Why health checking your data should be the first step of automated marketing

16th Jun 2016

All successful marketing programmes rely on accurate data, yet brands often buy into marketing technology without having a reliable data infrastructure to support the kind of experiences they would like to deliver.

Brands now have access to more customer data than ever before, so of course they want to use all this data for marketing; but not all data is good data. Bad data is defined as data that is no way beneficial in delivering greater business insight or a more enhanced customer experience. Bad data can be detrimental to your marketing efforts - if your marketing campaigns aren’t reaching relevant audiences, then they’re not having a positive impact on your company’s bottom line.

Your ability to engage customers ultimately hinges on the experience that you deliver them, and this experience is driven by the data that you have, so it is crucial that you only utilise genuinely meaningful data. Given the vast amounts of information that brands are now able to collect on their customers, evaluating both the value of your current data and data that you wish to collect is essential.

Garbage in, garbage out

Marketers need to track, consolidate and action their data, otherwise it will lose its value. You could have all the best marketing technologies, but if there’s bad data sat underneath - your marketing efforts will be ineffective. It’s known as the ‘garbage in, garbage out’ principle in computer science, and is just as true for marketing.

If you are unable to get an accurate view of each of your customers, your customer experience will fall flat. Make sure you’re using all the right data on your customers to avoid mistakes such as sending welcome emails to new e-commerce customers who have actually been long-standing in-store customers for months. These kinds of errors can destroy the customer experience.

Keep it accurate

It’s important to only store data that is relevant, useful and profitable. Information has a shelf life: there’s no point in keeping worthless old data such as brand mentions on Twitter from people who never engaged with your brand again. Regular reviews of your data store is essential to maintain a healthy database, not to mention reduce the costly burden of governance. The European Union is bringing in a number of new data protection rules with a focus on empowering consumers to have more control over their own data. These rules will also force brands to only hold data that is relevant and useful to customer experience – a principle which makes sense for marketers as well as customers.

To ensure accuracy and relevancy, brands need to look at both the collection and ongoing management of customer data. It’s easier to start with the source, as it can be harder to establish the accuracy of existing data, so brands need to understand the value exchange that they’re putting in place for their customers at every touchpoint.

Personal data is a big asset: if you’re asking for it through a form or survey, you need to deliver a value exchange – how can you make it worthwhile for customers to hand over their information? Brands should be encouraged to review the ways in which customers interact with the brand themselves to make sure that, from the customer’s perspective, all value exchanges are effective and fair.

Give customers what they want

One example of an effective value exchange is a campaign we led for Greene King, focussed on giving customers personalised offers so to drive footfall and greater profitability. Brands often blindside their customers with offers, most of which won’t be relevant. We made it clear to Greene King customers from the beginning that if they engaged with us and told us about what offers and content they want, we would personalise the content they received from Greene King.

This simple exchange meant vegetarians didn’t receive meat offers and those with families got kids offers and directions to child-friendly pubs. By making the value exchange both explicit and valuable, we gathered accurate and relevant data that informed effective, personalised automated marketing campaigns - ultimately making the customer’s life easier and enhancing their experience with Greene King.

Democratisation of data

The final step in data management is ensuring that everyone across the company has access to that data. Different teams have different responsibilities: there will be different people in charge of the website, transaction systems, data management platforms and communications systems. However, the most important consideration for everyone should be how the customer experiences the brand. As customer experience is everyone’s priority, everyone across the company should be empowered to use and access that data.

Providing that your data has been collected and managed properly, this means that insights derived from this data can support decision-making throughout the business, and hopefully deliver better customer experiences as a result. More effective personalised automated marketing campaigns will also help you realise real ROI on your marketing spend.

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