Interview with Daniel Batey

Q&A: Daniel Batey

Daniel has 20 years experience in the database marketing and analysis field. His experience spans multiple sectors and UK brands including: Sainsburys, RBS, M&S and CACI. Furthermore, at International Masters Publishers, his work went global as he took overall responsibility for a customer database of over 100m customers across 32 countries. 

As Head of Data Planning for Union Direct he developed segmentation models for the Scottish Government, Business Stream and Food Standards Scotland, built a single customer view database for Velux that delivered multi-channel direct marketing campaigns for their commercial products and developed customer contact strategies for a number of clients. 

Daniel became Managing Director of Union Data, the newest company within the Union Group in response to growing demand for strategic data services from clients. 

We’re really looking forward to hearing from Daniel at this year’s Digital Day on May 17.

How does Union Data help clients deliver ROI?

Data sits at the heart of all good marketing, from understanding your target audience and informing creative development, to developing communications strategies, right through to measuring the impact of individual campaigns as well as your marketing strategy as a whole.  

At Union Data, we deploy the analytic tools at our disposal where it will make the most difference. We call our approach Data Sharpening– using data to focus on the things that matter, and to sharpen the overall effectiveness of marketing by developing an understanding of what works well for each target audience and, equally importantly, what doesn’t work. In many organisations, all the focus is on the positive outcomes of marketing whereas the associated negative effects are completely ignored.

What’s the main thing that SMEs should be considering when it comes to Big Data. I mean it can be quite overwhelming right?

Firstly, I agree the world of Big Data and analytics can be overwhelming to people who are not comfortable with it. The way I see it is that marketers typically have a very different skill set to data scientists / strategists like myself.  Bringing together the power of creativity and sharpening it using Data Science and Analytics makes us all stronger. I am also a big believer in the democratisation of data – maximising the use of data by putting it in the hands of all users who need it. But people receive information in different ways so, when presenting it, it must be personalised to the recipient to allow them to consume it in their own way.

Turning to your first point, for SMEs I think the main thing to consider is that investing in data and analytics will provide significant benefits over the longer term. I saw a great webinar last year from an IBM consultant who suggested that at least 10% of all marketing spend should be spent on the data and analytics (60% on media and 30% on creative and deployment). This feels about right to me. How will a SME grow if they don’t know what they are doing well and what is not working? So invest in data and analytics to grow that understanding and use it to make better decisions. Both in terms of understanding your niche, and also understanding how well your marketing is working. 

Many companies are going through the GDPR transition at the moment. What’s the biggest misconception about this new legislation?

If you had asked me a few months ago I would have said that the biggest misconception was that marketers had to capture Consent to do any form of direct or digital marketing.  Indeed I am aware of many large organisations, charities in particular but not exclusively, who have chosen to ask for Consent and are now in difficulty because only a small proportion of their database have actively opted in. But the recent guidelines published by the ICO have strengthened the case for using a Legitimate Interests basis by providing more examples and clearer guidance. If only they were available a bit earlier!

Overall though, I think too many people are still seeing GDPR as a threat. I don’t see it that way at all. It will only be a threat if you don’t think through carefully what you are doing and, critically, why you are doing it. If you do, it should be very easy to determine a legal basis for continuing your current practices. Any that you are finding hard are probably the ones you should consider whether you should be doing at all. 

What does the future of Big Data look like and how can marketers use it to their advantage?

Again, if you had asked me a few months ago I would have said that the future for Big Data was looking very rosy indeed. But the very recent Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal has probably cast a bit of a shadow.  Whilst it has massively raised awareness of data privacy in the public at large, probably a good thing, there could well be negative consequences following on. Indeed just this week, Facebook have changed their approach to data privacy by moving 1.5 billion users from the EU to the US purely to ensure they operate in a less onerous regulatory environment. They have also made it clearer what data they are harvesting about users behaviour – any web browsing behaviour is effectively harvested by Facebook even once they leave their platform. The full impact of the scandal and the effect of the increased awareness will not be known for some time yet in my opinion.  

On a more positive note, marketers should still be looking to gather data wherever possible. In a GDPR compliant way of course. Any information that can help make marketing more efficient and more effective will be increasingly valuable in this complicated joined up world.  

The simplest advice I can give to marketers who want to use data to their advantage would be to measure everything. Measure results, measure engagement, measure what works, measure what doesn’t. In the data science world, a commonly used phrase I like is ‘fail fast’ which basically means test things quickly, learn quickly, and change quickly. But be careful of falling into the trap of testing for testing’s sake. If you cannot measure the results of a test and use it to improve, then don’t test it.

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Daniel will be talking at this year's Digital Day which is taking place on May 19 in Edinburgh. Get your tickets here.