By Francis Wallinger, Managing Director of Alchemetrics.
It has long been acknowledged that data is a powerful marketing tool. The benefits of gaining in-depth customer insight are numerous and ultimately result in a positive effect on marketing success.
However, this is only true when data management is in the right hands. All marketing activity must be supported by an accurate and well-managed database and those who do not engage in thorough cleaning and suppression continue to threaten the reputation of the data industry with wasted, ineffective communications sent to customers.
But whilst this may be a widely practiced doctrine offline, it is not being adopted as comprehensively with digital data.
The appeal of the rise of digital for some marketers is to engage in the quickest, cheapest methods of customer communications, such as sending a blanket email to a whole customer base.
Whilst this may be fast and less costly than direct mail, it is a lazy approach based on the naïve assumption that receiving an irrelevant email is less annoying and therefore less detrimental to a brand than other communications.
It has also been observed recently that in light of blanket emailing, response rates to mail have overtaken those of email in some instances.
This irresponsible attitude to database marketing is especially worrying in light of consumer concerns regarding data security following recent events. With the rise of digital new issues have come to the fore, such as increased use of spam.
The ascent of unsolicited mail such as this encourages concerns over misuse of digital data which will only serve to knock consumer confidence.
With so many people in the industry striving to maintain the reputation of database marketing, it is disappointing to realise that there are still those that try to get away with using inaccurate data.
Responsibility is key – if a company wants to gain from database marketing, it should be forced to do so with accurate and well-managed data. If we do not insist on this, we will continue to be viewed as an industry that aids those who use personal customer information with no consideration for consumer experience and peace of mind.
With more channels through which to communicate and collect information, data allows businesses the opportunity to understand consumer channel preferences and tailor their marketing to fit this.
Only by engaging in analysis of a customer base can you be assured that communications are as targeted and relevant as possible. Driven by an increasingly demanding consumer who is aware of the value of their data, best practice in integrating online and offline data is essential to gain a comprehensive view of a consumer and therefore market to them more effectively.
Consumers are increasingly savvy when it comes to marketing and will not put up with sloppy communications.We must be careful to ensure that digital marketing avoids the same problems of junk mail; the rise of digital should not spell a decline in responsible database marketing but rather highlight the need for all customer details to be accurate.
It is only possible to gain and maintain customer confidence in a brand through intelligent marketing and this only comes through thorough and in-depth analysis of consumer data.
However, benefits can only be gained through investment of time and money on the part of the company in order to gain insight. Whilst it is tempting to avoid the extra costs of analysis, the resulting communications will be more effective, when in turn should increase return on investment.
By using accurate information on a customer, it is possible to reduce waste by sending relevant and targeted communications through preferred channels.
Whilst there is a financial commitment to make, the benefits of reducing wasted communications makes the return on marketing investment greater. Digital allows marketers to contact customers quickly and efficiently, but it is only worthwhile if they want to be communicated with in this way.
If companies understand the importance of database management with offline data, they must see that it is as vital when you are dealing with the huge volumes of data that digital provides.
Sending blanket emails and hoping for the best is not acceptable, just as industry – and environmental – campaigners would say if a company were to take the same approach with postal marketing.
With the technology and expertise available to all those that need it, it begs the question: when will the value of good management of all data be realised?
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