The future reimagined

3 Lessons for Using Data Fairly in Marketing

Future of Growth

Written by Katja Källbacka

Marketing has been a part of Posti’s services right from the get-go. We at Posti know every single Finn who gets mail or parcels. This creates an ideal starting point for targeted marketing that is genuinely relevant to the consumers. For us, however, data is a power that needs to be handled with caution and fairness. Here’s how we do it.

Posti’s marketing services, originally based on printed word, have gotten new dimensions and possibilities in the digital world. I am a product owner in the value stream of marketing at Posti. I work with programmers, developers, data analysts, data engineers, ad operators and business owners, and together we develop marketing solutions and services in an end-to-end value stream. We are organised around customer needs and customer benefit, rather than separate systems. My job is to be the glue, to see that every part of the chain works and is connected to the entity. 

Our work always starts from data, and I dare to say that, today, marketing is nothing without it. Marketing can truly benefit the consumers only if data is used wisely. Right context and aptness are everything, and neither can be achieved without data. Context springs from understanding the consumers – their preferred channels and our common touchpoints. Just add their own interests in the mix, and you can end up with marketing that is natural and pleasant to the receiver. When an ad is not bothering, but rather considered welcomed or even wanted, we have done our jobs well.

When you get the power to utilise data, nothing is more important than using it fairly. Unfortunately there have been plenty of alarming examples in the world of mishandling ones power. This is why I want to share three important learnings with you, ones that guide our work every day. 

Lesson 1: Find the Facts and Remember Hygiene

The first lesson is straightforward, but not always easy. As you analyse data, try to avoid making assumptions. Let’s take an example: What do you do when the data tells you that a customer bought a new summer dress? Bombard the customer with 10 new dresses! Or maybe not. Dig deeper, get to know the data better and don’t take the first glimpse for granted. Maybe the dress was a gift for a partner? Maybe it was a one-time impulse? If you notice that buying dresses starts to be a habit, there could be a point in concluding that the customer really likes them.

For example, through OmaPosti we acquire strongly identified data that is not based on generalizations or assumptions. When you deal with facts and specific personal information, it is utmost important to take good care of hygiene. Here GDPR and legislation are your best friends, even though they pose strict frames and requirements and don’t let you cut corners.

Lesson 2: Don’t Hoard!

Hoarding data can be tempting, but not the way to go. Especially data connected to a person is something you should not collect just for fun. So, don’t collect a bucket full of data and then figure out what to do with it. Instead, base all data collection on a specific need. What good does it bring to a consumer or company? Is it helping with finding the right context and avoiding spamming consumers with things they don’t want to see or hear about? 

In our work, this reaches all the way to developing technical solutions. Building a service base where you can flexibly add data later for different purposes is convenient in the long run. And in the end, hoarding data often makes things more complicated and challenging and is not very cost effective either.

Lesson 3: Always Be Up-To-Date and Relevant 

Causing a negative reaction to an ad is easy. And using invalid data makes it even easier. The modern pace of life is fast. Things can change in a blink of an eye and data, too, gets old. What a person liked 3 months ago can now be meaningless or even cause negative feelings. What if the dress was a gift for a companion that no longer lives under the same roof?

This spring has certainly shown us that life can suddenly turn upside down and priorities change in a matter of days. But COVID-19 also showed online retailers the importance of data. For a good while, many lost their physical contact points to the customers, and the appreciation for data-driven marketing grew. 

Envisioning the Future

These lessons help us empower companies to make better marketing, but how could we do even better? We have noticed that once we gather our diverse team of various talents around the same table to solve problems, we end up with greater results. I like to envision a future where Finnish companies, too, joined their forces and created a community that would collectively provide data for marketers. 

Instead of having to rely so much on data giants such as Google or Facebook – who will always be strict and firm with their data – marketers would have a pool of high-class, domestic data. Together, our data could be even more. Big data pools can give a wider and a more fact-based picture of what’s valuable for the customers. We are now going through a shift towards a more ecommerce-based market. This change offers a huge opportunity to create something new and shake up old traditions.

We are always looking for new talents with a passion for digital development, design and marketing! Check out our open positions here and join us in creating new infrastructures and services of the future.

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