Interview: David O’Sullivan, Ignition

15 Dec 2017 | 03.38 pm

Interview: David O’Sullivan, Ignition

In marketing, customer loyalty is all about retention or reward

15 Dec 2017 | 03.38 pm


Founded in 2000 by David O’Sullivan (pictured) and Jennifer Williams, Ignition is an award-winning company that pitches itself as an integrated, direct marketing, advertising and promotions agency. Among its specialities, Ignition is strong on personalised and customer-intimate campaigns.

How should retailers make the most of the marketing opportunities offered by direct mail and/or door drops?

The relationship between retailer and customer has by now been clearly defined for both parties. Whether it’s an equal relationship is questionable, but it’s definitely an open relationship as far as consumers are concerned. Within the grocery retail market, shoppers are increasingly promiscuous and it is now commonplace for people to have at least two reward/loyalty cards or maybe more.

For retail companies who have grown to a certain critical mass, loyalty programmes can be progressive or reactive depending on the marketplace. They’re implemented to act as a means of anchoring down current and future sales and as a method to stop customers drifting away to competitors.

Loyalty by its nature is a higher human emotion and is more complex than credited for by some marketers. In a marketing context, loyalty should be called what it actually is: a Retention or Reward programme, where a financially based benefit is linked to customer purchase.

Real life-long loyalty to a brand is based not just on money, or reward, but where shared values exist between the customer and the fundamentals of what a brand is offering and promising. These shared values can include technical excellence, peerless customer service, altruistic or ethical product support or community based initiatives.

What are the most important factors required to generate a response from the mail recipient?

Ensure the offering is relevant to the individuals and acknowledges their needs and wants as people. Good data used in conjunction with creative copy and personalisation are the real curtain-raisers for any direct mail campaign looking to get a response.

More than ever, we need to communicate with customers in a manner that shows knowledge and conveys expertise and understanding of their issues and how that can help them not just now but in the long-term. All of this raw material can be found in your database, once you decide to place a value on it as a proper investment.

Personalised copy using variable data clearly shows an understanding of the customer in a manner and tone that suggest something more solid and trustworthy. Then use direct mail activity (integrated with a mix of marketing channels if budget permits) to deliver impact and responses.

How will the EU’s new data protection rules impact on mail communications between businesses and customers?

Smart organisations are aware of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018 and its implication for their business. They are already reviewing how they currently seek, obtain and record data. Data controllers and data processors like ourselves will need to be transparent, security conscious and accountable for how we work with people’s data and the issues surrounding data privacy.

The companies and brands that prepare for GDPR will be less pressured by its arrival. The last thing you want to be is on the back foot, particularly as there will be heavy fines, not to mention loss of reputation and trust issues, resulting from any data breaches.

For companies who are compliant under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003, the approach will be similar. However GDPR will involve enhancements in how we process personal data.


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