By: Helene Blanchette, Senior Editor, American Printer
Today’s tip: If you do not have perfect data, make the best of what you have
The foundation of a successful data driven (1to1) marketing campaign is based on the relevancy of the data used to profile clients. Every interaction with the end-customer, be it through a phone call, email, face-to-face meeting, etc., provides a wealth of information. If this intelligence is accurately recorded, integrated and effectively managed, it becomes easier to derive customer insights and better understand the customer needs or next move. The more accurate data is about an individual; the better is the probability of anticipating the customer’s needs and creating a successful dialog.
When it is time to get the customer’s database, do you know what to look for or ask for?
In most cases, the initial database is provided by the Client Company. However, if a client does not hold enough data to build an effective campaign, the possibility of purchasing or renting lists from vendors should be assessed (not applicable in certain countries). If no data is available or can be purchased, it is possible to team up with an existing association, magazine or credit card company to do an early data collection acquisition strategy. Ideally, the database should consist of prospective, qualified recipients who would be interested in the product/service being offered.
A quality data source is essential to create an appealing and relevant offer. Quality data records should be consistent; contain accurate up-to-date data without duplicates. It is essential to inspect the database, establish the level of accuracy and determine the amount of cleansing required. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and most companies have unclean and partial data about their clients, therefore, surround yourself with vendor partners who do data cleansing to complete your service offer.
Of all the clients I have dealt with over the years, only one had perfect data. Most database I was provided with had roughly 20 to 30% of the emails, missing postal or zip codes, missing complete names or the information was entered as if a lot of different minds and fingers had done the data entry without rules or simply the way they felt that day. Empty cells or missing information was found throughout most databases.
An ideal catalogue of data should contain the target customer’s personal information, demographics, psychographics, past purchase history, etc. But it is not always essential to have a rich database with in-depth information to build a successful 1to1 targeted campaign. As demonstrated in part 2 of this series, the Fuji Xerox Singapore Twins Campaign started with only 4 data to engage, still succeeded to convey an effective strategy and ended with outstanding results, using this very basic information.
Obtaining data sample and data directory from your client
When asking for the client’s database, you must control the process. Without guidance, a client will give you what he/she thinks you need for the campaign based on their own past experience, and often only provide you with the best looking sample. Therefore you need to ask the following:
- Data directory with a view of the complete structure of their database including all the fields they think is not necessary. If they want to remove confidential data and replace it with Elvis Presley’s name or Mickey Mouse names, let them do so. The key is that you want to see all that can potentially be available in the database composition
- Request a sample data of about 100 names randomly selected to reflect the true way the data is entered in the system. If you are provided with a perfect data sample with all fields properly filled, be worried. It perhaps means that the client offered what we call a “massaged database”; one that is all well cleaned up or inputted only with information of their top 100 clients. You want the whole truth, nothing but the ugly truth and not a distorted reality.
- Next, you wish to know how often this database is updated. If often, then it is good. However, if it is not frequently updated, it means that you now have an opportunity to include a data update in your strategy. This will be reflected in your KPIs and will also be a great value that you will bring to the client company.
- Also ask how many different databases will be combined to get a complete view? Do we need to merge multiple catalogue structures into one before crafting the strategy and getting started with the project?
Once you have the data sample in hand you will want to do the following steps:
|Step 1: Study your data sample|
|The available data is inspected and the data structure and fields are analyzed to understand what is available and applicable for a 1to1 marketing strategy. At this stage, clarification on meaning of data with client company could be required.|
|Step 2: Analyze the Input|
|The next step is to look at how data is entered into the database and verify if it is usable. For e.g. a numerical value could be entered in lieu of a name, which renders the data unusable for marketing|
|Step 3: Verify Data Accuracy|
|Next, the accuracy of the data is verified. It is essential to determine how often the data is updated and how accurately it is inputted. The data could be in a standard format (names, numbers, etc.) or be considered garbage (symbols and characters). This step identifies if the data demonstrates conformity and determines the level of cleaning required.|
|Step 4: Draw Conclusion on the Available Data|
|At this stage, data is segregated to identify what is usable and relevant to the 1to1 marketing campaign to meet goals and address challenges. The erroneous and irrelevant data is cleansed and rooted out. At this time, conclusions are drawn as to what other layers of data intelligence can be achieved with the data in hand.|
|Step 5: Further Layers of Analysis|
|Primary data is combined to create secondary and tertiary levels of data, which can give more insights into the target customer’s profile. For e.g., a person’s interests, lifestyle or needs can be assumed with information as simple as his age and marital status. A simple Mr. Mrs. can determine the gender of the recipient even if the gender field is not existing in the structure. The business title of a person can determine if he or she is a C-Level, even if the appropriate field is not available in the database.|
|Step 6: Dynamic Approach to Data|
|The next step is to identify the type of dynamic approach that can be adopted to improve the available information and gather additional relevant data. For e.g., for an insurance company, if the database shows a gap in timeline between the first and second investment of a client, it is possible to assume that the profile of the client is outdated and there could be a timely opportunity to position new products. This would be a good opportunity for you to design a data collection strategy.|
Ready to craft a data driven strategy? Not yet. We now need to do the essential work of profiling and mapping the customer journey and personas that will determine our offers and strategy to adopt. This will be the topic of my next article.
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Note: Although Helene Blanchette is now an independent consultant and wrote all copy contained in this serie; some extracts are from the Fuji Xerox 1to1 Ignite Program publications – All rights reserved.
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Helene Blanchette, American Printer’s Senior Editor, previously served as General Manager for Fuji Xerox in Singapore. Mrs. Blanchette recognition as an international 1to1 cross-media marketing authority results from providing some of the industry’s most successful data-driven, individualized, cross-media marketing campaigns for her international clients. Helene introduced Asia Pacific’ first 1to1 cross-media marketing programs under branded as ‘The 1:1 Experience’ for Fuji Xerox.
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