In this article, we explore the important role that data management has to play in direct marketing projects
All direct marketing channels rely on data
Irrespective of the type of direct marketing channel used, there will need to be a reliance and dependency on data. It’s important to remember what the “direct” in “direct marketing” means – “The marketing message is delivered directly to the customer, individually and is not delivered blind through a mass campaign”.
Therefore, data that is personal to the customer is needed, whether it’s to distribute direct mail (e.g. address details), telemarketing (phone number to call the person) or direct Email marketing (an Email address to make contact), etc.
Sources of direct marketing data
There are a variety of data sources available to any business, and the main of them are:
- Internal data – This is data which is available in internal systems, e.g. ERP, CRM, Ecommerce, Email systems, etc.
- Customer provided data – This is data provided by the customer voluntarily, which could be at the point of sale, online, by telephone, by post or a street survey, etc.
- Purchased – Added value / enhanced data – Care always needs to be exercised that acquired data is opted-in and of a high quality (relevant, free of errors and duplication)
- Public data – Some data is publicly available via online sources, trade directories and resources such as Wikipedia and Yelp, etc.
Storage of direct marketing data
Most organisations store data internally, on their own servers, but there is a massive trend towards using cloud computing to store data. This has benefits of lower cost and lower staff management, but many organisations are concerned about cloud storage due to security fears following data leaks.
An integrated approach to data management works best, where all of the data available is consolidated into a single view and can then be used for marketing purposes. This provides a complete view of the customer and their profile and is often called a persona. This type of data access is particularly ideal for personalised direct marketing and has significant CRM benefits. Personalised data, could be printed within direct marketing materials, e.g. image of a previously viewed product on an Ecommerce website, etc.
Essential qualities of direct marketing data
Here are some essential qualities that direct marketing data needs to comply with to meet the objectives of direct marketing:
- Accurate – Data, needs to be cleansed and verified on a regular basis, be accurate and up to date
- Consistent – Data needs to be used consistently e.g. normalisation of data values (e.g. Mr/Mr., date formatting (e.g. must validate to DD/MM/YY), postcode and telephone formatting, etc.)
- Duplication free – Data needs to be de-duplicated for maximum effectiveness and improved customer relations. This can either be real-time de-duplication (i.e. at time of entry) or can be de-duplicated post-process through data cleansing methods. A KPI that an organisation could measure is the level of duplication in a database
- Enhanced and personalised – Data is best when it’s enhanced and additional personalisation is add
- Legally compliant – Complies with laws such as the Data Protection Act 1998 and the EU GDPR
- Opted-in – A part of being legally compliant is that the customer is truly opted-in and consents to receiving marketing messages from the organisation
- Secure – Data needs to be secure. Data leaks need to be prevented and data needs to be backed up regularly to avoid any data losses through corruption, human error or hard disk issues
- Segmented – Direct marketing data needs to be segmented into logical sub-groups for a targeted and focused marketing approach (e.g. by organisational characteristics, buying patterns, etc.)
The need for Data cleansing
Data for direct marketing needs to be continuously cleansed (it’s not just a spring activity!). Prevention is better than cure, so it’s important to improve collation methods where possible to improve data accuracy from the outset (e.g. forced formatting standards).
Techniques to cleanse include using the Royal Mail PAF and telephone preference service (for opting out) amongst others, using automated software, fuzzy matching (e.g. to fix issues with symbols) and verification techniques such as telephone verification and customer self-confirmation of the accuracy of their records online. Good data cleansing will result in improved CRM generally. Campaign metrics will improve through lowering the number of bounced Emails, experiencing less returned direct mail and less invalid telephone calls due to accurate phone numbers.
For many organisations, it will make sense to outsource data management to specialist data management companies with expertise in direct marketing like Baker Goodchild. The following two Baker Goodchild infographics provide useful information about data management Clean up your (data) act and How to keep your data safe.
Call Baker Goodchild
Data management is a standard and important service offering of Baker Goodchild and an important part of our direct marketing services. We work with many organisations to help improve their data quality. Call us today on 0800 612 1972 or complete our contact form and we will call you back very soon.