”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!
REaD Group are delighted to have been announced as a finalist for the CIM Marketing Excellence Awards 2019! In partnership with Ageas Direct, we have been shortlisted in the Best Use of Data and Insight category. The award recognises the intelligent use of data to create compelling insights, resulting in an improved product or customer experience.
The CIM Marketing Excellence Awards identify and celebrate outstanding marketing by organisations, individuals and teams. Now in their tenth year, these awards continue to recognise that high standards of quality and integrity are vital to the success of marketing, as well as rewarding the innovation delivered by marketers who are at the cutting-edge of their profession.
Using data and insight intelligently to better understand your customers should be at the forefront of every marketer’s mind. With the wealth of data available it makes perfect sense to utilise such an invaluable asset to improve personalisation and customer experience (and drive competitive advantage!) – provided that this data is used responsibly.
We’re looking forward to awards night on 11th April – see you there!
Get in touch for more information on our engagement services
By Scott Logie, Chair of the DMA Customer Engagement Committee and MD, Insight at REaD Group
The DMA recently published its findings from their research into marketer’s attitudes towards customer engagement (and how this compares to the perceptions of consumers). It has been fascinating to see where opinions differ in relation to brand’s engagement strategies and what genuinely engages consumers. A classic case of expectation vs reality.
From the consumer side, we have been conducting surveys since 2016 to discover how they feel about the attempts of brands to engage them, encourage them to purchase and entice them to come back!
The research reveals that marketers may be mistakenly over-valuing certain channels for engagement, such as social media, and overlooking more conventional channels that customers prefer. Additionally, while offers and price are still important, too much focus is placed on them when there are even more effective methods for gaining customer loyalty and attention.
Email and social media dominate customer engagement: 68% of marketers use email for customer engagement and 62% use social. Only 30% use post and only 17% use messenger apps.
As a prime example – supermarkets are beginning to discuss reducing the variety and selection of products available on shelves, and we are approaching a stage where technology might soon be making these decisions! However, consumers explicitly highlight ‘choice’ as being integral to their custom.
On the other hand, brands seem to be focusing their efforts on concepts such as portraying a ‘cool’ image and supporting personal development…which consumers aren’t overly fussed about. Unsurprisingly what customers are really looking for is functionality, whether that be for the product or the service being provided.
We also asked marketers which brands they believe have winning customer engagement strategies. Who came out on top? You guessed it – the omnipresent, inescapable Amazon! Nevertheless, brands seem to be underestimating the effect that the brand has had on consumers and the level of expectation it has created.
The Amazon effect is more pronounced than expected: 10% of marketers chose Amazon as the most engaging brand of the last 12 months, but the ecommerce company was selected by 14% of consumers. M&S, John Lewis and Sainsbury’s (all 4%) also fared well among consumers.
When considering acquisition and retention campaigns we addressed the key differences between them and how consumers and marketers might consider them to be successful. Once again, marketing communications seem to be mainly focused on brand awareness, whereas customers really want more and clearer information.
Engage your customers well and they will be loyal. However, those returning customers will then want to be rewarded, and this research has flagged that there are still a surprising number of brands ignoring loyalty programmes and the opportunity for additional engagement they provide.
Loyalty programmes are not universally offered: Just 49% of organisations currently offer loyalty programmes, despite 70% of marketers feeling customers enjoy and value rewards offered by such schemes. Again, consumers want more than points and discounts to feel they truly valued.
All in all, the survey provides some great insights into the current state of customer engagement and the challenges brands face to close this gap between their perception of what their customers want and what they actually want. While there is nothing wrong with making eye-catching communications, brands must not lose sight of the bigger picture and should asses their efforts today and strive for greater engagement tomorrow!
DMA members can read the full report here
By Andy Bridges, Data Quality and Governance Manager at REaD Group
Why should you treat your passwords like your underwear?
It’s an odd comparison, but it’s simple really:
- You wouldn’t leave your Y-Fronts lying around for just anyone to find
- You certainly shouldn’t share them with others!
- And you change them on a regular basis (one would hope…)
Contrary to popular belief, human error and accidental loss are still the biggest contributors to data breaches in the UK – rather than attacks by cyber criminals. While it is perhaps unrealistic to expect people to change their passwords as frequently as their undergarments, good password management is incredibly important to information security. A simple 7-character password could take a hacker only 0.29 milliseconds to decipher, however, increasing this to 12 or more character will increase the potential hacking time to centuries rather than seconds.
Research conducted by the risk mitigation firm, Kroll, at the end of 2018 found that the number of data breach reports received by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has increased by 75% in the last two years. This isn’t necessarily indicative of more breaches, but more likely an increase in transparency as a result of GDPR. It was not previously compulsory to report a data breach, but the new data regulation requires that all companies must report a breach to the ICO within 72 hours.
Above all else, data security should now be a COMPANYWIDE responsibility. It does not rest solely on the shoulders of IT and compliance departments, but with everyone working within a business. Every effort should be made to incorporate information security into office culture so that it becomes second nature.
Embed into Company Culture
Staff should receive regular training to ensure that everyone understands best practice in the workplace. Company HR policy should also be altered to reflect the fact that responsibility lies with all employees to instigate better behaviour.
Everyone in the business should be on the lookout for potential threats to information security, such as leaving computer screens unlocked and leaving confidential paperwork unattended, and should be encouraged to self-police. Implementing a clean desk policy is good practice for safeguarding confidential information.
Companies need to better understand what information they have in order to protect that information. As well as ensuring that data is clean, viable and that all relevant permissions and consent are held for the data, companies must also ensure that the appropriate data protection and information security practices are in place. It states in Recital (100) of the GDPR that:
‘In order to enhance transparency and compliance with this Regulation, the establishment of certification mechanisms and data protection seals and marks should be encouraged, allowing data subjects to quickly assess the level of data protection of relevant products and services.’
Essentially these practices are entrenched in GDPR under Article 25 – ‘Privacy by Design’ and ‘Privacy by Default’. These concepts are by no means new, but are instrumental in incorporating information security into business culture.
Privacy by Design means businesses need to consider privacy at the initial design stages and throughout the development process of any new products, processes or services that involve processing personal data.
Privacy by Default means that when a system or service includes choices for the individual on how much personal data he/she shares with others, the default settings should be the most privacy friendly ones.
GDPR has presented a great opportunity for UK businesses to step up their data protection strategies and better protect themselves against data breaches. The regulation stipulates that companies must be more rigorous in their approach to collecting, storing and using customer data – which should correspondingly see a vast reduction in accidental loss. This increased transparency should ultimately result in more trusting and loyal consumers.
The more businesses understand their obligations and ensure they have implemented appropriate data protection strategies, the sooner we will see a significant reduction in the number of data breaches.
As the memories of Christmas overindulgence and lethargic bliss begin to fade, we must begrudgingly turn our attention to the new year. Back to business. While the usual resolutions of healthier eating and gym memberships may, in some cases, not last till the end of the month, there is a certain resolution we recommend you make in 2019…and stick to! Quite simply – CLEAN YOUR DATA.
Data is the cornerstone to any campaign. By using poor quality data, you immediately put yourself at a disadvantage and this will have a knock-on effect to the rest of your marketing endeavours. Ensuring your data is clean and accurate from the start will provide the best foundation for all subsequent activity.
Not Just Good Sense, But Law!
One of the key requirements of last year’s new data regulation (GDPR) is that inaccurate data must be rectified and cleaned without delay – or deleted (Article 5(1)d). The primary focus for many companies in the lead up to GDPR’s implementation was understanding the legal bases for processing data, with the majority concentrating on consent. However, it has been very encouraging to see more and more businesses acknowledging their obligation to data accuracy.
We have it on good authority from some of the UK’s leading retail brands that data quality is high on the agenda for 2019:
‘‘to ensure we hold the most accurate and up to date customer data, as well as continuing to fulfil our obligations under GDPR and relevant mailing requirements.’’
Customer trust can be very difficult to cultivate. With a number of scandals surrounding data occurring last year this is more true now than ever. Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the data they share, and increasingly savvy when it comes to data protection law and their rights. In research conducted by REaD Group last year we found that more than 70% of consumers expect their data to be accurate [Source: Accuracy and Relevance – GDPR Impact Series 2018]. The tolerance for companies getting it wrong is decreasing all the time.
The risks of brand damage incurred from using poor quality data are huge. In the age of social media, headlines are no longer necessary for news to go viral – anyone with a Twitter account can now wreak untold damage with 280 words and a well-placed hashtag!
More than the prospect of brand damage, companies now have a duty to consumers to be transparent and responsible when handling their data. This is, after all, why GDPR was introduced. This responsibility extends to ensuring that data used for campaigns is accurate.
Unnecessary distress and anguish is caused by continuing to contact deceased individuals in your database – and will certainly make most people think twice about continuing to use your brand in future. Many consumers now consider it a given that companies make the effort to keep track of relocations and goneaways.
Unlike dragging yourself out of bed at silly o’clock for that early morning run or eating that quinoa salad (while your colleague demolishes that burger and chips) – data quality doesn’t have to be a struggle! With established and trusted data quality services such as GAS, TBR and GAS Reactive from REaD Group – available via a choice of flexible delivery methods to suit organisational and technology requirements, it is now achievable and affordable to optimise the accuracy of your data.
Start this year right – contact us today for your free data quality consultation!
By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group
At the start of 2018, REaD Group chose MS Society to be our charity of the year. This was based on one of our team who made the proposal, and we agreed they were a worthy charity to follow. I don’t think many of us at that point would have realised how engaged we would have been as a business with the charity, how much we would have learned about the disease or what can be done to help people who live with the disease every day.
A lot of that has to go down to MS Society, they have been amazing. We met the Chief Exec who was full of ideas on how we could help them. Additionally, we have had brilliant support from a number of teams across the charity, with special mention to Tom Bolsin, who has kept us up to date on opportunities, given us great ideas on how to raise funds but more importantly shared with us what our funds could do. And that is at the heart of what a good charity partnership should be.
Over the year we have had visits from an MS sufferer who shared what it is like to live with this debilitating illness every day and we have had a presentation from the research team on what is being done to try and stop the spread of MS.
A particular highlight (?) for me was the visit to the Tissue Bank with my colleague Katie. Katie was our star fundraiser when we did our big challenge – more on that later – and as a “reward” got to see how brains and spinal cords are being dissected for sharing around the world for researchers to analyse the differences between those with the disease and those without (more information here). Katie seemed to love this, odd girl, although I had to leave the room to lie on the floor. Those people who do that job deserve a medal.
Probably the most uplifting event of the year was the awards ceremony where individuals with MS, their families, their employers and those who raise funds in their spare time were all recognised. The word “humbling” is over-used, but I left that event feeling pathetic for the little that I do compared to these amazing people and enthused that they do it.
Oh yeah, and we raised funds too. We baked cakes – some tasted nicer than others. We had a pub quiz and watched Tickers beat Snickers. Just about. We had pub games and enjoyed the beer more than the games. And we had a wax off where some of our brave men lost the hair from their arms, legs, back, stomach, chest and…underarms. Well played Arun, Adam, Charlie, Andrew and Joe. It wouldn’t have been me.
And for our big challenge we tackled 10 peaks in 10 hours in the Lake District. It was a very sunny day with a storm threatening the whole way around. I’m delighted to say that all thirty of us made it, and more importantly made it together. The fact that we entered the pub at 9 hours and 58 minutes just as the heavens opened made it all the sweeter I think. What a team effort!
We have raised over £12k before Gift Aid and have enjoyed doing so. Thanks to everyone who has contributed, we really appreciate it.
We’ll be looking to support another charity in 2019 but, to be honest, whoever we support will do well if they are as engaged, supportive and helpful as MS Society have been this year. It’s quite easy for an organisation to raise funds for a charity but this year has been so much more than that. We have learned a great deal about the disease and the causes; we have met sufferers who have inspired and amazed us with their desire to live a normal life; we have learned about the root causes and what needs to happen to stop MS and we have seen how even a disease as hideous as this can be overcome with fortitude and bravery. It’s been fun and enlightening.
By Jason Peacock, Account Director a REaD Group
What does a day in the life of an Account Manager at REaD look like?
In short, a day in the life of an Account Manager is fun, challenging, collaborative, inspiring and hard work (did I say fun already?) and it’s most definitely rewarding. I would also be lying if I didn’t say occasionally it’s frustrating, but that’s just part of life right?
The fact is, as any person in any business working in an Account Management role will tell you, that every single day is different. And that itself is one of the brilliant things about the role.
An average day…
For me, every day starts with a coffee; a good strong coffee which I drink on the train to work while checking my diary and making a list of the things I need to get done for the day.
Once in the office, it’s full steam ahead. Another coffee on the go whilst reading and responding to urgent emails. Then a quick check-in with relevant internal teams on key projects and making sure I’m prepared for the meetings due to take place that day.
Internal meetings are relatively frequent. We may work in data, communications and technology, but we’re above all a people business and whether it’s face to face or via tele/video conference we work collaboratively to drive and deliver the work for our clients.
I’m working on a couple of large projects for my clients at the moment which have a lot of moving parts and regular catch-ups help keep everything on a smooth track.
The rest of my day typically consists of conducting client calls or meetings to present status updates on projects or, fresh thinking and new ideas to drive the clients’ business forward and meet their objectives.
I also spend time planning new work, compiling lists of next steps, sending follow-up emails, putting together timelines with internal stakeholders, scope of work estimates for the client, and opening project tickets.
The list could go on and on, but generally, it’s about keeping tabs on all projects and thinking about what needs to happen next.
As a role, it’s a hybrid of relationship management, project management, consultancy and sales. We keep clients happy, make them look good but also challenge their thinking.
There are of course the quieter days where meetings a less frequent and/or projects have slowed slightly which allows time to catch up on admin, think about future projects, find the next number on the advent calendar I received from the office secret ballot, think about what to buy for my Secret Santa gift, worry about what someone may buy me (!!) and write the odd blog for the 12 days of Christmas.
So, what makes a good account manager?
To me, given the variety in the role there isn’t any one single thing that makes a great Account Manager.
Being a ‘people person’ helps. Someone who cares. Also the ability to listen – to discern what a client needs, and then fulfil that need – is a highly sought-after and invaluable skill.
Understanding their business challenges, their motivations and what makes them tick all help build and retain strong relationships, both internally and externally, which is of course key to building trust.
Being organized and wanting to be part of a team, so you can juggle multiple stakeholders and deliverables across multiple projects across multiple accounts, will also put you in good stead for a role in Account Management.
There are times you need tenacity – to take on, to look outside the box and solve a problem and there are other times when good commercial acumen, a cool head, diplomacy and sound judgement are needed.
It’s about being interested, being a team player, having boundless and relentless optimism and NOT being work shy.
What have I learned?
It’s not so much “learned” because I’m still learning. In the 20+ years I’ve worked in Account Management, I’ve challenged myself to learn something new every day.
From understanding new industry sectors, new personalities, new marketing technologies and to how to write new and complex data queries to learning more about Multiple Sclerosis (as a business we support the MS Society) and making “human mummy’s” with the office toilet roll whilst at the office bar on a Friday evening!
It’s impossible not to learn new things and be inspired when every day you’re surrounded by so many people from different backgrounds, with different interests and different skill sets.
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!
‘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!
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.
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.