Effective DM depends on deep data mining

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Effective direct marketing is inextricably linked with strong data mining and deployment of analytics. So it is no great surprise that many of the winning entries in Marketing Week’s Data Strategy Awards 2011 cited DM campaigns – both traditional print mailers and email.

Taking a stroll through the 17 categories, the Scottish Government Organ Donor Register won the Public Sector award for a DM campaign to attract older recruits. The judges admired the “great example of test and learn” strategy to identify which put of a selection of DM pieces would deliver new recruits, the pieces being created after profiling the Organ Donor Register.

The best-performer DM piece delivered a 15% response rate from a cold audience and a family and friends mechanism also proved its worth.
The winner of the Direct Marketing discipline category was Aviva with a composite cross-sell campaign designed to counter commoditisation in its marketplace. The aim was to use all Aviva touchpoints to demonstrate to customers that they received the best deal by going to Aviva directly.

The company identified that DM “was the critical vehicle for this initiative” and says accurate triggers drove the success. For the cross-sell the company developed a single customer view driven through web capture of data at point of purchase/enquiry and provided agents with a pilot CRM tool.

Turning to digital, the holy grail of email is automated personalisation – making sure the message is tailored to the potential customer when they are in the right mindset to purchase but via a mechanical process.

Easier said than done but Thomson, which won the Grand Prix and also the Travel & Leisure and Behavioural Targeting categories, has managed to devise a strategy based on analysis of behavioural web data. It managed to identify active holiday seekers and dynamically tailor offers and content based on the strength of their interest.

Many learnings can be found from poring over the winning entries but key are, firstly, that even if budgets are hard-pressed, there’s no substitute for repeated test-and-learn until you are confident you have your DM proposition right.

Secondly, investment in data processing needs to be upped. This is vital both for targeted traditional DM and the increasing number of messages going out via email. For the latter, it is becoming increasingly vital that the recipient identifies straight away that it’s worth their while opening or at least saving the email – the subject line has to carry a resonant message.

Processing data isn’t cheap and a debate is developing about a growing digital divide and how the haves and have nots may be affected in the future – read Michael Nutley’s column on this issue here. Going forward it looks like DM practitioners who want to stay on the cutting edge need to lend full support to the data management team’s calls for more budget.

See the full list of Data Strategy Awards 2011 winners here

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