By Jon Cano-Lopez

So, it is 184 days – or six months if you prefer – since The General Data Protection Regulation – aka GDPR – became enforceable.

In the run up to the enforcement date – and in the months following – there has continued to be a huge amount of uncertainty and misinformation around GDPR and in some cases some down-right panic mongering.  The avalanche of re-permissioning messages in the weeks preceding May 25th was testament to a prevalence of some database damaging advice.

One data protection lawyer we know likened it to watching lemmings throwing themselves off a cliff!

However, despite the hysteria and here-say the threatened “GDPR data apocalypse” has not materialised.  And as we reflect on 2018 and the period since “GDPR day” here are some reasons to be cheerful…

Embracing the spirit of GDPR

REaD Group have been consistent in our view that GDPR is a good thing for consumers – and for business.

And six months on, our view has not changed.  In fact, we are even more confident that embracing the principles of the GDPR will only enhance direct marketing – increasing transparency and trust and leading to more positive, long term and profitable relationships between consumers and brands.

The Regulations are not about catching out businesses (who are doing the right thing!).  They are about the enforcement of practices that should be in place anyway.  Keeping your customers and their rights, privacy and preferences at the heart of your business and being transparent in how you are processing personal data will not only help to protect you from the risk of fines but also enhance your brand reputation, value and relationships.  Ultimately, if you are doing things right, it will be reflected in your bottom line.

The Data Economy is thriving

And although the reference to data being the “new oil” has been somewhat over-used, there is truth in the concept.  Projections from European Data Market Study for the growth of data economy are extremely positive, with the value of the data economy in Europe projected to be worth €739 billion by 2020.

 

The rise of the CDO!

Gartner have predicted that through 2019, 90% of large organizations will have hired a CDO.

Another indicator of the growing importance of data is the rise of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) – elevating data strategy to Board level.  The appointment of a CDO in many organisations – and across diverse industries – indicates a growing recognition of data as a driver of value and competitive advantage.  Data driven decisioning is increasingly becoming a business imperative.

Results from the latest IPA Bellwether Report also provide cause for cautious optimism, with total marketing budgets revised higher during the third quarter of 2018, extending the current period of growth to six years.

After an initial period of post-GDPR caution and inertia, there has been some signs of resurgence for direct marketing, with many businesses successfully utilising third party data and direct mail for acquisition marketing campaigns under the Legitimate Interest basis.

The industry view is also optimistic. In independently conducted research, over 78% of direct brands asked have projected equivalent or an increase in spend on data driven marketing.

Third party data – use it responsibly and reap the rewards

Well, we have been saying this for some time, but to borrow from the recently published DMA advice: Using third party data under the GDPR.   

There is nothing in the GDPR that prohibits the use of third-party data provided that it is undertaken in the right way, with the appropriate safe guards.”

The message is clear – and provides much needed clarity for marketers.   The direct marketing industry should have the confidence and conviction to continue to use responsibly sourced and permissioned third party data to optimise the quality and value of their data and data strategy.

Plus, new ways of utilising open source data have provided more opportunities to target direct marketing to addresses – using postcode level data to send partiality addressed mail.

GDPR data quality obligations – don’t bury your head in the sand!

There is a growing realisation that the data quality obligations introduced by GDPR cannot be ignored.  Article 5.1 (d) is clear – reasonable and demonstrable efforts must be made to keep all personal data held and processed by a business clean and up to date -or deleted.

Our independent survey indicated those who utilise data quality services appreciate “not having to worry about the accuracy of contact lists when launching marketing campaigns”.

And data quality is now being seen as a ‘must do’ to ensure compliance with GDPR, minimise wasted communications and limit potential reputational damage.

Rapid innovation in technology is also impacting positively on data driven marketing – with developments in DaaS, AI and machine learning delivering even greater opportunities for data optimisation, enrichment and real-time interaction.

Key take aways from the last six months?  Businesses and marketers should see GDPR as an opportunity to be more responsible and accountable, to get their data and data strategy in order – get it right and the future is bright!

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

For most of us in the UK, we think that Black Friday was invented by Amazon but that’s not actually true.  Police in Philadelphia first used the term “Black Friday” in the 1950s when large crowds of tourists and shoppers came to the city the day after Thanksgiving, creating chaos, traffic problems and looting opportunities.

The term soon grew throughout the U.S. and today it commonly marks the start of the Christmas season, where shops compete to offer the best deals.

The concept was first brought over to the UK in 2010 when Amazon promoted a range of discounts and deals to consumers – and we were hooked!  Then in 2013, Asda held its own Black Friday sale which turned into mayhem, making national headlines as customers physically fought for flat-screen televisions. Since then the sales have grown year on year, although much of the shopping is now done online and is more of a weekend than a day, and has extended to almost every retailer and across different sectors.

In our house, the phrase “let’s see what we can get on Black Friday” delays any thoughts on Christmas shopping for at least a short period of time.

From a Customer Engagement perspective, I always find Black Friday a bit disappointing and this year was no exception.  Every year I hope to see more personal engagement, more creativity and more relevance.  In the year of GDPR when brands’ email lists have been decimated (using the literal meaning here) I had hoped that this would be the time to use smaller lists to build bigger relationships.  I asked around a few friends and everyone felt the same; not very much of the messaging sent out felt that it was personal.

In general, the emails were all pretty much the same:  We have a Black Friday sale, we have some offers and some might be interesting to you.   For example, this one from Jones Bootmakers, someone I have bought from in the past has no products I have browsed, no styles I might like, in fact not even something that shows I’m a man (no jokes please).  They do get time to make sure I know that it is only selected lines though!

Not surprisingly (maybe) Amazon got it right.  They actually targeted based on what I’d bought, and the email body contained books I had browsed but not purchased.  Even if the image was a bit generic (I promise I have never thought to buy a Call The Midwife book).

Am I missing something, surely the customers that retailers have now are the people who said they wanted to still be contacted?  And surely, they are also the people who have either bought, browsed or given an indication of interest in certain products?  This generates really useful data and that data should then be getting used in these sorts of communications.

This is it, the biggest sale day of the year and yet we send generic emails with generic content.  As a data marketer I feel disappointed not just in the brands but also in my industry.  After all this time we are still failing to get the basics of personalisation right most of the time.  Is this down to lack of data being made available?  Or is it a lack of imagination in using it?  Either way we must do better.

So, a target is set: For next year’s Black Friday to get at least one email in my inbox, personalised to me, from a brand that I work with, who are using data well.  See you then!

Speedometer on a blue background with REaD Group's data as a service logo

‘In a fast-paced world, today’s popular brand could be tomorrow’s trivia question.’ – The words of late PepsiCo Chairman, D. Wayne Colloway, have never been more relevant. For many businesses, the need to stay on the pulse and react to unforeseen or last-minute changes is crucial. Missing a beat can be very costly.

In an ideal world, every campaign would be meticulously planned and crafted, with a contact list that had been equally scrutinised with a fine-tooth comb. Sadly, very few are afforded such luxuries!

Undoubtedly, the level of reactivity required can alter drastically depending on the nature of a business. In some instances, we may be talking about a number of weeks, but sometimes it may be a matter of days, or even hours!

If we take, for example, the charity sector, and more specifically Disaster Relief Charities, it is imperative that the turnaround on campaigns is as fast as can be achieved. When funds are desperately needed, and lives are at stake, speed is everything.

The recent earthquake and tsunami that hit Indonesia left hundreds of thousands of survivors in urgent need of food, water and shelter. As soon as the news broke, many Disaster Relief Charities would have immediately begun putting together lists of supporters to appeal to for donations.

However, with the major overhaul in data protection law in May of this year (GDPR) there are considerations that must be taken in relation to the data being used for these campaigns. In accordance with article 5(1)d of the GDPR:

every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay.’

This potentially makes things difficult when putting campaign lists together when time is of the essence. If you need to send out a campaign urgently, you can’t afford to waste time waiting for an ad hoc data clean to be completed. This can often take up to 2-3 working days at which point the initiative has been lost and response rates can be lower.

Putting aside the risk of fines that might be incurred from contacting goneaway or deceased contacts under GDPR, a far more serious and harmful prospect is that of costly reputation and brand damage.

In response to these challenges, REaD Group have developed Data as a Service (DaaS) – a new real-time delivery model that provides access to REaD Group’s market leading data cleaning solutions, on demand. As data is cleaned in real-time, you can rest assured that data is accurate, up-to-date and campaign-ready at a moment’s notice.

Ensuring that campaign data is accurate and up-to-date is now required by law, but this doesn’t have to restrict reactivity when time is short. Whether you’re a disaster relief Charity responding to a recent event or disaster, a travel company capitalising on current weather conditions or a retailer making the most of current affairs – there is a need. A need for speed.

 

Contact us today if you’d like to know more about DaaS!

The REaD Group Team accepting the Apteco Rising Star Award 2018

We were absolutely delighted to be acknowledged as Rising Star 2018 at the Apteco Partner of the Year Awards last night.

Winning this Award is the culmination of more than two years of innovation and endeavor at REaD Group and reflects a true team effort.

Having been one of the industries leading data providers for more than 25 years, adding to our service offering to help clients to maximise the effectiveness of data and how it is used, was a natural next step in the evolution of the business.

As a result we made the strategic decision to increase our capability and client base. We recruited a talented solutions team,  invested in our technical stack, defined a series of key objectives and focused our efforts in achieving them.

This Award is the culmination of more than two years of strategic endeavour at REaD Group and reflects the true team effort.

REaD Group Chairman and Founder, Mark Roy is extremely proud of the achievement, commenting : “The real triumph is in how far we have come in the last two years.  The solutions reflected by this award, that are delivering so much value to our clients, are a fantastic achievement for REaD Group – well done team!”

To be recognised as their fastest growing partner by Apteco is a credit to everyone involved and firmly establishes REaD Group as a trusted partner for the delivery of complex engagement solutions.

Much credit and congratulations to everyone involved!

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

The generally accepted wisdom is that the costs associated with repeat business are, for the most part, significantly lower than acquiring new business. Research suggests that 70% of companies say it’s cheaper to retain a customer than acquire one, while others have suggested that the cost of acquiring a new customer can be as much as seven (or is it four, five, six or 10?) times more expensive. None of this is new or shocking information and whatever the multiple, it has been shown to be true over many years and across many companies.

So why then do many brands continue to charge existing customers more for their products than they charge new customers? Research from Which? and shared by the BBC suggests that on average existing customers pay £70 more than new customers for Home Insurance. In addition, for combined insurance, the average premium paid for a policy 20 or more years old was £396 per year, compared with the £195 new customers paid.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45324752

I have recently had two experiences of this. First, when renewing car insurance for my wife and myself – we got quotes from our existing provider that had increased substantially from last year.  We checked on a friendly meerkat site and saw we could move and save a lot of money.  One call to the provider and they moved the price close enough for us to agree to stay.

We then had to renew the pet insurance on our large cat and dog collection. After many years of simply renewing we looked around and found better cover for a lower price from a very well-known provider. Half the cost in fact. We called again, and this time were offered only 20% reduction on the quote. They seemed genuinely shocked that we declined.

From experience, and this is not a defence by any means, merely an attempt to understand, there are a number of reasons this can happen. For example, the cost to acquire a new customer, along with lower rates to attract this new business, often means that the cost has to increase in year 2 to make some profit. Or maybe internal models show that these customers are loss making due to claims, so they force the second-year costs up to cover the claims made by the cohort they belong to. Or maybe the companies just think we are a bit lazy (after all around 70% of people still don’t move their insurance after year 1) and that we won’t notice.

No matter how we cut this, there is a problem. All of these approaches are company centric, not customer centric. As many brands and sectors have realised, focussing on existing customers can be very valuable.

Digitally native businesses, for example, value not only their customers but the data they have on those customers. Similarly, large retailers have invested heavily in loyalty schemes, in Sainsbury’s case literally in buying Nectar. This demonstrates investment in existing customers. They are not ignoring the acquisition of new customers but know that there is a balance to be struck.

That’s not to say that every customer is valuable, or indeed that every customer should be retained. Maybe my current car and pet insurers simply decided I was not worth keeping and tried to price me out of their brand but, in all honesty, given how they folded like a linen suit on the underground this July, I doubt that to be true. I think it’s more likely the case that those companies still have an “acquire at any cost” mentality that means the existing customer gets less attention.

It’s great to see that Which? are taking up the fight and that the regulators are going to look at this but surely the economics suggest that this needs to be looked at and rectified by the brands themselves. After all, it’s four, five, six, seven or ten times cheaper to retain a customer than acquire a new one.

by Jon Cano-Lopez, CEO at REaD Group

In response to the DMA Advice: Using third party data under the GDPR

After almost six month  since the enforcement date for the GDPR, we welcome the publication of this much needed advice from the DMA.

The clarity it provides on the use of third party data should dispel some of the hysteria and business damaging inertia caused by the ambiguous messages and conflicting advice that has abounded before and since the GDPR became enforceable in May this year.

The advice reflects a strong consensus of view from the DMA and a panel of highly experienced data industry practitioners and subject matter experts which provides further weight and reassurance to the content.

At REaD Group we have been very clear and consistent in our views on the value of the responsible use of third party data and this advice paper reinforces what we have been saying all along.

Ultimately, a responsible and common sense attitude to marketing is what is required.  If processed with respect to consumers’ interests and privacy and according to the obligations of the GDPR (appropriate LIAs etc), third party data delivers huge benefits to – and in the interests of – consumers and society.

Recent campaigns using our GDPR ready database have delivered extremely positive levels of engagement and ROI for our clients. Consumers are responsive to direct marketing IF the campaigns are targeted, relevant, timely and non intrusive.

Using the right third party data – in the right way – does work!

The direct marketing industry should have the confidence and conviction to continue to use responsibly sourced and permissioned third party data to optimise the quality and value of their data and data strategy.  As the DMA reiterates: there is nothing in the GDPR that prohibits the use of third party data provided that it is undertaken in the right way, with the appropriate safeguards. 

My key take-away from this advice?  Time for marketers to get off the fence and get marketing!  

Read the full DMA advice document here

Find out about our GDPR ready data