Why your own first party data is so important?

There are many reasons why this is the case, but your recognition of it may be at risk of being drowned out by the clamour of people selling recruitment media, particularly digital and programmatic media.

To us the case for first making best use of your own customer data trumps all other media purchase decisions, and for very good reasons:

– it’s free and uncontrovertibly yours (as long as it’s properly permissioned)
– it allows you to develop very personalised relationships with each of your customers, and hence unlock as much value as is possible from them
– it can help you understand what is really driving your new customer recruitment, particularly when multiple online and offline channels play a part in your recruitment marketing
– it can support your overall business planning based on understanding the longer-term value provided by each customer segment

To allow you to obtain that customer value you need to ensure that your single customer view contains all your customers’ online and offline behaviours, linked by all the available personal identifiers.

You also need marketing technology that joins all this together, so that there is one complete version of the truth about each customer that can be used by all your marketing applications.

This is why we suggest you need to consider installing a customer data platform or CDP.

To help develop an understanding of what a CDP can do for your marketing we have written ‘The Marketers Customer Data Platform Resource Book’; and this is now available free as an e-book.

David Raab, Founder of the Customer Data Platform Institute, wrote of it ’This concise introduction provides clear answers to CDP questions. It will help many marketers and their technologists take the next step in their CDP journey’.

If you are thinking about possibly taking the next step, then please download your free copy of our booklet “The Marketers Customer Data Resource Book“.


UniFida logo

UniFida is the trading name of Marketing Planning Services Ltd, a London based technology and data science company set up in 2014. Our overall aim is to help organisations build more customer value at less marketing cost.

Our technology focus has been to develop UniFida. Our data science business comes both from existing users of UniFida, and from clients looking to us to solve their more complex data related marketing questions.

Marketing is changing at an explosive speed, and our ambition is to help our clients stay empowered and ahead in this challenging environment.

Nine stepping stones for a customer data pilgrim!

Wondering how to become a customer data expert?

For many, the journey from being a basic user of customer data, for example just providing lists for campaigns, to being a fully customer orientated organisation, is perceived as being full of risks, and traps for the unwary. As a result, the journey is often halted before it is even started.

However, you are not in uncharted territory, and by following some clearly defined steps you should arrive at your destination without too many damaging hiccups.

But before you start, you must regard it as a journey where you don’t know clearly what the destination will look like, and you cannot map out in advance with any certainty all the different ways that making good use of your customer data asset will benefit your organisation.

  1. First off you will almost certainly be asked to justify the cost. Because the benefits of using a customer data platform can come from many different areas of the business you will need to bring together multiple use cases – they can range from making existing activities such as email campaigns more effective through personalisation, to understanding how much you can afford to spend on recruitment because you know the longer term value of different types of customer. Knowing how each area of the business works now, you can estimate the percentage gains from improving effectiveness or introducing efficiencies. At this stage they have to be estimates, but you can get colleagues to help you provide well-judged ones.
  2. Next, focus on building a robust first party data platform, that includes both online and offline customer activities. Don’t leave out online browsing data, customer contact history, or email opens and clicks. The platform needs to be updated very regularly and be open to integration with other systems such as email service providers. There is a lot of detail to be covered in this stage such as the customer data schema, and GDPR requirements, but always err on the side of including all available granular customer data as long as it is structured and can be linked through personal identifiers to the customer record.
  3. As part of developing the first party data asset you will want to manipulate some of the raw data material into something more usable. We suggest developing a few key customer variables that are derived from your data inputs. For instance, customer lifetime value, and customer recency, frequency and monetary value can be of enormous use when planning recruitment or making selections for campaigns. You won’t need more than a handful of these derived variables at the start, so focus on those that will make your customer marketing activities work better.
  4. Jump in and start testing new ways of undertaking your marketing. It might be that you start by testing the impact of segmenting your customer base, and giving different parts different treatments, or you could decide to reactivate some of your dormant customers with a carefully designed special offer specially targeted at those most likely to be reactivated. Whatever you do, focus on building a control group to shadow every test, so that you can properly evaluate how much uplift you have managed to achieve. And for every test carefully record what offer was made with what graphics, and how the target audience was selected.
  5. Never stop testing. Even in a mature state you should expect to spend at least 15% of your marketing budget on tests. You will never run out of things you want to try out. If you test too little you will quickly run out of routes to move forward. And tests should take risks; we heard recently that 3D postal packages outperform flat ones – how strange is that?
  6. Start using your customer data asset for longer term business planning. When you understand the cost of customer recruitment, the value per customer, and their rate of attrition you can start to build a business development plan based around real customer numbers. So to increase turnover by £X next year, you will have actual customer numbers to recruit, and you will know how much that will cost, and over what timescale the value comes back.
  7. Keep on investing in customer analytics. You may want to be able to project forward from a first order to predicting how much a customer is going to buy, and from this how much you want to spend on him. Equally if you have several competing brands, or different product categories, you may need to be able to predict which offer is likely to get the most valuable response from each customer. Customer analytics and marketing tests go hand in hand, and if you give up on either you may find yourself moving backwards.
  8. Keep your sponsors engaged and behind you! They will need to see the big picture as you move forward, explained in relatively simple terms. Each quarter you will have spent £X, and got £Y back in terms of enhanced customer value. Sometimes £Y will be less than £X because you have been investing heavily. Don’t let this put you off; as long as you can explain clearly how that investment will pay back over time your sponsors will remain on-board.
  9. And finally ensure sustainability. This means building a team that can survive without any one of its members, including yourself. It also means recording everything you do, the messaging, the images, the way campaigns were structured, the selection tools you used, the routes you chose for order fulfillment etc. etc. All too often good people leave an organisation with little recorded evidence of what they have done, and thus create a knowledge chasm that can take many months to fill.

If you want to be a customer data pilgrim, and are looking for support, we are here to help. We can help you develop your business case, build a customer data platform, undertake customer analytics, and evaluate results.

We can also offer you a free copy of ‘The Marketers Customer Data Platform Resource Book’ which we published recently to help people starting out on the customer data journey.  Simply sign up for our mailing list and we’ll send you a link to download the Resource Book.

Do you know how much your customer duplicates are costing you?

Deduplication may not be the stuff of everyone’s dreams, but it could turn out to be more interesting than you expect.

How many duplicates can you expect to find?

Our rule of thumb is that within any single customer system there will normally be between 5% and 25% duplicates.

However the more ways you have of identifying an individual, the higher the level of duplicates normally uncovered. For instance, if names and addresses can be combined with email or mobile number, many records can be brought together that otherwise would have been kept separate.

There are no rules of thumb however about the level of duplication between different customer systems held by the same organisation; but as an example our recent work with a media company selling a range of direct to consumer services revealed that for every 100 customer records held across their systems, there were in fact a net 75 individual people.

So why does this matter?

Perhaps the most obvious reason is that deduplication will stop you sending two communications to a proportion of your customer base.

Just stop to think just how irritating it is to have to open or delete two emails from the same source with the same content.

And then, if you are using paper and post, there is a big cost implication of not getting the deduplication right.

The second reason is GDPR. How will you handle individuals’ requests to be forgotten when there are two versions of these peoples’ records? And how foolish would you feel when sending customers copies of the data you hold on them when clearly it came from two separate sources?

But probably the most interesting aspect of deduplication comes when you pull data together from across different systems and sources.

Mr Smith who buys holidays, and is on a dating site you run, has a distinct profile; so does Mrs Smith who buys wine and cooking equipment, and so probably likes entertaining at home.

So whether you have a single customer file, or customers spread across several systems, the case for deduplication is clear, but just how clear it is can only be quantified when you have matched all those customer records together.

To find out more about Unifida can help your business please contact us.

Has GDPR ignored the elephant in the database?

‘Personal data’ is defined in GDPR as ‘any information relating to a person who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that person’.

So each of us can be seen as ‘bristling’ with multiple potential identifiers, any or all of which may be stored by organisations using our personal data. And to add another layer of complexity, most of the commonly used identifiers, like email addresses or mobile phone numbers, may change on a regular basis.

All of us, as data subjects, can ask any organisation holding their data,for their personal data to be deleted, or transferred, or not to be used for marketing communications, or for profiling, or sold to anyone else etc. etc.

We may also change our minds about how our data can be used, and most probably forget what we have requested in the first place, because it’s not at all important to us.

So, for example, using our name and address as our ID, we request that organisation X does not profile our data, whilst using our email we ask to have our data deleted, and via our mobile phone number then expect to have our recent order traced.

GDPR tacitly assumes that persons about whom personal data is held can each be recognised uniquely, across all the identifiers they care to use, and as they change identifiers over time; and that from this basis rational interpretations can be made of their instructions.

This is evidently a delusion.

As vendors of a technology to build single customer views we know how difficult the identity problem is. The normal ‘shrinkage’ when we deduplicate a customer base across just say a couple of identifiers is around 20-25%; the more the types of identifier the greater the chance of duplicate records.

The technology we have developed to try to solve the problem is called UniFida, and it approaches the question of personal identifiers in a rather different way. It assumes, correctly, that all our common identifiers like email addresses, mobile numbers, cookie IDs etc. will change over time, and that individuals may have multiple versions of them.

So, it stores a history, for each individual, of all the identifiers it has been able to link. When an identifier arrives at UniFida as part of an on-line or off-line data feed, it searches the entire library of identifiers to see if it can get a match. In this way, it brings as much information about an individual together as is possible.

To find out a little more about Unifida please contact us. It may make complying with GDPR a little bit more possible.