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TI Media’s data plans to ensure publishing survives in a digital world

Publishing specialist TI Media is placing a data-led customer experience at the core of its business strategy to ensure the right consumers are targeted with the right offers.

Not unlike the UK high street, TI Media and the wider magazine industry faces a challenge in regards to consumer loyalty in a digital world. The publishing business is seeing a significant drop in print readership and advertising revenues that are not being made up by online advertising income. Lee Wilmore, data intelligence director at TI Media, is charged with using customer insight to help the business face this challenging business environment.

“We’re using our data to ensure traditional print businesses are going to be here in the next 10 years and that our customers are seeing relevant products and services,” he says. “If we don’t get that second part right, then there aren’t going to be print businesses outside of very specific niche interests.”

Wilmore says customer experience at TI Media – whose brands include publications such as Country Life, Ideal Home, TV Times, Marie Claire UK and Woman’s Own – is defined as something that helps the firm target the right customers. He says the organisation wants to create a contact strategy that ensures its customers are not bombarded with emails from multiple brands.

“We want to use our data so that we try and sell the highest value product that’s relevant to the person that we’re contacting,” says Wilmore. “We don’t try and sell them 20 things; we sell them the one thing that we think will be most relevant to them and which maximises revenue to us.”

Centralised data strategy

Wilmore’s work around data insight and customer experience sits at the heart of the firm’s business strategy. Rather than being part of the IT or marketing department, Wilmore and his data team sit as a central data function in the business. This positioning means he has been able to demonstrate how an integrated data strategy can help employees exploit the power of joined-up data.

“We have a single home for the data from our different departments and we can drive value from combining that with other data sets around the organisation,” says Wilmore. “A silo of data in your organisation might do the job that it needs to do for that organisational domain, but the business will learn much more about its customers and how to make money by combining that data with the rest of the datasets in your organisation.”

Wilmore reports to group customer strategy director Amanda Wigginton. Since assuming his role last April, Wilmore has helped establish his core data team and developed new relationships with key vendor partners, including Talend and Snowflake.

“Our area is called customer strategy,” he says. “The people I work with are people who specialise in insight and are totally focused on what the customer is thinking. We’re not just thinking about web sites here when we talk about customer experience.”

Insourcing

Wilmore says one of the key components of his centralised data strategy is to insource many of the processes associated to insight creation. TI Media firm has used a range of partners over the years to help manage its data, but Wilmore believed insourcing was the key to success going forward.

The major technological element to this insourcing approach, says Wilmore, has been the integration of the firm’s customer data into a single cloud-based data lake. As part of this process, Wilmore has implemented Talend Cloud Data Quality on a Snowflake database in Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“There’s always a worry that if something isn’t broken, you shouldn’t fix it,” he says. “But we’re breaking down the doors and saying that, while we understand storing data in a silo in your own department works for you right now, we need your data because we can do so much more with it and we can help your brand in the long term, too.”

TI Media is now executing its marketing campaigns 10% faster. Response rates to these campaigns have increased by 5%. The data integration project has also helped reduce the time it takes to onboard new data by 85% and helped to reduce data budgets by 50% as part of the firm’s centralised data operation.

Work on data insight and customer experience at TI Media continues. Wilmore says this year’s big project has involved migrating the firm’s email service provider from Exact Target to Selligent. Each of TI Media’s 40-plus brands have newsletters that are managed through this platform. Wilmore says the firm has migrated all its marketing and service emails, too. Once again, moving to Talend has provided benefits across email marketing:

“The technology includes some built-in data quality routines, so we’re able to identify poor quality email addresses before they get into the email platform,” says Wilmore. “Stuff does change over time, so it’s quite important to remove poor quality email addresses before you start using them. The data isn’t making a person more or less likely to click on an email, but our response rates are going up because we’re emailing a better quality target to begin with.”