Boxes and bags that read 'Black Friday' and 'Cyber Monday' on green background

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

As the countdown to Christmas commences once again, we are nearing the now global phenomenon that is Black Friday. The introduction of deals and discounts allegedly pertaining to the occasion seems to get earlier every year – I’m fairly sure I’d already received an email offering Black Friday savings in the first week of November!?

The digital shift

It must be said, in the UK at least, that the event is considerably less stressful than it used to be – more perched casually on the sofa with a cup of tea and a laptop than fighting tooth and nail in your local Asda for a plasma TV. I’m in no way knocking the occasion, my wife and I always make the most of the offers available to get a head start on Christmas shopping. As well as some treats for myself naturally…

However, as I noted in my blog last year on the subject, the majority of retailers seem to be missing a huge opportunity where customer engagement is concerned. Rather than focusing on ensuring that offers are personalised and relevant to consumers, we receive the usual flood of generic and uninspiring emails. The antithesis of personalised marketing. This seems very confusing to me; you would think this would present an easy opportunity for retailers to demonstrate to their customers that they understand their shopping needs and are able to provide them with a bespoke experience.

Data, data everywhere…

With the wealth of data available these days there really is no excuse. Purchase history and abandoned cart information should be used effectively to ensure that the products being offered on a Black Friday email are items that the customer is actually likely to buy. For example, an email that merely advertises that there are discounts across the range is far less likely to lead to a conversion than one that points me to those boots I’ve been weighing-up buying for the past few weeks…and now they’re 30% off? Yes please!

Prime position

A few years ago, Amazon essentially introduced its own discount period that operates with a similar prospect to Black Friday – Prime Day. Numerous discounts are available for a limited window of time to members of their Prime subscription service. The event has grown in prominence since it was first introduced in 2015, and Amazon announced that this year’s event had seen higher sales than those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined!

Amazon, perhaps unsurprisingly, does seem to be differentiating in its use of personalised communications to customers. While it must be said that sometimes the suggested products are a little off the mark – just because I purchased a toilet seat from Amazon once doesn’t mean I’ll be interested in buying one every week – at least previous purchase information is being used!

On the way out?

Some are sceptical that Black Friday is becoming outdated and will soon fail to garner the interest of consumers (although last year UK shoppers spent a whopping £1.23 billion over Black Friday weekend, so that’s definitely not the case as yet!). However, if this does turn out to be the case, Amazon is ensuring that they are offering consumers a similar opportunity, while also adding extra incentive for their Prime membership.

Many brands are still rebuilding their contact lists after GDPR’s introduction last May – this makes it even more important for the engagement from this smaller pool of contacts to be high! When our inboxes are bombarded with generic offers on Friday 29th, it will be the tailored and personalised emails that really grab attention and not only encourage us to purchase – but potentially impress us enough to be loyal to this brand in the future.

Perhaps I am being too cynical – maybe I’ll be greeted by a host of highly relevant offers when I check my email come Black Friday morn… I’d love to be proved wrong!

Apteco rising star awards from 2018 and 2019 in front of REaD Group logo

REaD Group are delighted to have won Rising Star in the 2019 Apteco Partner awards – for the second year in a row!

Working closely together to deliver great customer experience and outstanding results for end user clients, the award reflects the strength of the partnership and collaboration between the two companies.

“We are very proud to be a strategic partner of Apteco and the Award represents the value we place on that partnership” commented REaD Group CEO, Jon Cano-Lopez. “It’s an exciting time for data driven marketing and we are looking forward to continuing to work with Apteco – and fully leveraging the latest developments to the platform – to help our clients achieve even better results”, he added.

The combination of our market leading data, the level of expertise in both  businesses and Apteco’s software creates a very powerful offering for our clients.

Well done to all involved – and keep up the good work.  The sky is the limit!

[To explore how REaD Group can help you optimise your data-driven marketing, contact our friendly team today]

4 loyalty cards on pink background

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

Tesco have always been ahead of the game when it comes to loyalty schemes – introducing the Clubcard back in 1995 before any other supermarket. This has always stood them in good stead when it comes to loyalty and trust with consumers. Our Retail Trend Report in 2017 found that consumers trusted Tesco ahead of any other retailer (besides Amazon…) when it came to using their personal data.

84% of consumers are more likely to choose retailers that offer customer loyalty programs. Get with the program: Perspectives on Retail Loyalty Program Participation and Perks. Nielsen, [November 2016]

Loyalty…but at a price

This week they are once again breaking new ground for supermarkets by launching the ‘Clubcard Plus’ – an exclusive subscription offering perks such as discounted shopping – all for a monthly cost of £7.99. Only time will tell whether this move pays off. It would seem to be a direct response to Amazon’s Prime service (even the monthly cost is the same!) as Tesco makes a bid to increase its customer loyalty. Research in the US recently found that Prime members were 8 times less likely to shop elsewhere in a session – that’s impressive!

However, the actual benefits on offer do seem somewhat underwhelming to say the least. The 10% discount off two shops up to £200 sounds good in theory, but in practice in order to break even you would need to spend at least £80 on your groceries every month. Tesco Finest Croquembouche anyone? That said, Christmas is fast approaching and families especially are regularly spending more than usual on shopping in the lead-up. But will subscriptions carry over once the festivities have ended? The double data offering for Tesco Mobile users equally isn’t that appealing – there are many cheap pay-as-you-go deals available now offering a large data allowance for a small monthly fee.

Waste not want not

The assumption from Tesco’s perspective may be that by offering this service, consumers will feel more obliged to shop with them as they are paying for it and therefore don’t want to waste it. A similar mentality to many gym users the world over…though many of us still don’t go! It is a widely accepted stat that it is cheaper to retain customers than it is to acquire them, and as a strategy focusing on retention it makes perfect sense. The real question will be – is the incentive strong enough to increase loyalty?

The data that such loyalty schemes provide can be an immensely useful asset in itself. Knowing that an individual is more likely to buy pizzas from you on a certain night of the week or the type of chocolate they frequently buy could be invaluable from a marketing perspective. It’s Tuesday at 5pm, the hanger has hit, all thoughts of cooking are out the window – email from Tesco: Two ham and pineapple (this is purely theoretical) pizzas for £5 tonight! Job done.

Getting Personal  

Consumers now recognise the value of personalisation and appreciate receiving deals that have been intelligently tailored to their shopping habits. Retailers therefore need to ensure they are segmenting their customer data and analysing it to make sure they are building and engendering trust and anticipating customers’ needs.

Brands must demonstrate through these retail loyalty schemes that customers that consent to share their data stand to be rewarded for their loyalty and custom. And for those brands with long standing schemes already in place – now is not the time to abandon them! They’re a key means of understanding customer habits and maintaining valuable patrons.

Loyalty schemes have become an expected norm, and retailers are now feeling the need to differentiate and experiment. Where Tesco’s new loyalty subscription is concerned, as long as consumers feel adequately rewarded and incentivised to keep a running subscription – they might be on to a winner.

cartoon man hugging a giant red heart that says 'Miss you already'

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

We are being encouraged more and more to consider switching – our insurance policies, banks, mobile providers, our tea bags and the milk we make the tea with. The government is putting rules in place to make it easier and new companies are appearing every day to help us compare prices and choose a new provider.

For those providers we are leaving this means having to let the customer go in a dignified manner and in a way that ensures they might consider you when the next switch happens.

My recent switch

We have very recently, and somewhat reluctantly, switched broadband provider. My wife and I live in the countryside. We have been with EE for a number of years and have always struggled with bandwidth.  We are promised 10Mb/sec but rarely get close to 5. To be fair to EE we have tried a number of providers and always had the same issue. For you kids living in London or Manchester, imagine having to choose Netflix or Instagram, Amazon Prime or Youtube. Well, that’s us.  If we second screen we lose the first one.  We still occasionally see the buffering %!

However, joy is unbounded.  Fibre optic broadband has come to the neighbourhood. The downside; you can only buy it from BT. And we pretty much hate BT.  We have been a customer before and their customer service last time was awful, trying to communicate with them – ironically – is pretty impossible and something always goes wrong in the transfer.  When we moved into our house, they cut our neighbours phone line off, on Christmas Eve, in a household with 4 boys. We were not popular!

After some annoying phone calls and much soul-searching we decided to switch. And it has gone pretty well, the difference in what we can do is incredible (Facebook and download music at the same time!) and we have only had one minor problem – don’t try calling us at home at the moment is all I will say.

What not to do

However, this is not a tale about BT, this is about EE. Obviously they got notified about the change with a month’s notice more or less as we had to get the fibre optic cable brought to the house. So they had plenty of time to get in touch and see what they could do. They can’t currently offer the same option so we were always going to move. However, we would have gone back as soon as our contract is over and they can provide the same service.  And then this arrived:

 

It’s a nice enough letter, and a pretty good offer. Sadly, the end date to the offer was 4 days before the letter was sent. What happens in companies for this sort of thing to happen? And do they even think about the implications?  Instead of leaving EE with a wistful goodbye and a hope of re-uniting in the future I now think of them as a bit of a joke and wonder if they are inept.  Doing nothing would have been better than doing something in this case.

Rise of the challenger brands

From the most recent DMA research on switching we see a lot of customers moving from the traditional providers in supermarkets, banks and mobile providers. In fact, in general, the newer providers are net increasing while the more established brands are net decreasing.

People will always want to try the new kid on the block; the new brand or the new product. It doesn’t always work though, and when things go wrong, returning to the safety of a well-known brand who are reliable and can be trusted is the natural outcome. The big banks might be missing out to customers moving to Starling or Monzo but if something goes wrong, with the company or the service, they will be looking to move again and bigger sometimes does look better.

Sometimes bye is best

Of course, for some customers, it might be best to let them go. The serial switchers who are draining cost; the constant contactors who cost us in service fees; the buy two and return one types who are always marginal.  Understanding current and future value clearly helps us decide where to spend our retention budgets and also who to not worry too much about them leaving.

But for others, we really want them to come back.  However, making that decision may well depend on how well they have been treated when they moved. My mum always used to say “never burn bridges” and that is as true for brands as it is in life. A “sorry to see you go, we will be glad to welcome you back and here is an offer open for a couple of years” message might not seem the best thing when someone is leaving but separating on good terms is often as good for the brand as it is for the consumer.

 

Want to know more about how to effectively engage with your customers? Contact us today

cartoon man wearing marigolds with bucket of cleaning products with title 'Data Quality: Sex appeal isn't everything'

By Chris Turner, Head of REaDConnect, REaD Group

Data Quality isn’t sexy. I’m under no illusions – and I won’t attempt to convince anyone otherwise! In the data world it has always been overshadowed by the much more exciting work conducted by insight and data analytics teams. Personally, when I think of ‘data scientists’ I picture individuals with futuristic-looking headwear concocting miraculous solutions and shouting ‘Eureka!’.

However, by ignoring the first step of ensuring that your data is up to date and accurate you impact on the success and profitability achieved by these subsequent (albeit more glamorous) data projects. No longer something to be put off or overlooked – data quality should be championed and recognised as the bedrock to campaign success!

As well as being fundamental to campaign performance, it is crucially now law to keep data up-to-date and accurate! Article 5.1d of the GDPR clearly states that:

personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; 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.

Great Expectations

Since the Regulation’s implementation and the ICO’s ‘Your Data Matters’ campaign (designed to educate the public about its rights under GDPR), consumer expectations around data quality have never been higher.

Research finds that 72% of consumers expect companies that hold their data should get it right every time or most of the time. But what they actually experience is a different story, with almost half of consumers stating that companies get their data wrong sometimes or more often than not. [GDPR Impact Series 2018: Accuracy and Relevancy]

Brand damage

There is also the potential for costly brand damage to consider. An individual who has recently moved address and is still receiving the mail of the previous occupant will most likely be less than impressed and less likely to use the brand who is sending them inaccurate mailings. Furthermore, a bereaved family who are still receiving mailing addressed to a deceased relative will be caused unnecessary distress and anguish.

Recent research by dun&bradstreet finds that one in five (19%) businesses have lost a customer due to incomplete or inaccurate data. [The Past, Present and Future of Data, 2019]

No longer a burden!

The important thing to remember is that data quality should be a priority for all companies, not just larger business. While in the past data cleaning often involved a lot of manual processes that took up a lot of time and resources, the entire process can now be automated. Easy to implement, cost-effective solutions that are delivered in real-time are now available, such as REaD Group’s REaDConnect.

25% of businesses say that accessing accurate data is a problem

The reasons for general data hygiene have never changed, and it is high time that businesses realised their obligation to comply with GDPR. More than this, however, this all ties into the underlying principle of the new Regulation: putting the customer first. It may not be sexy; it may not be glamorous – but data quality should now be top of the agenda. Clean your data and the rest will follow.

 

Contact us today for your free data quality consultation!