Riding the subscription wave
Subscription services have always been popular with consumers, but the last twelve months have seen a surge as the world moved to a working from home routine. Now we can get a subscription for almost anything, from toilet paper, food boxes, trendy beers, flowers, cosmetics, and household cleaning products. They know when and how often, delivering weekly, monthly or on a completely personalised schedule to make our lives that bit easier.
Subscriptions and the WFH routine
When we descended into lockdown 1 brands truly went subscription mad. Anything and everything became a subscription service. Brands had to be reactive with the closing of stores and consumers suddenly craved convenience like never-before.
The DMA reported that customers’ interest in subscription-based buying has increased significantly over the last year; consumers are buying more personal hygiene products (15%), clothes (15%), beauty and cleaning products (14%) and alcohol (13%) via a monthly subscription in 2020 – all notable increases. 45% of consumers streamed live television at least weekly, up from 20% in 2017. Netflix even had to reduce their streaming quality to allow for more users at the same time.
REaD Group’s Scott Logie chaired an event on this topic as part of his role on the DMA’s Customer Engagement Campaign. The event shared some research around the surge in subscription during the last 12 months, driven by our change of behaviour in lockdown. There was a discussion with Pact Coffee, who provide a fresh coffee subscription; and Santander Bank, who are using AI and machine learning to remind customers of subscriptions they are paying and may have forgotten about.
A subscription is for life … or is it?
There were several interesting points that came out in the discussion. Firstly, while this surge has been great for subscription businesses, it creates a challenge; what happens when we return to normal? Will people stop using subscriptions as much and create a retention challenge for the brands? Clearly now is the time to be thinking about this and offering the flexibility that will be needed to retain as many customers as possible.
Which brought the conversations on to a couple of other topics. Transparency: it was noted not only in the research but also came through very strongly from the panel that being open and honest with the end customer is vital. Pact Coffee goes as far as to send emails just before each delivery to make sure customers know what they are ordering. This gives them the chance to defer this month’s order, choose something different or even add to the order being dispatched. These are sent out every single day and over 60% of the emails get some form of interaction. They firmly believe that this openness and choice builds loyalty over time. Gone are the days of subscription services using inertia as their main retention policy!
Direct mail, digital marketing and the space between!
Embrace the power of multi – channel marketing this year! 2020 highlighted the need for marketers to be reactive, responsive and above all keep a level head. By using both online and offline strategies to engage customers – many of whom are now mostly working from home – the two have proven to work effectively and with great success. Now is the time to embrace multi-channel marketing and here’s why!
40% of consumers agreed that direct mail became a part of the new routine!
Direct Mail has seen a huge increase in engagement. With more people than ever working from home and the need for more tangible, compassionate and personal communication at an all-time high, 40% of consumers agreed that direct mail became a part of the new routine. We saw clients increase their mailing volumes month on month, and a recent campaign for a leisure retailer saw a huge 86% increase in sales as a result.
Direct Mail triggered online engagement increased by 64% and online sales increase by 25%!
Direct mail offers a lasting, trusted and tactile form of engagement. Playing an essential driving role for your customers brand journey. Research from Royal Mail MarketReach in late 2020 shows that 88% of consumers engaged more with direct mail in 2020 than ever before. Direct Mail triggered online engagement increased by 64% and online sales increase by 25%! Great stats that can’t be ignored.
However, direct mail can never reach it’s full potential without the addition of digital communication. Email has a much shorter life span but delivers the immediate and up to date content to keep your brand present. When primed with direct mail, customers spend 30% longer engaging with digital communication. The two side by side offer a unique brand experience, increasing brand engagement and instilling brand loyalty. Providing timely, relevant and personal communication throughout.
To ensure this multi-channel approach is utilised to the full, communication must be timely, accurate and compliant. With quality data, correct addressing and relevant content, the two can work seamlessly:
– Drive customer engagement
– Increase ROI
– Promote positive brand reputation
Find out how REaD Group can help you unleash the power of ‘MM’!
Understand your customers with Actionable Insight
This week kicked off with positive news for us all. A vaccine is ready to roll out, retailers can open 24/7 over the festive season and of course the countdown to Christmas has begun. Using this marketing momentum for retailers, the time to grab your consumers attention is now.
Direct Mail has seen a huge increase in engagement over this year. With more people than ever working from home and the need for more tangible and personal communication at an all-time high, 40% of consumers agreed that direct mail became a part of the new routine. We saw clients increase their mailing volumes month on month, and a recent campaign for a leisure retailer saw a huge 86% increase in sales as a result.
Direct mail offers a lasting, trusting and tactile form of engagement that plays an essential driving role for your customers brand journey. Research from Royal Mail – Marketsearch 2020 shows that 88% of consumers engaged more with direct mail in 2020 than ever before. Engagement and online traffic increased by 64% and online sales increase by 25%. However, direct mail can never reach it’s full potential without the addition of digital marketing and email communication. Email has a much shorter life span but delivers the immediate and up to date content to keep your brand present for the consumer. When primed with direct mail, customers spend 30% longer engaging with digital communication. The two side by side offer a unique brand experience – increasing brand engagement – instilling brand loyalty and providing timely and personal communication throughout.
To ensure these channels are utilised to the full, communication must be timely, accurate and compliant. With quality data, correct addressing and relevant content, the two can work seamlessly:
– Drive customer engagement
– Increase ROI
– Promote positive brand reputation
To find out how REaD Group can help you unleash the full potential of your data
Understand your customers with Actionable Insight
With some key marketing channels impacted by the Coronavirus lockdown -and a massive potential audience – there has never been a better time to consider using Direct Mail as part of your multichannel campaigns!
More people than ever are making a point of looking at and engaging with their mail every day. This can only be good for open rates cut through and conversion. We are already seeing clients not just continue with direct mail but looking to increase volume.
To get you on track to tap into this powerful channel, we have created a handy checklist – successful direct mail in just 7 steps!
Step 1 How to choose your target audience
Step 2 How to avoid mailing your existing customer base
Step 3 How to set a call to action (CTA)
Step 4 How to decide on the format of a direct mail pack?
Step 5 How to determine the campaign look and messaging
Step 6 How to decide which partners to use
Step 7 How to determine what other marketing activities to run
Step 8 How to tell if your campaign has worked
Step 9 What results you can expect
Want to find out how REaD can help you implemented a highly
effective direct mail campaign? Contact our team today
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!
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 Jon Cano-Lopez
So, it is 184 days – or six months if you prefer – since The General Data Protection Regulation – aka GDPR – became enforceable.
In the run up to the enforcement date – and in the months following – there has continued to be a huge amount of uncertainty and misinformation around GDPR and in some cases some down-right panic mongering. The avalanche of re-permissioning messages in the weeks preceding May 25th was testament to a prevalence of some database damaging advice.
One data protection lawyer we know likened it to watching lemmings throwing themselves off a cliff!
However, despite the hysteria and here-say the threatened “GDPR data apocalypse” has not materialised. And as we reflect on 2018 and the period since “GDPR day” here are some reasons to be cheerful…
Embracing the spirit of GDPR
REaD Group have been consistent in our view that GDPR is a good thing for consumers – and for business.
And six months on, our view has not changed. In fact, we are even more confident that embracing the principles of the GDPR will only enhance direct marketing – increasing transparency and trust and leading to more positive, long term and profitable relationships between consumers and brands.
The Regulations are not about catching out businesses (who are doing the right thing!). They are about the enforcement of practices that should be in place anyway. Keeping your customers and their rights, privacy and preferences at the heart of your business and being transparent in how you are processing personal data will not only help to protect you from the risk of fines but also enhance your brand reputation, value and relationships. Ultimately, if you are doing things right, it will be reflected in your bottom line.
The Data Economy is thriving
And although the reference to data being the “new oil” has been somewhat over-used, there is truth in the concept. Projections from European Data Market Study for the growth of data economy are extremely positive, with the value of the data economy in Europe projected to be worth €739 billion by 2020.
The rise of the CDO!
Gartner have predicted that through 2019, 90% of large organizations will have hired a CDO.
Another indicator of the growing importance of data is the rise of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) – elevating data strategy to Board level. The appointment of a CDO in many organisations – and across diverse industries – indicates a growing recognition of data as a driver of value and competitive advantage. Data driven decisioning is increasingly becoming a business imperative.
Results from the latest IPA Bellwether Report also provide cause for cautious optimism, with total marketing budgets revised higher during the third quarter of 2018, extending the current period of growth to six years.
After an initial period of post-GDPR caution and inertia, there has been some signs of resurgence for direct marketing, with many businesses successfully utilising third party data and direct mail for acquisition marketing campaigns under the Legitimate Interest basis.
The industry view is also optimistic. In independently conducted research, over 78% of direct brands asked have projected equivalent or an increase in spend on data driven marketing.
Third party data – use it responsibly and reap the rewards
Well, we have been saying this for some time, but to borrow from the recently published DMA advice: Using third party data under the GDPR.
“There is nothing in the GDPR that prohibits the use of third-party data provided that it is undertaken in the right way, with the appropriate safe guards.”
The message is clear – and provides much needed clarity for marketers. The direct marketing industry should have the confidence and conviction to continue to use responsibly sourced and permissioned third party data to optimise the quality and value of their data and data strategy.
Plus, new ways of utilising open source data have provided more opportunities to target direct marketing to addresses – using postcode level data to send partiality addressed mail.
GDPR data quality obligations – don’t bury your head in the sand!
There is a growing realisation that the data quality obligations introduced by GDPR cannot be ignored. Article 5.1 (d) is clear – reasonable and demonstrable efforts must be made to keep all personal data held and processed by a business clean and up to date -or deleted.
Our independent survey indicated those who utilise data quality services appreciate “not having to worry about the accuracy of contact lists when launching marketing campaigns”.
And data quality is now being seen as a ‘must do’ to ensure compliance with GDPR, minimise wasted communications and limit potential reputational damage.
Rapid innovation in technology is also impacting positively on data driven marketing – with developments in DaaS, AI and machine learning delivering even greater opportunities for data optimisation, enrichment and real-time interaction.
Key take aways from the last six months? Businesses and marketers should see GDPR as an opportunity to be more responsible and accountable, to get their data and data strategy in order – get it right and the future is bright!
By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group
At our recent GDPR briefing, a mere 3 days before May 25th, we asked those attending to sum up their final thoughts and feelings on the new regulation in 1 to 4 words. Needless to say, we received quite a range of responses! Many were whole-heartedly optimistic – ‘About Time Too!’, ‘An Opportunity’ while another begrudgingly conceded that it was a ‘necessary evil’. And one (we certainly hope they were being tongue in cheek!) simply labelled it ‘a pain in the a**e!’ – GDPR has been labelled as the 4 letter word.
‘Necessary’ seems like a very appropriate word. GDPR’s predecessor (the Data Protection Act) was introduced in 1988 – long before much of the technology involved in today’s marketing practices had been developed and before the amount of contactable data available exploded! Analogue legislation for a digital world.
There is no doubt that the last two years plus spent preparing for GDPR have been a challenging period for many. Particularly smaller companies who have more limited resources to ensure that they meet all of the new regulation’s requirements (of which there are quite a few).
Don’t give up!
Those who find themselves still just short of readiness, now that we are on the other side of the deadline, should not fall into utter despair just yet. To quote some sage advice from Hannah Crowther of renowned law firm, Bristows LLP – as long as you can clearly evidence that you are working towards adhering to the new Regulation (but haven’t quite crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’), it is extremely unlikely that the ICO will come a-knocking. Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has been quite clear that they would rather use the carrot than the stick!
However, those who consider themselves to be ‘GDPR ready’ should not be taking their foot off the pedal – far from it! As a regulation, GDPR demands ongoing compliance which is no small task. Undoubtedly, once you have the proper systems and procedures in place and they have been adopted into company culture, this task should only become easier.
A ‘New Challenge’
While some are concerned that GDPR signals an end to marketing practice as we know it, this is hardly a bad thing! ‘Inbox bombing’ has become widespread practice over the last few years, to the extent that consumers have definitely become desensitised to email offers.
Marketing will not cease to exist now that GDPR is law, it will simply require some refinement and a change in approach – as well as a renewed focus on the consumer. There will certainly be a substantial dip in terms of contactable individuals initially, as companies determine which legal bases they intend to process data under.
Nevertheless, by using data intelligently to understand your customer base and utilising techniques such as segmentation and modelling, marketers will be able to offer consumers more personalised communications that they are actually interested in receiving. A ‘new challenge’ as one attendee aptly described it.
What is more, GDPR champions openness and transparency – consumers that are being contacted should now actually EXPECT to receive these communications.
Another word to crop up was simply the word ‘consent’. Truth be told this has been the main concern for the majority of marketers since GDPR was first incepted – and the media furore has hardly helped matters. However, in the FIRST statement of the ICO’s recent consent guidance it clearly says:
“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.”
Don’t forget that there are five other legal bases for processing data, and in many instances consent may not be the right one to use. When it comes to honing your marketing strategy under the new legislation, it seems as though Legitimate Interest is in many cases the most obvious and appropriate for contacting prospective customers.
Mail has been found to be a much more trustworthy and tangible form of communication for consumers – and much more likely to yield a positive response. Furthermore it is a channel that has a much greater scope for creativity, as opposed to email which can be limiting, presenting an opportunity to create some truly engaging campaigns.
While our word collection was a fun exercise aimed at providing some levity before the big deadline, it was reassuring to see that so many people seem to appreciate GDPR as an opportunity and a change for the better. Regardless of people’s opinions towards GDPR, the fact remains that it is now LAW – no ifs, ands or buts!
See the full list of people’s GDPR words in the video below: