We live in a turbocharged world. Everything is a million miles per hour. People are busy and rushing from one task to another. And, technology, whilst certainly life-enhancing, has created a society where we in fact have less time for talking.
Technology has revolutionised the way we communicate. We have Facebook and LinkedIn to help us build networks and keep in touch, even on an intimate level with family photos and life events. LinkedIn enables business folk to extend their reach beyond traditional boundaries. CRM and other systems empower businesses with automation on so many levels. Yet, how much of the communication that flows is genuinely engaging?
There has always been clutter. Those readers old enough to remember pre-internet days will remember bemoaning the amount of junk mail received through the post. At work, not only did we receive tons of stuff of little or no use, we also received little brown envelopes with memos from other staff. So, clutter is nothing new. But, expectations have certainly chances. We live in the microwave world where we all expect immediacy and the early bird catches the worm.
Given the proliferation of technology, we can’t ignore the fact that we need to harness its power to be able to communicate better and in a manner that customers expect. CRM systems support good communication. But, an old expression still persists.
‘Garbage in, garbage out’
Your system isn’t human (yet) and it can only facilitate. It’s only as good as the food you give it to digest. Poor data means errors. It means poorly perceived and received communication. No-one wants to receive a poorly addressed email with in name (John as opposed to Jane even assuming that the email is delivered in the first place). Who wants to receive an email or direct mail that is totally irrelevant? Time is precious. Accurate targeted communications can only emanate from well qualified, well profiled and accurate data. And, there’s the challenge.
B2b data accuracy is an oft-discussed subject amongst marketers. How can you keep data clean when business people change jobs so frequently and contact details also change? It isn’t a simple task. But, some marketing and sales people could be criticised for sticking their heads in the sand and, not least, by not supporting each other. Sales people are at the coal face yet there can sometimes either be a silo mentality (our data) or an unwillingness to spend the necessary time to update systems when they receive ‘new’ information. Marketing people perhaps don’t put the processes in place for the sales team to be able to and to want to join in.
So, it isn’t about one collusion. It’s an amalgam of things. What’s certain though is that without joined up thinking, data ages. It becomes obsolescent. And, data isn’t just data. It’s people. It’s your prospects and customers. How likely are they to want to deal with you and your organisation when you either can’t get their name or contact details right or you deliver on that front but fundamentally fail to address communication in a way that talks to them in terms that they want?
It’s not an easy task. That’s why ‘Big data’ has emerged. Data analytics has become more essential. Given how easy it is to opt out of communications (and there’s a legal imperative to obey that request), no marketer would intentionally send junk communications or make calls without relevance. Or would they? Too much communication is still mass. Whilst it may not be practical to tailor communications to a database of 20,000 or more, work needs to be done on profiling, qualifying, validating and classifying before anything goes out. Add to this the forthcoming changes in data protection and direct marketing (GDPR and PECR), marketers need to get their house in order.
So, what needs to be done?
- Database evaluation– what needs to be removed and what should you keep?
- Database validation – conduct an exercise to update the information that’s crucial for marketing and targeting
- Data profiling – build your data in such a way that you can segment your various customer segments for marketing
- Data Building and Enhancing – nothing will work without a concerted effort to work together across the business. That means communicating the ‘why’ to everyone that interacts with customers and the data so they get it right and use the system
The above isn’t exhaustive and, to a large extent, is cost-dependent. Sometimes, it’s almost easier to accept wastage as you go along. Budgets are set for outbound marketing and it’s easier to justify that spend as opposed to an exercise on ‘data’ that sees no direct output. But, in the long term, data won’t improve unless you improve it and the effectiveness of your marketing and sales efforts will wane. What’s more, keeping data up to data is essential for customer retention. Whilst, in some ways, it may be a losing game, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t participate. Customers will thank you for it by buying from you and staying longer as opposed to going elsewhere through feeling unloved.
GSA helps businesses, large and small, become more effective in their marketing and business development. We run outbound telemarketing campaigns into the UK, Europe and further afield. Also, with our experience, we provide telemarketing training to help sales teams improve their results. If you’d like to know more, give us a call.