Show your data some love

<< Back to the Thunk list

By Daniel Batey – Managing Director, Union Data

In these straitened times, with inflation still above 10%, every individual and every organisation is faced with the same dilemma – how to do more with less.

So how should we, as marketers, go about answering this dilemma? In other words, where should we invest our valuable marketing budget to get the most bang per buck?  

The key to answering this question lies not in developing new campaigns, nor does it lie in implementing new technology. The key lies in analysing and understanding your data.  

Understanding your audience, through the lens of your customer data (or supporter/donor/member data as applicable) is the first place to look to answer this question.

But don’t just take my word for it, this recent report drawing on Forrester’s ‘CEO Guide To Navigating A Turbulent 2023’ puts it pretty nicely – to cope with the uncertain times:

“…businesses should invest heavily in customer insights and engagement, including data analytics…” 

So here are my top three priorities for treating your data to some TLC.

1. Clean up, look sharp

Start with the basics… is your data clean? When was the last time you actively purged duplicate or obsolete records? Is your data consolidated together into one place so you can understand their combined online and offline behaviour? If not, have you considered doing this as a one-off exercise – combining all of your data together to inform analytics? This can be a much more cost-effective solution (compared to an IT project that integrates data sources together) that also provides the foundation for investment in longer-term development of your data infrastructure. 

Once clean and consolidated, investing in the analysis of your first-party data (i.e. the data you own) is the best way to understand the effectiveness of your marketing investments. After all, if you don’t understand in detail the effectiveness of your marketing, how can you improve it?

2. Focus your obsession 

Remember, not every customer is equal. The most common metric for measuring the value of your customers is customer lifetime value (CLTV). Whilst this is undoubtedly a useful metric, as a simple average it is helpful but doesn’t provide enough detail to help you make better decisions unless you dig a little deeper. 

Some customers will already be of higher value than others, and some will have greater potential to grow into a valuable customer over time. Identifying the groups of customers with the most potential to grow is the key to optimising your marketing spend. Another quote from the report on Forrester’s CEO Guide, puts it perfectly: 

“…firms should also choose the right customers to obsess over.”

3. Try something new, something personal 

For our clients, we don’t just measure Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV). We analyse it to understand how it varies and what drives it. But that is only one approach.

For one of our clients, we uncovered a new personalisation approach that drove more income. We reduced the contact frequency leading to a reduction in costs, but this actually increased income – a fantastic outcome! 

If you would like to hear more about how we like to ‘obsess’ over customer data – do reach out to me at

So, show a little love to your data. You may be pleasantly surprised by the returns.