued availability of search links may not be possible.

At present, a request for the deletion of the link will not automatically impose an obligation for the disputed content itself to be deleted from the host website. Nevertheless the ruling is a timely reminder of the onward march of the European privacy agenda and the need for companies to keep abreast of developments so as not to fall foul of data protection and privacy laws.

However as the fallout from the ECJ decision continues, one senses that Simon Hughes’ strong concerns will be shared by others and as a result there has to be a serious question whether, longer term, the right to be forgotten will survive the EU data protection reform process now that its practical ramifications are becoming clear.

By DMA guest blogger Tom Harding, Senior Associate, Osborne Clarke, Bristol and MA Social Media Council member

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on and is reproduced courtesy of www.marketinglaw.co.uk 

Read the ICO statement and the Working Party press release

Big Nev – why most telemarketing professionals would prefer him to be a bit smaller

For almost 20 years very few people have known what a call/contact centre is. Now when you’re in a pub and you say you work in a contact centre most people happily connect and say “oh like the one on that BBC 3 programme?” I want to scream “NO! NO! NO!” but instead I just shrug and say “a bit”.

There are so many things that make The Call Centre watchable and I admire the energy evident on the calling floor and the wacky initiatives that are put in place to keep the staff engaged. It’s just a shame that the general public think this is what happens in a typical contact centre – which it clearly doesn’t.

I know it’s light entertainment, this is BBC 3 not BBC 2, but all it does is fuel misconceptions that contact centres bend the rules to get results – let’s not forget that ‘Big Nev’ was fined £225,000 over nuisance calls in 2013. The stereotypes and bad practices portrayed in the programme undermine the perceived professionalism of telemarketing.

Telemarketing done professionally definitely has a place and will deliver ROI. Almost all outsourced and in-house contact centres know that you don’t need to use such questionable practices to get results. It’s about working with the brand team and the data teams to ensure calls are being made to the right people, with the right message at the right time.

Any contact centre that is accredited by the DMA will hold up their badge as clear evidence that the data and marketing practices that are in place adhere to the clear guidelines. We care about the customer experience; we manage our diallers in a super compliant way; we bonus our staff against quality more than anything else and we love poring over our Voice of the Customer scores.

Unless he pulls his socks up Nev doesn’t, and probably never will have DMA membership so despite recognising that he is undoubtedly one of the industry’s personalities I have to give him a big red, Britain’s got better talent, cross – what do you think?

By DMA guest blogger Nerys Corfield, UK Sales Manager, Data Base Factory and DMA Contact Centres & Telemarketing Council member

Can technology desensitise marketers?

Today’s marketers look at visits, impressions, opens, clicks, mail-outs, conversions, abandon rates, bounce rates, average order value, total lifetime value – but are we blinded by the numbers and what they represent?

Think of your average subscriber, and you’ll not see the uniqueness and complexity you see in the people you meet day-to-day. You and I are the average consumer to most of the brands we engage with. As a result, they treat us identically. And I am pretty sure that what influences you, dear reader, isn’t identical to what influences me. No hard feelings. Let’s look at a great example of ‘connected marketing’ from a technology point of view, then from a customer’s point of view.

My customer experience of connected marketing
I went into a shopping centre a few weeks ago and visited a well-known shoe retailer. I looked around for a while then one of the sales assistants asked if I needed any help. I said I was looking at three different styles but I’m an annoying shoe size (UK 12, European 47) so didn’t expect them to have much in stock in my size.

The sales assistant took me to an iPad mounted next to the shoes and checked what they had in-store, but was also was able to search their warehouse and surrounding stores. The warehouse had my size, and if they sent them to my home or office I could easily return them either to the store (no return cost) or post them back with a courier using the pre-printed returns slip (no cost again!). Awesome.

To me, this was a great customer experience – I ordered the shoes I wanted, they had joined up their online and the offline activity and as a customer I was getting what I wanted. So I ordered at the check-out in store, gave them my email address and was told to expect an email.

Follow-up emails undermine positive customer experience in-store
The confirmation email I received came several days later at the same time as three other emails into my personal Gmail account, the first two can be seen below:

The first email, (from ‘comments’!?) told me I had signed up to their VIP programme (I’ve made one purchase and have yet to receive the goods, why am I a VIP?). This email gave me 10% off my first online purchase (the call to action is to cancel my existing order and reorder online for a 10% discount?). Good to know they’re concerned with saving me money, at least.

The second email, sent at an identical time again from ‘comments’, was an order confirmation email which was so poorly rendered in Gmail that I couldn’t actually see what I had bought, what it cost and when it would arrive (I had been charged shipping that wasn’t explained to me in-store) and the order tracking link to a Royal Mail delivery service was broken.

There was no way to contact their customer service team in the email, no contact email, no contact number and it’s incredibly difficult on the website – they direct me back to the local store, which in the email was different to the store where I made my purchase!

The third email, again from “comments”, came nine days later confirming that the items had been dispatched – and I was told in-store that they were in stock at the time. At this stage, I still have not been told how much my items in the basket were or the cost of shipping, the delivery link to Royal Mail still does not work and I still don’t have any contact details for customer services. I don’t know when they are being delivered and how much they have already cost me, I needed to check my online banking to see how much I’d been charged. Outrageous!

I eventually got the products I ordered in-store two weeks after I had purchased them. The magic was gone. I’ve got the product I wanted but what could have been a great experience had left me frustrated and unlikely to repeat it.

How can this happen?
It’s happened here, and in many other cases, I suspect because no-one has attempted to look at the communications process from the customer’s point of view.

Test the customer experience not just the technology
I don’t doubt that the integration of the inventory management system, supply chain management, marketing automation tool and parcel delivery system was complex and time-consuming. But how often during the testing of data transfer processes, API calls, templates and content creation did anyone look at the whole end-to-end process for the customer?

We are told by industry experts in the US and Europe that 70% or more of a customer database has only made a single purchase in the last 12-24 months in online retail. If we look at the process above, functionally everything is in the right place and the data and communications are running.

But by not looking at what they’re actually sending to the customer, providing me the right information, asking me for feedback about the process or even attempting to promote other products and services I might be interested in in future they’ve lost an opportunity and they’ve lost a future customer.

Their first email told me I was enrolled as a VIP. I don’t feel like one, and that’s why I’m in the 70% of customers who – while happy with the product – won’t buy from them again.

By DMA guest blogger Alex Timlin, Director of International Sales and Solutions, Emarsys

Join Alex for a free webinar: From marketing to a personalised customer experience on Wednesday 30 July at 3pm and hear how data insight can deliver a customer experience that inspires people to come back to you again and again. Book your free place.

4 ways to boost your campaign results

Data can tell you what makes your customers respond to your marketing campaigns, whether it’s delivered by email, direct mail, or even telemarketing.
Why do so many people think marketing data analysis only works for online?

New media campaigns may sound cost-effective – sending a million emails or serving a million impressions may cost just a few pounds. But longer-established media like direct mail and telephone campaigns can deliver far higher response rates making the cost equation balance.

AdWords deals in single-digit click-throughs, while there are banner programmes where 0.1% counts as positive. Yet some direct mail campaigns can achieve an 18% response from a list of just 3,000. How are they doing it?

The answer’s not just about the numbers – but about the words, too.

Here are four ways to boost the performance of your marketing campaigns:

1. Be subjective: look at the first line everyone sees
Many campaigns focus on the mailer’s content. But marketing data analysis starts with the prime commercial property above it: the headline. Whether it’s the first line of your letter, the title on the envelope, or the subject line of your email.

There’s no secret as to why. It’s the first – sometimes the only – part of your marketing communication everyone sees. And it’s often critical to their decision whether to read on.

Marketing data analysis isn’t just “by the numbers”. It’s by the words.
So headlines deserve a lot of attention. What criteria can today’s marketing manager use to get a grip on what works?

2. Dig deep into your past campaigns
The first task is to look back at previous campaign reports. Not at what you thought was good, but what actually worked.

Make a list of all the headlines you used. Then rank them by the simplest metric: whether a recipient responded. (Whether that means opening the mailer, or recalling it when you follow up by phone.)

Then apply two more metrics: whether that recipient visited your website (you can put a unique URL in your letter to find out) and whether they went further down the sales funnel, such as providing their profile data at your squeeze page or landing page. Three valuable sets of data. And all came from an offline campaign.

3. Apply numerical metrics to words
Even without mapping the data into a visual chart (a data consultant can help you do this) you’ll see discrepancies between the best and worst headlines.

Some campaigns had low responses… but high recall when you followed up. Counterintuitive? No. It means the headline wasn’t intriguing, but the content was. (Another reason to pay a lot of attention to headlines.)

And then there are high-interest mailings – where everybody opened the envelope, but nobody typed in the URL or dialled your number. Perhaps the promise of the envelope copy wasn’t paid off by the content inside. Or the content gave away too much, rather than interesting your reader in taking action.

And then there are the campaigns with high numbers, but for only for a subset of your audience. If so, think again about segmentation in your marketing data analysis. It’s probably worth targeting that content to different people, even if it’s only a change of title.

4. Cast a critical eye over every sentence
When you’ve got a list of successful opening lines, it’s time to take it to the next level. With your audience in mind, what common traits do those sentences share? Here are some ideas:

  • Nouns. Are they concrete and snappy, creating instant pictures in your reader’s mind?
  • Verbs. Are they active and alive, giving the impression something interesting is happening?
  • Adjectives. Do you have too many? (Answer: yes.)
  • Length. Both sentence length (word count) and character count. Imagine you’re reading email on your phone’s tiny screen – what do you like to see?

Of course, this doesn’t just teach you about your campaign success; it teaches you about your customers. And because so many people concentrate on email these days, thinking again about offline campaigns can give you a huge competitive edge.

So if you want to raise your numbers… try looking at your words.

By DMA guest blogger Julie Knight, Marketing Director, Marketscan

Google right to be forgotten ruling: what happened next

A lot has happened since the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) ruling against Google on the right to be forgotten last month.

Google introduces right to be forgotten form
EU residents can use Google’s new right to be forgotten form  to request removal of links on Google to information about them that is either inaccurate, out of data or inappropriate.

Google has already received 50,000 requests since launching the form at the end of May, and has set up an advisory board to evaluate requests and ensure that the right to be forgotten is balanced against the public interest and freedom of expression.

This is a good move by Goggle as it shows national data protection authorities that it is making an effort to comply with the ruling. Other search engine providers will need to now consider whether to follow Google’s example.

ICO takes a pragmatic approach to right to be forgotten ruling
In a blog entry the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) stressed that it would not be ”ruling on any complaints until search engine providers have had a reasonable time to put their systems in place and start considering requests”.

The ICO also says that once the grace period is over, it will focus on complaints from individuals where they can demonstrate that the links on search engine providers to information about them causes them damage and distress.

What the ruling means for search engine providers operating in Europe
Although the case was about Google Spain, the ECJ’s decision related to the 1995 European Data Protection Directive. The decision is therefore relevant to all countries within the European Economic Area (27 member states of the EU plus Iceland Lichtenstein and Norway – EEA).

It is no surprise therefore that when the European national data protection authorities met as the Article 29 working Party this month they discussed guidelines as to how the case should be interpreted in all EEA countries. It is anticipated that the Article 29 Working Party will release the guidelines in the autumn.

What it means for draft Data Protection Regulation negotiations
The European Commission produced a paper on the case in which it welcomes the judgement and says that it strengthens the case the for the need for a new Data Protection Regulation.

There is some merit in this argument otherwise the ECJ will continue to fill in the gaps in interpreting the 1995 Directive for the digital age. There is also the counter argument that the case shows that the 1995 Directive is working well and that there is no need for a new right to be forgotten clause in the draft Regulation.

By DMA blogger James Milligan, Solicitor, DMA


6 ways to gain a competitive edge from data

It’s easy to see nothing but money leaking out of your business when first investing in data. The question is, when does the money start rolling in to justify the investment?

We leave a trail of ‘digital exhaust’ data when we use laptops, tablets, mobile phones or cards on the move. Throw in ‘traditional’ data collected from the electoral roll, guarantee cards, surveys and marketing activities and a full-colour picture of our lives soon emerges.

On its own, data is inert. Its strategic strength comes from having the right people in the right place. Mathematicians have been described as the storytellers of the future, but they must be partnered with those who understand the chosen market.

Here are 6 steps for gaining a competitive advantage from data:
1. Push for better not bigger data. Understand which data are real triggers and drivers for your business. How complete are your data sources? Are they secure and current or are there gaps in your understanding?

2. What’s the data telling you? Ask where the potential value lies. Invite peers from all areas to provide feedback on findings. It may be the first time leaders have come together.

3. Build a business case. Analysing behaviour can help you to tailor the experience of visitors to your websites. Think about personalising messages from call centres. Ensure mobile phone copy is short. Now run a three-month test. What is the data telling you? What if you did it for everybody?

4. Show, don’t tell. Visualise what data can do for your business customers. In this age of video and social media, a short film will prove far more effective than a standard PowerPoint presentation if you want to illustrate how data powers customer engagement with your brand.

5. Understand and plan for change. Data is strategic; it’s the cements that pulls an organisation together. Consider what this could mean for your organisation and be prepared to make improvements.

6. Start small, with a minimal approach to new technology. Say no to massive technology projects that will reap rewards 3 years down the line.

Making data a strategic strength is thrilling and it’s the future of your business. Don’t leave it to marketing. Get involved and take the lead.

By DMA guest blogger Alan Thorpe, Former Business Development Director, Indicia

This blog first appeared on the Indicia website 

The Internet of Things and its impact on marketing

In yesterday’s blog, I looked at the technology of the Internet of Things (IoT) and some of its current limitations. Here I consider some of its practical uses today.

Commercially available examples of the IoT include products like Heatmiser or Hive where you can control your heating settings remotely. As an endorsement for the IoT it is interesting to note Google’s acquisition of Nest a home automation company making self-learning, connected thermostats and smoke alarms.

There are however some examples which are perhaps using technology to solve a problem which does not really exist. The WiFi kettle can be switched on from anywhere in the World and can be programmed to switch on or off at a set time. This is great if you are short on time in the morning, although it is less clear to me why you would want to switch on a kettle in London from New York.

We are therefore moving from the internet of facts and information, through the internet of people powered by user generated content to the burgeoning IoT where everyday objects can be smart and informed.

For marketers I think there are three main questions to ask:
1. How could my service or product offering be enhanced if I could “talk” to my customer constantly whilst they were using my product?

2. What design changes do I need to think about today so that my products and services can be connected to the IoT tomorrow?

3. What is the information exchange architecture I need to put in place to make this happen and at what cost benefit trade-off?

Having asked these questions and worked through the customer benefit and cost and commercial opportunity trade-offs there are some clear next steps. Firstly the infrastructure to make this work has to be put in place, this would include the method of tagging each item uniquely, how this tag is going to be read and in what circumstances and lastly what information is going to be exchanged.

In the fridge example I talked about in yesterday’s blog there could be a bar code on the milk carton which contains product information such as what it is and the sell-by date. The fridge would need a bar code scanner and to be connected to a smart data centre.

The fridge sends the information to the smart data centre which then could for example text your smartphone letting you know the milk passes its use-by date tomorrow or, in a more complex set-up, adds milk to your online shopping list for your weekly shop. It could go further and suggest recipes based on what it also knows is in your fridge and needs to be used up.

You can see therefore whilst simple in theory, in practice the information exchange and intelligence piece needs investment and moreover thinking through so that all the relevant pieces can be delivered in a smart and customer experience-enhancing way.

It is clear that the IoT is coming and like the existing internet it will bring opportunities for those who have the vision to imagine new ways of doing things. Of course, it will also have technical and even moral questions to answer including privacy matters but it is going to happen and there is no point pretending otherwise.

So the real question is are you going to be a trailblazer or a “me too” follower?

By DMA guest blogger Colin Bradshaw, Managing Director, RAPP, and DMA Data Council member