Q&A 

Data culture: 5 minutes with… Daniel Verrells

If a data culture is so critical to publishing success, why have not all publishers adopted it? We grab five minutes with Daniel Verrells, MD of Beeline Data Services, to discuss why some publishes are falling short.

By Daniel Verrells

Data culture: 5 minutes with… Daniel Verrells
Photograph: Alexander Sinn on Unsplash.

Q: Why is a thorough data culture central to a successful publishing strategy?

A: We all know how dynamic the publishing landscape is and how much more we need to work on attracting and keeping an engaged audience. For us to be able to do this, we need to understand our audiences both in terms of demographic and behavioural data. Without that knowledge, we are either publishing the wrong content or directing it at the wrong audience

A successful data strategy only works if everyone within the company can see the benefits (to them personally). This needs to start off at board level with complete buy-in and a clear path. This path and the benefits of a data culture needs then to be communicated and understood throughout the company. If this is not adopted as a company-wide data culture then the blocks appear very quickly

Q: Why do many publishers under-perform in this critical area?

A: There can be a whole host of reasons for this:

  • Decision makers aren't on board, even though they initially seemed enthusiastic. This quickly filters down throughout the company.
  • Using software that is not fit for the purpose. Without the ability to store and analyse your data effectively, they’re not going to reap the rewards.
  • They don’t have a robust strategy for continual improvement in the depth and breadth of their data.
  • Goals that are unlikely in terms of time and results. Quick wins are vital but so is the understanding that this needs a long-term focus to become the culture.
  • Each stakeholder needs to be given time and encouragement to be able to give their attention to this data culture whether their “day job” is sales, editorial, design or other role where data is not traditionally addressed.

Q: Where, typically, do publishers struggle with their data management? Where are the pain points?

A: In my experience, they struggle mostly with giving it the attention it deserves and needs to be successful. Whether the data is being managed in-house or out-sourced to experts, a data culture needs to be considered as pivotal to being a successful publisher.

Q: What does a mature, sophisticated approach to data look like?

A: Board-level focus on the figures is paramount. Data needs to be given prominence on any board-level agenda, what data you have and how it’s being used and how it’s going to be improved.

Everyone in the company should have access to the people and the reporting that allows the measurement of the success of this data culture.

Back in the day, I worked for the book club arm of a well-known romantic fiction publisher. Direct marketing and particularly direct mail was the mainstay of their marketing and communication. We used to spend a lot of money with the Royal Mail!

Data was at the heart of everything we did, and we understood that good use of data, or maximising the chance to acquire more data, allowed us to operate effectively and profitably.

Mail is expensive and I think that the minimal costs of sending off an email has eroded that need in a lot of publishing and general marketing functions.

It’s more important now than it ever was in terms of the need to enable your content to cut through the blizzard of content now available and find the right audience.

Q: For any publisher currently all at sea with their data, what first steps can you recommend?

A: Put someone in charge! Use a data-driven person who “gets it”.

Decide what you need in terms of data for both short- and long-term success. Map what you’ve got now and decide how you’re going to get there. Make sure you’re looking for the right software to be able to give you a single view of all your data, cut and dice it according to needs and analyse the results of your efforts

Q: For a publisher with a poor approach to data, what is the opportunity that awaits them if they can get it right?

A: The ability to understand their audience and their needs and to be able to fulfil those needs profitably.

A good approach to data is an investment but a bad approach is a cost.

Q: What’s in the pipeline for Beeline

A: We’d like to help more publishers see the light and benefit from a better data culture. We’ve found over the years that some publishers have not been able to sustain a long-term strategy but the ones that have, and for whom data has become part of their company culture, have really profited.

"...we help you make money, save money and become more efficient..."

About us

If you’re a B2B publisher, your audience database is, bar none, your most valuable asset. This is what your advertisers pay for access to.

If you don’t look after that, you’re not looking after your clients… and we know how that ends up…

At Beeline Data Services, we help you make money, save money and become more efficient through the effective management of your most important asset – your data.

So, if you’re ready to embrace a data culture, give one of our data experts a call and take it from there. We’d love to hear from you…

Beeline Data Services

Unit 21c, Durkins Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 2ER

Tel: 0333 0124 514

Email: daniel@beelinedata.co.uk

Web: www.beelinedata.co.uk