By Scott Logie, Customer Engagement Director at REaD Group
In 2010, data journalist David McCandless said, “Data is the new soil.” Yet ‘data is the new oil’ remains the more commonly heard refrain: as an example, data-fuelled applications of artificial intelligent are projected to generate $13 trillion in new global activity by 2030 – signifying the potential that data holds for just one out of many industries.
When it comes to customer data, rather than thinking about it as something that should be plundered for every last drop of information, McCandless’ more nuanced perspective presents data as something that is fertile. Data should be valued and nurtured, which puts the onus back on the organisation to shape the data they are given. After all, if customers are trusting your business with their data, then you should be doing everything you can to repay that trust and to use that valuable data wisely, ethically and responsibly.
COVID-19 requires a new approach
It will come as no surprise that COVID-19 has changed the ways marketers can reach customers and prospects. OOH revenues declined dramatically in March and April 2020, and while they did start to increase again from May onwards, they are nowhere near pre-lockdown levels. Data from Ofcom showed that time spent watching TV has been higher from April to July and from October onwards than in the previous two years, and suggested that adults were spending, on average, 40% of their waking hours in front of a TV screen during lockdown. Average time spent online during lockdown skyrocketed too.
In what ways, then, can brands engage with people who aren’t going out? Combining targeting selections made for direct mail and/or email campaigns with digital channels provides the opportunity for consistent interaction with customers and prospects throughout their journey. Bridging online and offline channels maximises the opportunity of converting them into long-term customers. A multi-channel approach also addresses any silos in marketing activities.
As well as thinking about how you are going to communicate with customers, what you are saying and who you are saying it to are equally important considerations. While GDPR enshrines what you must do by law, you should always be asking what you should be doing or saying. It is increasingly important that we consider our values as individuals, organisations and societies, to ensure we’re putting in place the right ethical foundations for how data is used for future generations.
A large proportion of customer trust comes down to transparency and being open about how consumer data is being processed. As a business, you should be able to take any customer data record from your suite and identify the point of collection, as well as the legal basis on which it is being processed.
The more a customer trusts your business, the happier they will be to share their data. In one Dun & Bradstreet report, half of the 500 business leaders interviewed said their business wouldn’t survive without top quality data, while 69 per cent agreed that having access to more data supported revenue generation, so building trust with your customers is hugely beneficial.
Third party data can be a valuable addition to first party data: enabling businesses to find their best customers, drive more informed decisions, gain more value from their marketing activity and deliver ROI. Here again, trust is crucial. You can only trust the data you’ve got if you can maintain its quality, and for this you need to be able to trust the supplier of your third party data.
Regardless of the size of your business, GDPR requires data to be up-to-date and accurate. Keeping data clean needn’t be a cumbersome task, thanks to fully-automated data cleaning solutions which provide real-time access to data cleaning products.
Research shows that the higher the quality of data an organisation holds, the more efficient and effective an organisation is: data quality is a top priority for 55 per cent of UK data leaders in 2020, a steep increase from 41 per cent in 2019.
For a truly responsible approach to marketing, the key is to build trust and transparency with customers. In practice, that means applying rigour and common sense in order to balance commercial interests with consumer rights, and then testing that decision to ensure it is the right approach.
If you are able to demonstrate to your customers that you adhere to the principles of data quality and quality data, then they will be reassured that their data is being looked after according to data protection laws. In turn, their trust in you will not only create a valuable ongoing relationship but also stand your business in good stead for future communications.