3 Experts Share Best Practices for Capturing, Managing and Mastering Data
Achieving a successful personalized marketing campaign that, in turn, creates a profitable business model all comes back to data management. One challenge facing printing and marketing services providers is not only being overwhelmed by massive amounts of data, but effectively managing it for the benefit of their customers. Developing a growth strategy surrounding the smart use of data becomes key in a data-driven, omnichannel world. We talked with three industry experts who provide best practices for capturing, managing and mastering data.
Steven Schnoll, Managing Director, Schnoll Media Consulting
“Data is everywhere. The vast range of data points collected on people and entities is what makes data management so essential. Defining these data points is the first step in the process,” says Steven Schnoll, managing director of Schnoll Media Consulting.
Schnoll points out that data comes in two flavors: Big Data and Little Data. It’s not the amount of data that’s important, but what organizations do with it that matters. “Good marketers look for partners who can assist in determining buying patterns, event patterns, and things that can be used as a predictive model for future actions. This is where Big Data and Little Data come in,” he explains. “We bring true relevance to the whole equation when we can make the data pool on an individual really meaningful.”
One challenge, Schnoll relays, is how cumbersome collecting data can be since data is often siloed in many different locations. “Data can be found in human resources, sales and marketing, finance, production and shipping. Data may also be obtained from third-party sources to either complement existing files or as a virgin source. There is no one right structure and, as a consequence, it’s the perfect opportunity for a printer to offer database management as a service offering.”
A printer first getting into database services needs to determine how it will handle the data internally — whether that may involve hiring a firm that specializes in data management services, training internal staff members or hiring new tech-savvy employees.
One of the best routes is to start with an outside service and then start a migration path to training people internally so you can eventually make the switch, he contends, adding that Millennials are the perfect candidates within a company to take on this task.
To manage data, Schnoll stresses that printers must establish a secure data infrastructure. For a small- to medium-sized printer just starting out, this may be costly and challenging, so the answer may lie in finding an independent data management company that can optimize data capture and provide the proper security in a safe and compliant environment.
Another aspect of gathering data, he says, is the software mechanisms used to collect, cleanse, merge, purge and mine data. An additional factor to consider in successfully managing data is data storage. According to Schnoll, the two best options for this are the Internal Server — building a sophisticated dedicated server farm infrastructure internal to the printer’s business; and the External Cloud — the SaaS model (Software as a Service).
To help companies achieve the desired results in their personalized marketing campaign, Schnoll Media Consulting introduced a method called the Five Rights Paradigm — create the right message, directed to the right person, at the right time, utilizing the right mediums and for the right reason. When the Five Rights are employed, Schnoll says marketers will realize more fruitful outcomes with potential and existing contacts.
According to Schnoll, a very important last component for printers is to make sure that they can manage the data and generate detailed analytics reports about the results of the marketing campaigns that they’ve executed for the customer. “Data is not effective at all unless it is measured and managed properly. If a PSP can play a pivotal role in the analytics, they ensure that they will continue to be part of the customer engagement process,” he concludes.
Alan Sherman, VP, Marketing Strategy, IWCO Direct
For Chanhassen, Minn.-based IWCO Direct, one of the largest providers of data-driven direct marketing solutions in the U.S., using data effectively is not only essential, but a priority to ensure that IWCO Direct helps its clients create new or more loyal customers. According to Alan Sherman, VP of marketing strategy, this takes a number of forms — whether it’s the effective structuring of an A/B or multivariate test and interpreting results, leveraging a wide variety of prospect and customer data attributes for campaign gains through personalization, or building a predictive model, powered by a multitude of data sources.
“We became heavily invested in the effective use of data because we realized years ago that it was a key component for a client’s success — more than simply producing and printing direct mail or creating attractive emails and display ads on time and within budget,” Sherman notes. “Running any type of marketing campaign without insight and access to optimized prospect or customer data creates an end result that doesn’t fully realize client marketing program success.”
IWCO Direct helps its customers create a relevant content delivery dialogue via a structured and rigorous approach to campaign planning. This includes a comprehensive exploration into what has been tested in the past and why, analysis of past creative and associated results, as well as dialog to define proper goals and objectives for the overall engagement.
“Leveraging data to personalize communications enables us to speak to a prospect or existing customer in a relevant and relatable manner,” Sherman explains. “Personalization is much more than using someone’s first name in the greeting. Done right, it can lift response rates anywhere from 10% to 30%.”
IWCO Direct’s discovery process includes understanding customer pain points and obstacles to response and engagement. The company then engages its clients in onsite planning meetings, where multiple stakeholders can share results, goals, objectives and ideas for consideration prior to the development of the campaign and testing strategy.
Through consultation, IWCO Direct helps clients achieve a strong return on investment (ROI). For example, the company managed the development of a predictive model to better identify cross-sell targets for a national insurance company, and utilized the client’s data to personalize their creative, making the messaging more relevant to customers. The client realized a response lift of over 25%.
In another case, IWCO Direct’s model implementation allowed it to profile a financial services client’s customers and isolate target audiences that responded and converted at a significantly better rate.
Close to 50% of the company’s direct mail volume is printed digitally — all using highly-variable messaging — and 75% uses some degree of dynamic content (images, logos or other pre-built content). Since more variations can lead to higher response rates, it can also lead to greater challenges associated with content management and quality assurance processes. An advanced system is needed to design, manage, build and review the content prior to production.
The IWCO Direct 1:1 DCM system enables clients to use content, data and their business rules to generate print files. “We find that putting our clients in control of their content reduces change management churn,” Sherman explains. “Return on marketing investment increases as packages are consolidated for potential increased postal savings, while maximizing customization of letters is tailored to clients’ targeted audiences for better response. The system is also directly integrated with our digital platform, allowing endless, record-level color digital variability. It is printer and channel agnostic.”
IWCO Direct also maintains robust security and privacy controls in compliance with its financial services, insurance and health care clients’ contractually mandated PCI, PHI, PHII and HIPAA regulatory requirements. The company has based its security practice on ISO 27001:2013 and PCI (Payment Card Industry) DSS standards to promote the development of a corporate environment that safeguards the confidentiality, integrity and availability of client and company information, and has been certified by a third party in both ISO 27001:2013 and PCI DSS v3.1 standards.
Carolyn Goodman, President, Creative Director, Goodman Marketing Partners
According to Carolyn Goodman, president and creative director at San Rafael, Calif.-based direct marketing agency Goodman Marketing Partners (GMP), all marketing efforts should be data driven — whether it’s data gleaned from insights yielded from talking to the front-line sales force, building profiles of the most likely prospects based on profiling existing customers, or working with the product development team (who most likely used research to identify a need based on gaps in the marketplace).
“Data-based insights should be at the core of every marketing initiative because it’s the foundation on which to build your strategies and tactics; without it, you are simply guessing, and wasting precious marketing budget,” says Goodman.
GMP helps clients leverage customer data in many different ways. For example, for a B2C customer with one retail location, the firm identified website visitors by reverse engineering the prospect’s ISP address to identify an email and home address, suppressed existing customers and then employed a combination of email and direct mail to create an offer that would drive the prospect back to the website to make a purchase.
They have also helped a B2B client that works across a range of industries to refine its website with industry-specific Web pages that included highly pertinent content. When crafting email or other digital campaigns, GMP creates industry-specific versions with links to those specific web industry pages. As a result, opens, clicks and engagement are up because the messaging at every touchpoint is highly relevant to the reader.
The firm also works with a B2B client on a lead generation initiative. In order to attract qualified leads, it creates relevant content by interviewing and garnering insights from industry thought leaders. It then distributes content through a third party that markets the content to their subscribers. Potential leads can access the “gated” content, but not before they answer three qualifying questions to help GMP determine where they are in the buy cycle, their level of influence over a purchase decision, or whether or not they actually have a need.
Depending on the answers provided, a different follow-up email message is sent, while geographies and industries are matched up to specific sales reps. The firm also ranks the leads as “hot,” “warm” or “cold,” and the follow-up process may vary between emails, phone calls and links to different types of additional content that is more relevant based on the answers that were provided. This campaign helped the client acquire hundreds of valuable, highly targeted leads.
Goodman believes that many marketers today don’t understand enough about data, and she’s also seen clients override data in their system due to storage issues, losing valuable purchase history; or don’t look at exception reports each night to better understand why the database didn’t update some records — all clues about the cleanliness/accuracy of their data.
“All of the knowledge associated with these little details can make the difference between a mediocre marketing campaign and one that achieves a superior ROI,” Goodman concludes.