The importance of cleansing

This blog reflects on the Capscan database marketing presentation at Technology for Marketing and Advertising 2010.

Statistics on postal mail in the UK are astounding. PostWatch estimate that 12.4million letters are lost every year, of those 60% are addressed incorrectly. More alarmingly, undeliverable mail has increased 50% in 5 years. This is a result of lazy and/or unqualified database managers not keeping their contact databases updated and clean. It costs UK businesses millions every year in print and postage costs – and worse, some company’s reputations are tarnished by tardy direct marketing and they lose customers.

How can you stop this happening to you?

1. Give someone in your business the sole responsibility for data capture and cleansing and have it mandated from the board. Everyone has to buy into the importance of how good well managed data can positively impact the business.

2. Design an ‘audit’ process – at a minimum ensuring all address fields, names and salutations are stored in the correct fields – more sophisticated contact records and preferences should be dealt with later.

3. Set objectives and measure them. These might be reducing % of returned mail, obtaining stats on sign up or basket abandonment on your website, reducing the number and type of complaint to name a few.

4. Manage self registration – make certain fields mandatory on your website, enquiry forms etc. Offer a post code look up. If you operate internationally, invest in systems which amend records depending on country (German and Italian addresses especially). But check any new incoming contact before you add it to your database.

5. Give your contacts the opportunity to confirm their details in every communication – magazines do this very well with their double sided cover sheet.

Your customer data is one of the most important assets within your business. It is unique and has been amasssed over time. Spend a little time giving it a little TLC.

Are you using the right web analytics model?

I have been inspired to share some of the content I picked up at Technology for Marketing & Advertising, 2010.

This blog reflects on the Econsultancy seminar on web analytics. More can be found at www.econsultancy.com.

If you are into evaluation, (and my blog statistics suggest most visitors are), you need to start providing credible reports on return on digital marketing investment. Attribution models help allocate lead generation and customer conversion to specific activities but model used can give a very different report.

There can be massive differences in what your website statistics and advertising statistics tell you. That’s because there are natural drop offs between people clicking an ad, opening an email, clicking a link to your site (the ad stat) and staying on your site long enough to register as a session (website stats). It can be down to simple things like realising they have gone to the wrong or irrelevant site, the home page taking too long to download or a loss of internet connection.

At a deeper level though, understanding how to attribute the success for a conversion is gaining importance in internet marketing. There are essentially three different strategies which can be employed to help give you a view on web traffic. These are commonly referred to as ‘last click’, ‘conversion’ & ‘weighted’.

Last click is the most common and easiest to monitor as it attributes credit for the conversion on the last click. So if an email is sent which results in 20% clickthrough to site, the email takes the credit. The major drawback in this model however is that it fails to take into account any other touchpoints, which inevitably provides a false impression of what works.

Conversion isolates a click and offers a thread so is ideal for affiliate enterprises. It does however provide the greatest risk of duplication and double counting as there is no guarantee that the clickthrough ends in a sale.

A weighted approach tries to allocate credit to all aspects of campaign but is obviously the hardest to manage. Dell and other direct marketing giants pioneered the concept of dedicated landing pages to help allocate traffic to specific channels and activities. Other sites bluntly ask how you arrived at the site.

I think the key thing for most businesses is simply to start monitoring where your traffic is coming from. If you are not, start monitoring your clicks, traffic and conversion today. If you already are, perhaps this post has given you some food for thought on exactly what you are monitoring.

Image from willscullypower WordPress blog

Principles of marketing 13: Evaluation

Though evaluation typically comes at the end of a period of activity, the process involves benchmarking against preset key performance indicators which are set in relation to objectives at the beginning. If you haven’t followed a robust planning approach, your evaluation will unfortunately be sketchy at best.

Encouragingly, the digital revolution has extended the ability to evaluate activity such that weblogs, analytics programs and other automated controls can be used to immediately and powerfully inform marketers as to the success or failure of an activity and help to pinpoint where corrective remedy needs to be focused.

You can track enquiries, registrations, sign ups and log ins on your websites and from emails and other marketing. (Use of targeted campaign specific landing pages helps to track all advertising, direct marketing, social media and PR traffic).

You can more specifically track and calculate return based on visitor numbers (unique and return over time), enquiries, conversions and terminations. Monitoring terminations and what lies un-purchased in online baskets allows you to contact them or refine your online ordering to make it easier.

It goes without saying the main KPI is to evaluate against revenues i.e. same or more from existing customers, new customers or new products and services to both existing and new customers.

Duration of time spent instore/on your website are good ‘soft’ barometers of interest, as are the running of recommend/send to a friend features which encourage word of mouth – again all tracked back to a specific landing page / log in.

I make no apology for keeping it simple – it’s what this blog is built on. Companies and global brands spend millions tracking brand mentions on the web, tracking their brand position, brand share, brand equity and lots of other stuff. Good luck to them.

Ultimately, the name of the game of evaluation is to keep doing the right things right and to stay profitably in business. With the pressure of new business in the current economic environment so stark,  maybe ensuring you have the same customers next year that you had this year is the best place to start?