New Year, New Data Management Mantra

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With 2010 fast approaching (scary thought), I’d like to suggest a new data management mantra for the New Year, namely: accuracy, security and knowledge. Why? Not only will your campaigns be better targeted and more responsive, but the transactional insight you’ll gain will greatly assist you with anticipating client needs and bolstering your brand’s loyalty rates and environmental credentials.

Maintaining data accuracy begins with suppression. All self-interest aside, suppressing gone-aways and the deceased saves money, the environment and enhances brand image. Sure, there’s an up-front cost. But if you had to choose between outlaying a few pence to suppress the name and address of a gone-away or deceased customer and needlessly paying upwards of a pound in fulfilment and postage for an offer which is destined for the nearest landfill (your customer’s moved or died, remember), which would it be? Statistics would suggest the latter, unfortunately, given that UK companies are still wasting more than £50 million annually on mis-addressed mail.

Recent Royal Mail disruptions notwithstanding, swapping post for digital is no response-generating magic bullet either, please note. While Forrester Research’s Annual E-mail Marketing Forecast predicted back in May that email spend will “balloon” to $2 billion (£1.2 billion) by 2014 (a nearly 11 per cent compound annual growth rate), spamming consumers into submission by inundating the average UK in-box with upwards of 9,000 unsolicited e-mails per annum over the next five years isn’t exactly going to endear brands to consumers either.

The importance of data security should likewise be self-evident. Losing a disc containing thousands of customer names and addresses in the post or leaving your laptop on the train won’t endear you to anyone anytime soon (the Information Commissioner’s Office, in particular).

With your data accuracy and security fundamentals addressed, you can then focus on leveraging the most knowledge possible from your database. Alongside the need for better data accuracy and security, one doesn’t have to be clairvoyant to foresee that the data insight required of savvy marketers both now and into the future is going to be considerable if they want to optimise response rates and ROI in an increasingly fractured and channel-saturated marketplace. My message to “one-offer-for-all”-type marketers wanting simplistic, cheap, single-channel marcoms solutions is this: exit onto new career paths. Now.

If this recession is teaching us anything, it is to better understand and utilise data as a very real and valuable business asset. For a supposedly mature, self-regulating industry, we urgently need to lift our game and affect a profound attitudinal shift – towards data accuracy, security, the environment as well as consumers – lest the public perception and effectiveness of our industry only further deteriorate. It’s time we ditched the “junk mail” stigma once and for all, is it not?

Accuracy, security and knowledge – remember those words. They’ll stand us all in good stead, I believe.

On behalf of everyone here at SPA, I’d like to wish all Data Strategy readers a happy Christmas and a data-safe and responsive New Year.

By Mark Roy, founder member, Suppression Providers Association

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