Budget cuts – What happens to Marketing

It’s coming towards the end of the year and for many, that means the process of reviewing the budget for the next fiscal year. Reviewing every line of that budget becomes a tedious and necessary job. What gets cut? What stays?

Going department by department often leads right to the marketing department. At first glance, this seems like an obvious place to reallocate. The ROI is hard to prove. There typically is a long tail on any marketing efforts. And marketing efforts don’t always seem mission-critical.

I would like to argue that they are indeed mission-critical and there is never a more crucial time to invest in marketing than during economic downturns. But why?

  • Reputation in the market place. Consistency is always key. Don’t let others speak into the market place. Be the expert that you are and prove to the market why you are the front runner.
  • Keep your existing customer base. Your current base is your best place for repeat sales. You should be reaching these customers more than any other pool of people. Don’t let your current customers out of your sights.
  • Find new customers. The constant problem everyone has is attrition. Customers fall off. It’s a natural process. So if you are not attracting new customers, you are losing market share naturally. And if you are not actively marketing then your chances of gaining new customers is just that…chance.

So how do you handle this in a room full of mission-critical personnel? You need to come with data to prove your effectiveness. It always comes back to data.

And if you are not using data to market your goods or services, you certainly can’t use data to prove it’s effectiveness. Here’s how:

  • Start with good clean data. Bad data that hasn’t been hygiened can lead to a waste of money. You end up marketing to vacant homes, deceased people, and even prisoners.
  • Unify your data. If you are like most companies, your data is scattered across many platforms creating data silos. How do you really know about who your best customer is if their data is spread across multiple sources?
  • Segment properly. Prioritize your customers based on who has bought or is more likely to buy. The more you know about your customers, the better the segmentation can be.
  • Know your matchback numbers. After you run your campaigns, know where the responses are coming from. Don’t stop at the campaign level. Drill down to the segments and even to the customers. Determine which campaign worked for what segment and what customers and then analytically dig into the “whys”.

Ultimately, a good matchback will prove your ROI, especially if you bring that matchback into the cost of goods sold. Operationally it makes complete sense to marry these numbers and prove your ROI.

So as you walk into budget meetings, if you don’t have all of this data, why not suggest invoking a platform that can bring you all this data. At Valurity Analytics, we can help you with all of these marketing data issues. As data scientists, we are the perfect complement to your creative marketing team.

Drowning in Data?

With such a flood of data in this day and age marketing teams can be drowned with the amount of information causing missed opportunities or leading to ineffective or poor business decisions. Mark Twain said it best “Data is like garbage. You’d better know what you are going to do with it before you collect it.”

Customer and Marketing data can have a value equal to garbage unless it’s used correctly. It should be cleaned through proper data hygiene and unified across the myriad of data silos and formats. From there you need to know what you are going to do with it and be able to ask the right questions or make the best queries.

Working with the right solutions partner or having the right tools in place will then allow you to analyze, profile, & model the data to be translated into insights and recommendations.

Those insights can tell you who buys what, how much they buy, the best time they buy, the best channel to reach them in order for them to buy, as well as how to retain them as buyers just to name a few.

Not only will those key customer insights show you who your best customers are but also allow you to allocate your marketing spend to increase return on investment and stay ahead of your competition.

No one really says “hey, that’s some great looking data” but bad data is worse than no data. So like Mark Twain said, you better know what you are going to do with it before you collect it. Otherwise, it’s as good as garbage.

Is Direct Mail Dead?

Since the introduction of email and digital marketing, direct mail marketing has slowly dwindled. Clearly digital marketing is cheaper.

Let’s really take a look at that though. Is it as effective? Is the ROI the same as direct mail?

Here’s a great article we found from Forbes that makes it clear that Direct Mail shouldn’t be ignored.


As stated in the article, direct mail achieves a 4.4% response rate, compared to 0.12% for email. That’s a substantial difference. The article goes on to talk about the emotional response to physical mail and the feelings people get when anticipating the trip to the mailbox.

So when considering your next campaign, don’t just go to the easy solution of email. We can help you get that next campaign in the mail and increase that response rate.

Remove the Data Silos – Drive the Strategy

In your tenure at a company, how many different software platforms have you been on? For some companies, that’s just 1. But not for most. Most companies transition software platforms as new and better technology comes along.

Data migrations from one platform to another can leave you with incomplete and unmatched data. Typically, part of the data is left in the legacy system never to be used again. But why? What determines what has value and not?

Software transitions are just one of the ways you can end up with silos of data. Today, data can be collected from an assortment of sources. Just think about your web presence for a minute; social media, e-commerce platforms, google analytics, paid search, and more.

What you end up with is silos of data and frankly a big mess. How can you market with intentionality if you don’t have a clear picture of your data? And data should drive strategy. Gone are the days of “spray and pray”. Marketing departments now need to be careful to send the right message to the right customer through the right channel.

So how do you do that? Step one is to get rid of the silos. Unification of data across all platforms is a must. Hygiene and standardization routines are required before any unification. The more sophisticated the hygiene logic, the better the standardization and thus the better the unification.

Once you eliminate the silos, you can use that data to drive your strategy and grow your business.

Market Segmentation & Strategy

One of the most important marketing decisions a company will make is figuring out which market segments to focus on. Each segment has unique needs and in most cases, certain products stand a much better chance of success when marketing strategy focuses on the needs of those unique segments vs trying to market and fulfill the needs of multiple segments.

What’s even worse is not doing the proper data analysis and going after the wrong segment. For example, a leading distributor of liquid vitamins was shocked to discover that their marketing effort to and perceived leading segment was not 65+ adults because they were easier to swallow but actually middle-aged adult business travelers who were always on the go.

Of course, a segment should be big enough to be profitable but the smaller and more unique the segment, the more precise the marketing strategy and message can be.

In this day and age, a marketing strategy that includes a marketing database can make it much easier to reach these smaller segments and individual consumers. For example, a large retail website has a marketing database with 60 million existing and potential customers and over 400 data points on each. These data points include hobbies, age, credit, marriage status, birthday, as well as # of children just to name a few. This marketing database allows them to send individualized catalogs when a consumer is most likely to buy.

Combine that with a 360-degree view of the customer and you will get even more accurate insights allowing you to reach the right audience with the right personalized message at the right time.

What do your Consumers Want?

Do you…

  • drive a 1990 Audi station wagon?
  • eat only rice and beans?
  • wear only hand me downs or clothes bought at your local thrift store?
  • only buy furniture at flea markets?
  • live in a van down by the river?

Probably not.

If someone asks you what you want for your birthday do you tell them shampoo or toothpaste?

Maybe, but that would be a rare consumer and a very strong outlier in any data set. And while that consumer wouldn’t require much effort when it comes to marketing strategy your potential and existing customers don’t just purchase the basic necessities to get by. They also purchase what they want.

A good marketing strategy starts with understanding what motivates buyers, allowing them to experience those feelings in advance, and thus creating a desire for them to take action.

How do you tap into that?

A good place to start is with data and lots of it. But, not just any data. There is an explosion of readily available data in this day and age from multiple sources, in multiple formats, and spread across multiple data silos. First, it needs to be cleaned & unified.

From there you need to optimize your data through segmentation, profiling & modeling, and personas while combining spending habits, touch-point behaviors, and other various measures into one single reliable customer view.

This helps create new insights and intelligence that you can add to your campaign execution.

Don’t let your marketing strategy be a one size fits all approach to just spray out a message hoping it will land on someone who will buy. Make it a goal to understand the wants and values of your potential and existing customers. A good place to start is always with clean, unified, and optimized data.

360-Degree View of a Customer

If you are like most companies, you have switched software vendors multiple times. And you probably still have multiple different software systems that you still use. Your data is siloed. This challenge is super common.

Data Hygiene and Identity Resolution is the beginning of the fix to this problem. Data must be cleaned in order to bring it together and create unique persistent pins. But that’s not the end result of this process.

Once you have clean and merged data you are left with a 360-degree of a customer, a holistic view of spend measures, buying habits, and consumer traits.

But why is this important? By analyzing the past and present interactions of a customer, you can use predictive analytics to shape the future. Will the consumer respond to cross-sell opportunities or upsells? A 360-degree view of your customer will help you figure that out.

A 360 view can also aid in the creation of customer personas. Knowing what your customer looks like will help you build an effective marketing strategy and campaigns. You can target your client base with a much more personalized feel.

With a more personalized customer experience, you can build loyalty. And brand loyalty will drastically increase the lifetime value of a customer.

Don’t guess at what your customers look like. Know for sure with a level of depth and insight that will keep them coming back.

Customer Retention is Key

Lost customers can result from being overlooked, not getting enough attention, or getting too much attention. It can ruin customer relationships or how they perceive your brand. Companies need a platform to engage their customers personally across all touch points on a regular basis with the right message at the right time.

Whether it’s quarterly, seasonal, monthly, weekly, or promotional outreach, it’s imperative that companies retain customers against multiple competitor campaigns.

Be sure to reinforce the value of your brand, respond quickly to any real or perceived problem, and get proactive in knowing your customers base. Start with profiling & modeling, segmenting your customers, and creating personas. See how customers rank along multiple factors including revenue contribution, lifetime value, and campaign response rates then take a closer look at how often and in what ways you are connecting with them.

How often are you contacting your customers (too much, too little, not at all), through what channels, what is the purpose of your outreach, what messaging are you using, and what are historical outcomes of those interactions?

Put yourself in your customers shoes. Do your outreach efforts make you want to buy more from your company, feel valued as a customer, feel like your preferences and buying habits are understood?

Apply analytics to your data to better understand your situation, then decide on the frequency, purpose, and channel of outreach to stay top of mind to your customers before they go elsewhere.

Stay on top of your Data Hygiene

In today’s “Big Data” world most business decisions are data driven but the smart and accurate decisions start with clean data.

Data cleansing or data cleaning is the process of detecting and correcting (or removing) corrupt or inaccurate records from a record set, table, or database and refers to identifying incomplete, incorrect, inaccurate or irrelevant parts of the data and then replacing, modifying, or deleting the dirty or coarse data. (wikipedia)

Having clean data is important in every department across B2C and B2B organizations especially in marketing. Some of those multiple data points are:

  • Address Standardization
  • Address Correction and National Change of Address
  • Email Validation
  • Phone Type Validation (Mobile vs Voip vs LandLine vs Company # vs Direct)
  • Duplicates
  • Missing or incomplete data

Bad data can be worse than no data and lead to problems with cost, wasted employee productivity, and customer distrust. For example:

  • Poor data quality is also hitting organizations where it hurts – to the tune of $15 million as the average annual financial cost (Gartner)
  • 77 percent of companies believe their bottom line is affected by inaccurate and incomplete contact data and on average, respondents believe 12 percent of revenue is wasted. (Experian survey)
  • Bad Data Costs the U.S. $3 Trillion Per Year (Harvard Business Review)

With the increasing volumes of data, data sources, and technology stacks housing siloed data coupled with the increasing need to make better and more informed data-driven decisions it is becoming paramount that organizations stay on top of their data hygiene.