Adam Tolcher and Louis Sage in front of the REaD Group stand at Fundraising Live 2020

After attending Fundraising Live at the beginning of February and sponsoring the CDAO UK event last week, we caught up with Louis and Adam for their biggest takeaways and insights from both events – there’s certainly plenty of food for thought and encouraging signs that charities and businesses alike are beginning to explore and appreciate the value of their data!

Fundraising Live

Since GDPR’s introduction nearly two years ago it’s safe to say that charities on the whole have been somewhat nervous and conservative when it has come to their fundraising activities. However, from the majority of charities we spoke to at the event, it seems that many are beginning to adopt a more proactive rather than reactive approach. A noticeable dip in fundraising income has been felt amongst charities that have relied upon traditional activities such as bucket collections – as more people embrace contactless payment and fewer people regularly carry change.

Personalisation is key

Insight was a hot topic, and this has seen many re-evaluating their marketing strategies as they are keen to better understand their supporters and find out what drives people to give. Coupled with this increased knowledge, charities are also focussing on journey mapping and personalising supporter experience in order to build more profitable and longer-lasting relationships.

As has been the case for a while now, we are seeing an increasing trend in charities returning to direct mail for their acquisition and retention campaigns – using legitimate interest as the legal basis for processing. Many were concerned post-GDPR that they would have to remove mailings from their marketing mix, however, in Recital 47 of the GDPR it states that: processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest.

delegates at the CDOA Conference 2020

CDAO Conference

The role of the CDO is one that has been rapidly gaining prominence over the last two years, having been relatively unknown before the changes to data legislation. As companies increasingly appreciate data as a valuable asset, more and more are appointing CDOs to elevate responsible data management to board level (finally!).

After GDPR was implemented there was an initial panic around having to hire additional staff to manage data and many instated CDOs in their business without considering what the role entailed or the skillset required from the individual holding it.

Suppress to impress

What was perhaps most heartening at this year’s event was a noticeable increase in understanding and awareness to GDPR obligations from CDO’s in attendance – and the importance of goneaway and deceased screening in particular. In addition to the legal repercussions, many also have environmental concerns around the increased wastage created by failing to suppress mailing campaign data (and the potential brand damage that may ensue).

As well as an increased awareness for data cleaning, as with Fundraising Live the week before, there was a real buzz in the room around personalisation. With so much data at our disposal these days, there really is no excuse for neglecting to put it to good use! Using data intelligently to enhance the customer experience will ultimately strengthen relationships and increase loyalty and LTV.

Having also attended both events in 2019, it was fantastic to see a palpable excitement amongst delegates this year around the potential of data and the possibilities presented to those who use it effectively. Personalisation will continue to be a big driver for marketers this year – but it is important to ensure that it is informed by the right data!

two hands holding a crystal ball with '2020' written on it in red writing

As we find our feet in the new decade, we consider the big drivers and trends we can expect to see this year (and beyond!). From data quality, third party data and advances in automation, there is plenty on the horizon!

One of the big areas of concern in the data world we’ve seen lately has been around ethics/values and we expect there to be increased emphasis on this subject throughout this year. Where data-driven marketing is concerned, one of the key questions is how we can gain the trust of consumers to an extent where they are happy to share their personal data.

The principal of giving brands the right to be personal is only effective if the brand has access to quality data. There is a correlative relationship between trust vs sharing data – the more a customer trusts a business the happier they will be to share their data.

In a recent Dun & Bradstreet report, half of the 500 business leaders interviewed said their business wouldn’t survive without top quality data, while over two-thirds (69%) agreed that having access to more data supports revenue generation.

A large proportion of this trust comes down to transparency and companies being open and honest about how consumer data is being processed. At REaD Group, we are strong advocates for best practice; we are able to take any record from our suite and identify the point of collection as well as the legal basis on which it is being processed. We believe this should be a mandatory requirement for all personal data utilised in today’s climate.

First party data vs third party data

While first party data is naturally an asset, the advantages and capabilities of third party data should never be overlooked. Third party data offers a whole range of possibilities – enabling businesses to find their best customers, drive more informed decisions, gain more value from their marketing activity and delivering ROI.

Some 54% of the business leaders interviewed by D&B said that third-party data is valuable for enhancing the data that they hold in their organisation, while a similar proportion (56%) agreed that they would benefit from more of it.

But again, trust is crucial. You can only trust the data you’ve got if you can maintain its quality. And can you trust the supplier of the data if it’s third party data?

Buying third party data

You should always be sure to conduct thorough due diligence on a supplier before purchasing marketing data. You need to be able to trust the quality of the data – there are a number of questions you should always ask when choosing a provider (see our handy checklist here).

Permission must be accurately tracked and evidence the due diligence that was applied to it at the point of collection. This all aligns to a fundamental requirement of the Data Protection Act 2018 – privacy by design. Any credible data supplier should be able to demonstrate this level of transparency.

Keeping data clean

We can expect to see data hygiene continuing to rise to the top of the agenda this year. Businesses are recognising more and more that it is a requirement of GDPR that data must be kept up-to-date and accurate. This realisation is beginning to trickle down from the bigger players to the mid-size market and should continue to progress to smaller companies and SME’s throughout 2020.

Regardless of the size of your business, keeping data clean needn’t be a cumbersome task. Take one of our clients, Stannp, a print management provider which offers companies a fully digital, integrated solution to their direct mail needs.

As keeping data up-to-date and accurate is now law, Stannp wanted to provide its clients with the ability to clean their direct mail campaign data in realtime.

We provided them with a fully automated data cleaning solution which provides realtime access to our data cleaning products, GAS and TBR. Clients upload their data to the platform and are given the option to plug into REaDConnect before launching a campaign, delivering a bespoke data cleaning solution that is moulded to their requirements.

Research shows that the higher the quality of data an organisation holds, the more efficient and effective an organisation is, and data quality is a top priority for 41% of UK data leaders, according to a Big Data LDN report.


As the list of processes that can be automated continues to grow, automation is certainly something that will continue to be important in 2020. The prevalence of API’s isn’t a huge surprise given the efficiency, speed, accuracy and enhanced information security that automation can offer.

For companies with vast quantities of data, automation is able to alleviate the ‘heavy lifting’ involved with the management and processing that such an asset demands. Automating your data cleansing process will provide access to cleaner data, leading to increased insight, better decision-making, triggered campaigns, live personalisation and improved business planning.

In addition to improving regulatory compliance and increasing customer loyalty, automation can also provide customers with a better experience and offer brand protection. It reduces processing costs, uses less infrastructure and improves resilience, and removes or reduces manual processes and associated resource time, leaving it to be redeployed on more creative activities.

Quality data and data quality

What all of this illustrates essentially is the importance of trust and transparency, especially in 2020. If you are able to demonstrate to your customers that you adhere to the principles of both data quality and quality data, then they will be reassured that their data will be looked after according to the data protection laws, and they in turn will trust you. Let’s make this year the year of responsible marketing!