Relevant data should drive marketing

Richard Lees, chairman of DBG, argues that marketing should be data driven, and that data should drive relevant campaigns.

Richard Lees
Richard Lees

A few weeks ago I received an email offering me a boob job. They’d even managed to personalise it with the salutation “Dear Richard”. Amusing but needless to say I didn’t take them up on the offer. And I’ll bet the other ’Richards’ in their database didn’t either. An example of totally irrelevant marketing. But marketing must be relevant, otherwise there will be no engagement, no response and no return on investment. And to be relevant we need to leverage data.

My boob job offer is a classic example of organizations failing to do even the basics, like deriving a gender flag from the forename field when gathering customer data. When marketing products with a gender preference, using the data you have to segregate gender to make it relevant can have great impact – and save you money. Over the past few weeks there have been loads of examples, including ’Sex And The City 2’ and Football World Cup campaigns, where messages have simply been blasted out to all…not that women can’t enjoy football and men Carrie Bradshaw, but you get my point?!

A recent email from Molton Brown managed to take gender confusion one step further, offering men’s products as a treat for mother’s day! Confusing and annoying.

Age is another basic you can use. There are, of course, also relevancy pitfalls when it comes to age and people are particularly sensitive to this. If you are getting older, you are unlikely to be keen to be reminded of it by marketers. I’m dreading the day I’m added to Saga’s mailing list and start receiving emails about stair lifts! Equally, at the other end of the spectrum, organisations need to be very careful about inadvertently targeting children with alcohol brands and gambling.

The general approach seems to be, if in doubt, go generic. But it’s a mistake to broadcast ’willy nilly’ like this. We all receive so many marketing messages now. Unless it’s of immediate relevance and interest, most people just ignore – sending it to the junk folder or throwing it in the bin.

Organisations are collecting daily and holding a vast wealth of data on their customers but many simply aren’t using it. Part of the problem is the sheer mass of information coming in from both on an offline sources. When extracting from this reservoir, my advice is to pull out what is practical and interesting i.e. addressable data you can actually use to inform and enhance your marketing activity. And use what you do have well e.g. derive a gender from the forename (but be careful with neutral names like Leslie). Aside from data you hold – there is so much more from external sources. With organisations such as ebay and tesco making data available you have an opportunity to make your targeting considerably more granular.

Remember the negative consequences of one badly targeted communication can outweigh the goodwill from thousands of well targeted ones. It all comes down to relevancy and with this comes responsible and cost effective marketing.

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