A toast to 2021!
After the year we’ve had, predicting what 2021 has in store for us should be a breeze – no? Perhaps Elvis might indeed be returned to us by the aliens who snatched him; our very own Scott Logie could have next year’s Christmas number one despite never having recorded a second of music in his life and, Prime Minister Katie Price will lift new Covid-20 restrictions in time for us all to have a socially distanced Christmas next year. No matter what this year brings – we have at least got a few things right so far.
Predictions that have actually come true:
- Data quality actually was driven faster by the pandemic as more businesses realised that to build longer lasting on-line relationships you need the best data available.
- We had a big increase on basic data cleaning and then enhancement work from the summer onwards.
- And we also saw a significant increase in the use of data to plug the gaps of knowledge that were also lost through not having customers in-store or branch. Or meeting those at events, on the streets or in railway stations.
- Finally more and more interest in on-line and automated solutions for both data cleaning and data appending and I see that trend continuing into next year.
Another trend from 2020 – “old” channels got fashionable again. Direct Mail had a resurgence for example. In their Mail Matters More Guide Royal Mail Market Reach showed that with people working from home mail responses increased with engagement higher than ever at 96%. And it wasn’t just in older groups as well, the biggest rise was from the 18 to 34 year-old age groups. A massive 88% of people paid the same or more attention to mail during lockdown. With many of us now working more from home as we go into next year and beyond, mail will continue to play an important role.
Maybe even more importantly, we saw direct mail response rates increase and were part of the teams who delivered fantastic campaigns across charity, retail and financial services. We leave the year with many clients who had some moments of terror in March but who ended up delivering above and beyond their revised targets.
What else do we see happening in 2021?
Maybe we’ll end up moving towards a more human form of engagement next year. As we become used to teams, zoom and the rest there is a definite craving to talk to a human. While the new ways of working have definitely improved our lives it also leaves a void at times and shows that people can’t be wholly replaced by machines. Clearly automation is important when it comes to efficiency and such like but a balance is required.
Having said that, another trend from this year that I would see increasing into next year is the desire for convenience. Amazon maybe set the bar a while ago for next day, or next hour, deliveries, but convenience has now become the norm.
Our insatiable desire for instant gratification is now being met more often than not. So, what does that mean for service in 2021. Or indeed for any new entrants, or even the behemoths themselves. Could this erosion of a differentiator mean we don’t end up using Amazon as often?
Many people believe that we might begin moving towards a new way of working together to achieve our goals, prioritising the good of community as a whole, increased social awareness and a softer, dare I say, more feminine ideology. We can only hope!
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Once again we find our selves hunkered down at home, with high streets and non-essential retailers closed for business. It seems that – for the time being at least – late night Christmas shopping is a thing of the past. Marketers must look to alternative channels to engage their customers and – given that many people are working from home and have a bit more time, now is the perfect time to consider Direct Mail. Receiving a catalogue in the post can be a welcome distraction to our lockdown routines.
Consumers crave personal interaction and tangible communication, and, when executed thoughtfully, responsibly and compliantly, direct mail can deliver compelling results. Since we first descended in to lockdown earlier this year, 40% of people either agree or strongly agree that Direct Mail has become an important part of this new routine.
REaD Group’s recent work with an outdoor clothing and equipment retailer provides an example of how direct mail can and continues to be a high performing and effective channel for retailers:
“We are delighted to have seen a 86% uplift in sales from our latest direct mail catalogue, compared to the same campaign last year. This is a really good example of ongoing value delivered by well-executed direct mail – supported by data that is maintained to a very high standard – and is why we will continue to utilise this powerful channel as integral component of our marketing.”
By utilising our quality marketing data, we can help retail brands to deliver relevant and effective communication to engage, acquire and retain the best customers.
Throughout the year we have seen clients not just continue to use direct mail, but actually increase volumes as the years unfolds, and we know it works. This is also true of door-drops and partially addressed mail. Direct mail has proven to be a highly trusted and resilient channel for marketers over this uncertain time; on it’s own and as part of a multi channel approach. Increasing engagement, brand reputation and increasing ROI only scratches the surface of the benefits. Now is the time to back your brand with direct mail!
Get in touch with REaD Group today!
Anyone remember those TV adverts, with a guy trying to disguise himself as a new customer in order to get a better deal from a brand he already buys from? I can’t remember the brand it is advertising, but it strikes a familiar chord. We have all suffered the frustration of being suckered in by a great introductory rate only to get screwed on the year two cost. In fact, one of my friends was lamenting recently about how his one-year introductory price from his broadband provider was over and now the price was being hiked up.
At the same time, the Government has encouraged energy suppliers, banks and mobile phone providers to make it easier to switch. All you need to do now is send a text to move your mobile provider and it is incumbent on the bank to move all your Direct Debits to make it easier.
In the insurance sector, the aggregators have completely broken the model. Switching and checking prices across suppliers is easy. To win business, insurers are cutting costs and losing money on year one. This has created some bad PR, and new legislation to ensure that existing customers are not penalised is being suggested. To be fair, there has been a lot of activity recently to try and rectify this balance, and convince existing customers that they are getting as good a deal as new customers. That may even be what the advert is trying to tell us.
Attracting new customers is hard!
Despite all of this, and maybe what this shows, is that attracting new customers to your brand is hard. There is more competition than ever before. New entrants are increasing across all markets, many of whom need to “buy” new customers to demonstrate scale, as well as intermediaries who promise to find new customers at cheaper costs.
During the ‘80s, there was an adage that attracting new customers was six times more expensive than keeping an existing customer. I’d love someone to look at doing that calculation now. I would wager the price to acquire has gone down but that the movement between brands has increased massively.
As part of my role at the DMA on the Customer Engagement Committee, we have been looking at the role that brand engagement plays in the acquisition of new customers. It has thrown up some really interesting insights. What the brands who have a low year one cost are relying on is inertia: that once we move to a brand we won’t change. And in general, that is true, although inertia does vary by sector. However, 70% of people in the DMA survey said that they would consider moving if there was a better price available. So, while that inertia still exists, by chasing customers with lower prices we are actually creating more switchers every year – the irony.
The role of brand and channel
It is also true that brand plays a big part in acquisition. Only around 25% of people consider new brands when they are looking to buy for the first time. Having exposure to a brand name and feeling confident that they are quality and secure makes a difference. So new entrants do struggle, which is probably why they compete on cost.
The other interesting area is around channel and how brands find new customers. Nearly three-quarters of consumers chose email as either their first or second most preferred way to receive comms from new brands and nearly half suggested post was their favourite. At REaD Group we spend a lot of time helping people recruit new customers. And most of that happens through very traditional media channels – direct mail, telephone and e-mail.
We have a travel client, for example, who do really well recruiting new customers using PPC, SEO and digital display, but also do really well with off-the-page adverts. We worked with them to introduce good old direct mail into the mix – primarily to drive new brochure requests. And the results have been stunning, with people buying expensive holidays straight off the mailing. The ROI is over 500 to 1 and growing with each campaign.
While it is clear that what are generally considered as newer and more exciting media channels such as programmatic, social media and digital TV are playing an ever-increasing role in acquisition, what is also clear is that great use of data and targeting “offline” also works well. And actually, in reality, the clever brands are those that use all media channels to engage and then convert new customers.
As individuals we don’t think of channels at all. What we see are adverts for new and interesting products delivered in the most relevant ways. Whether that is on our favourite sites, on Facebook, through the post or in our inbox will depend on us as people. One size does not fit all!
So, overall, maybe chasing new customers based on price works but probably not for the long term. In the longer term, whether you are a new and exciting disruptor or an established brand looking to consolidate your market share, building a programme that starts with the brand and is backed with well targeted direct communications across a range of relevant channels is going to create a much more sustainable outcome.
Getting to know your customer
And at the heart of this is knowing the customer, knowing where they spend their time, what they are like and what they respond to. Whether inbound or outbound, the more we know about the consumer, the better our marketing will be. And this is equally true for new prospects as it is for existing customers.
In general, brands know a lot about their customers, particularly the behaviour they exhibit both in terms of how they come to buy the product they have and also what they buy while a customer. For example, brands like Sainsbury’s and Tesco have had detailed insights for years due to loyalty schemes. Online brands can see every transaction and tie it to an individual, they can see what is browsed before buying, how they have found the brand, and which offer they have come in on.
However, whether they understand their customers outside the context of their brand is up for debate. There is so much more to a person than what they buy from one brand. There is definitely a role for data sharing to help understand consumers more. Before GDPR there was the idea of data triangulation where brands considered swapping data to help infill what they don’t know. GDPR has pretty much killed this idea so that then leaves third party data and what can be done to enhance what is known about a customer.
Fortunately, there is more data than ever before that can be used inside what is legal, and what is ethically right, to enhance what brands know about their customers, where they live and the areas the live in. Third party data, open source data and other non-PII data can be transformative if applied correctly and intelligently.
No one needs to wear a disguise anymore: brands should know enough about both prospects and customers to be fair, clear and transparent on pricing.
With our data and insight, REaD Group can tell you more about your customers and prospects that any other provider.
The GDPR came into effect well over two years ago, but understanding its finer points still remains a challenge for many marketers. The lawfulness of processing data (covered in great detail in Article 6 of the GDPR) and in particular the appropriate application of consent and legitimate interest, continue to present challenges and questions.
For example, assessing which is the most appropriate basis to apply and how this might impact their marketing activities, including direct marketing, advertising and so on.
While the scare stories of hefty fines and pre-GDPR panic has largely died down, many businesses are still getting to grips with GDPR. It is unlikely that many are fully compliant as they try to interpret the regulations and how best to apply them to marketing activities.
It is important to remember that the GDPR is a principals-based regulation and while the definitions are explicit, they do not provide specific directives of how to apply them when collecting, processing, storing and using data. That means that responsibility for these decisions sits with the data and marketing professionals who are processing the data on behalf of their businesses Because GDPR doesn’t say how to apply the definitions, marketers still need to know how to make informed decisions and justify them.
So, how can marketers ensure their data processing is transparent, compliant and responsible? And how do they align their legal, compliance, governance, IT and marketing teams in order to meet the data protection regulation and educate them on how to use and process data?
It’s a case for education and process. Marketers must now be very well acquainted with data protection law and know how to apply the regulations to their specific activities. But they also need to be able balance their business objectives and KPIs, while not contravening the regulations. Data Controllers and Processors must now be more responsible and accountable when it comes to processing personal data, and they must be able to record processing activities and evidence the rationale for the legal basis they select.
Even experienced marketers and data and compliance professionals are questioning every action and decision regarding customer and prospect communications in the context of the GDPR:
- What is the best lawful basis to use or choose from?
- How do I choose which is the most appropriate?
- Do I need to write an LIA?
- Does my organisation need to be named when purchasing data for prospecting?
- How do we ensure we have protected the consumers’ fundamental rights?
The list goes on….
So it is no wonder that a lot of confusion stills exist around when and how to use the key lawful bases for processing data for marketing purposes: consent and legitimate interest.
Legitimate interest, based on the ICO’s definitions, is the most flexible of the six legal bases for processing personal data, and it can therefore be applied to many different situations. It is, for example, the most appropriate basis when processing data is of a clear benefit to you or others, there is limited privacy impact on the individual, or where an individual would reasonably expect their data to be used in that way. The balance of fundamental rights is of equal measure and transparency is crucial when making these decisions.
GDPR specifically states that direct marketing may be considered a legitimate interest in recital 47, albeit upon the appropriate and thorough application of a balancing test. By balancing the business and marketing objectives with the rights of the individual – and a good dose of common sense – and documenting it in a professional and trackable manner by completing a Legitimate Interest Assessment (LIA) , marketers can use this basis for marketing with more confidence.
Applying a balancing test to a legitimate interest and also applies to prospect data and data sourced from third parties as well as first party data. There is nothing in the GDPR that prohibits the use of third-party data, provided that it is undertaken in accordance with the data protection principles and regulatory guidance.
When it comes to consent, this is what the ICO has to say; “The GDPR sets a high standard for consent. But you often won’t need consent. If consent is difficult, look for a different lawful basis.”
This means that, in many instances, consent may not be required. However, some examples of when it is required involve the use of electronic marketing (including email) and this is where GDPR and the Privacy and Electronic Communication regulation (PECR) dovetail, i.e. email marketing requires consent and the requirements for consent are set out in PECR.
Fundamentally the GDPR is intended to build and maintain trust with consumers. That means applying both rigour and common sense when balancing commercial interests with consumer rights and regularly testing that decision to ensure it is the right approach.
The days of privacy being a box-ticking exercise are well and truly gone. The principles of privacy by design and ‘responsible marketing’ have to be embedded in businesses now. Challenging but necessary – but those business that get these fundamentals right will reap the rewards.
Coming out of lockdown is presenting many challenges for businesses and organsiations of all types. Of course, being aware of your business environment has always been key to success. Knowledge of your customer base at local and national level has in the past been focused on maximising marketing and sales opportunities and operational efficiencies.
You can now add on to this the fundamental requirement of customer and staff safety – how to open and operate safely within a Covid-19 world. And clearly, decisions made regarding the re-opening of business will be key to a responsible and successful emergence from lockdown.
To support businesses to make more informed decisions, REaD Group data partner More Metrics have developed a new set of models to track Covid-19 risk factors. For these models, More Metrics has used its existing and new datasets to create 20 risk measures relevant to Covid-19. The risks cover a number of dimensions, including:
Age and Household Composition
Mortality and Co-morbidity
By combining this data with Ppublic Health England (PHE) Pillar 1 and 2 test data More Metrics have created risk models at a range of geographic levels.
These unique models can help you to answer key questions, including:
- What is the infection risk now in any of the areas that I operate in and where my customers and staff live?
- What is the infection risk going forward in these areas and how might it differ with other areas?
- How should I vary my actions over the coming weeks to minimise any infection risks and help get our operations up and running as soon as possible?
The data will also:
- Provide up to date estimates of key information at local level
- Support risk assessments for reopening customer facing and other business locations
- Support resource allocation and management focus based on reliable data for specific locations
- Allow you to benchmark your own area against other areas in the UK
Data quality is more important than it has ever been. Ensuring that the customer and prospect data that you hold is accurate, up to date and compliant is a benchmark of responsible data management and marketing. Consumers expect it, the law requires it and it delivers massive cost savings, better ROI and reduces the risk of brand damage.
A key part of maintaining the quality of the consumer data you hold is the identification and suppression of individuals who have moved from the address you have in your database – using a credible suppression file such as REaD Groups definitive Gone Away Suppression file (GAS).
Why compromise the success of your campaigns and risk the reputation of your business by continuing to send communications to individuals using their old address?
Using a credible gone away suppression service will bring many business benefits:
• Reduce campaign costs and improve ROI
• Prevent the brand damage caused by sending mail addressed to previous occupants
• Help you to adhere to the data quality requirement under Data Protection Act 2018
• Help you to keep in touch with customers and supporters and maximise retention and LTV
Part of Rare Consulting’s COVID-19 Emerging Trends Series and with contribution from REaD Group’s Customer Engagement Director, Scott Logie, Grey Expectations: How Brands can Create Sustainable Growth with Consumers Aged 55+ explores why businesses need to get serious about targeting the older generations – particularly online, where many have shopped during the pandemic and now intend to stay.
This means showing more empathy of what marks them out as being different to other age groups; recognising their needs and desires; and understanding their choice drivers. Our findings have implications not just on how we communicate to them but also how we build services that create long-term value for brands and consumers.
“The industry talks about over-55s as being one group. But to treat 17 million people in the same way is madness. Segment and research them as a non-homogenous group of people.“There will need to be some experimentation with customer engagement and experience for this age group, depending on your product type. One of the things they still crave is human experiences. A challenge for retail and e-commerce is to humanise engagement. If they want to chat, they want to chat to a person, about price and options. You can’t yet do that with an automated chat function.”
Scott Logie Customer Engagement Director, REaD Group
Find out how empathy, engagement and customer experience are the keys to marketing to the over-55s
By Scott Logie
One of the outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic and daily reporting of related stats is that we have probably all become quite a bit better acquainted with data. At the very least I’m pretty sure that almost everyone understands what the ‘R rate’ is.
Given that all this data is available, it is a surprise then that few organisations seems to be using this data in a marketing context. Now, more than ever, tailored, sensitive and responsible marketing communications are crucial. And the point is that we have the data available to drive it. Despite this, examples of organisations who are doing so seem to be few and far between.
For good example of how data can be a powerful driver for impactful decision-making – take what has happened in Leicester in the last week.
As has been widely reported, Leicester is the first city in the UK to have their lockdown status increased. This situation could potentially have been avoided had the data been available so that local authorities could have sent out early warnings to help to minimised the chances of infection and lockdown. Having the right data to hand allows one to be reactive to an ever-changing situation and to make better decisions.
The world has changed dramatically – with less face-to-face contact and a corresponding increase in digital services – at the same time many individuals are newly suffering from financial difficulties. More than ever, brands need to be targeting different audiences according to their different needs, and the data exists to help them do just that.
Research from Kantar shows that only 8% of consumers think brands need to stop advertising during the COVID-19 outbreak, but their expectations of how a brand should be helping them are huge: 78% believe brands should help them in their daily lives; 75% said brands should inform people of what they are doing and 74% said companies should not exploit the situation.
We’ve talk often about the power of direct mail to reach people at home. Mail reaches everyone, engenders trust and gives reassurance, has a tangible impact, drives interaction and gets people online – there is plenty of research and stats from the Royal Mail to back this up.
Direct mail should never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. As with all communication, it should be tailored differently to different audiences – especially those who are vulnerable audiences, the recently unemployed, the furloughed and the self-employed. Each of these audiences has very different needs, and brands must be aware of these. And identifying these is now very easy, thanks to data!
Since April 2020, REaD Group data partner More Metrics has made available datasets that estimate COVID-19 risk factors and infection rates across the UK at a neighbourhood level. These datasets contain 20 different measures of risk at a range of local geographies, using open source and GDPR-compliant data from REaD Group.
Not only can this data give you a greater insight into your customer base at local and national level, enabling you to maximise marketing and sales opportunities and operational efficiencies, but as you prepare to come out of lockdown, you can now add to this the fundamental requirement of customer and staff safety: in other words, how to open and operate safely within a COVID-19 world.
This data is free to use for a range of geographical areas including Parliamentary Constituency, Ward and CCG. If more granular data is required, the data is available at Postcode and attached to over 50m individual consented consumers.
Find out how REaD Group can help you to apply this data to make sensible, sensitive decisions and inform your marketing strategy, supporting data-driven decisions and responsible marketing. Get in touch today!
Scott Logie is customer engagement director at REaD Group.
Using open source data, More Metrics has created a bespoke set of data models that explore the impact of COVID-19 on the UK population. These models can help brands ensure they are targeting their marketing messages, optimising contact with customers and increasing ROI. Data used to create these models is publicly available – ideal for the current situation.
More Metrics has used existing and new datasets to create 14 risk measurements relevant to COVID-19, including Age and Household Composition: Mortality and Co-Morbidity; Economic Resilience; Risk Engagement and Infection Rates.
These bespoke models can be used for:
- Screening to deselect vulnerable consumers for campaigns
- Attaching codes to inbound contact data to understand the consumer they are talking to
- Adding the data to models to ensure these factors are considered when selecting consumers for campaigns
The data is available at a range of different geographic levels: the application of each is dependent on usage. At the lowest level the models are created at OA (Output Area) level and can be attached to any individual or household with a postcode: the recommended level for most marketing applications.
REaD Group can advise marketers on how to best apply the models to make sensitive decisions and inform their marketing strategy, supporting data-driven decisions and responsible marketing.
As we find our feet in the new decade, we consider the big drivers and trends we can expect to see this year (and beyond!). From data quality, third party data and advances in automation, there is plenty on the horizon!
One of the big areas of concern in the data world we’ve seen lately has been around ethics/values and we expect there to be increased emphasis on this subject throughout this year. Where data-driven marketing is concerned, one of the key questions is how we can gain the trust of consumers to an extent where they are happy to share their personal data.
The principal of giving brands the right to be personal is only effective if the brand has access to quality data. There is a correlative relationship between trust vs sharing data – the more a customer trusts a business the happier they will be to share their data.
In a recent Dun & Bradstreet report, half of the 500 business leaders interviewed said their business wouldn’t survive without top quality data, while over two-thirds (69%) agreed that having access to more data supports revenue generation.
A large proportion of this trust comes down to transparency and companies being open and honest about how consumer data is being processed. At REaD Group, we are strong advocates for best practice; we are able to take any record from our suite and identify the point of collection as well as the legal basis on which it is being processed. We believe this should be a mandatory requirement for all personal data utilised in today’s climate.
First party data vs third party data
While first party data is naturally an asset, the advantages and capabilities of third party data should never be overlooked. Third party data offers a whole range of possibilities – enabling businesses to find their best customers, drive more informed decisions, gain more value from their marketing activity and delivering ROI.
Some 54% of the business leaders interviewed by D&B said that third-party data is valuable for enhancing the data that they hold in their organisation, while a similar proportion (56%) agreed that they would benefit from more of it.
But again, trust is crucial. You can only trust the data you’ve got if you can maintain its quality. And can you trust the supplier of the data if it’s third party data?
Buying third party data
You should always be sure to conduct thorough due diligence on a supplier before purchasing marketing data. You need to be able to trust the quality of the data – there are a number of questions you should always ask when choosing a provider (see our handy checklist here).
Permission must be accurately tracked and evidence the due diligence that was applied to it at the point of collection. This all aligns to a fundamental requirement of the Data Protection Act 2018 – privacy by design. Any credible data supplier should be able to demonstrate this level of transparency.
Keeping data clean
We can expect to see data hygiene continuing to rise to the top of the agenda this year. Businesses are recognising more and more that it is a requirement of GDPR that data must be kept up-to-date and accurate. This realisation is beginning to trickle down from the bigger players to the mid-size market and should continue to progress to smaller companies and SME’s throughout 2020.
Regardless of the size of your business, keeping data clean needn’t be a cumbersome task. Take one of our clients, Stannp, a print management provider which offers companies a fully digital, integrated solution to their direct mail needs.
As keeping data up-to-date and accurate is now law, Stannp wanted to provide its clients with the ability to clean their direct mail campaign data in realtime.
We provided them with a fully automated data cleaning solution which provides realtime access to our data cleaning products, GAS and TBR. Clients upload their data to the platform and are given the option to plug into REaDConnect before launching a campaign, delivering a bespoke data cleaning solution that is moulded to their requirements.
Research shows that the higher the quality of data an organisation holds, the more efficient and effective an organisation is, and data quality is a top priority for 41% of UK data leaders, according to a Big Data LDN report.
As the list of processes that can be automated continues to grow, automation is certainly something that will continue to be important in 2020. The prevalence of API’s isn’t a huge surprise given the efficiency, speed, accuracy and enhanced information security that automation can offer.
For companies with vast quantities of data, automation is able to alleviate the ‘heavy lifting’ involved with the management and processing that such an asset demands. Automating your data cleansing process will provide access to cleaner data, leading to increased insight, better decision-making, triggered campaigns, live personalisation and improved business planning.
In addition to improving regulatory compliance and increasing customer loyalty, automation can also provide customers with a better experience and offer brand protection. It reduces processing costs, uses less infrastructure and improves resilience, and removes or reduces manual processes and associated resource time, leaving it to be redeployed on more creative activities.
Quality data and data quality
What all of this illustrates essentially is the importance of trust and transparency, especially in 2020. If you are able to demonstrate to your customers that you adhere to the principles of both data quality and quality data, then they will be reassured that their data will be looked after according to the data protection laws, and they in turn will trust you. Let’s make this year the year of responsible marketing!