Costa brews up a storm at Data Strategy Awards

Costa Coffee has once again proved its ability to impress awards judges, as our 2011 brand of the year took the highest honours at Marketing Week’s Data Strategy Awards 2013.

Michael

The high street coffee chain’s triumphs – not only in the Retail and Loyalty Marketing categories, but also with the overall Grand Prix – are testament to impressive business growth that has been powered by a finely tuned data engine. Costa has turned itself into the UK’s biggest coffee brand (by store number), and only looks set to grow that lead.

The tasks it has set itself in pursuing that growth have been no mean feat to achieve. In what Costa’s own research has demonstrated to be a category where consumers are disloyal, the brand has sought to turn its coffee drinkers into enthusiastic brand advocates. Through its loyalty marketing, it has substantially increased the level of recommendations it receives from customers, while also increasing the average spend and number of visits by its 2 million Costa Coffee Club members by around half.

The marketing campaign sought to record customers’ every point of contact with the brand, and then tailor individually rewarding messages via email. But as Costa itself admitted in one of its entry submissions, the reasons for its successes are hardly a secret: “It’s not rocket science. When customers take out a loyalty card and give you their data, they expect you to speak to them as if you have understood every interaction they have had with you.”

Of course, Costa isn’t the only brand to show it is switched on to consumers’ expectations around the use of marketing data. Other Data Strategy Award winners, including Argos, Littlewoods and Bank of Scotland, demonstrate to all the laggards and sceptics that it’s possible to earn gratitude, not just suspicion, from customers by using personal data to communicate with them.

Among the more controversial data marketing techniques – in the popular imagination, at least – is behavioural targeting. Yet retailer Argos’ win in this category proves that consumers can be receptive when the messages are right.

Argos used its ‘single customer view’ technology, which gives it an insight into each customer’s interactions with the brand, to identify those people who have left its website with an abandoned virtual shopping basket. Argos has managed to increase both its sales and its email open rates by sending these customers emails with carefully selected recommendations of alternative products.

Littlewoods won the Best Use of Big Data award for an online display advertising campaign that set out to ensure the right consumers were shown the targeted ads most likely to be relevant to them, driving an increase in their effectiveness and also generating a huge return on the brand’s investment. And Bank of Scotland entered what judges decided was the best innovation in data marketing this year, with a complete overhaul of its personalised direct marketing.

As data in all its forms becomes the fuel of marketing, brands such of these will be lighting the way in 2013.

Click here for a full list of winners.

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