Small Advocacy Efforts, Big Data

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It’s no secret, we’re big fans of advertising & marketing magazines and blogs here at Whistle Stop Digital. Studies into human interaction, loss aversion and more – we eat it up. Why? Because these blogs and studies offer insight into how products attempt to reach and keep their consumers. Remember, the “tactics” stores and retailers take have a lot in common with how grassroots and advocacy efforts can better serve their stakeholders.

Today then, it’s no surprise we’re reading Digiday’s “How Room & Board uses digital data in its physical stores.” For us, there’s nothing like a good quick story of a company trusting the data it’s collecting, analyzing it and using it to better serve their customers.

Now, replace company with advocacy effort and customers with stakeholders in the previous line. (For those following along, this would change the sentence to: “… good quick story of an advocacy effort trusting the data it’s collecting, analyzing it and using it to better server their stakeholders”) You can see what has us interested.

As Digiday’s Hillary Milnes – @hilarymilnes explains, Room and Board, a small to mid-size furniture retailer based in Minneapolis, has started to slowly customize the way that they interact with previous buyers based on their purchase history. Instead of sending one-size-fits-none emails to all “leads” in their system, they gently offer complimentary products to those that the user already owns. As Hillary puts it:

In March, the retailer rolled out an algorithm-based tool that uses past consumer data to make better product recommendations…[and, which only] gets smarter as the company gets to know you.

Since deploying the technology in March, Salesforce reports that Room & Board has seen a 2,900 percent ROI, and average order value grew 16 percent.

The key to Room and Board’s success? They let the algorithm do the work. Unlike most companies that force high-margin products on users in “now featured” type areas, Room & Board trusts the data, making quantity and volume make up for what could be a lower sticker priced sale. Of course there’s also customer satisfaction to think about. Reportedly, customers were happy to buy what they perceived as complimentary products instead of those that might have been force-fed and didn’t relate to their purchase history. It’s a win-win for both retailer and consumer alike.

Advocacy Angle

…Every action that a user takes with your advocacy effort or organization is a data point that we can use to better target them in the future.

Much like Room and Board trusting the data that they’ve collected and working to maximize results with those who they’ve already interacted with, advocacy efforts need to do the same.

As we’ve explored elsewhere, every action that a user takes with your advocacy effort or organization is a data point that we can use to better target them in the future.

  • That action they took on a specific issue – data point.
  • The type of action they took, including what led them to take action – data point(s).
  • The email they didn’t open – data point.
  • The Facebook Ad they clicked on and converted to an action taken – data point

And it’s not just online, but offline as well. Both emails opened and pages viewed have their place alongside physical actions like phone calls, event attendance and more.

Gathering and analyzing the data that your effort produces can prove invaluable. But it’s not just enough to capture that data, you have to be able to analyze it quickly and easily and act upon it. Of course, once analyzed, don’t overthink it and especially don’t be pushy.

One-size-fits-none never works. Targeted messaging with simple tasks adds up to success.


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