Archive for the ‘Marketing Insight’ Category

Building a data quality business case

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Offering general advice on putting together a business case for a data quality initiative is challenging, because the business benefits and therefore payback are so dependent on specific circumstances. Here, however, are some key areas around which I’m constructing our justification, which I’ve tried to make sufficiently generic to be of wider use.

  • Website, Internet and miscellaneous data capture – our process relies on extensive manual effort for transposing/re-keying data, with very limited validation and standardisation etc, particularly for international data. Ironically, this has some benefits as there is a human element involved in matching incoming contact to existing data, but it’s hugely time consuming. If there’s any manual effort involved in your process, it’s an obvious source of efficiency gains and savings, not to mention quality improvement.
  • Address quality and duplication – based on various initial data quality assessments (such as outlined in Data health check previously), there is a 10% undeliverable and 3 % duplication rate among contacts in our database. Based on even a single direct mail execution per year, the waste in terms of undelivered and duplicated mail pieces is significant.
  • Campaign execution – list preparation effort (identification, selection, cleaning) can be greatly increased due to poor data issues, whilst limited targeting and segmentation may still only possible. According to a recent Aberdeen Group study (“Customer Data Quality: Roadmap for Growth and Profitability”, June 2007), “89% of Best-in-Class firms reported positive performance in the time necessary in preparing customer data” on improving their data quality.
  • Legal and best practice compliancy – the ability to reliably match new and existing data is crucial to recognising and observing privacy and other communication preferences. The reputational impact of not respecting contact preferences together with legal compliancy failure (especially in Europe) creates exposure to the risk of litigation or prosecution with potentially substantial penalties.
  • Lead quality and qualification – time savings and effectiveness benefits through more complete and informative leads (such as full contact details and organisation profile).
  • Time savings for general query resolution – reporting anomalies, data queries etc.

Marketing Insight elevator pitch

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

In New York for New Hire training (two weeks in a windowless room on the 27th floor – no sympathy? OK, fair enough!), our first exercise was to learn an “elevator pitch” for the company’s products and services. The idea being that should you bump into a prospect on the ground floor in the elevator/lift, you have a pithy sales pitch to secure a meeting before they get to their floor. (The effectiveness of this tactic outside of a skyscraper packed North American city is less clear, unless you talk really fast.) Anyway, this got me to thinking about an elevator pitch for marketing insight, so here goes (based on my homepage overview):

Marketing insight is the quest for a clear view of a company’s market and customers and their likely future intentions and direction. Such insight comes from a combination of sources: data, analytics and intelligence (primary and secondary research). These elements work together and feed into the rest of marketing, with the key to success being “operationalisation” within the marketing process. Great insight is of no value if it can’t be exploited by rapid and efficient marketing programme execution or the outcome measured afterwards.

I reckon I could get that in and still have time to swap business cards with my captive would-be-client before alighting at my training room floor.

Institute of Direct Marketing Data Council Summit

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

This week saw the first Institute of Direct Marketing Data Council Summit, a day of presentations from such luminaries as Sean Kelly, Steve Wills and Huw Davis along with practitioners from BP, the AA and others. Themed “Data Management Strategies that Create Competitive Advantage”, the conference was intended to address issues such as building competitive advantage through customer intelligence and insight, using data to improve the customer experience and demonstrating the value of data to the board.

Chair for the day Ian Lovett, of data consultancy Blue Sheep, opened with a stern warning to the direct marketing profession that the growing consumer impression of environmental damage and intrusion through wasteful direct mail was creating a political will to introduce ever greater restrictions on privacy and data use, such as requiring opt-in for all marketing. Better targeting and management of data quality was needed to demonstrate that direct marketing is a responsible and considerate discipline that can be trusted with personal data. “Love you data,” said Ian: “Clean it, use it and don’t abuse it!”.

Other themes running through the day were the idea that marketing has failed to keep up with the technology available to it, the growing recognition of the strategic value of data and a topic close to my heart, the creation of central insight departments in marketing organisations. Presenting a retail segmentation case study, Sean Kelly suggested that the failure to create marketing intelligence capability based on the latest technology prior to operational capability is the single greatest reason for CRM failure. He likened it to having the ability to talk but without a brain to control what to say! Peter Mouncey from the Cranfield University School of Management echoed this, saying that organisations’ data strategy lags behind their CRM strategies, adding that they must be aligned to be effective.

Rosemary Albinson from BP and Steve Willis (yep, the guy I quote my my homepage) both commented that marketers must become comfortable with the hard data of marketing results and spend time in working in insight in order to progress to the boardroom. At the same time the scale of the task should be acknowledged; explaining marketing analytics to an accomplished scientist, Rosemary Albinson was told that is seemed more complicated than his field of climatology! Based on experience from the his Customer Insight Forum, Steve Willis also outlined his thinking regarding the management of insight and his vision for a dedicated function lead by an Insight Director, a position he says that is becoming increasingly common. Christine Bailey, from Cranfield University School of Management also commented that it helps to put a central insight team in place.

There were a few different offers on a definition of insight, from Steve Willis’ “embedded knowledge” to Christine Bailey’s multiple sources of actionable customer data. And although he couldn’t be there himself, former GE CEO Jack Welch was quoted as saying (and here I paraphrase) that competitive advantage is derived from the ability to learn faster and act faster than the competition.

The day was closed out by Huw Davis, always entertaining and worth listening to. He talked about the opportunities and challenges regarding international data strategies, particularly in the developing markets of China, India and elsewhere. Clearly the data infrastructure in those countries isn’t quite what we’re used to, but the opportunities for direct marketing are immense. Huw is also about to launch a new analytics business utilising lower cost analyst resource in Asia with a UK account team – you read it here first!

All told, quite an interesting day that reinforced some of my thoughts in this area and provided some interesting tips on data quality programmes and data warehouse projects. I’d better get back to immersing myself in marketing insight – next stop the boardroom!

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 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.