Data-driven Marketing For Improved Customer Relationships

White Paper
Customer Relationship

As marketers, we know that greater knowledge enables us to be both targeted and relevant with our approach, and timely with our communications. Therefore the success of marketing is extremely dependant on accurate information.

Fortunately, the quality of data that you hold is something that can be improved. This paper looks at some of the key trends in consumer and market behaviour and offers some guidance on what you can do to make lasting improvements.

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Client loyalty is the last great battleground

It’s a known fact that it is cheaper to retain a customer than to generate a new one and businesses do this by ensuring loyal relationships, high standards of service and understanding what their customers need. According to research conducted by Experian, these are also the biggest drivers behind organisations for wanting to turn data in to insight (Figure 1).

It’s not surprising that businesses are putting increasing value on this information to inform strategy and develop closer relationships with customers. Research shows that 84% of businesses believe data is an integral part of forming a business strategy and that by 2020, 79% of sales decisions will be driven by customer data.1 Businesses accept that data is increasingly important and they understand its ability to power smart interactions with customers.

2.1 Consumers are changing the game

Consumer’s expectations are also fuelling a necessity for business to react, as they rapidly change. Customers expect businesses to be able to interact with them whenever and wherever they want, from any device at their disposal. And it usually falls on the marketer to deliver this targeted and personal approach. Research conducted by Experian into consumer attitudes on data quality found that 70% of consumers believe businesses should get personal data right first time.2 They want a more personalised service that’s built around their individual preferences, and which is consistent across devices. Information can enable this progression, but only if it is accurate.

2.2 Data landscapes are becoming increasingly complex

Whilst data might be held in multiple departments, marketers often manage vast amounts of information and are usually responsible for the channels that collect customer data. What’s more, these channels are likely to continue to become more complex as businesses plan to increase their use of websites (65%), mobile devices (62%), mobile applications (62%) and social media (60%) as a source of data in coming years. One of the biggest challenges marketers will face is being able to recognise customers as they interact through a wider range of channels and effectively manage the accuracy of this information over time, and then showcase this back to business to drive further investment for affected areas.

2.3 Inaccurate data is holding many organisations back

Whilst effectively identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer needs by utilising data is the goal, research shows that on average, 23% of customer or prospect data is suspected to be inaccurate in some way, shape or form. What’s more, over three-quarters (76%) of businesses believe inaccurate data is undermining their ability to provide an excellent customer experience. Data is only useful if it’s accurate, yet businesses continue to struggle with basic data quality issues. The most common data challenges being; incomplete or missing data (60%), outdated information (54%) and duplicated data (51%). In an environment where marketers are becoming increasingly dependent on data for business decisions and to generate revenue, it’s essential that you have the correct processes and tools in place to address common data errors and effectively monitor and control data quality over time.

Data-driven marketing can help your business perform

Given the changes in consumer attitude and behaviour and the daily challenges organisations face, this paper will now offer some guidance on how you can improve the integrity of your data in order to provide customers with a better experience.

3.1 Understand your data landscape

With a solid foundation of accurate data you can be confident that not only will interactions be relevant and your communications targeted, but your reporting will be precise.

To assess the levels of data quality within your organisation you can benchmark yourself against the 6 dimensions of data quality as defined by the DAMA Working Group, my interpretation of this and the impact for marketers is below.

3.2 Utilise technology to manage your customer information

With organisations adopting multiple channels to capture data, the risk of poor data quality is high. Given the value marketers place on this information to drive effective campaigns and that the marketing department is usually responsible for these channels they need to ensure there are processes in place to capture this information in a consistent and accurate manner.

Equally, data decays over time and the need to clean, maintain and suppress contact data should be recognised by all marketers and businesses as a fundamental part of effective Contact Data Management (CDM). Although capturing contact information accurately first time is a step in the right direction, it must be followed with regular cleaning and suppression as contact data changes. Every day in the UK, 1,600 people die, 18,000 people move house and 1,800 people register with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS).

The benefits of effective contact data management:

  • Smoother marketing processes – Maximising the accuracy of data captured from consumers is important. If it enters your organisation wrong, then the data inaccuracy will flow through your organisation. Capturing data right first time makes the maintenance of data quality levels far easier.
  • Better marketing budget expenditure - Preventing inaccurate and poorly formatted records entering your database, removing duplicates and updating those that are incorrect reduces money wasted on communicating with those that cannot or will not respond. Experian’s research identified that on average, 23% of revenue is wasted because of poor data quality.
  • Improved decision making - Correct contact records provide more accurate intelligence and the ability to segment information which helps maintain a competitive advantage over those without contact data capture and validation software. High quality data will also help with a single view of existing or prospective customers. Cleaning your contact data regularly will also support internal confidence in your contact data held in your database
  • Customer experience – Ensuring the accuracy of your data helps to maintain a single customer view which will in turn reduce the number of duplicate mailings resulting in a poor customer experience. Recording a contact’s full address from minimal information also creates a professional first impression and eliminates problems from it being misheard or spelt wrong.
  • Positive brand perception - On-going suppression will prevent your organisation communicating with people who don’t want to be contacted, such as those who are registered on the MPS or TPS (Mail and telephone preference service) or who have passed away. Doing so could result in a negative brand perception, or worse getting a fine from a regulator.
  • Identify new opportunities - Enhancing your data enables deeper insights on consumer lifestyles and behaviour to help make more informed marketing decisions. Using reference files to enhance missing information or update outdated information will also provide more targeted approaches, ultimately improving customer experience.

3.3 Monitor the accuracy of your data over time

However, all this won’t all happen overnight. You need to ensure you embed a data quality strategy and adopt KPIs based on your audit to measure quality over time. It’s important to link these to tangible business objectives in order to demonstrate value against the bottom line.

Implement effective processes to make sure that you validate all incoming data at the point of capture, that means on your website, at call centres, on the phone and even when you buy data in. And don’t just expect data to look after itself. Ensure you have regular data cleanses so that data doesn’t go out of date and you are suppressing information.

Invest in data quality tools to ensure the accurate capture of contact data and bulk cleansing services to maintain this over time. Data quality tools should provide all the benefits of automation, scalability and a business-friendly interface. Experian offer capture and cleaning solutions for more than 240 countries that can:

  • Validate: Capture accurate data first timeExperian offer automated tools that can be integrated into the front end of CRM applications, websites and web forms to capture contact data accurately and quickly. Verified through extensive reference data, we support multiple contact data types including: address, email and mobile
  • Cleanse: Keep data up to date - As data degrades through time, we can help you keep your data clean, duplicate free, standardises and suppressed against key files. We can deliver this in real time of as a bulk service.
  • Enhance: Amend data to drive value - For greater analysis, profiling, segmentation and understanding of your data and its potential, Experian has over 40 valuable datasets to complete the picture.

3.4 Communicate your successes

Data quality is as much a cultural issue as it is a process and technical issue. In order to generate a data-driven culture that continuously supports quality information it’s essential to educate people on the benefits of data quality and share your success stories along the way. Not only does this promote a data–driven culture and long term quality, but it also supports future investment in data initiatives if people can see its value. Make sure you tie success to business objectives to highlight the value.

4. Conclusion

This paper has highlighted the clear benefits and importance of having accurate data to support an effective marketing strategy. Data quality empowers marketers with the ability to get closer to customers, understand their needs and offer a more personalised experience all of which ultimately drives revenue.

A combined approached of people, processes and technology is essential in any data management strategy. Marketers should therefore begin by establishing a clear data owner. Then using the DAMA DMBOK, marketers should assess the quality of the data they currently hold and adopt technology and reliable reference data to validate, append and enhance contact information. Lastly, data is constantly decaying so embedding processes to effectively monitor and control quality over time is critical.

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