Archive for November, 2006

International address management

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Eliminating address duplication within a database and improving address quality brings significant benefits. Data loads are more accurate, reducing processing time and contact duplication. In turn, deliverability and response rates improve, reducing marketing programme and returns handling costs. Selection and analysis also benefit, as a result of a more accurate view of the number of unique individuals in the database. In short, address management has always made sense, and the increasing sophistication of international solutions means there’s no excuse not to apply it to data outside the UK.

Institute of Direct Marketing Members’ Convention

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Some observations on the recent IDM Members’ Convention. The first time it’s been run, and part of the IDM’s 20th anniversary programme, this “by the members for the members” event consisted of a day of talks and sessions on the latest issues in direct, digital and interactive marketing.

Opening up was Richard Madden of ad agency Tequila, with the flamboyant and off-beat look at the state of the industry that you would expect from an agency guy! “Customised” Relationship Management is the way forward according to Madden, delivering a customer experience tailored for individuals. Also on stage was Stephen Groom from Osborne Clarke, the only man to make a data protection presentation interesting! (His firm maintains quite a useful marketing law site at www.marketinglaw.co.uk.) The venerable Peter Simpson, now chairman of Data Lateral and previously one of the guiding minds behind the launch of First Direct, closed out the day with some thoughts for the future.

The day though also consisted of some break-out sessions, one of which focussed on Web 2.0 and the increasing use marketers are making of the various emerging online communities, such as MySpace and YouTube. The definition of Web 2.0, we were by the way informed, is anything “participatory” or that involves interaction and feedback from website visitors and so on. This includes blogs of course, and although it’s rather fashionable to write about blogs in blogs, I’d thought I’d chip in.

Perhaps one of the most well known business blogs at the moment is Charles Dunstone’s, CEO of Carphone Warehouse. He of course had to defend Talk Talk, CPW’s fixed telecoms and broadband operation, when its “free” broadband offer proved a little too popular. This highlights the dangers of blogging, and Web 2.0 in general, in a business context, as it can be difficult to control the message, especially when things aren’t going so well. The lesson seems to be that if you’re going to do it, be honest and don’t go to ground if problems arise: address them and respond to feedback and criticism. The relationship between the original free-wheeling ethos of the Internet and the desire for commercial exploitation can be a tense one, but eschewing this philosophy when the chips are down is a sure route to ignominy and derision.

Hopefully not a problem I’ll face here!

Creating the ideal marketing insight function

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

“Managing insight staff well is more important to companies as they base their strategies increasingly on knowledge derived from insights.” So says Merlin Stone in his 2006 book “Consumer Insight”. Steve Wills in a 2005 paper for the IDM’s house journal makes a similar observation, saying companies must “…move away from seeing data analysis and market research in isolation to the establishment of a comprehensive customer insight discipline…”. Hence my interest in how different organisations are managing their database marketing, analytics and intelligence functions

Interestingly, the larger the organisation, the more likely it seems that the opportunity for integration will have been recognised and exploited. This may be as a result of the difficulties experienced by not adopting a joined-up approach or the more readily quantifiable benefits of doing so. Companies with more delineated operating divisions appear less likely to have centralised marketing insight management. Perhaps due to the more devolved nature of these organisations, the central drive or figurehead necessary to bring integration about is missing.

Tangible benefits have been demonstrated to be achievable though, such as cost savings and identification of new commercial opportunities. Quantifiable outcomes such as these clearly enable the construction of a robust business case for establishing an insight function. Other “softer” benefits may not prove sufficiently compelling motivation for making the necessary organisational changes. This is a shame, as those organisations that have done so clearly reap the benefits.