We all know that ‘data’ is a hot topic and is a crucial part of any Customer Relationship Management strategy. The collection of customer data has become a strategic imperative for many customer focused organisations.

From gathering data to actionable insight

Data enables your business to develop a much greater understanding of fans and customers, improve loyalty and the customer experience, whilst enhancing the value of the products you market.

So, should collecting large amounts of data be a key objective for your business? The answer is yes and no.

If it’s about having relevant, good quality data which helps provide actionable insight about your fans and customers and if you have the resources and systems infrastructure to be able to manage it - the answer is yes. If the collection of data is an end in itself and there is no understanding of how it can be used or resources to make use of it - the answer is no.

Essentially, data is only truly valuable if it can be translated into insight which drives strategic decision making. One of the greatest challenges for businesses is not having the ability to manage, maintain and make sense of multiple sources of data and often businesses underestimate the resources required to generate meaningful, actionable insight.

Creating a personalised and customised customer journey

It is vital to use the insight generated from data to drive actions, rather than to simply focus on data collection. Insight supports the transformation of customer data in your CRM system into precise measurable objectives, enabling marketing campaigns to be targeted and personalised to a segmented audience. Segmentation based on a fan or a customers’ characteristics such as purchase behaviour, demographic data, or even their membership type, are all powerful assets that create a competitive advantage and value.

The amount of data around us is ever increasing, creating a panic in many organisations who seek to collect it without a plan or strategy to manage it properly. For example, fans and customers are increasingly engaging around the clock in new innovative ways using smart phones, tablets and social media, resulting in the creation of new data sources and a greater understanding of the need for data from in-depth analysis of marketing campaigns.

A step-by-step strategic approach to data analysis

Before undertaking a data and insight project, we always emphasise to our clients the importance of the upfront planning. This is essential in saving time, overcoming challenges early and reducing the headache from potential future data overload!

The key outcomes from the initial planning stage are:

Develop a set of objectives for the data and insight programme. It always starts with specifically defining what is to be achieved. This is crucial to avoid data for data’s sake. I.e. the objective should not be ‘collect more data’.

These need to be identified, answered and actioned from the data. This supports the creation of objectives and highlights the areas of the business where having more insight will make a real difference to delivering them.

Identify the appropriate data sources to be analysed in order to meet the identified objectives. Do we utilise the data we have already? Or do we need to capture more data sources? Make sure you answer the question ‘what will we do with that data source?’ when each one is considered. For example, we often hear sports clients ask to collect specific transactional data from the concourses (e.g. refreshments) without any clear reason as to why and before they have even started using basic ticket purchase data.

Ensure that the systems in place are able to manage the capture, maintenance, hosting, analysis and insight creation functions required. If not, find new technology to fill the gaps. For example, many traditional data/CRM systems will host the data and deliver some basic segmentation, but for more sophisticated statistical methods, specialist software is required. Or another question to ask is can the insight be created in more common tools such as MS Excel and MS Access?

Allocate resources to each of the key elements of data management. For example, who will be responsible for maintaining the data? Who will analyse the data? Ensure that this is not underestimated. Data is complex and requires dedicated skills. If headcount is an issue, then consider using specialist agencies.

If data and insight is important to you, then spend time discussing and reviewing it. Make sure that the objectives identified at the start of the project are measured and ensure that any data related goals are included as part of any senior management reporting pack. If these aren’t required or if no-one reviews these then there is a strong argument that the whole project could be stopped or a cultural change project may be required.

In terms of the process of collecting data, we generally urge a step-by-step approach. Initially we recommend the focus to be on contact data, this allows us to communicate with the customer and add some general personalisation.

We then move onto using transaction data, i.e. what the customer has bought and what it means. From this we have typically built statistical models for clients using traditional RFM modelling or Predictive Modelling to find new Season Ticket holders for our sports clients.

Once this is in place then other data can be supplemented, i.e. social economic data such as MOSAIC, ACORN or Personicx. Attitudinal data can also be utilised by adding survey results into the mix.

Collecting data simply for data’s sake will result in creating poor quality insight, low morale amongst staff and people focused on activities with no added value. Not to mention the risk of creating a culture that shuns potential data projects in the future. Ultimately the data collected should always be used to create insight and if it is not possible to do so, then there is no need to collect it in the first place.

Data is a key element of a successful business but is only of high value when insight is generated from it. To do this takes time, patience and a plan - but the rewards will be worth it in the end.

Our data analysis services

We have a team of experienced data analysts on hand and a proven track record of discovering actionable insights from complex data sets – don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team and find out how we can help you achieve more from your data.

To find out more about our services, please don't hesitate to get in touch or call us on 01455 377143.

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