Bad Data

A case for why more is not always more.

As a company that does a large volume of print & mail services, we are on a ton of mailing lists.  I recently came across a postcard that had the name of an employee that has not been with Print Tech for over 5 years.  Now I see this all the time, but this stuck out because it came from a prospect I had spoken to very recently regarding print & mail services.  A month later, I receive this card from said prospect with an invalid name.  Our address was correct however (this had recently changed), proving that the print/mail supplier was observing required practices with NCOA.

Since it was so recent I had spoken to the prospect, I had to give a call, right?  After contacting this person, I hung up the phone a bit stunned.  Here is the essence of the conversation:

Me: “I just wanted to let you know that I received this postcard in error as it came for someone who hasn’t been here for 5 years.  Now we recently spoke about some of our services and I followed up with some samples of my work, but now I’m calling for a different purpose.  Did you know that bad data could be costing you tons of money?  We had a non-profit client where we scrubbed close to 50% of their list to save them money.  Perhaps us scrubbing your list would be a good introduction to my company so you can evaluate if our services would be a good fit.”

Prospect: “Well our printer does it for free.  We don’t have them check the name, only the address.”

(Mind you, I have never had any conversation about price at this point.)

Me: “So you don’t care if your message gets to the right person, as long as it hits the right address?”

Prospect: “More or less.”

It was a little surprising to me that this was the stance the prospect took.  Now this is the part where I slap myself on the wrist.  It didn’t dawn on me until after the call, that this prospect doesn’t know what I know.  In my wild youth I worked for a company called Ikon and one of my jobs was to assist their clients with their mail room operations.

Did you know that every company from Enterprise Rent a Car to M&M Mars had the same mail policy?  If the person no longer works here, throw it out.  This applied to over 20 clients where we offered mail room support.  Therefore each bad name sent to those companies was a waste of print & postage.  Of course there was no way for the prospect to know this.  Nor might they have known that bad data can hurt your reputation for both businesses and residences.

Shame on me, as the expert, to not impart this wisdom.  So here I am sharing this with all of you.  I have seen clients with address lists so bad that it would have cost over $5000 in wasted print & postage if we had not scrubbed them.  Please don’t fall victim to this and make sure your data is clean.

Now excuse me.  I have a call I need to make to a prospect!

Cross-media needs print as its first point of contact

By Jo Francis – Thursday, 23 August 2012

Despite the burgeoning panoply of fancy-pants ways to woo consumers that online and mobile provide, firms often find that good old print offers a cost-effective and reliable way of breaking the ice

A QR code label on a packet of mince; printed magazines with hot links to additional interactive content; near-field communication, social media links, personalised landing pages. An entire garden based around a QR code at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Cross-media marketing, integrated marketing… Call it what you will, it’s an increasingly common feature of everyday life. Brands are coming up with all sorts of clever ways to use the new tools for customer engagement and sales generation. And the good news for print is that, despite all the hype about mobile and social media, print still has a part to play when it comes to creating successful, cross-media campaigns.

The London 2012 Olympics provided a high-profile platform for the sponsoring brands to roll-out fresh ideas for cross-media interactions. BP used QR codes and unique identifying codes on its carbon-neutral promotion, which arrived with Games tickets, of which more below.  Lloyds TSB used the ticket pack to put a promotion directly into the hands of recipients. It sent out what appeared to be a straightforward printed leaflet, which turned out to include an integrated label to be used as a Team GB supporter’s bib. To be in with a chance of winning tickets for the Team GB after-party, recipients uploaded a photograph of themselves wearing the bib to a Lloyds TSB Facebook page.

But getting the mix right is crucial. For example, email marketing is understandably popular, due to its relative cheapness, but earlier this year Pitney Bowes published research that pointed to falling email open rates in cases where email was the only contact point with consumers, with 53% of some 5,000 respondents reporting negative perceptions about email intrusiveness – more than double that for direct mail.

It’s increasingly clear that amid a blizzard of marketing messages, print’s ability to stand out, whether through size, shape or tactile effects, means it can hold its place as a powerful driver of customer interactions.

A recent report on the direct marketing sector by PrintWeek’s sister title Marketing described marketers as “feeling their way” in a world of fragmented media. PrintWeek spoke to three very different companies about their experiences and ambitions in the burgeoning cross-media space.

Global energy giant BP – headquartered in London for more than a century – has been running a high-profile campaign as part of its partnership with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, for which it is sustainability and official carbon-offsetting partner. The corporation aims to “inspire millions of people to think about the mobility choices they make every day” through its not-for-profit Target Neutral scheme.

Part of its London 2012 campaign involved an attention-grabbing insert in the ticket pack. Printed on 50% recycled polypropylene, the piece involved pop-out die-cut tags, each printed with a QR code and individual code. By visiting a microsite, ticket-holders were able to neutralise the carbon emissions involved in their journey to Olympic venues, with BP aiming to set a world record for the most individual carbon offsets at a single event.

And those visiting the Olympic Park itself were incentivised to make a further engagement with a souvenir photograph in front of a spectacular Olympic stadium backdrop available for ticketholders who took their individual tags along to the BP Target Neutral Walk.

Spokeswoman Sheila Richardson explains the broader BP campaign:

What sort of cross-media techniques have you been using? “Ogilvy & BP have worked together to produce an exciting new campaign that celebrates every individual – from well-known athletes to the humblest people working behind the scenes – each making a significant contribution to the success of London 2012.  BP’s campaign launched in July,  ‘Here’s to the home team’, celebrates the disparate group of people who helped – in their own distinct and significant way – to deliver the greatest show on earth.  Athletes such as Lizzie Armitstead and Jessica Ennis, who BP supported, are featured in the ads, both in print and on TV.”

How did you find the right supplier to meet your needs? “We have used Ogilvy for a long time for our creative work and campaigns.”

Are you finding any specific combinations of techniques to be particularly effective?

“In this world of multimedia, we believe using a variety of media is the most effective way of getting our message across.”

What difference has it made to your business? “We are not trying to sell anything – our idea behind the campaign is to raise awareness of the Games and to celebrate the athletes and those who support them and others. From athletes (like Jessica Ennis) who shine in the spotlight, to those in the background and humble people working behind the scenes (like tea lady Una Bird), all are doing their bit to help deliver the greatest show on earth. BP recognises that every individual contribution is significant, and we want to celebrate everyone who is involved in helping to make the Games a success.”

From its origins as a small business selling plastic freezer bags, Lakeland has evolved into a home shopping powerhouse, with sales driven by 18 different catalogues a year. It despatches thousands of parcels a day, and has expanded its retail operations, with 59 stores across the country. Marketing director Tony Preedy takes up the story:

What sort of cross-media techniques have you been using? “We use a variety of different channels. With our printed publications we experiment with different sizes and paginations, and we’re particularly driven by the thresholds set by Royal Mail.

We use PEFC or FSC stocks and wherever possible we print in the UK.

In addition to the catalogue, we have website and email marketing programmes. We’ve also recently created a digital magazine for tablets that’s available in the App Store and for Android devices. It’s the equivalent to a 120pp printed magazine.

Last year we also mobile-optimised our website so it serves the website to you in an appropriate form for the device being used.

Other examples include our click-and-collect set-up whereby customers can browse online, reserve items and then collect them from a store that’s convenient for them.

We’ve just opened a new store in Brighton that includes a custom app running on iPads that are built into the store fit. It’s effectively digital point-of-sale. Essentially it’s a test installation for us.”

Are there other techniques you intend to use in future? “We have been experimenting with QR codes but they are a poor solution to the problem and are still pretty small scale. Clearly there is an appetite to consume digital content about products, I think there will be a better solution to this in time.”

How did you find the right suppliers to meet your needs? “From a client point-of-view I have many channels to manage and I seek best-in-breed suppliers in those channels, rather than one supplier who can do everything.

We tender and award contracts to whoever does the best pitch. We don’t use print managers because we prefer to build long-term relationships with the printers we use so that it’s good business for both sides.

Our view is that catalogues remain a very important part of the marketing mix. One of the most cost-effective ways of getting someone to visit a website is to send them a catalogue.

What difference has it made to your business? “There’s a lot of talk about attribution and assigning values to each element of the marketing mix. I can’t get too hung up on each piece in each channel. In a multichannel environment it’s simply impossible to know if a door drop or a catalogue was what sent someone to one of our shops.

It’s futile to try and work out the marginal benefits of each channel. I prefer to look at campaigns holistically.”

Rank Group
Entertainment company Rank Group is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The £568m turnover group has focussed on the leisure industries of gaming and betting since 2006, and its brands include Grosvenor Casinos and Mecca Bingo. Rank has more than 2.5m customers who make more than 22.5m annual customer visits to its businesses, which also include operations in Spain and Belgium and online offering Rank Interactive. Head of customer communications David Bealing explains the group’s use of cross-media techniques:

What sort of cross-media techniques have you been using? “Across both Mecca and Grosvenor Casinos brands we have created customised, trigger-based CRM campaigns, utilising all forms of cross-media through our best-in-class Web2Media platform.”

How did you find the right supplier to meet your needs? “After scoping across the Rank Groups brands stakeholders we issued a tight, concise and stretching brief. After shortlist and pitches, Inc Direct were the supplier that was able to meet the business requirements and build the solution from the ground up in a short time frame. We particularly liked Inc Direct’s ‘added value’ providing additional best-practice ideas and insight to supplement our existing strategy.”

Are you finding any specific combination(s) of techniques to be particularly effective? “Good old-fashioned (but highly customised) direct mail continues to deliver strong result for us. However the triggering of email and SMS is also working well for some customer segments.”

What difference has it made to your business? “Having the ability to create highly variable cross-media via our Web2Media tool has increased customer uptake, reduced costs, improved our speed to market and, most importantly, increased our ROI.”

Are there other techniques you intend to use in future? “For us, the future (well it’s already started) is all about much greater segmentation of customer data and making sure we can add actual or perceived value to our customers by deploying segmentation across all cross-media channels.”