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Successful Retail Marketing Requires a Skilled ‘Data Translator’

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Mastering data is critical for retailers, particularly those serving specialty areas. The ability to reach consumers at the moments in time when they’re likely to make — or at least consider — key purchase decisions is the ultimate marketing challenge. This was especially true when COVID-19 accelerated triggers resulting from life events that motivated more people to buy or upgrade homes and make other major life decisions.

The massive increase in Americans fleeing apartments or upgrading to more space over the last 15 months presented retailers with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to increase conversion rates and sell more products. With relocation expenditures in this country exceeding $150 billion, retail marketers keep a close eye on new mover buying trends.

Recent data published by Deluxe provides examples of expenditures beyond the obvious that demonstrate why this group is a marketer’s dream.

  • Soon-to-be new movers spend, an average of $9,400 on products and services before relocating;
  • 60% of movers change at least one provider, such as banking or utilities; and
  • 42% of movers upgrade services, such as cable or landscaping.

In a market like this, however, the movement toward data is often accompanied by an unhealthy euphoria. The solution is not simply “more data,” despite what many information providers seem to be pitching. If you need personalized customized data that will generate ongoing quality leads, your best option is to partner with a supplier that can tailor recommendations based on your exact business need.

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Strategic Counsel is Paramount

For retailers, reaching consumers who are ready — or almost ready — to make a purchase has been a normal part of the research and marketing process for generations. With the entrance of “big data” and artificial intelligence, the opportunities to do this more efficiently and cost-effectively seemed unlimited.  

But in an economy with 260 million smartphone users cumulatively creating billions of new data points every day, the challenge for today’s retailers isn’t buying or gathering more information; it’s making sense of existing data in ways that increase sales and create long-term loyalty. Scores of companies credibly claim to have excellent predictive data, but the real challenge is identifying true innovators who offer incremental value versus those selling you what you already own.

To leverage the historic behavioral shifts underway, retailers need a partner that can provide the “right data at the right time” and then make sense of it quickly. This turns data into the core components of actionable campaigns that drive business outcomes. In a world with too many choices, strategic counsel is a most valuable resource.

Ask the Right Questions

Selecting the right data partner is a mission-critical task. Asking potential partners the right questions can help separate pretenders from those that have the expertise to guide your company through the information maze. Below are five questions to ask a prospective data partner.

1. Do you source data from other providers?

Reputable information purveyors will source data from multiple providers to generate the best possible leads. Rather than relying on one or two sources, the most successful campaigns emanate from an extensive multi-sourced database. This intelligence helps to identify consumers earlier and minimizes the amount of time between the trigger and the marketing message. This is especially important for the retail industry, where there are multiple providers of excellent data on “shopping habits.” No single provider can credibly claim to have a monopoly.

2. What can you provide that speaks to the data’s performance?

Case studies are not always available but they can be a helpful predictor of a data set’s value if the provider is willing to share them. If a case study isn’t available, ask for a client reference. In general, the more a provider is willing to share about the data and analysis they’re selling, the more confident they are in performance. This “transparency test” is an important barometer of any potential partner.

3. Can you determine what data I need compared to what I already have?

It’s important to understand what data you already have before deciding what you’re buying. For example, looking at the homeowner audience, a provider might try to sell you a data file that identifies new movers, new homeowners, pre-movers and newly engaged couples, but you may only need a subset of those identifiers. When you understand what somebody is trying to sell and what you already have, it gives you greater negotiating power, since you may not need everything they’re selling — and avoids duplication. Don’t shy away from asking how recommended additional data can fuel marketing campaigns and what results to expect.

4. Will you provide a timestamp for the data?

Timing is everything when it comes to data. Can your provider certify information has the right timestamp identifying when the life event occurred — and when they first became aware? This is especially important when buying data for time-sensitive moments, like marketing furniture and appliances to upcoming movers and new homeowners. At Deluxe, we’ve found the average response rate of a campaign decreases by 40.5% in week three compared to week one after a trigger event, such as someone putting their house on the market or closing on a new home. On the other hand, it’s wiser to wait a bit to offer nursery room staples to newlyweds rather than targeting them as soon as they apply for a marriage license. A few weeks can make the difference between success or failure.

5. Can your data distinguish the audience’s preferred communication channel?

Consumers today expect seamless connectivity. Successful marketing combines reaching the desired audience as close to the trigger event as possible and simultaneously connecting with them across multiple channels, maximizing reach online and off. We’ve found this cross-channel approach provides a 15% lift in response rate and 60% of marketing respondents claim combining digital and direct mail increases ROI. In this dynamic world, retail marketers must augment their direct mail promotions to increase the efficacy of their life event marketing and data providers must identify the most effective method for each consumer.

Retailers should seek out partners who can efficiently identify the most valuable data and then turn that information into successful campaigns that drive sales.

Sandeep Kharidhi is Chief Product Officer for the cloud solutions division of Deluxe Corporation. Deluxe is a leading solutions provider that enables clients to maximize return on investment by utilizing the highest quality and largest new mover data in the U.S. in a timely manner.

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