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Expert Insight - Alex Harding - Dataphoria

Alex has enjoyed building Dataphoria into a trusted data-driven solutions provider for many successful Australian marketers since 2009.


Alex has enjoyed building Dataphoria into a trusted data-driven solutions provider for many successful Australian marketers since 2009.

He aims to make up with campaign ROI, what he lacks in hair and has built a well-respected team of consultants in the North-West of Sydney.

Alex lives with his wife and 4 kids and can often be found mountain biking in the bush or paddle boarding on the harbour for a little peace and quiet.

Alex, tell us about your story and how Dataphoria came to life?

Dataphoria is the feeling you get when data works for you. I can’t imagine there are too many data-driven marketers that haven’t shouted furiously at a spreadsheet / CRM / dialler, when things haven’t worked out, so we aim to provide the opposite feeling. Direct telemarketing campaigns and direct mail campaigns sit on a foundation of data, so it needs to be built correctly every time.

When I emigrated to Australia, in 2002, I picked up my second role as a media planner/buyer for an agency, working on 3 car accounts. It became apparent that it was very hard to truly measure the impact of my ad-spend, with a dealer network in between the client and the customers, and with most creatives run as above-the-line branding. In 2004, I moved into my first role leveraging third-party data for marketing campaigns. It was great to measure ROI effectively, but unlike media planning and buying agencies, I could only help my clients select from a single marketing option. In 2009, I took voluntary redundancy from a subsequent data role, on the basis that I could take a couple of clients with me and set up a data-driven marketing agency. 

Dataphoria was designed to blend the benefits of an independent agency and the measurability of direct marketing. Our supply chain was set up with wholesale rates and preferred pricing, to enable our clients to enjoy our services, without needing to pay management fees on top of data costs. We became a trusted conduit to compliant data, leads and analytics options for our clients.



What type of clients do you work with in Australia? Is there a specific industry?

Dataphoria has the most success working with organisations that are hungry to grow their customer base. We have a significant market share in the fundraising sector and assist major health, sustainable energy, global technology and other industries with their campaigns.

Our clients look to us to help them to understand who their best customers are, what they might do next and how to find more of them while optimising the best campaign ROI possible.

We predominantly work with B2C marketers, but also assist a range of B2B marketers with marketing lists, data cleansing and enhancement and CRM migrations.

With all the rules and laws that are coming into place around data, and with the general public being more conscious of their data, how do you find the landscape changing and are there any big items that people should be aware of?

Direct marketing campaigns rely heavily on trust. Consumers are becoming more aware of how to spot a scam and are more considerate about what data they would like to share and with whom. Legislation is also tightening, so that consumer data can be protected from misuse.

Dataphoria runs extensive Privacy Auditing across our supply chain and invests heavily in robust cyber protection. Marketers should expect the same from any agency they work with.

We are also very picky with the clients we work with. We ensure that we feel they operate in the best interests of the customer, before agreeing to work with them. For example, we don’t work with pay-day loans or buy-now-pay-later providers, not because we haven’t had the opportunity, but because ethically we don’t believe on the whole they benefit the consumer. Sadly, it is often the types of businesses that we choose NOT to work with that tend to spoil things for legitimate marketers.

The Australian Privacy Principles, introduced in 2014, along with Do Not Call and SPAM policies already go a long way to protect consumers, when organisations follow the rules. As we have seen, however, scammers have no interest in following any rules, so these organisations continue to misappropriate data and damage the level of trust available to legitimate marketers.

We have always assisted our clients in working within the boundaries of personal data legislation and, over the past few years, we have also been assisting the Fundraising Institute of Australia and Professional Fundraising Regulatory Authority with wider education programs around data collection, Privacy notification and, more recently, cyber security considerations. 

Moving forwards, with upcoming potential changes to Australian Privacy laws, we anticipate rules being brought in line with GDPR legislation, to enable cross-border data exchanges. The Attorney General is also considering legislation that would extend beyond this, based on the Online Platforms Bill, some of which could impact a range of Australian direct marketers. Dataphoria has had the benefit of learnings from operating campaigns in the UK, under GDPR legislation, and are confident that most organisations will be able to continue to run lead generation campaigns, under most rules that may be introduced, based on GDPR. We are, however, conscious that organisations that rely heavily on cold-calling lists or leads generated through social media may be heavily impacted, if opt-ins are required for “Trading” of data and “Targeting.” As with any new legislation, we hope that the government finds a good balance between protecting the rights of the consumer and enabling marketers to grow the Australian economy.

We know the importance of quality data when operating outbound campaigns, but what should customers look for when engaging with a data provider to ensure they are set up for success? 

The market has matured significantly since we started to provide our clients with marketing lists, leads and profiling solutions. Clients expect solutions to be mapped to the customer journey, with always-on lead generation campaigns. A great campaign will allow consumers to qualify themselves out, if they are not likely to convert to a sale. 

Leads should be quality screened, de-duplicated, suppressions removed, and what remains should be delivered to calling agents live, in order to strike while the iron is hot. Additionally, multi-channel touchpoints, across the digital and direct realms, should enable the client to educate the consumer around their brand promise and keep them engaged until it is possible to close the sale.

Your data provider should understand your KPIs, your ideal customer, your complete customer journey and the Australian data landscape. Going back to your previous question though, I would strongly suggest that a marketer should be taking a very close look at the compliance and security processes any data provider relies on, before considering procuring leads, or lists of other data services.

Alex and his team are always open to speaking to Australian markers about their goals and will be the first to admit if they are not the right fit for a campaign. Alex also welcomes any reader to reach out to Dataphoria for free Privacy and Cyber checklists and other resources at www.dataphoria.com.au or on 1300 537 787.

Daniel Harding
Post by Daniel Harding
Daniel is the Director of MaxContact Australia. Since launching the business in Australia with its first clients in 2019, it has rapidly grown to become the solution of choice for businesses across Australia and New Zealand. Daniel has a comittment to ensuring that MaxContact Australia continues to grow whilst delivering value for all customers.