By Richard Higginbotham, head of marketing at Transactis.
Data is a powerful force that drives the success of virtually every effective direct marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) initiative.
It provides valuable insights into customer purchasing patterns, preferences and behaviour so that marketing communications can then be more effectively targeted and even personalised.
For many organisations though, a large amount of data is collected but never integrated in a functional database – information such as marketing data, billing records, delivery details and customer feedback often resides in different silos.
As a result, many firms have a wealth of information on customers that they are failing to utilise. We have dubbed this ‘data wastage’.
By eliminating data wastage, businesses can make more efficient use of their budgets and boost return on investment. Failure to act on it can have a hugely detrimental effect on an organisation’s overall reputation or brand.
1. Create a single customer view
What is vital for any company that is underutilising the data at its disposal is to pull together all the databases held by different parts of the company, along with any third-party data it is buying, in order to create a central resource that provides the much-sought-after ‘single customer view’.
This takes what for too many firms is a liability and turns it into a valuable communication, marketing and operations asset.
Companies aiming to use their data for more complex and ultimately fruitful functions – such as precision targeting of marketing communications – must ensure that the information is effectively and accurately captured in the first place, and then stored on a flexible platform that allows for analysis, interpretation and action.
In doing this, companies need to determine:
-What data is needed – and that duplicate, unnecessary, questionable, or inaccurate data be eliminated
-Where the necessary data can be found
-Which capture procedures need to be standardised across the organisation
-Which data standards, such as cleaning and regular updating, need to be established throughout the company
2. Make the most of the data
The advantages and capabilities presented by a central database that provides a single customer view are myriad. Once a company has such a platform, it can then make the most of the intelligence and insight a unified database can provide, helping the firm to track customer behaviour, create consumer profiles and spot market segments.
To get the most from their data a company should use the database to:
-Identify the most valuable customers and focus offers on them -Build loyalty by using data to inform customer reward programmes
-Cross-sell and up-sell (ie. get customers to buy other products and services, and move them into higher spending brackets)
-Extend customer service by selling consumers packages that suit them -Determine event triggers for marketing offers (such as moving house or the birth of a child)
-Create tailored promotions that are similar to those that particular customers have responded to previousl
-Improve direct marketing by getting the targeting, personalisation and marketing channel for an offer right
-Develop joint activities with partners -Inform product development and the introduction of new services
-Manage customer risk by understanding the creditworthiness of customers and the firm’s financial exposure in each case
-Forecast the potential of marketing initiatives and customer revenues
-Enhance existing data with other data from third party sources
-Prospect for new business by creating profiles for the best and most loyal customers and targeting similar types
3. Use a managed service provider
Turning data into a manageable and accessible asset that provides a single customer view is not necessarily an easy road for a company to take. But for firms that embark upon the journey, it can pay long-term dividends, strengthening an organisation’s ability to build on its existing customer base.
For many businesses, the most straightforward solution is to bring in a managed service provider with the knowledge, experience, technology and data resources to turn diverse and often disconnected databases scattered throughout an organisation into a unified platform for actionable insight.
With the aid of a specialist partner, firms can determine where in their organisations data needs to come from and develop a central data store into which all streams from within the company can flow – and that can then be tapped by all the relevant departments or business units that could make use of that data.
Businesses can then utilise the full weight of this available data to improve data quality, enhance insight, and develop more effective strategies for expanding customer relationships and attracting new business.
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