Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Why GDPR is Direct Marketing's BREXIT

"Can we at least shake on GDPR?" (credit:The Independent)
Last week, it struck me how these two phrases, forever etched on marketing people's brains, have a surprising amount in common with each other...
  • Neither outcome is fully known until deadlines come and go
  • We are preparing for both best we can on limited guidance available
  • We are inundated with so called experts, doom-mongers and evangelists
  • They are bound to be some losers, but also big opportunities
But the single humongous problem affecting our business lives today is that we lack certainty. The stuff that we crave in order to design and execute change plans is rarer than the prospect of Barnier and Davis swapping presents this Christmas.
Informed guesswork is the name of the game here with those who feel they're sailing close to the wind now (you know who you are) will likely court the wrath of the ICO GDPRstyle in 2018, unless business models are torn up and new strategies adopted.
The best policy (outside of an official one) is to use common sense. Many blogs ago, I suggested such common sense rules called the 'The Granny Test' for those of you unsure how to apply best practice to consumer privacy and consent. The basic premise is before hitting go on that latest direct marketing campaign, think how your granny would feel about receiving it. If the impact worries you, hit pause and think again. I think this interpretation still holds well today in the absence of any explicit rules to follow.
May the marketing force be with you (you'll need it!)

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

How to Solve Marketing's Consent / Privacy Dilemna

Make no bones about it Privacy and Consent are now the biggest buzzwords in Direct Marketing. Cut to frantic scenes in compliance and marketing departments across the UK trying to figure out what the best approach is to take...
Is it a question of damned if you do and damned if you don't?
But before we all start ripping up marketing techniques that have been tried and tested over the last twenty years (since Data Protection Act of 1998 and 2003's PECR), let's start with performing a simple test on how you treat marketing communications with prospects and customers by applying 'The Granny Test':
Put yourselves in the shoes of your granny and think how she would feel if she received the latest DM pack, email or phone-call as part of a direct-marketing campaign. You'll get one of two answers:
  1. She's worried/concerned/surprised to hear from the brand
  2. She understands the reason for contact and accept/ignores or declines the offer
Of course, eliciting answer No.2 means you've probably got the correct consent/opt-in whilst respecting her privacy. Anything else, means you have to go back down the mine and work out why your granny doesn't understand the reason for contact.
Best practice is no longer an aspiration but the absolute minimum for direct marketing post GDPR. GDPR sounds onerous (it is in terms of administration!) but does attempt to crystalise how everyone would prefer to be contacted via marketing channels. Compliance can no longer be seen as a barrier, but another way to enable better marketing results through fairer legal means.
From personal experience, recent conversations with client brands have resurfaced some age old questions around consent, opt-in and privacy. Actually it is now easier to answer those questions with a stricter ICO interpretation of data laws using GDPR.
One such dilemma is 'Should we use company name or brand name opt-in statement? On the face of it, the benefits of a company wide opt-in are obvious, offering multiple brand opt-ins and total communication flexibility. However caution must be urged - do your prospects/customers most commonly associate with the brand or the company? Apply the 'Granny Test' and you'll quickly get the answer you need! Under GDPR using a company opt-in to send marketing comms from a brand a prospect is unfamiliar with, is likely to suffer the wrath of the ICO as you will need to prove that the original opt-in consent scope is tight enough to allow this type of brand contact.
It seems only yesterday that pressure on companies to get serious about consent was at breaking point but looking back to 2015 the red flags were flying and highlighted (in no subtle terms) in a previous blog How to fix Direct Marketing Biggest Problem
2018 will be the year of reckoning for all those in the Direct Marketing game, so spend 2017 huddling together to solve your Consent / Privacy dilemmas, before the ICO (painfully) solves it for you.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Automatic for the People?

Michael Knight escapes KITT(image thanks to Silver Blue)
"End Tech Disruption, Start Tech Enhancement"
Constant social media updates flood our news feeds daily about how yet another industry is disrupted by new technology.... and how wonderful this is because now a computer automates a task faster and cheaper than ever before. 
But wait... there's a catch or more a hidden story. That is, the lives of the people this technology disrupts. Disruption is rarely all good, indeed the definition is: disturbance or problems that interrupt an event, activity, or process - doesn't sound too rosy now, does it? Yet we are sold on the idea that disruption by tech is all good, inevitable, unavoidable and that if we can't see the advantage now, we will all benefit in the future.
Take Uber as a classic example of disruptive technology. The platform disrupts by removing the inconvenience of getting a taxi at short notice which was an inherent flaw with the offline taxi rank/office/black cab industry. So far, so good. However looking at the numbers, this company just can't make money with its current driver model. It just lost another $800m last quarter and on track to lose $3 billion by year end! It won't take a genius to guess that it will only ever likely turn a profit when a driverless model is the prevailing service.
So like the offline taxi model, Uber appears to carry a flaw (this time weighing c. 62kg) in its underlying model. As an Uber user, I like the convenience but I also love that fact that Uber provides someone with a new way to earn an income. Without a 62kg human driver, I could quite easily fall out of love with Uber.
Next time you are sold the next great tech disruption consider the downsides and how maybe technology should be evaluated on the enhancement it makes to us humans rather than purely as a cool disruptive influence. With this kind of thinking, better, more profitable and an altogether more humanistic approach can create tech business models that mutually benefit customers, employees and society at large (and don't even get me started on big corp taxes!).

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Robots to run Direct Marketing Industry within 5 years

Image credit: Takahiro Kyono 
Let's face it, rising automation using marketing platforms and programmatic buying are merely tip of the iceberg stuff. 

Lurking underneath is the potential for a vast 'Uberesque' style total robotisation of marketing and inparticular direct marketing.

Back in 2014, Forbes were already making predictions about how marketing robots will easily overcome any human objections in time and so change the future of marketing.

That future is now...

Take a look at all those other industries that claimed gut feel and human instinct were the key to success. We're 15 years since Moneyball tactics cracked baseball wide open. It is probably mostly down to human resistance that further contagion in sports still only ripples across NBA Championship basketball (Golden State Warriors, 2015 winners) and Premier League football (Leicester City, 2015/16 winners). The rise of data, via automation to robotisation is an unstoppable truth.

Stop and be honest - consider how your job may be done better by a robot? Once companies have figured this out (for you), the only big players left in town will be those who can collaborate effectively in partnership with robots. The safe(er) jobs in 'robot marketing world' are likely to be across these areas:

  • Data Analysts/Scientists
  • 'Big ticket' Account Directors
  • C level roles (don't think we're asking for any robot CEO's just yet!)
  • Programmers
  • Creatives/Ideas (but not template design)

As we puny humans, cling on the remnants of the Mad Men advertising era, get ready as we are enter the age of the Sane Robot marketing epoch.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

How to Fix Direct Marketing Biggest Problem

Photo credit:
What is the BIG question every consumer asks when faced with a seemingly 'out of the blue' marketing phone call, SMS or email?
Answer: "Where did you get my details from?" you scream...
Of course, no matter how great the product/service or how perfectly timed the contact, you will always see a minority of people who'll complain about the marketing intrusion even though it's 100% compliant (well it was yesterday!). So putting that small proportion of consumers who suffer from compliant marketing to one side....
However we can do something to help the vast majority of complainers and answer the single big question above by stopping the use of data sourced from anonymous third party marketing opt-in tickboxes. The standard opt-in tickbox wording tends to state 'carefully selected partners may contact you about relevant marketing offers.' The biggest problem with the phrase 'carefully selected partners' - is that it provides next to zero protection and traceability for consumers to establish how their details were passed on - surely they have a right to know?
Let's now imagine a new world where all data used for direct marketing was labelled with origin of place and date of opt-in. If we ask the BIG consumer question again:
Question: 'Where did you get my details from?'
Answer: Looking at our records, I can see you opted into xxxx list/site on 1st May 2015
Hey presto! This sounds fair. The result of this additional key info to each data record has three benefits:
  1. Puts the consumer at ease that you are a bona-fide company who cares where their details originated
  2. Increases the chance of a positive experience and resulting transaction taking place
  3. Reduces the probability that complaints get escalated to the ICO, DMA, FRSB - or any number of other regulators, media outlets and government departments
So it could be time for the whole Direct Marketing industry to swallow hard and take a leap into a world of ethically sourced data AND being happy to prove it to consumers on demand.
To break the 'status quo' and raise the best practice bar to ethical status, we need to:
  • Ban sales of generic anonymous third party marketing opt-in data which emanates from risky 'third party' marketing statements
  • Stamp each data record used for marketing with place of origin and date of opt-in. This information must be freely available to consumers in print on email, paper or spoken word,
The BIG Question is...
Who's in?

Friday, 1 May 2015

Co-registration - Every Marketer's Guilty Pleasure?

Credit: flickr thepeachmartini
You mention co-reg and most marketers will fall into one of three categories:
  1. Er, what's this co-registration thingy about again?
  2. Tried it, didn't work for me
  3. I love it, but I'm not going to brag about it
If you answered 1, 2 or 3 you need to keep reading...
It may not be sexy or what you always dreamed of in your formative years at Marketing School... but, damn, what won't win best looks in a marketing beauty contest does deliver stonking results!
Using the UK market as an example, what other channel can give you....
 ... opt-in email leads for 50p which convert at 30% to double opt-in (DOI)?
... telephone leads for £1 which convert to sale at 10-15% on calling?
(Contact me if you want case studies)
The uniqueness of co-reg bobbing amongst the sea of lead generation channels is what makes it unrivaled in terms of performance and misunderstanding in equal measures.

What makes it unique

  • Only lead gen channel purely priced on cost per lead (CPL)
  • Highest opt-in rate from impression - think 5% versus 0.5% on performance display ads or email marketing
  • Huge scale - 1 million UK leads in a month is doable
  • Lowest cost in generating leads compared with other channels
  • 1-click sign-up - hyper convenient for consumers to opt-in

Why is it misunderstood

  • Driven by native style advertising
  • You're unlikely to stumble across a co-reg site - they have no SEO value as Google bot crawlers can't creep past the initial registration page so you must be driven there by push email, display, mobile marketing
  • Dual registration process means you need to appreciate how opt-in consent and privacy policies work
  • Predominance of competition style publisher sites
  • Huge variance in lead quality from best to worst from similar looking sites
  • Labour intensive to manage the data without the right know-how and lead management technology
  • Not taught at any level from degree to professional qualification
  • Co-reg ads are an ugly name! Sign-up ads are a better expression!

What's new?

This is the reveal moment, because the new and improved 'sign-ups' (aka co-reg) are actually starting to look more easy on the eye these days. Here's why?
  • Big brand content publishers integrating sign-ups into their advertising suite - from Dennis Publishing to the Daily Mail Group
  • Lead management platforms are increasingly tidying up the messy side of handling leads to deliver fuss-free automated campaigns
  • Lead scoring means you can slice and dice your audience into look-a-like customers rather than use generic lead capture
  • Geo-demographic targeting works because a bigger audience means zoning in on the right target with a profiled sign-up advert.
  • Improved retargeting by database building at super low cost
So whilst traditional co-registration will always remain a guilty pleasure, you may yet come to openly show your love for sign-ups instead.
Show your love now by liking or commenting below.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

9 Top Tips for more effective lead generation campaigns

Jelly courtesy of Jerry Wong
The skill of perfectly managing a lead generation campaign is not unlike having the ability to pick up a jelly without wobbling it. Whilst anti-wobble jelly advice may be thin on the ground, you could do worse than to follow these 9 top tips for a more effective lead generation campaign:

1.       Use the right Lead Management Platform – Some campaigns have very basic fulfillment needs such as batched ftp delivery to contact centre. Whereas others might involve a multi-step lead process to sale (i.e. emails, brochures, calls and home visits). Pick the lead management solution that suits your lead to sale conversion funnel. i.e. you wouldn’t buy a Ferrari to pop down to the shops.

2.       Micro-manage publishers – so you may want to break down lead supply from publishers by site but how about also dissecting the traffic to that site? Publishers often work in the dark when it comes to being able to tell which traffic sources are generating the best leads for their advertisers. So help complete the feedback loop by passing traffic sub-ids and then reporting which ones perform best.

3.       Test advert copy – Lead generation starts with using smart advertising to get people to opt-in after all. So the optimum use of imagery, text and call to action is super critical to success. It’s just that you won’t know this unless you test different variations of your standard ad copy. As the most basic level, you may want to use a male and female version of your ad/landing page/welcome email to more efficiently onboard your leads.

4.       Adjust filters and criteria – This one has a sting in the tail – ask for more details and you risk deterring the consumer. So for example, full postal address is very useful to have on your database, but if you are not going to use it then you are turning off those people who won’t bother completing your form because of this.

5.       Validation – There is good validation and bad validation (or should I say over-zealous validation). Bad domain look-ups, ip address checkers, hoax name filters are all great to have, but once you start going too far and querying potential valid email addresses is where you’ve crossed the line. Over-validation could just as easily wreck your CPA as letting through bad leads.

6.       Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up – Leads cannot convert without fast follow-up. The value of a lead disintegrates every minute it is left untouched. Opt-in leads should be emailed instantly and receive call-backs within 2 hours.

7.       Incentives – Always a touchy subject as to whether you should use any kind of incentivisation for lead generation. But incentives shouldn’t be thought of as a dirty tactic because you need some incentive for people to opt-in in the first place. The main reason someone opts-in will determine how motivated that person is to buy from you. Incentives can be thought of in two ways, direct and indirect. A direct incentive is where you tell the consumer to complete this offer and you will be entered to win a prize.’ An indirect incentive could be ‘choose one from these 10 offers and you will be entered to win a prize.’ Both will motivate and incentivise the consumer in very different ways. But it’s not just prize incentives you should be thinking about, exclusive discounts (voucher codes) and offers can be used to drive the buying motivation of the consumer.

8.       Be fair and transparent to consumers– Trying to trick consumers into opting-in using unrealistic promises, whilst in the short run will drive higher clicks and visits, is unlikely in the end to net satisfied customers. Lead generation is an investment that involves moving the customer from awareness, interest through desire into action and any tactics that mislead the consumer are likely to surface very quickly along this path. Best to honestly market your proposition, tell consumers what’s gonna happen after opt-in and then deliver on this.

9.       Be the lead – Fill out your own forms, read and click on your own emails. How easy is it to do? Is it a pleasurable experience? I’ve sat in meetings in which clients have tried and failed to sign-up to their own lead generation campaigns.

If you follow these top lead generation tips, you should be able to avoid most of those jelly wobbles!