You know that saying, “crawl before you walk before you run”? Sure, sometimes you just gotta jump in, fly by the seat of your pants and embrace life. But there are other things that you need to work your way into – the use of data being one of them.
I started my data career right out of college with a small startup data company in Colorado. This company originally started as a one-man show selling CDs of public data out of the trunk of his car. A lot has changed since then regarding how data is collected, compiled, distributed and sourced in addition to higher consumer expectations. Data is the foundation for successful and profitable marketing programs. Choosing the right data provider can mean doubling responses to an email campaign or generating a double-digit ROI increase on a mobile campaign.
It starts at the source
In today’s world there is information available on anything and everything you do. From the survey you filled out for your grocery store in hopes of winning a $500 gift card to that cute shirt you added to your cart on Banana Republic’s website. Data is being collected, connected, compiled and sold every minute of every day. Say that again – every minute of every day to the tune of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day, on average. That is both awesome and overwhelming at the same time. Therefore, it’s important to not just throw any data that company XYZ sells into the data pot and hope for the best. You need reliable sources that:
- Ethically collect consumer information
- Comply with privacy regulations
- Continuously provide quality data
Data also must represent a real consumer’s demographics, not just an angry consumer named “Never Customer” that filled out a survey due to a one-time bad experience or an inappropriately collected piece of data. Your sources, how the data is sourced and what the data represents matter more than ever to ensure you have an accurate representation of your customers, prospects or site visitors.
Getting It Right
Are your data providers ingesting data and just spitting it back out or are they massaging it, making connections and providing actionable insight? No consumer wants to receive marketing pieces for all the different variations of his or her name, and no marketer wants to be responsible for those mail pieces. It is messy, ugly and just plain bad for business. Good identity resolution follows a person from the first data point through all the changes as one unique individual.
Superior postal hygiene and change-of-address products are a must, as well as suppression. Mailing to the right person at the wrong address or marketing to a deceased person can negatively impact your brand. Don’t waste your money. Know that you’re investing your money on marketable records that allow brands to hit their target, ramping up response and conversion rates.
The Heart of the Matter
You know Mary Quinn is your customer, but do you know what she likes and where to reach her? Is her contact preference via email, phone, or social media? Consumer descriptive data allows you to understand consumers – who they are, what they like, what they are likely to buy. For example, Mary Quinn is a married female with kids ages 2-10 who likes cooking, hiking, has the likelihood to buy a seven-passenger Honda with cash and responds best to email messages. How valuable is this information to a marketer? In a world where consumers now hold the keys, demanding personalized, relevant communications through their preferred touch points, this information in INVALUABLE. Quality data can make or break connections with consumers. Inaccurate information results in wrong messaging that then results in discontinued interest and worsened relationships.
Is There More?
Family members are powerful influencers in a wide range of high-impact decisions. Marketers have long recognized this and have often directed their efforts at family members who share an address. However, family influences continue long after individuals within a given family no longer live with one another. But snapshot-in-time approaches to recognizing relationships fail to capture the richness of information that can be captured from a long-term view. It is important to consider family relationships that extend beyond traditional household boundaries. You can use this to reach others who have an influence on, or a stake in, your customers’ or prospects’ decisions to help you reach next-generation family members who may become tomorrow’s valued customers.
To effectively connect all these pieces takes testing, refinement and, most importantly, experience. And with this experience you achieve the ability to deliver personalized, relevant communications when and where it matters most.