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15th January 2015 • Features

How can MSPs do their best for client partners?

by James Lawson, Contributing Editor

With developments in propensity modelling and cleansing, the analytical projects being carried out by MSPs for their clients partners is becoming increasingly sophisticated, as these examples show.


Nigel Magson | Managing Director, Adroit
Zoe Palenthorpe | Head of Products and Propositions, CallCredit
Paul Sene | Sales Director, Celerity
Emma Thwaites | Client Services Director, Alchemetrics.
Chris Turner | Director of Business Development, CCR

Marketing Service Providers play many roles when working with client partners. Their in-house teams build and refresh the customer and prospect databases that form the bedrock of all direct channel marketing, provide support in depth for analytical projects, and, via the cloud, increasingly enable intelligent, real-time and online marketing operations. This month, we look at some leading examples of their client work.

Celerity’s work with a large hospitality company brings together a host of expert MSP support and consultancy services in one impressive project. Managing over 800 pubs under a variety of well-known national brands, the client wanted to start to use the abundant transactional data it collected more effectively.

“One of the first challenges was to associate those transactions with individuals and to consolidate multiple sources across the group,” says Paul Sene, Sales Director at Celerity. “They wanted to understand customer behaviour in different ‘modes’. Someone might go out for a evening meal with their family on a Friday then go somewhere else for drinks with friends on a Saturday night.”

First, Celerity put new guidelines in place to improve data capture rates and quality, and came up with incentives for customers to provide their contact details at point of sale. After a detailed audit and planning stage, its data team built a new, merged SCV and began to apply the results of its initial analysis work to formulating a CRM programme.

Via personalised communications and offers that reflected each different brand’s guidelines, this programme aimed to recognise the value of each individual and reward changes in buying behaviour. For someone that never eats dessert, that might mean a two-for-one email offer on chocolate brownies, with customers able to click through to individualised vouchers on a supporting website.

Celerity tracked the effectiveness of each initiative through redemption at the till and bar, then started to test and refine the offers for each segment. Propensity models and sophisticated journey mapping helped decide which customers should receive which offers and when.

With endless possible combinations across eight different brands, many different menus and a diverse customer base, the complex workflow was expressed in business rules and then automated using Adobe Campaign. Campaign constantly rescores and re-ranks customers and changes its offer choice based on previous individual choices and preferences. Using Campaign’s Interaction module also helped facilitate the next phase of the programme: message delivery via mobile app.

This tool was also used to push offers to customers that sign up for the client’s Facebook app. In turn, social data on followers’ other interests can be used to inform messaging; if a fan likes Arsenal then they might be offered a free pint at a local pub during the next game.

So far, the programme has significantly increased average weekday spend per transaction and drinks order value as well as boosting visit frequency. The latest stage involves deploying iBeacon technology to recognise customers when they enter an outlet and send an offer to their mobile in real time.

“We incrementally linked transactions to individuals and turned anonymous visitors into known guests,” says Sene. “Most restaurants concentrate only on footfall, but our client wanted to reward those that engaged and contributed their data.”

Maximising income is just as vital for charities as it is for profit-making businesses. The Children’s Society’s continued success in helping street and disabled children, young refugees, and children in trouble with the law depends completely on its supporters.


To streamline its campaign selections process, tighten targeting and free up time for interrogative analysis, the charity asked Adroit Data & Insight to design and implement a FastStats system. Despite the intricacy of the work involved, it ended up as a very quick implementation.

“We started working with them late last year and the full FastStats system connected to their data warehouse was operational by the end of January,” says Nigel Magson, Adroit’s Managing Director.

With supporters often members of multiple churches and playing different roles such as fundraiser or organiser with the charity, representing this complexity in FastStats’ hierarchical structure required some sophisticated entity relationship modelling. Adroit’s novel design means The Children’s Society can select supporters based on their own activities and on those of related organisational supporters in line with a given hierarchy of suitability, while limiting the numbers of supporters it selects from a given organisation to the very best.

Replacing hideously complex SQL while adding new Excelsior profiling tools that help inform more effective cross-selling activities, the new system has cut campaign selection times by well over half. Another result is a stronger relationship between the charity’s data team and fundraisers, who are delighted with the detailed reports they now receive. In turn, there has been a marked improvement in the overall satisfaction level of the data team.

The good work has continued this year. So far, Adroit has optimised the data warehouse structure, improved import routines into Raiser’s Edge using the ImportOmatic utility and built further Excelsior-driven income forecasting and profiling tools. With staff changes at the charity, Adroit has played the traditional MSP support role, running selections for them and cleaning their database, while also finding the time to develop an attitudinal segmentation. Future goals include new legacy propensity models to drive innovative targeting approaches.

“All of this was unimaginable before implementation of FastStats,” says T Rajukumar, Director of Supporter Relationship Management, The Children’s Society. “Adroit have been adept in turning round projects to very tight timescales, both on the technical implementation of FastStats and the delivery of innovative, user-friendly and flexible Excelsior reports for fundraisers.”


With a seven-year history, Alchemetrics and Haymarket Media Group have a classically solid MSP-client relationship. The latest development is a complete revamp of Haymarket’s marketing database platform in early 2014. As well as rebuilding the SCV hosted by Alchemetrics on its Informa platform, it included a new FastStats data model and even tighter integration between the Informa database and FastStats.

“They wanted a much more self-service approach,” says Emma Thwaites, Client Services Director at Alchemetrics. “We still load and process the large automated subscriptions feeds, but they have full control to load response or other relevant data from around the business themselves.”

The Haymarket team can add new variables directly to the SCV which then automatically map through to FastStats during the nightly refresh. That means data from any customer interaction is visible for analysis and action within a day.

Haymarket’s first goal with the new system was to improve email subscription marketing. The company’s previous approach had been very successful, focusing on offer and creative rather than varying each customer’s message. But with response rates starting to tail off in 2013, Haymarket used FastStats to conduct a comprehensive review.

“They identified brand engagement as the key influencer in driving response and subscription purchase,” says Thwaites. “They decided to create a new email campaign as part of their monthly subscription campaigns, with content primarily driven by a customer’s brand engagement.”

To quantify engagement, Haymarket scores a variety of activities like website visits or newsletter sign-ups. By adding up scores for each individual’s activity with each brand and taking into account other factors like recency, the marketing team can assess which brand each customer is most interested in and ensure that’s the one they receive promotions about. Overall engagement score also determines individual contact frequency.


Tested against a traditional solus email for its annual Father’s Day campaign, the new engagement-driven content generated 65% more subscription orders and 46% more revenue. The new version is now sent monthly and has been expanded to all Haymarket brands.

“It’s continuing to generate 40% more in subscriptions revenue compared to previous approaches,” says Thwaites. “The marketing team is delighted with the tools and support we’ve given them.”
When it needed support, Asda turned to CallCredit to help it increase customer engagement and deliver cross-sell opportunities across three vital brands: grocery, Asda Direct and George clothing. CallCredit’s analysts produced propensity models which helped assess the likelihood of customers shopping across each of the Asda brands. They then combined Callcredit’s demographic data with other variables available within Asda’s SCV at individual level to score each shopper for inclusion in the correct direct campaign.

Those campaigns were a combination of targeted emails and direct mailed newsletters used to drive cross-shopping across the three Asda brands. They also contained a three-month delivery pass promotion. For a set fee, this offered customers unlimited deliveries across all areas of the business.

“The first week of the launch saw thousands of extra orders and generated sales worth more than twice the entire campaign spend,” says Zoe Palethorpe, Head of Products and Propositions at CallCredit. “Asda subsequently chose to run a new version of this campaign at a later date and found that over 18% of customer targets purchased a delivery pass.”

Away from real-time offer management and loyalty programmes, it’s often those unglamorous backroom MSP activities that have the greatest impact on a client’s performance. Thorough, exacting customer and prospect record cleansing by CCR Data ended up saving Children With Cancer (CWC) thousands of pounds.

CWC spend a significant proportion of their marketing budget on direct mail. The charity runs several major annual campaigns to its 400,000-strong donor database, as well as mailing up to three million cold records for each one. But with return rates increasing, the charity suspected its existing suppliers were failing them.

“It’s not just about the money,” says Camelia Vasilcan, Database Manager, CWC. “Being seen to be wasteful can create bad PR. The issues around mailing deceased records are far worse, with the potential to be hugely damaging to our brand.”

ADAM, CCR’s new data processing platform, works with a wide range of third-party reference data, including forwarding addresses from both Equifax and Experian. Following an initial audit of CWC’s data, CCR ran a complete suite of processing options, screening for duplicates at different address levels and identifying deceased individuals, goneaway records and incorrect postcodes. PAF-compliant addresses helped make sure every mailing file qualified for maximum postal discount.

CCR refined the screening in each subsequent campaign, testing new deduplication hierarchies and further suppression files. The MSP flags which prospect data sources contain most errors and also tracks goneaway customer records, persistently searching for replacement addresses until they become available. CWC is now able to now load and export its own data directly to and from the ADAM system for automatic processing, overseen by CCR’s data processing team at.

“The sexy stuff gets the headlines, but the core back room work makes a huge difference, especially when you look at the long term benefits,” says Chris Turner, CCR’s Director of Business Development.

Better cleansing has slashed CWC’s goneaway rates, increased response and boosted overall ROI.

In its two most recent direct mail campaigns alone, CWC saved £48,000 through cleaner data.

“We see data cleansing as an investment,” says Vasilcan. “Not only have we increased our response rates and reduced our costs, we have seen a distinct decrease in the number of complaints we receive for badly addressed mailings. This is important for protecting our brand, plus we have improved our environmental credentials too.”

From cleansing to propensity modelling, these examples demonstrate just how skillful the UK’s MSPs are at data-driven marketing. Whether it’s building up from the basics or providing the know-how to make best use of the latest technology, the UK marketing community has plenty of expert advice to choose from.

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