Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Data Quality and Being Green

It’s clear that the green movement, specifically the desire for the general public to want to work with companies who are environmentally responsible, is here to stay. The general public is overwhelmingly in favor of your efforts to be green. For example, Wal-mart made headlines when it recently announced a program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Not only was this positive news for the world, but Wal-mart saved money on reduced energy costs.

For this and other reasons, marketers are relying less and less on direct mail as a core channel to send targeted information to customers. Consumers' desire to be green are causing marketers and finance teams alike to rethink paper-based channels, increasing their reliance on electronic communications (eg, websites, email, and e-statements).

The green movement is changing the world of data management, as follows:

  • De facto name and address standards – As we go into 2008, the general public simply won’t accept duplicates - bills, marketing offers and other mailings from you must be as clean as possible, or the customer is more apt to unsubscribe to your offers. In the past, if you got three catalogs from that computer retailer, it was a joke. They will laugh no more. Being green is a serious subject to many of your customers.
  • Importance of non-name and address data – Sure, the customer name and address will still be an important, but additional information such as e-mail address, customer contact preferences, and whether the customer is on the “Do Not Call” list are fundamental. Build this type of data as you go forward with additional processes at the call center and sales level. In other words, if you want someone’s e-mail address, you should ask for it.
  • Electronic Billing – As a customer, it sure is easier to get your bills via web site. As a company, it sure costs less to bill your customers via e-mail and secure web site. As an eco-friendly company, it sure looks good to provide a way to stop all those perfume soaked papers from being delivered by the mailman. Electronic billing is the way to go.
  • Potential Higher Revenues – Let’s face it, the cost of direct mail is much higher than sending an e-mail blast. Within reason, you can afford to make more offers to your customers and increase upsell potential, as long as you’ve done your data management homework. A men’s clothing store e-mails me weekly about specials, and I’m happy to get the offers. As a customer, I have seen their evolution. In the past, I received barely one postcard per quarter. As a result of their switch to e-mail and the increased touches, I do buy more at the store.

Trillium Software can help you meet these data management challenges and become greener. How? Of course, the Trillium Software System helps remove the duplicates, but it can help understand and repair the quality of e-mails and contact preference data. In association with our parent company, Harte-Hanks with can often do reverse look-up on data, so if you have an address, Harte-Hanks can often find a phone number or an e-mail. We can help manage the “Do Not Call”By managing data more effectively; you can become a stronger, greener company.

More info on being green? Take a look at the DMA’s Green15 Toolkit.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own and don't necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer. The material written here is copyright (c) 2010 by Steve Sarsfield. To request permission to reuse, please e-mail me.