DMA Guest Blog: Data hygiene and accuracy have never been more important.

Data hygiene and accuracy have never been more important.; As we create more mature relationships with consumers (built on honesty, openness and transparency) then the way that we keep our databases up to date, relevant and accurate must also move with the times.


Data hygiene and accuracy

It is, in fact, a surprisingly mature market; we launched The GAS File (the UK’s first suppression file) in 1992, some 23 years ago. Yet in the majority of suppression files sold today, the offering remains essentially the same. This means it will find someone that it thinks has moved house or died and stop spending the client’s money on sending mail to them. On the face of it, simples! But of course it rarely is. What happens if a person moves jobs, or a business closes (50% of start-ups close in the first two years)? What happens in the event of a divorce (one in four households)? What happens if the husband has died but the wife continues to live at the house (about 34% of deaths)? What happens if the household has only moved out for six months to refurbish the house (80,000 a year)? What if the child, now at university, has the same name as the father or mother (more common that you might think)? Not quite so “simples” as it seems.

In the days where carpet bombing and mass targeting were the de-facto strategies, the idea of getting rid of another 40, 50, or 60 thousand names from your file really didn’t matter; the so called “Spot and Drop” model. However, in this new-found era of “less is more”, with marketers trying to forge “real” relationships with their customers and prospects, the number of targets prospects is much smaller. Therefore every single one should be nurtured as fully as possible, creating no room for error. If you get something wrong, they will be in the arms of a competitor faster than you can say Jack Robinson!

I still sit in many meetings and have clients say to me “Great, supplier x has achieved twice as many matches as suppliers a, b or c”. I explain that they are asking the wrong question; what in fact they should be asking is “how and why has supplier x matched more than a, b and c?”. Querying where the data is from is a remarkably infrequent question asked these days. A single source of data in such a peripatetic marketplace is unlikely to ever cut it.

The Spot and Drop model also concerns me as we should be using that data to enhance our positive targeting. How often do you undertake an analysis of those customers that have moved house without notification? Is this important? If you knew the profile of these individual customers, could you try and preempt it? How often do you take your Gone Away file and, firstly, see if they are still customers and, secondly, if they are not, try and relocate and re-engage? Experience shows that the longer you leave it after moving home, the less likely they are to return.

Over the years, we have discovered that by building a universe of population movements we now receive a raft of confirmations that lift the levels of certainty on these issues to extremely high levels. So in the case of home movements, we track the whole range: move outs, move ins, temporary changes, single move outs/ins, as well as a host of other transactional information to validate either a constant address presence or a new one. We apply the same validation rules across our entire data product suite as we know that using the wrong information will always be more expensive than doing nothing at all. This is not to discourage you from doing anything at all, but to impress upon you that, these days, using accurate, qualified data is the only way forward.

So the next time someone says they’ve just cleaned up your database and got rid of 500,000 records, think of that as the start of something, not the end of it.

Online Marketing Strategy for SMB’s

Online Marketing

Small to medium sized businesses often have a hard time of it when it comes to online marketing; often lacking the niche interest of micro businesses (with close knitted clientele), and not big enough to warrant huge budgets on expensive campaigns. SMB’s are frequently left with the less glamorous aspects of online marketing.  That said, whilst they might not be glamorous, many of the campaign types appropriate for SMB’s can be hugely effective, manageable in-house with a small team and can be an opportunity for achieving a great return on investment (ROI).  Here we go through a few of the most popular techniques to engage your prospects online.

Social Media; Social media is where many of the customers are spending their free time; it’s important to join them there, whether it is simply by being visible on their preferred platforms or by hosting competitions, giveaways or promotions through these channels, social media can offer great visibility for free, with the option to increase results through paid promotion. Whilst this may be best suited to B2C businesses, there is no reason you can’t leverage your ‘thought leadership’ to dominate online conversation in most B2B industries also; using LinkedIn and Twitter can be an effective way to reach buyers at all stages of the funnel.

Email; Whilst social media may be the talking point now, the dinosaur of the internet – email – is as effective as ever, research show that marketers can expect a 40 times return on investment through using email campaigns. Building and nurturing contacts lists should be a priority for your SMB.

Search Engine Optimisation; SEO is an tool for being discovered online by your target audience.  Without an optimised online presence you may be getting overlooked by countless potential customers, but by using local search techniques such as citation building, directory listing and onsite optimisation, to name a few, you can generate dramatic uplifts in revenue for your business, even if yours is a primarily offline offering.

Blogging; This can be a great method to help your search engine optimisation attempts and thought leadership simultaneously. By publishing fresh content online regularly, Google will have more to crawl and your pages will become valid results for increasing numbers of search queries. In addition, the blog posts should be interesting enough to encourage return visitors and can have a soft sales message to maximize conversion on your site.

Paid Efforts; Terms such as ‘pay per click’ and ‘display network’ might intimidate small business owners, however this needn’t be the case. Paid advertising online can help you reach potential customers wherever they are on the web. It can also be a handy method of encouraging return visits by ‘retargeting’ browsers who have visited your site before.

Press Releases; Just like the offline world, there are plenty of press outlets who could be interested in reporting your news, in fact, you’re much more likely to find an interested outlet online due to the vast quantity and range of topics covered.

Using a combination of the above methods is a great way to get started with your online marketing, the process may seem daunting, but in reality much of it can be learnt online and can be made much easier by using available marketing tools.

Whilst we cannot recommend a specific order to tackle these processes, the general advice is to play to your strengths, if you have a great customer database, use email campaigns to engage them, if people are walking past your business, make sure you’re visible on local search and if you have something genuinely interesting to say, publish it online either through social media or blogs!

Is Birmingham Really as Digital as They Say?

Digital Birmingham

In a series of articles we look at major tech cities across the UK and find out how digital their retailers are. In cities full of talented digital people we expected to see a large proportion of their retailers trading online. This report looks at how digital Birmingham is.

Birmingham has the largest GDP and population outside of London[1] and is poised to become a global centre for digital technology. The creative and digital media sector generates more than £890m for the local economy[2]. Last year Birmingham successfully applied for a European Regional Development fund of £2.3 million to support Digital Connectivity across the city[3].

The websites of retail businesses in and around Birmingham were analysed to find out how well they are engaging with digital. Using data from Market Location, the analysis looked at whether retailers have websites that offer e-commerce functionality, whether the website was designed to be viewed on mobile devices and how often the website has been shared on social media.

Firstly the websites were reviewed to see how many of them offered e-commerce functionality to allow their users to make purchases through the site.

Digital Birmingham

Around 20% of the sites that were analysed had e-commerce functionality with 80% only selling in their shops or over the phone. This means there is a big opportunity for a lot of Birmingham-based retailers to reach out to a wider customer base through their website. In fact, small businesses are driving growth faster than big name chains with December 2013 showing a 11.8% increase in online sales[4].

Carpet and rug retailer Royal Carpets sell a range of different flooring through their excellent e-commerce site. Royal Carpets have realised that it is not enough just to have the functionality to be able to sell products online, their site enables users to search by colour, décor, room or brand to find the ideal flooring for your home.

The retailer websites were then analysed to see if they were designed responsively so that they work on mobile and tablet devices. This test also looked at whether the retailers had a dedicated mobile website.

Digital Birmingham

22% of Birmingham retailer sites in our study are responsive or purpose built for mobile devices. The rise in mobile usage looks set to continue. The younger generation has already taken to using tablets with 17% of children under 8 using a mobile device every day[5]! Mobile e-commerce is also rising as people have less security concerns about ordering goods on their mobiles.

The People Shop is a lifestyle store run by design duo Allison and Christian Sadler offering clothes and accessories made by themselves and by other independent designer makers. The site responds well to a range of mobile devices giving users easy to use menus even on phones with small screens. As well as displaying their product range with some nice photos the personality of the shop owners comes across though a well maintained blog.

Finally, the websites were analysed to see how often they had been shared across social media. Sites were grouped by the number of Facebook Likes and Tweets on Twitter that they received.

Digital Birmingham

While the websites of most Birmingham retailer shops had less than 100 Tweets it is good to see the majority had at least some Facebook Likes. With more importance being placed on the use of social media for businesses improving your profile on these networks can offer a cost effective way to promote your shop online.

When combing some of this data we can see that website owners who have sites that work on mobile devices and offer e-commerce functionality tend to have more social shares. Around 6.5% of the sites in the sample had websites with both mobile and e-commerce capabilities with these sites having a much higher than average number of social shares.

Atoo Menswear have been selling alternative streetwear since their shop opened in 1998. The fact that the shop sells rare hard-to-find labels from around the world means they have dedicated fans across social media. They have over 700 followers of their Twitter account and over 2,000 Likes on their Facebook page where they showcase some of their latest products.

As expected for a city of its size Birmingham retailers have a reasonably high proportion of e-commerce sites. There is room for improvement though with a lot of those sites not being designed with mobile devices in mind and with the sites lacking shares on social media. Social media provides a way for smaller retailers to talk directly to their customers and can be highly effective at building a company’s brand.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_city_of_the_United_Kingdom

2. http://businessbirmingham.com/files/2013-02-08/EconomicZonesProspectus.pdf

3. http://www.digitalbirmingham.co.uk/about/key-achievements

4. http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/business-news/retail/small-stores-are-powering-uk-retail-growth-their-sales-are-up-a-whopping-8/7213.article

5. http://mashable.com/2013/11/06/children-media-activity/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link

Performance Based Email Marketing

Is Lack of Control an Issue?

If done correctly email marketing is very profitable. But does a lack of control with performance-based email marketing compromise business success?


Performance Based Email Marketing

Email marketing is without doubt a hugely successful approach for both retention and acquisition marketing. Techniques have now become very sophisticated, and integration with other marketing channels has maximised the potential returns from email marketing campaigns. In addition, the relatively low cost of testing what works (in terms of message, creative, target audience etc.) makes email marketing a very flexible way to refine your marketing activities and improve results.

With its popularity continuing to increase, it is therefore not surprising that there are now several different models that are used to price email marketing – such as buying a managed service, or buying an email list or paying on a cost per lead basis.

So, which one should you choose?

On the surface, the cost per lead model seems a “no-brainer” – because you only pay for each lead generated, rather than for every prospect the email is sent to. However this increase in performance based marketing (lead generation on a cost per lead basis) does have some downsides.

For example, a client will brief an agency on what is needed, and the agency will then source different providers to obtain the relevant email data needed for the campaigns. So far so good – but there are only a very limited number of data sources, although there are many email data providers to work with.

In the end, working with multiple performance-based marketing agencies can lead to target customers receiving multiple examples of the same email, as each company is working in isolation from each other. This is about as far removed from good target marketing as you can get – and a total waste of money!

Here is a real life example:

At Market Location, we work directly with a blue chip client on customer acquisition email marketing campaigns. 

We provide email data for them to manage their own email sends, as well as direct mail and telemarketing data for their call centre. This is a tightly controlled environment; they only work with one data provider, so are able to ensure that any duplicate customers are removed and the recipient communication is fully managed.  

This seems straight forward enough, but then performance marketing is introduced – i.e. where the company pays other agencies on a cost per lead basis. What could be better for a client?  Well, surprisingly perhaps, we also work with that same payment provider through a performance based agency.  

Although unusual, their different creative treatments are broadcast, and we are able to manage the number of emails a recipient receives. However, this is where it gets complicated:

The client also works with two companies who licence our data on an ad hoc basis, and we have received the same performance brief through another two agencies that are offering the identical creative to what we are already sending. In other words, in the client’s eyes they are sending one or two emails a month to an individual, when in reality they could be sending as many as seven.  

These are, of course, just the ones that come across our desk – yet an email address is related to an individual, which means as well as it appearing on our database it could be on numerous others.  
How many emails could one person receive in a month?!

Fighting a lack of control 

This lack of control is worrying. Clearly, the client wastes a lot of money. But in addition to that, the recipient who is receiving multiple emails is going to get annoyed. This ensures the message becomes diluted at the same time as making your business or brand look very unprofessional.

Furthermore, a lack of management in regard to performance marketing also means that the client’s customers get a lot of prospecting emails. Ask yourself: is this okay? Of course it isn’t. Why on earth would you need to send multiple emails to the same recipient? Naturally this is a situation that could be easily rectified, but no one seems to want to.
All a client would need to do is ask all their data suppliers to upload data to match and de-dupe against others and output the net records. This may cost the client extra money, but which client wouldn’t want to protect their brand?

Transax Merchant Services

Data Solutions Case Study

Transax Merchant Services is a well-known brand name that has been providing payment services since 1986.  They fully understand how critical data is to the success of their marketing activity and therefore their sales opportunities.  In their partnership with Market Location their requirements were fully understood and met.


Transax Merchant Services Case Study


Background

‘TRANSAX Merchant Services’ help businesses to sell more by making it easier for their customers to pay with a wide range of secure payment acceptance services and by reducing their concerns about risk. TRANSAX process over 1.6 million payments every day on behalf of their customers with a combined annual value of over £30 billion with the service being used by more than 16,000 merchants throughout Europe in over 80,000 locations.’

The Challenge

Transax needed a monthly feed of business data that would be used for telemarketing, direct mail and email marketing campaigns.  They had used other data providers in the past but were looking for a data partner who would provide quality data, support and flexibility.

When Transax first spoke to Market Location they had quite stringent requirements, for example, the data needed to be stored in such a way that it was available online and accessible in-house so that at every stage Transax had complete control.  They also wanted complete visibility of what data extract was being used and when.  Plus the ability to timetable activity which was crucial to their sales and marketing campaigns.  In addition to these essential requirements, there was also the obvious need for:

High Quality Data – it needed to be as fresh and clean as possible.  Previous experience of data suppliers had not been positive with gone away rates as high as 14%.

Volume of Data – Transax try to keep to a 6 month marketing cycle, only contacting their target markets twice a year as a maximum.  However they found that with previous suppliers the dwindling volume of data available meant they were actually marketing to them far more frequently.  There were also discrepancies in the data counts provided and what was delivered, making planning and execution of campaigns very difficult.

Accessibility/control of the data – Transax wanted online access to the data so they could run instant (and accurate) data counts and be in control of the data extraction. With their previous supplier they could be waiting up to 5 days for an order to be processed and returned.  Each order then had to be checked to make sure the correct data had been returned as requested.  They often found there were differences in the amount of data ordered compared with what was received.  The timescales would also be very frustrating in emergency situations where a supply of data was needed the same day but could not be met.

The Solution

By working closely together with the client, Market Location were able to provide Transax with a solution that not only met but exceeded their expectations.  The prospect universe provided by Market Location fully met the brief – the right targets, the right contact details and a high standard of accuracy.  The software solution Market Location provided in the form of the ‘Bizi’ data download system gave Transax exactly what they needed – all at the click of a button.

“The Market Location team even went above and beyond to ensure Bizi worked for us. They spent a lot of time with us, getting to know our business and data criteria plus the reasons behind why the criteria was so stringent, and came back with solutions and ideas to help improve and streamline our data processes.  Also setting up templates so the data is extracted in the exact order/format we need for use in the business.” 

The Results

The connectivity rate in the Transax telemarketing team increased significantly compared to previous results using competitor data solutions.  Contacting the right businesses and the appropriate decision maker first time resulted in a decrease in mail gone-aways from 14% to less than 2%.  Campaign planning and execution was improved significantly because of the access to the Bizi system that provided accurate, live data counts and downloads available instantly.

“The breadth of coverage and quality of the data combined with the service and expertise we received from Market Location is a vast improvement on other data providers we’ve tried.  To reduce our gone-away rate by such a significant rate (from 14% to less than 2%), combined with exceptionally high connectivity rates using the Market Location telephone data, puts them way ahead of the competition.”