I was fortunate enough to be one of the speakers at the recent PIMA Mid-Year Meeting held in beautifully scenic Stowe, VT.  Fortunate because the speaking engagement gave me the opportunity to focus my attention on what, in my opinion, is the most important component of direct marketing – the data.  How we compile it, access it, analyze it and use it to make us smarter and more efficient on who we target and what we say to generate measurable results in growing our brands.  Interesting to me was the fact that all of the other speakers’ presentations were essentially about the same topic.  This included talks on how to market to women and what makes that market so different; how millennials approach buying insurance; decoding the millennial market; how to build a competitive advantage, touch point by touch point. These and other topics provided tremendous insights on how direct marketers can be most effective in our communications and engagements with customers and with prospects.  And, of course, the presentation insights were backed up by facts, all supported by the data from primary and secondary research and from actual program results.

Let’s think about it from a practical standpoint.  When we plan out a direct marketing effort or campaign, we take into account all of the variables that will impact our results – the target audience, the messaging, creative approach, communication channels, timing, sequence and frequency – all things that we are used to dealing with, things that the data helps us to understand and to use to our advantage.  We know we’ll get better over time by measuring and evaluating the results associated with each marketing variable.  However, where we sometimes lose the string of customer engagement is AFTER the responses are recorded.  We don’t always pay enough attention to the next step, the next touch point of engagement during the SALES process, whether that’s online, over the phone or in person.

What happens at that particular juncture is not only important but vital to our understanding of what makes our communications and engagements work at every touch point.

And just think about how we can use that data to improve upon our outbound marketing initiatives. The key isn’t just in collecting marketing data; it’s employing the data to make your marketing more personalized and relevant. The key to consistent engagement that works is rooted in allowing the data to talk to you – and using that data to inform the cadence, channels, mediums and audience. All of these avenues filter into the overall customer experience, which can be carefully crafted through an iterative customer journey mapping strategy. I’ll cover this topic in more depth tomorrow in “Can Do Customer Centricity.”