The problem with data

For those of you who follow me on LinkedIn you may in recent months have seen my comments over the constant direct marketing reaching my inbox with little of no relevance despite being a customer of theirs on and off for several years.

Amongst many industry buzz words out there – some of my favourite (NOT) are: agile, deep dive, and the most over used term in the industry ‘big data’.

I don’t and will never profess to be an expert in big data but I know this – companies – large and small whilst they think they are maximising their data and adding real value to their customers with targeted campaigns and offers are often times… well, missing the mark. Yet, everyone says they are ‘doing’ big data. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Furthermore, there are so many tools being used to understand what makes their customers tick outside of their buying habits – what is going on in their environment and value system that will impact their buying decision making. With this in mind, how are companies still not getting this right. Integration of the data sources is fundamental to this.

To put it in simplistic terms I will use a live example – a fashion retailer I have been purchasing regularly from for well over ten years, still sends me offers for their maternity range – I was pregnant over eight years ago. Given that I am part of their loyalty program which rewards me with a $50 voucher for every $500 I spend, look at what I am purchasing and look at other digital behaviours of mine (basic retargeting at a minimum) and communicate to me based on this – I am already loyal so I don’t necessarily just want offers, but to be educated based on my lifestyle and ‘clothing style’ with content that it relevant.

The airline industry is another example where I shake my head. One airline recently sent me an email saying ‘we miss you Giovanna’ but I purchased flights with them only a few days prior.

I see so many examples of this every day with brands that are respected and offer a great product or service on the surface but are no doubt spending way too much campaigning without a true insight of the real cause and effect and the effect on the data.

Why is this happening? What do we are business owners and marketers need to do?

Marketers need to know what questions we want answered and what data is currently in existence and in what form.

With businesses using different systems and platforms to operate and hence collate data, it is so important to understand where all the data sets are sitting and in what form.

Not only is it important that the systems and processes talk to each other; to enable more efficient and effective data, teams need to integrate too. There has been much discussion over the importance of marketing and IT to work closer – it’s an absolute necessity that marketers aren’t blindly reverting to IT. It needs to be a true collaboration and being tech aware and engaged is so important.

I challenge every marketer, CMO and CEO to reflect objectively on their business, their data and the real commercial output of their campaigns and the ROI on the dollars spent. If you aren’t sure, call me, I am probably your customer!

Giovanna is a business solutions and marketing specialist. She believes in empowering teams, getting them on the road to success and leaving them with the tools to make things happen. She is the founder of Sparrows United – a networking group connecting smart individuals across industry for mutual and community benefit.