According to a recent dun&bradstreet report, The Past, Present and Future of Data, one in five businesses admit they have lost a customer due to incomplete or inaccurate data.
And this was identified as being a challenge across businesses of all sizes: 25% of businesses with over 500 employees, 32% of businesses with between 250 and 500 employees and 16% of smaller businesses (0 -10 employees) having lost customers as a result of using poor quality data.
That’s pretty damning stuff. Particularly when you consider that it costs anything from five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one. Even at the lower end of that scale, very few businesses can afford to be losing customers, revenue and sacrificing hard won LTV at that rate.
Data has undoubtedly become an integral part of how businesses function today, but it is essential to ensure that this data is the RIGHT data.
58% of businesses worry about the accuracy and completeness of their data [dun&bradstreet – The Past, Present and Future of Data 2019]
Continuing to market to the previous address of individuals who have relocated will waste precious marketing budget (which could be better allocated elsewhere) and risk losing contact with customers who may become lapsed as a result. The current occupiers of that property will also be far less likely to engage with a brand that is inundating them with a previous-tenant’s mail.
Similarly, failing to screen for deceased contacts in your database will also waste marketing spend – and more importantly will have the potential to cause distress to the families of those still being contacted. Why risk damaging your brand’s reputation? Furthermore, why risk inviting penalties from the ICO for non-compliance to GDPR Article 5?
In these competitive times, with consumers that are more demanding and less loyal than ever, losing customers due to inaccurate data is pretty poor business and, in reality, a very easily avoided reason to lose a customer!
By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group
We are living in the age of machines. What used to be thought of as science fiction is now simply taken as fact. Electric cars, payment by watch and tv on the go are all being used by everyone every day. In addition, thought controlled bionic arms, space travel and waste blasting toilets without the need for a sewer are all being trialled right now. Surely teleportation isn’t too far away and we can all go Back to the Future.
Technology on the rise
In the world that we inhabit – the world of marketing and building customer engagement – machines are already common place. Machine learning models, chatbots and AR/VR based content are being used, and are being well received, by the end customer. In fact, there are areas, such as gamification, where consumer demand is greater than the usage at present. As a Fitbit obsessive, if someone ties my daily step count with rewards in exchange for data then I would sign up immediately.
One of the many debates this creates is around whether it is necessary to inform the end customer that they are engaging with a machine. From a personal point of view, I’m not sure this is needed. For me, the bigger issue is ensuring that the right combination of person and machine is in place.
Research shows, for example, that people really want to talk to people when the request is complex or where there is a need for a complaint to be made. Making sure that the conversation can be identified as moving in a particular direction and the right intervention is in place feels more vital than the end individual knowing if the operative is real or not.
74% of consumers admit they would sooner complain about a product or service to a human rather than a chatbot [DMA Customer Engagement 2019 – Facing the future: how consumers and brands view new technology]
Rage against the machine!
Certain AI platforms, such as the financial assistant, Plum, are now being programmed to deal with abusive messages such as those containing swearing, rudeness and sexism. This has seen a positive impact from a customer perspective, as witty and humorous responses from the AI have often helped to defuse a situation and reassure the consumer that they are dealing with an intelligent entity.
And in reality, it isn’t too long until we allow our own machines, home assistants or phones or even our fridge, to engage with the brands machines and make decisions for us making the identification moot.
Data is vital
Of course, at the end of the day, there are some constants that always need to be in place. The first is identifying who the customer or prospect is and being confident that you have the right person and the second is having enough data of interest to make the interaction relevant. In amongst all the chat about AI, VR, AR and machine learning it is vital to remember that it’s the data that fuels the success – or otherwise – of these technologies.
At REaD Group we often talk about giving brands the right to be personal. That is never more real than when there is a combination of machine and person doing the engagement. Not having the data infrastructure, or indeed the base data, in place means that the discussion about machine v person is irrelevant. Ultimately, having a clean, up to date, enriched dataset is vital to the success of any AI, chatbot or other technology-based pilot.
Businesses need data to survive. And that has never been more true than it is today.
In a recent report by dun&bradstreet, The Past, Present and Future of Data, of the 500 business leaders interviewed, 50% believe their business won’t survive without top quality data and 69% agreed that having access to more data will support revenue generation. That’s compelling stuff.
And one of the top data challenges noted is identifying prospects or potential customers.
The first party data you collect and hold is an extremely valuable asset – as long as you are applying the right insight! But when it comes to acquiring new prospects and customers, why limit the scale and profitability of your campaigns? If you choose your data partner wisely, third party data can help you to find more of your best customers, drive more informed decisions and deliver ROI.
54% of business leaders asked believe third-party data is valuable for enhancing the data that they hold in their organization
54% of the 500 business leaders interviewed said that third-party data is valuable for enhancing the data that they hold in their organization, while a similar proportion – 56% – agree that they would benefit from even more of it.
The devil is in the due diligence
So, it’s clear that third party data can help businesses to gain even more value from their marketing activity. But how do you find quality data?
As with any important purchase it is imperative to do thorough research. When it comes to buying marketing data you should apply strict due diligence before you select a supplier – or repent at leisure.
Here are some of the qualifying questions you should always ask when you are choosing your data provider:
Source and provenance
How is the data collected and what is the source? You should also ask for confirmation of the collection methods and audit trails to ensure the principles of the regulation have been meet and the data is being processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner.
Your supplier should be able to provide you with the permission statement used at the point of collection.
Validation and Due Diligence processes
Ask for confirmation of the validation process. A provider with nothing to hide should be able to provide on request an outline of their due diligence process and the steps they take to ensure their data fully satisfies legislative requirements.
When was the last engagement?
Is the data accurate and up to date? Has it been screened against a reliable suppression file to remove deceased and Gone Away contacts to meet GDPR data quality requirements?
Check out their creds and ask peers for a recommendation or ask to speak to an existing customer of the supplier for a candid view.
Ask for some examples of the results and case studies – especially if you are using the data for acquisition campaigns.
Do they offer a trial?
If you are new to buying data or using a new supplier – ask if you can run a trial campaign to test the quality of the data.
If a supplier can’t answer these key questions…approach with caution. It is important to remember that at the heart of GDPR is transparency, accountability and the fundamental rights to process data. It is the minimum you should expect from a reputable data provider.
About REaD Group
REaD Group have been supportive of the GDPR from its inception and we are proud to say that our due diligence is the best and most thorough in the UK.
All contributors must pass our strict Data Compliance Due Diligence Audit and GDPR rules before REaD will accept the data. The audits for existing and prospective data contributors also include the following verifications and checks for compliance:
- Contributor’s legality, location and contact details
- Contributor’s Professional membership, accreditations and certifications (ICO, DMA, ISO) registration
- How contributors deal with enquiries, complaints, data subject access requests etc.
- Full Permission statement audit including audit of all permission statements, FPN and privacy policies served at point of data collection
- Details of how the permissioned data was originally captured and channel collection methods
- Asking suppliers to confirm information security practices and that data is processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of personal data
The REaD compliance team also carry out 6 monthly audits on the data provided, requiring contributors to provide full details of when and how the data subject’s permission for their data to be passed onto a third party was obtained to ensure collection methods remain compliant and align to the principles of the regulation.
If you’d like to know more about quality marketing data contact us today!
By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group
Propensity. It’s a funny word, and one we throw around a lot in marketing circles but rarely in everyday use. The propensity to donate to a certain charity, the propensity for a customer to lapse, the propensity to make a repeat purchase. We can even build propensity models to try and predict these outcomes.
However, you wouldn’t ordinarily hear someone say that they have a propensity to eat chocolate late at night (as I do). Or perhaps that their dog has a propensity to wolf down her food (you can be sure mine does) or even that their wife has a propensity to buy more shoes than could be worn in a lifetime (…no comment).
What is propensity?
So why is the term used so frequently in marketing? I suppose it satisfies a need we have for wanting to know what our customers are likely to do next. When we talk about propensity, what we really mean is the inclination for someone to do one thing more than any other.
For the purposes of marketing we’re looking for people who are more likely to do the thing we want – or don’t want – them to do.
As with most things in life, this comes down to probability and the likelihood of something happening. So, let’s say that when I stay in London, I buy chocolate two nights out of three when I’m heading back to my hotel. This would make the likelihood of me doing this the next time I’m in London two thirds. It may be that I don’t fancy chocolate so much when the weather is hot, and this likelihood can be increased or decreased accordingly depending on the weather. There may be any number of variables that will affect the probability (but more often that not, I’m going home with a chocolate bar).
But can my propensity to buy late night chocolate help to predict if other people will?
Well yes – if you know they’re Scottish (and are therefore always craving sugar) or that they can never say no to a Snickers after having a few pints…or are convinced that going for a run the next morning justifies the eating of said Snickers. With the right data to understand the driving factors behind the decision, we can predict the likelihood of others doing so.
Individual vs Group
This can be approached in two ways. First of all, at an individual level – what is the probability that I buy some chocolate tonight? And then secondly – in a certain group, who is most likely to buy chocolate later tonight? Having this insight will help to sell more chocolate (or to combat diabetes if the data is used more responsibly).
This doesn’t just apply to chocolate. The same principle applies when selling a product, asking for donations, encouraging someone to renew their car insurance or book an all-inclusive holiday. The trick is finding the people who have a propensity to do these things more than others.
On an individual basis we can use past behaviour (of a person and of others) to work out how each person is likely to interact with a company next – often called next best action. This involves looking at past behaviour, current status (their last purchase – when this was and how much they paid) comparing their behaviour to lookalike customers – and also considering what we would like to sell!
By taking all of these things into consideration we can construct a model for each person that scores all the probable decisions and chooses the ones that are most likely to happen. This can also be weighted accordingly to areas that are most profitable.
There is a slightly different outcome at group level, but it is a very similar approach. A score is applied to everyone and we then select those with the highest propensity to do that thing.
For instance, if we are organising an event we want to make sure we choose those who are most likely to take part in that event – whether that be high propensity to run an Iron Man, eat an excessive amount of chocolate or to bungee jump from a skyscraper.
Using the right data
Whichever approach is taken, it is essential to have enough data and the right data in order to build the models. The necessary data should exist inside your business – in the form of data you have on existing customers and past behaviour and outcomes (such as who lapsed and why). It can also be useful to incorporate external data – such as online activity, social media and general activity outside your business.
Ensuring that we are harnessing the right data and applying it to our customers and to the outcomes we are interested in will ultimately increase our propensity to make better decisions. Which is what we all want to do, surely? Perhaps I need to remember that the next time I get peckish after a few beers!
It has been one hell of a year – and we are beyond delighted to now be multi award winning in 2019! And to be shortlisted for three categories in the DataIQ Awards is the icing on the cake.
But, ultimately, the real winner is data.
With all the hype surrounding data – it’s the new oil, gold, best thing since sliced bread, etc – it is easy to lose sight of the real impact of using it intelligently. Well managed, maintained and respected data will drive better strategic decisions and deliver tangible value to businesses on a day to day basis.
To be honest some of it isn’t that sexy but has the potential to transform businesses and achieve outstanding results – and win awards!!!
Data quality is one of the bedrocks of good data management and an obvious first step towards getting the most value from data. The old adage of “rubbish in, rubbish out” has never been more relevant – or potentially costly. In these highly regulated times, all businesses need to be confident that their data is clean, accurate and complete (and compliant!). And with the technology available to manage data quality more efficiently and securely advancing almost daily, there really is no excuse.
It can be as ‘simple’ as understanding your customers better. If you know who your best customers are, what they like, and how you should be communicating with them, then your messages to them will be more personal and positively received (not just personalised). The right analytics can transform strategy and with dramatic results. And deeper insight projects can completely transform business structures and promote new and more productive ways of working – as the award-winning project we have delivered with Marie Curie UK, The Big SHIFT, so aptly demonstrates.
Using high quality third party data, from a credible supplier, can have a dramatic impact on marketing strategy – particularly when it comes to acquisition. If you understand who you best customers are (see actionable insight!) third party data can help you find more of them and engage with them in the right way – using the right channel, message and offer – to ensure more successful outcomes. As our client Titan has very successfully demonstrated.
A new marketing mix
We believe there is a new marketing mix in town – data, creativity and technology.
The companies that use the data they have to make informed decisions that drive both creativity and personalisation – and choose the right technology to put the consumer at the heart of everything they do – are in the best position to win.
As our multi-award winning year goes to show, get the balance of these right and the sky is the limit!
REaD Group are delighted to have won the Most Powerful Insight using Data Analysis award with our fantastic client, Marie Curie, at the Insight in Fundraising Awards last night! The awards recognise the best work, innovation and inspirational stories of individuals working in data, analysis and insight contributing to fundraising practices.
Marie Curie delivers nursing and care services across the UK, and people interact with the charity through many touchpoints ranging from hospices to shops. They were keen to understand what influenced this giving and how much of an impact local services, such as shops, hospices and nursing care impacts on the money received in donations and other giving.
A carefully constructed methodology enabled REaD Group to create a baseline fundraising landscape onto which Marie Curie-specific variables were overlaid.
Analysis of these ‘layers’ generated predictive models that were then mapped, highlighting areas where fundraising performance is above or below expected levels, in the context of the provision of services in the locality.
The models built have been used to show the impact each of the major activities have had on fundraising and other forms of giving.
For example, in a local community it is possible to quantify the impact of a hospice, a shop and the local fundraising group.
Understanding these impacts has not only provided invaluable insight for the charity to inform business and marketing decisions, it has also supported the business case for different areas of the organisation working more closely together.
A fantastic evening and so inspiring to see the wealth of talent and innovation being achieved in our industry. Huge congratulations to everyone involved!
By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group
I recently sat down to play a great new board game with my wife and two statistician friends (there was also lots of wine, food and great chat involved). The game is Borel: https://www.playborel.com. The basic concept of the game is fairly simple: through a series of experiments using dice, cards and coins, it seeks to find whether intuition beats statistical reasoning. Of course, there are conditions applied so that there isn’t really enough time to be too statistical, but it works as a concept.
As an example, if you were to roll three six-sided dice six times, will any consecutive numbers be rolled? Basic stats suggest this should be a no, but when we did this experiment the first two numbers rolled were one, and then we rolled again and got another one. We were so flabbergasted at this that we re-ran the experiment and immediately rolled two fives. A triumph for intuition it has to be said.
It’s probably no bad thing that we don’t get to play fast and loose with money in this way. In business, the most important thing is to ensure we have adequate data to make decisions and to increase the probability of those decisions being correct.
Retail’s gut feel
Imagine looking for a new store location, but not considering the road network, the parking availability, the demographics of those who shop in the area, their disposable income and the likelihood of them buying the products you sell. That would be unthinkable: except that not so long ago, siting locations for stores was done very much on instinct. It’s only been in recent years that all these factors have come to play a part, thus ensuring that there is every probability that a new store will be in the most successful location possible.
Recently I watched an interview with one of Sports Direct’s directors. He said that their decision over which failing store groups they bid to take over was based on gut feel. While retail has a notoriously strong reputation for gut feel, I’m also pretty certain they have a formula: a way to evaluate the potential in a business to remove as much risk as possible and optimise the likelihood of success.
Note that many of these phrases are statistical by nature: every probability, remove risk, optimise success, increase the likelihood. We use stats every day, without thinking about it. Can you guarantee success?, we are often asked. No, but we can increase the probability of it happening.
Probability in marketing
As marketers, we don’t make huge decisions about investments in new stores or which companies to take over on a daily basis. But we do get measured on the success or otherwise of our campaigns, and of course we try to ensure that we weight the odds in our favour as best we can. Every day we use probability to ensure that we are delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.
Outbound communications, for example, are all about maximising returns: contacting the most relevant individuals with the minimum investment. To do this we use profiles, models and segmentations to help us understand as much as we can about our targets, remove those least likely to respond and find those who are more likely to want to buy our products.
Online, there are different ways to find the most relevant targets. Sometimes it is left to machines to help us do this, but in the background are similar algorithms, finding people (or cookies of people) who look like they browsed the same sites as those who clicked through. Even the way we find these cookies uses statistics, using probabilistic matching to try and find the same person across numerous machines.
Making your marketing as good as it can be
As with all modelling, the more data we have, the more observations of an event, the more variables we can vary, then the better our decisions will be. Our mantra at REaD Group is that the more you know about an individual the better your marketing will be, which is why we are always looking for data to help us create a more complete picture of our customers’ customers. Sometimes that data is at the individual level and sometimes at the household or even the postcode they live in. In the end, though, it is all about probability and having a better chance of getting a response to a campaign.
One of the joys of Borel was that the number of observations was kept small, the number of variables was low and the time to make a decision was short. Hopefully by adding more data, building up more history and ensuring that more information is available, we can help our clients make better decisions by providing more information.
Incidentally, I won the game by the slimmest possible margin and my wife, who based everything on informed hunches, was right behind me. I’d love to think my stats background gave me the edge. But maybe we need to play again just to be sure.
This blog post originally appeared on Decision Marketing: https://www.decisionmarketing.co.uk/views/data-driven-decisions-are-better-than-a-hunch-right
By Felicity ‘Flick’ Ward, Credit Controller at REaD Group
It seemed like such a good idea at the time – all I have to do is not speak for 6 days… If Julia Roberts can do it in “Eat, Pray, Love” then it should be no problem for me. Many were incredulous that I would be able to stay quiet for so long – “YOU, not speak for 6 days?”, “Flick, you must be joking”, “You’ll NEVER manage that” – I could go on.
Not to be deterred, and encouraged that some of my disbelieving friends and colleagues had pledged sponsorship, I booked the Bali Silent Retreat bang in the middle of Ubud – no getting away then!
As my departure date approached, I started to have serious doubts (and borderline panic) but off I went.
It turned out to be an absolutely amazing experience – bucket list stuff! I loved the tranquillity, the place was stunning and having no contact with the outside world at a time of intense political turmoil was so welcome.
My daily routine consisted of:
5am Ginger Tea
6 – 7am Meditation
7-8.30 am Yoga
9.30 am BREAKFAST
Free to explore, eat lunch etc. until
2pm – 3.30pm Yoga
3.30pm – 4.30pm Meditation
4.30 – 6pm DINNER
Then early to bed.
My daughter had bought me Eat, Pray, Love to read which I started on the morning I arrived and finished an hour before I left – I hadn’t appreciated the inscription until I opened it – “Dear Mummy – one family’s quest for silence”. It was the perfect book to read…
I tried all sorts of things I had never experienced and to be honest, never thought I would – labyrinth walking meditation, crystal meditation, water meditation (freezing!!) and all sorts of yoga positions I never thought were possible!
I had time to really get to know myself, explore my innermost thoughts and heal from the frantic life we all seem to lead and all of the pressures we put upon ourselves – such as the expectation of instant (and constant) communication. No mobile – so no Whats App, no email, no text and NO BREXIT!
I fell in love with Mount Batur which I could see from my terrace and decided to have a go at painting it (no judgement please, I know I’m no Monet!).
I amazed myself at my ability to keep absolute silence – I didn’t even talk to myself (something I swear I do on a regular basis!).
This really was an unforgettable experience and one which was made even more poignant as two days after I left the Retreat I received news of a dear friend of the family, aged 27, who had attempted suicide but had miraculously survived.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45, and the main reason I wanted to undertake this self-imposed silence (besides raising as much as possible for CALM and setting a personal challenge for myself) was because mental health is an issue that people often struggle to talk about and there are so many who suffer in silence.
Thank you so much to everyone who sponsored me and for everyone that understandably doubted my ability to pull this off, I am so delighted I proved them wrong.
It is still not too late to sponsor me so please, please, dig deep for this truly amazing charity: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/REaD-Group2
By Jon Cano-Lopez, CEO at REaD Group
It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since GDPR’s implementation, but things have calmed down considerably in the interim and overall, we are in a much better place. In the last 12 months consumers have become more informed about what their data is used for and equally businesses are paying more attention to the legitimacy of their data and its use and applications. Importantly, companies have started to be much more considerate of the consumer perspective – understanding that a simple customer complaint could lead to financial penalties and reputational damage.
Clarity from confusion
As the GDPR is a principles-based regulation, there has been a considerable amount of confusion in the market as there are some aspects that have no fixed parameters. However, grey areas such as the reasonable amount of time that data should be retained are starting to reach consensus, resulting in self-imposed best practice being seen in the industry. We will undoubtedly see some of these currently accepted norms change in the future as a result of newly published guidance and based on the outcome of audits.
It is becoming normal for our clients to request documentation to evidence the legal right to use the data we provide – and in a transparent and easy to understand format. This will ultimately ensure that data collectors who are fast and loose with their due diligence are removed from the market, which is good for consumers and for the data industry.
Not just about consent…
Reassuringly, people have begun to realise that there is more to the GDPR than consent, or more generally ensuring that you have an appropriate legal base for processing data. Other key requirements, such as the misuse and security of data as well as data accuracy, are starting to take the spotlight. Collecting data in a legal manner is not enough – it must also be retained legally. Data must be respected as a valuable asset, and as it decays so rapidly it must be kept up to date.
As an industry, data quality is something we have always wanted to be recognised at board level – and GDPR has made this a reality.
Standing out from the crowd
It’s encouraging to see that companies and brands are really understanding the importance of giving consumers choice. Companies must now try and appeal to an increasingly discerning and aware audience, which means that finding ways to distinguish from competitors has never been more important.
Consumer communications have changed almost beyond recognition in the last decade (it’s astounding that the law hadn’t been updated since the DPA in 1998!). Similarly, PECR is also more than 10 years out of date and falls short of answering the complex legislative challenges encountered in today’s marketplace. GDPR was, for this reason, desperately needed.
Data elevated to board level
With an increasing number of businesses investing in DPO’s and CDO’s, data and governance is finally being raised to board level. Shortly after GDPR was introduced, many well-known brands ceased using data altogether for fear of doing the wrong thing. The majority have now resumed, but this has meant that scrutiny and assurances over the provenance of data have become even more vital.
Only the beginning
It’s important to realise that GDPR is only the beginning – the ePrivacy regulation (ePR), expected to come into force next year, will address much needed change in digital communications legislation. In tandem the two regulations should ensure that consumers are more informed and trusting of how companies are using their data, as well as ensuring that businesses are using data responsibly.
We can all take heart in the fact that, one year on, GDPR is no longer being seen as an inconvenience or a box to tick, but as an opportunity and a change for the better!
REaD Group are delighted to have been shortlisted in three categories in the DataIQ Awards 2019:
- Best place to work in data
- Best use of data in a marketing programme with Titan Travel
- Transformation with data with Marie Curie
The awards recognise the skills, commitment and capabilities of individuals, teams, organisations and solutions of the top performers in the data industry. Aligned to the value-driving champions and the challenges they meet, judged by the top tier of practitioners.
We’re looking forward to awards night on 10th July – see you there!