CALM - The Campaigning Against Living Miserably logo

By Alice Miller, Account Manager at REaD Group

One of the most inspiring things about working for REaD Group is our fundraising activity and commitment to a new charity every year. We select a charity that has been nominated by a member of staff, provide them with pro bono marketing services and spend the year trying to raise as much money as we can!

Last year we raised over £12,000 (including Gift Aid) for MS Society, thanks to a year packed with sponsored waxing, quizzes, bake-offs and other fun events – and especially due to some intrepid employees trekking 10 peaks in 10 hours in the Lake District! The Charity of the Year gives us a chance to come together as a team and raise much needed funds for causes where every little really does make a big difference.

This year, I nominated CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably. CALM is a national, male suicide charity. It focuses specifically on men as 76% of all suicides are male, and suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45.

Anyone who knows me will be aware that I’m particularly supportive of mental health campaigns. However, the work that CALM do is especially close to my heart as I’ve lost two male friends to suicide in the last few years. It is difficult and tragic to see anyone battling with mental health issues, but it’s important to remember how far-reaching its impact can be – suicide affects families, friends and communities too.

We were fortunate enough to be visited this week by one of CALM’s fundraising officers, Emily, who came into the office to talk to us about the fantastic work that CALM does:

  • Providing frontline services for men, including a free and confidential helpline and webchat
  • Promoting cultural and societal change, enabling conversations and encouraging everyone to speak out about their mental health experiences
  • Campaigning for better understanding of the causes of suicide and its prevention.

I think we all left the talk feeling incredibly moved – I spotted more than one person who had ‘something in their eye’ – and inspired to get stuck in to some fundraising and smash our target from last year!

To help kick things off this year I’ll be running the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October. If you haven’t met me, I am not a runner (at the start of the year I found it difficult to run for a bus!) But my running bug seems to be infectious, as 22 members of staff have signed up to run the Asics London 10k in July – we’ll keep you updated throughout the year with our progress! Please give generously if you can and help us raise money for this incredible charity!

Any donations are hugely appreciated and regular updates on our fundraising activity can be found on our JustGiving page.

Find out more about the great work that CALM do here!

robot dancing with disco ball , title - The Future is Now?

By Scott Logie, Chair of the DMA Customer Engagement Committee and MD, Insight at REaD Group

I recently had the privilege to chair the DMA’s Future of Customer Engagement event in Bristol. I lived in Bristol for nearly 10 years, loved the city and still do. It’s a vibrant, cultural hub with great art galleries, restaurants and gig venues. It also has a very active marketing community and that was evident both in terms of the 60 plus people who came along and also the wide range of speakers at the event itself.

The event was built around some research we have done as the Customer Engagement Committee. We’ve done a lot of research over the last few years and in all the studies have taken some time to focus on what the likely future trends are in terms of areas that consumers would like to use to engage with brands. Tim Bond, from the DMA research team picked out 4 key trends:

Chatbots – those virtual assistants who help you on-line. One of the key stats that Tim shared was that men were more likely to want to engage with chatbots than women (36% v 26%). As a middle-aged man, this didn’t surprise me, anything to avoid talking to real people. The sooner these are used to replace doctors, customer support teams and dental nurses the better!

Voice – generally seen as Alexa or Siri but really any voice activated device at home or on the move. The key reason given for using voice commands was convenience which makes sense. My worry here is how freedom of choice is retained as more and more decisions are left to devices to make.

Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality – using devices to bring locations or products alive. This is clearly one of the most exciting aspects to consider when looking at any future trends. Something we all (‘we’ two thirds of us) express interest in but the challenge here is how you move from something that is a gimmick to something that adds value.

Gamification – using competition, goals and targets to incentivise customers to change behaviour. As a Fitbit obsessive I really get this but haven’t linked any of my goals to a product yet. There are insurance companies, and banks as well, giving rewards to customers who can prove behaviour change – live healthy and pay less for insurance – why not!

In addition to the research we had a panel discussion around these four topics that drew out lots of areas for discussion, but for me the key point was that while tech is maybe driving some of the change we are seeing, tech alone is not the answer. This then brought us back to one of the main principles of the whole Customer Engagement campaign – to show that the brands that will win in terms of building long term loyal relationships will combine tech, data and creativity to achieve this.

The next three sessions were really testament to this. First of all, Ian Hughes from Consumer Intelligence showed how insurance companies from around the world are, right now, breaking down barriers and allowing consumers to buy insurance in ways that suit them. The main driver for this is putting the customer in control – so no more need to buy a large one-off insurance policy for your car when you only use it 3 hours a week; or using life insurance to purchase policies that can provide a real-life event for those left behind rather than just paying for the funeral. Interestingly, most of the innovation was being driven from outside of Europe and North America.

Neil Mackin from Amazon Web Services then presented on two topics. The first centred around how AI and Machine learning are impacting on lots of areas within Amazon – from distribution and warehousing to recommendation engines and next best offers. The second was what Amazon are doing to make a lot of the algorithms they develop available for use by brands, universities and just ordinary people. They are often derided as being the example of all that is bad with online retailing, killing our high street. However, the impression I was left with was one of a book retailer becoming a tech giant and using the work they do responsibly and sharing the learning.

The fun and informative final presentation was from Lovehoney, the UK’s largest on-line retailer for sex toys and lingerie. They are a real South West success story and grew out of observations made by marketers on what products were going to sell in the future and, guess what, sex sells! In addition to being probably the only presentation I have sat through where a full range of wild and unmentionable *ahem* toys were discussed repeatedly, the thrust of the session was really how well structured Lovehoney are around the customer – from staff training, product reviews, product testing, email comms and on-line interaction they showed how the customer is key to everything that they do.

In many ways that summed up for me the key takeaway from the really excellent afternoon, which is that all the tech in the world is useless unless you know the customer, know what they are like, what they want and then provide that to them in the most convenient way possible. As the world changes and what we see as traditional marketing dies away, the winners will be the brands, and the suppliers and agencies that support them, who really take that lesson to heart. Being personal is knowing the end customer, and ensuring the engagement matches their preferences using whatever technology and content that is available to do so.

REaD Group CEO, Jon Cano-Lopez, with DataIQ100 logo

We are delighted that REaD Group CEO, Jon Cano-Lopez, has been confirmed as a member of the 2019 DataIQ 100 which profiles the most influential people in the data industry.

”I am delighted to be recognised in the 2019 DataIQ100. It is an honour to be associated with such an impressive list of talented and influential data professionals.”

With an impressive CV spanning more than 25 years – including leading some of the UK’s largest data companies – Claritas, Altwood Systems, Acxiom, Ai Data Intelligence, Communisis and currently and now, as CEO of REaD Group – Jon has built a reputation for driving innovation and success in data communications.

Jon joined REaD Group in 2014, as part of the company’s exponential growth and is responsible for the strategic direction and continued success of the business – including adding some top brands to its A-list client base.

Integral to this strategy is his belief that data sits at the heart of everything – and understanding and interpreting that data is key to any brand’s success.

In addition to building on REaD Group’s position as market leader in data cleaning and quality, he has been instrumental in developing the company’s service offerings – including an enviable insight capability and winning contracts for the delivery of Single Customer View solutions, reflecting a real benchmark for REaD Group.

A passionate advocate of utilising technology to drive innovation and deliver optimum results for clients – Jon is the driving force behind the implementation of Data as a Service (DaaS) at REaD Group.  As well as raising the bar for data quality and provision in the industry, the GDPR’s implementation last year presented significant complexities in having 3rd party data processors – and DaaS provides an elegant and equitable solution to that challenge.

Jon has been an authoritative contributor to the direct marketing industry throughout his career holding positions on DMA’s Data Council, various working parties and the Institute of Direct Marketing Data Council.  A genuine industry influencer, he is sought after as a media commentator and a trusted advisor on data marketing, privacy, compliance and the GDPR.

Congratulation to Jon for this much deserved recognition!