Why marketers need to clean up their act on customer data

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Businesses are wasting their marketing efforts and need to do more to understand and manage their customer data if they want to be truly successful, according to a new report from Royal Mail Data Services. The survey showed that 70% of organisations were holding out of date or incomplete data about their customers leading to largely ineffective marketing attempts.

In an age where businesses are trying to capture details of their customers across all channels the survey, undertaken in conjunction with DataIQ, also showed that more than half of businesses fail to validate customer address data when it’s captured – whether that’s through their websites or internal business systems.

But brands and businesses can also do more to collect and use the relevant life data that would enable them to target and market to customers even more effectively, according to the report. “For businesses in every sector data about customer life events is vital,” said Jim Conning, managing director of Royal Mail Data Services.

However the report showed that only a third of marketers said that a life event not only increases the likelihood that a customer might switch but also presents new customer acquisition opportunities. Yet seven out of ten marketers said that they realised that the most important aspect of a life event was that it gave them an opportunity to engage with a customer – a moment of supreme relevance if targeted effectively.

Conning used the example of moving home as an opportunity to win new customers for energy companies for example since almost two thirds of consumers switch energy suppliers when they move home. Similarly such data can also be used by businesses offering home or move related products and services such as home furnishings, DIY or home and garden improvements, said Conning. “Life events data provides a unique opportunity to deliver messages and offers at a time when customers welcome them most,” he said.

The survey showed that half of respondents are now using third-party data for uses such as this. “Combining internal customer data with life-events data from specialist third party providers enables marketers to deliver relevant, personalised and timely communications,” says Conning.

Quality data is key throughout however. “A truly personalised experience which will drive effective customer loyalty can only be realised if marketing is underpinned by top quality customer data. But when at least 70% of organisations are holding out of data or incomplete data it’s hardly surprising that marketing is not delivering on its data promises or isn’t as effective as it should be,” says Conning.

And it is here where many marketers are wasting both resources and budget, according to Conning. “There’s no point doing great creative, data segmentation, analysis or personalised marketing unless the base data you’re using is as high quality and clean as you can make it. All the smart stuff won’t make a difference if the base you’re working from is inaccurate,” he says.

So what needs to be done? Conning suggests marketers need to tighten up on data capture from the initial point of contact. “Collecting, using and working with top quality data should start right at the point which you initially capture it – whether that’s online via websites or offline in store because you need to validate that data immediately,” he says.  Automatic validation should be built into the data capture process and then cleansed and maintained on a continuous basis, he says.

Only then does a marketer have the confidence that marketing efforts and resources aren’t being wasted thanks simply to dirty data. 

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