Podcast — Using Intent Data to Optimize CRM Files for Peak Season Mailings


In the thirteenth episode of 2 Guys and Some Data, Allen and Larry discuss the challenges marketers face with peak season marketing and how intent data can help optimize revenue in the on- and off-season.


 (Podcast Transcript)

Allen: Hi everyone and welcome to all you data driven marketers to the Two Guys and Some
Data Podcast. This is a show that doesn't just talk about data, we talk about how you
can use data to actually make more money and this is our 13th podcast, so going to be
very lucky for us and for you we hope.

Larry: Excellent. Well I'm Larry Kavanagh.

Allen: And I'm Allen Abbott. Today's topic is preparing for your peak season by using intent data to build and fine tune your customer database during the rest of the year.

Larry: Allen when people talk about peak season I think the first thing that comes to mind are
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the thing that's coming up in just a couple of months. I did
a little research into the origin of these terms and Black Friday I think most people think
of as a retail holiday where retailers have finally made enough money that they go into
the black, they're no longer in the red, the gross margin that they earn from that day
after Thanksgiving on is roughly equal to their profit for the year. But you might not
know that that's not the real origin of Black Friday, it's actually much darker. Do you
know the history of it?

Allen: I do not.

Larry: See I thought you might because it's origins are in retail and its origins are in
Philadelphia. There was an Army/Navy played a big game in Philly the Saturday after
Thanksgiving and in the early 50s there was such crowds that would come into Philly for
the Army/Navy game on that Friday that the police actually called it Black Friday
because it was so crowded, they had to work overtime, they didn't get that day off like
they used to get that day off. Retailers began to take advantage of it because it was sort
of like the kickoff to the holiday season. In those days, 1950s there was no online
shopping, catalog was not very big. If you lived out in the country and you want to shop
you went into the city to the retail stores to shop. But it really had a very negative
connotation. It wasn't until the mid-80s that some marketers remade the name into
something that became a positive and created this apocryphal story that it was when
retailers went positive.

Now Cyber Monday the origin of that I think is more obvious and there's no deep dark story around that. It was that as e-commerce started to boom as a counterpoint to the
in-store bricks and mortar retail Black Friday that became Cyber Monday. The thing
about Cyber Monday that was what people didn't think as much about, at least
employers didn't think as much about is Black Friday was that Friday because people
had off and they could go into stores and shop. Cyber Monday people are shopping
from work and that is where most e-commerce actually takes place, nine to five,
Monday through Friday from work. What's really happened especially the origin of those holidays, shopping what would become iconic shopping traditions for us today, but one of the things that's happened in the retail world is that there's been sort of the condensation, there's been the spike in
sales that happens at that time for retailers has really grown more and more
exaggerated over the years. It's become a greater percentage of sales for retailers to take place, whether they're online retailers or brick and mortar retailers, take place in that timeframe.

So it's become this super busy but make or break time. By the same token, I would say consumers lives have become busier as well. It's sort of like this confluence of busy on top of busy that I do think e-commerce has exacerbated but it's become this sort of super ... Just a lot of stuff going on. What that means is it's a lot more important for retailers to really understand what's going on in their customer's minds in order to be able the right message to connect with them during this super critical but also super busy season.

Allen: So Larry is there any truth to the rumor that Cyber Monday may be changed to Amazon Day?

Larry: Hahahaha, well for all practical purposes what is it 40% of all e-commerce sales are Amazon or something like that?

Allen: So it already is. It's more than just holidays too. We think about peak seasons as the
Christmas shopping season, but florist's busiest day of the year is Valentine's Day, and
delis' busiest time of the year is Super Bowl. If you're in the gardening business your
business peaks in March and April and then starts to subside a bit and then you go
through some months where not much is going on at all. So it's not just the holiday
season that we're talking about here. The question is ‘what do you do when it's not
peak season?’ I remember back to the days when it was retail and there were catalogs,
and most of the mailing took place during company's peak seasons because they just
couldn't afford the fixed costs of putting a catalog in the mail during a time period when
not very many people would respond. What's really happening now is the availability of
intent data and the ability to do individualized marketing relatively inexpensively is
changing all that. What we really want to talk about today is how do you use that intent
data to be smart about talking to your customers during the rest of the year and also
fine tuning your CRM database so that you're ready for peak performance during
holiday time or whenever your peak season is.

Larry: Allen you're dead right about gardening, for example. As you know I come out of the
gardening industry and just like the retail holiday season has collapsed into it used to be
people would start marketing in September for it, catalogers would send out catalogs
early and now all of that marketing activity is pushed to a narrow window. Believe it or
not, the same thing's happened in gardening and there's no Black Friday or Cyber
Monday driving it. It used to be the gardening companies would push out catalogs
starting in December and almost start to taper off in the March/April timeframe. Now
because all of the transactions are really occurring in that April/May timeframe, the e-
commerce has made it sort of like a want it now just at the right time. I think it's across
all industries that we're seeing that sort of push to a narrow timeframe where you really
have to get your marketing right in that timeframe or you've blown the year.
I think you're right on that during those off-season times there is a lot that you can do to
prepare your ... We're going to talk about CRM files, the consumers who have already
given you some information, they've given you some contact information, maybe they
made some purchases from you, you've hopefully been able to collect some intent data
on their web browsing data, that off-season time, and you're still barely enough time if
you're in this for retail as well to really take a step back and take a survey of what is the
state of your consumer data, your CRM data. The reason why that's important is your
CRM data, the customers that you already have, the consumers you already have info
are going to make up more than 75% of your sales, they're going to make up more than
100% of your profit. They are from a profit standpoint the most important group for you
to be on top of. The first place to start looking is what is the type of contact information, what is the
quality of the contact information that you have on your CRM file. Most retailers love to
use email as a way to market to their consumers, it's inexpensive, still would consider
that a pretty good response rate. The problem is if you really look at the percentage of
your best consumers, the best people on your CRM file that you have an active email
address for it's only like 20% or 30%. Most people they'll go oh we've actually go an
email address on like 50% or 60% and they'll say, "Hey we've got those people covered,
we don't have to worry about those people." But your mail's only getting through, it's
only being clicked and opened to 20% or 30% of those. You've got the 70% to 80% of
your file of your customers you can't reach that way. You need to be thinking about
what are other ways that I can reach them.

There's really two basic strategies that you can use to reach those people. Of course
you've got direct mail, direct mail's a great way to reach those people that you can't
reach with email. But you can also onboard that data through platforms like Facebook
and Google. Now today the key is knowing a consumer's mobile phone number, their
cell phone number, finding some way that they would have shared that information
with you preceding in the time leading up to that because think about it is the most
permanent piece of contact information that exists today. I've had my same cell phone
number since 1990 something. In the last five years I've had five different email
addresses. If a retailer is trying to onboard my data onto Facebook or Google using
email address they'll have one of my five, they've only got a one in five change they're
actually going to find me and match me. But if they had my cell phone number they'd be
able to show me Facebook ads and Google ads all day long. You've got to make sure
that you actively try to collect those mobile numbers. It's not because you're going to
text people marketing offers, you can try that but it doesn't tend to work really well,
that's because you need that as a solid contact point, sort of like a true identity point. 
It's really become the gold standard of identity today online.

Then last thing I'll say about this as we talked about browsing data. Retailers have for I'd say the last 10 years done a pretty good job of collecting and using browsing data in email, think about abandoned cart emails for example, but they're not using that same data. That data only allows them to address, like I say, those 20% to 30% of people who actually respond to email. The other 70-80% they're not using intent data virtually at all. You can absolutely take that same browsing data and use it for those Google ads or those Facebook ads, and you can definitely use it in direct mail both from a contact standpoint and from a personalization standpoint. What do you think?

Allen: I think that the point about mobile phone numbers as a connector is something that's
really, really important. I too have had the same mobile phone number for a very long 
time and a lot of email addresses over that time period. That ability to use that as a link
and to understand people's behavior across different platforms is really critical and a
huge opportunity for retailers going forward. So Larry let's take a break here and you have a trivia question for me today?

Larry: I do, I do. You had mentioned the word Super Bowl earlier and the NFL season is finally
on us but I know when it comes to football that's not where your head's at. In the U.S.
everyone knows that, or most people know, that more than 100 million people watch
the Super Bowl every year in the U.S. When you look at international there's like
another 50-60 million people that might get added in the international pool which is big.
People think of this as the biggest marketing event in the world. But by comparison for
you to think about how many people watched the FIFA World Cup Finals last year? And
not just watched it for a second but actually engaged in it, watched it for really sort of
average viewing time?

Allen: All right, so I'm going to think on that a little bit but as you know I'm a big fan and now that Liverpool is back in the Champions League in Europe I'm even more excited about the real football than normal. So we'll get back to that in a bit. Let's talk a little bit about the importance of intent data and how it can help you prep your CRM file for your busy seasons. Number one, consumers are always telling stories and leaving data behind that will help you understand what they're doing, what they're looking for, what they're trying to accomplish. Are they buying for themselves or are
they buying gifts, and how do they like to be marketed to, and how do they like to make the transaction. What really resonates with them ... And you can use this information to dictate your approach with different audience segments once it does get busy. But you can also you that intent data to actually make money during your off-seasons. I'll give you a couple examples so we'll go back to gardening. Larry do you grow garlic?

Larry: Not anymore.

Allen: Not anymore, all right.

Larry: I did at one point.

Allen: Robin and I grow garlic and we have a garden every year, and right around this time of
year I'm probably a week or two away from ripping out the garden. When I rip out the
garden I also plan garlic for the next season. It's an excellent time to take a look at
people looking for garlic, are they looking for information about that, and provide them
with a little information, a post card, they know that offers them some ... It doesn't even
have to be about selling them garlic, just tips about how to plant, when to harvest it, et
cetera. For gardeners who typically are pretty inactive with marketing starting in July or
so there's a lot of different ways that they can use the intent data to better understand
what their customers are doing. The other opportunity is there's a consultant in the catalog industry, very well known and respected named Jim Alexander. He used to talk about 20 minute holidays and this is going back 30 years. A 20 minute holiday was something like Father's Day where
people didn't really start thinking about buying their gifts the way they do at Christmas
time. Typically those holidays were not particularly good opportunities for traditional
catalogers. But again, now with the ability to read intent and get a programmatic post
card out to somebody the next day you can take advantage of those 20 minute holidays
and start to serve as customers and provide them with what they need at want during
what has typically not been a peak season for you.

Larry: I think that's a great idea and that really gets to the idea of also in the off-season using
this as a time to test new ideas like the 20 minute holiday idea. You mentioned
programmatic post cards, that is something that is fairly new in our industry, really only
a couple years old and it's something that I think could allow you to reach people during
that peak holiday season that you're not going to be able to reach with email and you
may not be able to reach with Facebook and Google. The time to try to figure out how
to make it work best for you is really several months before you had to do it because
there's a couple tricks around programmatic post cards. For example, what's the right
image to show, what's the right image strategy, how are you figuring out what's going
to boost result. There's a lot of things that are very specific to your business that if
you've proven out in the off-season you'll be ready to roll when your peak season comes
around. You talk about people who mail catalogs. You can test using intent data but in who you
select for your catalogs, the people who perhaps haven't bought from you in a while but
have come back online you can see how do those people actually respond. I think you're
going to find they respond very well. But something that amazes me that people are still
not doing much of today is using intent data to really personalize the cover of that
catalog. With digital printing today you can do a ton with print personalization and
programmatic post cards are sort of like the first example of it but you can do it in all of
your direct mail pieces not just something that's going out in the post card.
I've talked about onboarding your data to Facebook and Google, onboarding your CRM
data to Facebook and Google and really trying to connect with people who are no
longer active with you on email but are still good customers. Again, this is not an idea
that you want to try for your very first time during a busy peak season. It doesn't cost
that much. Try it in the off-season and learn how to do it and then you can take advantage of it.

Last thing I'll say is during the off-season is I talked about that only 20-30% of your
active buyers have a valid email you can use. Well you probably have an email address
on more than that 20-30% but they're getting your emails and they're not responding.
You can use the off-season to frankly send out some emails that are click bait not just,
as you say, emails that say, "Hey buy this right now." What's going to get them clicking
and engaging with you again so that when the busy season comes around that 20-30%
active view might be more like 30-40% because you sent them emails that say, "Here
are the 25 secrets for growing garlic. Number seven is a real shocker." Those kind of
click bait things and get those folks back into it, and get interested.

Allen: I think in summary Larry you made some excellent points there. What we're really
saying is let the data do the talking here. People are leaving behind digital breadcrumbs
on your site every day of the year whether it's peak season or not and that data should
dictate the type of marketing people receive, when they receive it, and what the
content of that marketing is. Letting people decide what they want from your marketing
makes it a lot easier for you to give them what they want and easier for them to buy
from you.

Larry: Programmatic post cards allow you to give this data a voice while also allowing you to
quickly capitalize on opportunities and respond to trends. So speaking of individuals,
let's go back to our trivia question which in retrospect I realize for you may be way too
easy but there are about 111 million people in the U.S. on average who watched the
Super Bowl last year, there's about 170 million that watched at least 1 second of it, but
the average is like 111 million. For the FIFA World Cup in 2014 how many folks

Allen: I'm going to guess three-quarters of a billion.

Larry: Three-quarters of a billion, so 750 million. So you are right in the middle. There was just
over a billion who watched about a second, there are 570 million who would be the
equivalent, or average, watchers, would be the equivalent of the U.S. numbers, so
three, four, five X the U.S. number. Now the other thing that is amazing about what
happened in FIFA is in the U.S. about two million people streamed the Super Bowl,
international for the World Cup, the soccer World Cup, and this would be streamed and
say at least 1 second of it, was over 200 million so it was like 100 X the streaming
audience for FIFA. Your Champions League, you know how many people watched the
Champions League Final?

Allen: I don't but I'll guess 150 million.

Larry: It was more like 300 million.

Allen: 300 million, wow, okay.

Larry: We live in the U.S., we follow football, et cetera, but man people talk about soccer
being big world wide and the data is really beginning to show that.

Allen: Wow that's really crazy. But think of the parties across the globe. It goes to show that
there's more to busy season than just the holidays and New Year's and Super Bowl, so
delis, and supermarkets, and electronics retailers, and cable providers they all have to
prepare for 570 million people, that's mind blowing.

Larry: It is. Well they've got about nine more months to prepare before the next World Cup in
Russia. But retailers in the U.S. just have a couple more events before an event that is
really for them going to be the most important event of the year for them. So there's
still time, as I said, to get your CRM file in shape. Make sure intent data is there to use
and begin testing some of these things, even in October you can still get some good information that will help you come November and December time frame. All right ... Oh I'm sorry, did you have something more?

Allen: No I think you covered it well, so let's wrap it up.

Larry: All right, well that will do it for another episode of Two Guys and Some Data. We'll be
back shortly with more tips for using data to help you actually make money. In the
meantime, if you want to read more from us check us out at navistone.com/blog. If you
enjoyed today's show head on over to iTunes and leave us a five star review. Thanks for
listening, we'll see you next time. I'm Larry Kavanagh.

Allen: And I'm Allen Abbott, thanks for tuning in.

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