Data + common sense = DM success

Some sound truisms have been uttered over the past seven days that all should take heed of. All have a common thread: the need to get personal but in context and in the customer’s not the brand’s interest.

Russell Parsons

The explosion of digital channels and ever more complex data tools have presented direct marketers with untold riches.

Speaking at the British Retail Consortium’s Customer Insights conference in London last week, John Lewis’ customer insight director Paul de Laat summed up the opportunity data provides John Lewis.

Talking about the opportunities its loyalty card provides, he said: “The loyalty scheme is a fantastic medium to interact with customers in a much more effective way than normal outbound communication, which is shooting and hoping something comes back.

“We can personalise and increase engagement of our customers online.”

Elsewhere, Jaguar’s UK MD Jeremy Hicks echoed this sentiment but also warned of the pitfalls of getting too carried away with the breadth of opportunities available.

He said: “Brands used to literally carpet bomb people with mail and now digital is allowing the same thing.

“The intelligent brands are getting better knowledge and understanding of their customers and really targeting precise messaging to them in the right place at the right time.”

Meanwhile, a further warning about getting too carried away with shiny new data toys came from Boots’ digital director Ruth Spencer who called on marketers to get personal but also to keep it simple.

Also speaking at the British Retail Consortium’s event, Spencer told fellow retailers that all insights derived from data analysis should be able to pass the ‘T-shirt test’.

“One of the things that I learned very early on working for petrol stations is that any good promotion can fit on a T-shirt,” she said, adding that those working in insight need to be able to “step outside the world of regression models” that they inhabit on a day-to-day basis.

The key lesson for marketers? Use data and digital and enjoy all the riches they can bring but employ a generous dollop of good old fashioned common sense and you can make a good thing even better.

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