Data Assessment and Initial Strategy Implementation


Belchim Crop Protection USA, LLC (Belchim), an agrochemical/biological company wanted to explore the opportunity to move forward with a more datacentric approach to support an enhanced understanding of their customers, the market, and their opportunities for growth.

Belchim was interested in doing an initial investigation of their key data sources to identify business insights and recommendations related to leveraging data to inform future strategies.

Available data sources included multiple years of customer sales data, information on product sales, and contact data for retailers and growers, along with various sources of market data.


In order to evaluate the current state of Belchim’s data capabilities, SIGMA recommended a data assessment be conducted. This data assessment would not only provide Belchim with an understanding of their data but also allow the SIGMA team to lead Belchim stakeholders through a proof-of-concept project managed by SIGMA.

The initial step of the data assessment was to align Belchim’s customer sales and contact data. Once the data sources were aligned and reviewed for factors like data quality and percentage complete, SIGMA Data Scientists worked to determine key insights. Key insights and findings were visually presented to Belchim stakeholders with recommendations for next steps.


Through the data assessment SIGMA was able to provide two significant recommendations for next steps in the Belchim data journey.

Customer Attrition Strategies

Belchim’s available data helped SIGMA determine that although sales are increasing year over year, the number of unique customers is not increasing. This finding provides insight that although the Belchim team is excelling at growing sales for current customers, they need to focus on gaining new customers.

The SIGMA team made recommendations to adapt strategies to combat attrition while leveraging current practices to improve customer retention.

Implement Data Mart and Visual Dashboards

An analysis of Belchim’s data sources helped to determine the need for Belchim to work towards implementing a centralized data mart. The data mart would allow Belchim to combine disparate data sources for the specific purpose of driving learnings to enhance Belchim sales efforts.

The data mart would also invite Belchim to begin collecting additional data for deeper insights. As a result, the data mart would also serve to feed visual dashboards, developed by the SIGMA team to disseminate findings to the Belchim sales team to begin leveraging retail data to connect sales representatives at a tactical level.

Initial Implementation

Following the data assessment, Belchim has begun to implement some of SIGMA’s recommendations like a cohesive data mart and visual dashboards. Tom Wood, General Manager at Belchim Crop Protection USA, LLC  stated that

SIGMA’s ability to accumulate large amounts of data from a variety of sources and put it in a workable design (dynamic dashboards, models, etc.) is impressive. Putting market data into a dynamic database with pull-down options makes our Market Opportunity Assessments easier as well addressing adhoc questions on the markets we compete in easier. Overall, I think we are on the right path with SIGMA, but I think the best is yet to come.”

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Belchim Crop Protection USA (“Belchim USA”) is an agrochemical/biological company focused on crop protection and pest mitigation, which leverages the strong innovation and R&D culture of its European parent. Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, Belchim USA is one of the only and largest independent crop protection companies, deeply driven toward continuous innovation and commercialization around new products, bringing both conventional and biological products to the Agriculture and Turf & Ornamental industries in the United States.

Data Assessment For Strategic Insights


An agricultural crop protection manufacturer was looking to determine how their internal data sources could help inform strategic business decisions for the upcoming crop year. The company had been collecting customer and product sales data consistently for a few years but an assessment of the quality and completeness of the data had never been reviewed.

In order to be successful, the company would need to overcome a series of challenges.


In order to address these challenges in the requested timeline and gain insights quickly, SIGMA recommended an initial data assessment. The objective of the data assessment was to align the company’s key internal data sources to identify insights that the CEO could present at the upcoming board meeting and provide recommendations to leverage those insights to inform future strategies.

Initially, SIGMA Data Scientists reviewed the internal data sources for quality, completeness, and cleanliness. The team worked to align the disparate data sources based on commonalities and unique identifiers to gain initial insights.

Following the initial data work, the team conducted a virtual workshop with company stakeholders. The purpose of a workshop is to allow SIGMA team members the opportunity to share initial findings and for company stakeholders to lend knowledge to outstanding questions. This also allows for a discussion to determine if additional data is available to assist with filling in any gaps.


The data assessment provided the company with a realistic view of the current state of their data along with data-driven insights. Insights shared at the annual board meeting focused on:

Additional insights gleaned from the data assessment showed areas that required a plan of action to address potential issues related to lack of data and customer attrition.

The data assessment showed:

Lack of data: Although the company had been collecting sales data for 2-3 years, the data was not consistent and was only being collected from a small number of distributors. The SIGMA team completed an analysis on the data provided but the data available was not representative of the overall business.

Based on this finding, SIGMA provided a strategy for acquiring additional data that could be incorporated into the current data set for a more complete view. These recommendations included outreach to distributors to collect monthly sales data and investment in external market and competitive data sources.

Customer Attrition: From the data that was available, the SIGMA team was able to determine that at the end of Q2 of the current year, 30% of customers that had made a purchase the previous year, had not yet made a purchase in the current year. An analysis of customer sales data showed that over 50% of those customers that had not made a purchase in the current year were associated with the same distributor. In addition, 30% of those non-repeat customers had previously purchased the same product.

These insights prompted SIGMA to work with company stakeholders to develop a plan for a more in-depth customer performance analysis. Additional analysis would help the team to:

  • Understand the reasons for attribution and help inform engagement moving forward
  • Determine commonalities among those customers who did not have repeat purchases to understand potential attrition drivers (location, product/technology, purchase timeframe, distributor)
  • Communicate findings to sales teams with a plan for outreach to distributors to collect information (calling campaign, email campaign, onsite visits)

The initial data assessment conducted by SIGMA, provided the company with a clear path forward in terms of current state, recommendations for data collection, and produced valuable customer insights that required additional analysis to potentially win-back sales for the current year.

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Starting Your Data Journey

Business Challenge

The decision to begin investigating and using your company’s data to gain insights is one that can lead to immense ongoing benefits, but beginning a data journey can be a significant undertaking. For most organizations at the beginning of this journey, data is scattered throughout your organization in different formats, within different systems, being managed by different departments. The overwhelming question in most cases is “Where do we even start?”

Many data and analytics firms will push you toward building a data mart to house all your data, and although that may be the best solution down the line, the price tag that accompanies a truly well-structured data mart isn’t going to help your ROI this year. Maybe you’re thinking progress is progress but will you feel that way when you’re convincing your stakeholders and leadership team to approve additional budget for your data journey next year? What will you say when they ask to see the progress that has been made and you have very little to immediately show for it?

SIGMA Approach

In order to get to ROI and insights quickly, SIGMA always recommends an initial data assessment. The objective of the data assessment is to explore your organization’s key data sources to identify business insights and recommendations related to leveraging data to inform future strategies.

An initial data assessment allows SIGMA to analyze the quantity, completeness, consistency, and cleanliness of data sources while also producing actionable insights related to customers, product/service activity, and a thorough analysis of your organization’s contact data.

Data-Driven Results

Once an initial data assessment is complete, the SIGMA team will work with your organization to:

  • Define key metrics/KPIs
  • Provide a recommended approach to data standardization
  • Advise on additional analyses that could lead to deeper insights
  • Recommend supplemental data sources to add to your data set

The data assessment approach to starting your data journey provides your organization with a realistic view of the current state of your data and a tailored approach for moving forward.

Immediate insights provide your team with the ability to strategize and leverage findings to convince stakeholders of the value that a data journey can offer.

In addition, unlike the prospect of taking on a data mart build which can take months with costs ranging from $50,000-$500,000, a data assessment with SIGMA can typically be completed within 60 business days with a budget of $5,000-$15,000.

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Data-Driven Marketing

Make Informed Business Decisions with Data-Driven Marketing

In the uncertain times that have become our daily lives, it is more important now than ever to be smart about how best to communicate with your customers. Using Customer Insights effectively can provide a great value to marketers when activated through marketing and sales efforts to get the sales needle moving in the right direction. “Smart customer data” has emerged as a powerful strategic asset for the most successful marketing professionals. The process of using this data to help define goals, audiences, campaigns, and tactics-as well as measuring and analyzing performance- makes marketers much more agile and responsive to rapidly changing consumer expectations and behaviors. If you recognize the need to accelerate your marketing with a more data-driven, analytical approach, we recommend getting started with some of these ideas:


Assess when and how your customers want communication

  • Give customers the opportunity to share their communications preferences with you by making it easy to do so on your privacy pages and in every reply form.
  • Once they tell you their preferences, make sure you respond and respect their choices in your campaigns.
  • Use message testing over multiple channels to build your understanding of what makes your customers tick and what types of messaging they respond to.
  • Keep track of what worked and optimize results. The satisfaction of your customers could grow.


Use insights to drive your content strategy

  • Different segments of your audiences will be interested in different types of content. Use insights about your segments in content development.
  • Determine the types of marketing content and delivery formats your key segments crave and respond to the most.
  • When developing different content, consider where customers are in the sales cycle. Are they gathering information and researching the category? Consider providing an overview of where you stand vs. your competition.


Master data-driven cross-selling

  • Build a cross-sell matrix and keep track of the most likely next-to-buy products for your customers.
  • Analyze the typical time between purchases, and make sure you trigger a cross- sell offer around the time your customers will be going back into the market.

     Note: this cross-sell matrix should be based on real data and not just experience or a gut feeling.


Use customer data for digital micro-targeting

  • Use digital ad buying platforms to deliver ads directly to your individual customers with segment specific messages.
  • Push your current customer data into the platforms. They can build predictive models on the fly to find lookalikes.
  • Deploy digital ads to the same group of people just before and just after direct mail contact to see if you can boost your direct mail results based on your call to action.
  • Work with your media buying team to pilot some of these innovative 1:1 digital techniques and find out where you get the biggest bang return on investment.


Test offer-optimization

  • Create offers with just enough incentive to get your customers and prospects to act.
  • In addition to monetary offers, create offers that provide information or interesting content. Too many monetary offers can backfire and train your customers to wait for the best deal.
  • Use a test and learn approach to get the most response from your product and service offering.


Whether your aim is to fine-tune marketing targeting by selecting audiences that will deliver the greatest return, to deliver more relevant messaging, or to find the customers that are ready to leave (or those that are ready to buy) – the answers are often found in your existing customer data. Analyzing data from inside your organization will build customer insights that can improve your marketing performance.

Providing Meaningful and Timely Information for B2B in Our Current Environment

With the constantly changing environment, many companies and organizations are hesitant to make big business decisions like starting a new project or committing funds to a new platform or service. This is your opportunity to provide meaningful and timely information to your customers and demonstrate your commitment to their organization by giving without expectation.

Rather than trying to sell customers a new product or service, consider providing your customers with relevant information that can help them in this current environment.

Provide Up-to-Date Industry and Organization Metrics

We are being flooded with information on an hourly basis, whether it be political, social or economic. This influx of information makes it difficult to focus on what is truly effecting a customer’s specific situation. Spend some time researching industry metrics that are specific to your customers that can help them make informed decisions. For financial institutions, these metrics may be related to the stock market, the number of accounts where direct deposits ceased, or the percentage of late payments each week.

Share Free Tools

Point them in the direction of free tools that could help their employees work from home more efficiently or give them an alternative option to communicate with customers. Salesforce, Basecamp, Google, Zoom, and others are offering free access to project management and videoconferencing software. There are also industry-specific free tools available like those mentioned in an article by Forbes providing a list of free technology resources for FinTech organizations.

In addition to sharing free tools from other sources, be sure that customers know how to download and use apps that are available to them through your organization. For instance, if your company provides data and analytics dashboards to customers through Tableau, ensure they know how to download the app and use it on their mobile devices.

Give Advice on Updating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Most organizations know and use KPIs to measure their success when reviewing and analyzing initiatives, but the current environment has changed all of that. Knowing what your customer’s KPIs were versus how they have changed is critical to communicating with employees and end use customers.

Prior to COVID-19, organizations may have had goals like building brand awareness and finding prospects and turning them into customers. They likely looked at metrics like conversion rate, new users and sessions and cost per lead while tracking submissions on their web contact forms as their KPIs.

In our current environment, customer’s goals and KPIs have likely changed. Instead of building brand awareness and prospecting, their focus has changed to nurturing current customers. In turn, conversion rates mean less, while customer open rates and response rates to emails and direct communications should take the focus.

SIGMA Insight: Personal Data Privacy in the Age of GDPR

In 2018, the European Union enacted a regulation on the protection and use of personal data entitled the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. This resonates globally and has already spawned the first American privacy bill, the California Consumer Act, or CCPA. Both of them share the same idea: personal data should be treated well and kept sacred.

For our full take on the legislation, and how you can navigate your journey to compliance, download our Insight below.

We are providing this Insight as a framework for you to use as you consider the impact digital privacy laws have on your business goals. We present you with several facts and crucial actions you need to take as you confront data privacy challenges.

Here is just a taste:

What are these laws?

The most salient points of both regulations include protection of personal information, transparency, control, and remedy for misuse.

When should I be concerned?

While GDPR is already in effect in the EU, CCPA is approaching for California in January 2020, with similar regulations emerging in the US digital landscape soon after that.

Who needs to be involved?

Since nearly all employees touch some piece of sensitive information, they all should know about their companies’ privacy and security practices. The regulations also encourage consumers to manage their data with new tools. Meanwhile, companies can get substantial financial penalties for violating the regulations. But what can you do about it?

To rebuild the future, there are several possible steps to take.

  1. Build your team

Your robust data team and Data Protection Officer (DPO) should develop a formidable knowledge based on all things compliance, and a complete understanding of all those “who, what, where. how” questions about the data lifecycle.

  1. Update your data security model
  2. Test, test, test!

Implement and test to make sure what’s written in policy works in practice.

  1. Enable consumer controls

Customers should be empowered to direct how companies use their info, and how.

  1. Rethink action methodologies

Companies must try to comply with all data privacy requests, without bankrupting yourselves by doing so. Second, all companies in the custody chain need to communicate with one another. Finally, you need to prove that you’ve honored a data privacy request.

  1. Protect the custody chain

It’s up to compliant companies to eliminate the weak links in the chain of custody by denying work to non-compliant companies.

Attention to detail is needed as companies walk the path to compliance. If you can’t manage the process by yourself, SIGMA can lead you to your future state of complete compliance.


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Compliance: The Final Frontier

A Guide to Data Privacy in the Era of GDPR, Part IV

Our three previous blogs have delivered you to the shore of a new world – one where consumers can see and control what happens to their digital presence, and where companies are expected to actively protect, serve, and empower them. You’re on the cusp of compliance: you’ve built the necessary policies and processes, and have cultivated a compliance-positive culture within your organization. Stepping onto that shore is stepping into the future, and the future is where true compliance lies.

So far, our focus has been on making material changes to your business. But we have approached them as point-in-time efforts; we didn’t pay much attention to the living nature of the future work they represent.  The new concepts of data protection and compliance live and breathe.  They evolve over time, which means that your company, and everything you’ve just built, needs to as well.

So how do you meet this challenge?  How do you stay compliant?

In the simplest terms, there are three aspects of GDPR, CCPA, and beyond that need constant focus and care:

  1. Co-managing consumer data with your partners
  2. Assisting your partners with their compliance practices
  3. Keeping your business in sync with new and evolving laws

We’ll delve more deeply into these topics in the SIGMA Insight, but I still want to emphasize their importance here.  If your efforts stop at your company’s border, and only your link in the data chain is strong, then you and all your partners won’t achieve compliance.  This is an opportunity for your company to become a leader in the space.  That’s what we have done here at SIGMA.

Your company must provide a guiding hand to all your partners. Test and question their practices, suggest improvements, and be firm when you need to.  It’s okay – and, in fact, a recommendation of the GDPR – to refuse to work with partners who can’t or won’t follow these laws. Lead by example and share what you know, and if necessary, flex your muscles at contract time. Make it known that you’ll only partner with companies who take consumer protection as seriously as you do, and who are always trying to be good digital guardians of the consumer information we know to be dearest.

When it comes to actions you take on behalf of a consumer, make sure you share what you’ve been told to do, whenever you’re told to do it.  Keep an open hotline to your partners, and again be a leader who ensures that everyone works in concert when there’s a data task in the offing.

Finally, and as important as anything we’ve done on this journey, keep your eyes and ears open for everything new that’s coming. In January 2020, you’ll be compliant with 2018 GDPR and ready for CCPA 1.0.  But you need to be ready for the possible 2020 and beyond GDPR revisions, CCPA 1.5 and 2.0, and whatever new state, federal, and world laws are announced in February, June, and December. Keep your data protection team activated, and be ready to leverage everything you’ve already learned to keep yourself ahead of the curve.

Thanks for taking this journey with us. Be sure to read our upcoming SIGMA Insight for an in-depth look at all things GDPR and CCPA, and how your company can join SIGMA as champions of consumer data protection.

Putting it All Together

In our first two installments of this blog series, we introduced the GDPR and CCPA, and helped you look inward at your organization to understand your company’s data protection practices. The grand plan, of course, is to move you from general awareness to restructuring your organization so it can thrive in the new era of digital data protection. That restructuring is the topic of today’s blog.  (And remember, at the end of this series, we’ll be publishing a full Insight on Data Privacy and Protection, so don’t forget to keep checking back!)

If you’ve done your due diligence, you’re reading this armed with a solid understanding of how data courses through your enterprise. You know how it enters, who touches it, what happens to it, where it goes, and how it’s expunged.  You know who is allowed to see it – or at least who is supposed to be allowed – and you understand the controls you have in place to manage it.  And you know what the GDPR and CCPA require in terms of new functionality: consumer contact tools, information disclosures, paper trails, etc.  Now it’s time make the material changes that will establish your company as compliant.

Writing new policies/controls can be time-consuming and complex, but shouldn’t be seen as a crisis.  You’ll probably engage a committee or have a leadership review, run through a few drafts as you find that the initial concept hits some technological snags, and ultimately come away with something robust and streamlined that fits fully with the privacy laws you’re trying to abide. When you’re comfortable with it, implement it. Everything you’ve done before is prologue – the main story starts now.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one challenge you could face: for some companies, the cultural shift that goes hand-in-hand with these policies might be harder to manage than their actual rollout. For example, some companies have an informal, honor system-based access request process: Analyst Bob asks IT Kyle for access to ABC Widget’s customer database because he needs to do some work, and IT Kyle bops into Active Directory to grant it. While that works in the pre-GDPR world, it’s forbidden in the compliant one. Forcing Analyst Bob and IT Kyle to file a form, cite the proper business justification, and leave an easy-to-follow paper trail, could be jarring – and actually seen as a barrier to productivity.  Same with Marketer Sheila who wants to email a spreadsheet of contacts to Data Processor Tina at your subsidiary in Tacoma.  So you’ll need to work internally to demonstrate the value of the new processes, while acknowledging that things might not be as easy as they were in the wild frontier-land your old processes created.

Next, you’ll deploy your new contact forms, open an 800 number, and validate your information request and action certification forms. If all goes well, you are almost ready to open your doors to the new land of compliance.

Tune in next week for the final stop on this journey…

Welcome to the Jungle

A Guide to Data Privacy in the Era of GDPR, Part I

In 2018, the European Union enacted a regulation on the protection of personal data, and the free movement of such data, entitled the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. It stands out as the most comprehensive and optimistic attempt to protect consumer data in the digital age. It establishes strict rules for data processing, details citizen’s rights regarding their data, and envisages a penalty structure for companies that act carelessly or in bad faith. Most importantly, this law started a conversation on data privacy that resonates globally, and which has already spawned the first American privacy bill, The California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA.

If you work with consumer data, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with common privacy regulations, security best practices, and the potentially catastrophic consequences of a breach. The GDPR and CCPA raise the stakes, and are likely the first wave of an oncoming tide of similar laws. And while European companies have already largely reconfigured their practices to comply with the GDPR, many American companies haven’t. Multinationals are already playing by the new rules, but smaller companies – companies with only local ties and no contact with Europe – have yet to begin. For them, it’s the January 2020 enactment of the CCPA that turns this from a distant concern to an immediate need. Your company may not market widgets in the EU, but there’s a good chance that you’ve got data on at least one Californian widget buyer. That means the CCPA applies to you.

“But wait,” you say, “I run a little mom-and-pop operation in Des Moines, Iowa, and my website only gets 1,000 visitors a year, and I’m really not known outside my county. Surely none of this applies to me.”  It’s true that if you aren’t currently holding data on citizens covered by the laws, then you really don’t have anything new to comply with. But that doesn’t mean you can’t, and certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. These two regulations are the first falling pebbles of a landslide of consumer protections that will eventually reach into every business in America – including those little shops in Des Moines. Consumers want to be protected, and business should want to protect them.

There is already a lot to unpack with GDPR and CCPA. They represent a formidable amount of work, like auditing and analyzing business practices, developing and testing systems and security controls, deploying new web sites and phone numbers, and establishing new ways of doing business. The timer is already running, accompanied by whispers of more new laws on the horizon. Companies need to start working today, and need to internalize what these laws represent, so that this workload doesn’t become a barrier to survival. It’s time to act.

That brings us to a critical question: where do we begin?

Stay tuned for part two of this blog, and an upcoming SIGMA Insight on the subject.

Respect the email: The power of email click-through rates and member renewals

Note: this is the third in a series of three blogs exploring member renewals for museums and nonprofits. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 on our Insights Blog.

We all know it: our members are our most invested and passionate audiences. They care about our mission, they know our exhibits and they love to bring friends. But sometimes, it’s a mystery on how to get new members to renew and become those die-hard super fans. How do we guide them along the path to becoming more engaged, supportive, active members of our community?

This week, we’ve been exploring this question using answers from a Member Renewal Model—a predictive tool that uses lifetime member data to identify the most important variables that affect renewal rates—we built for one of our museum clients earlier this year. They have a goal this year to improve first and second year member renewal rates and so we turned to the data to find some powerful, actionable insights on controllable variables for them to test.

Earlier this week, we explored the opportunity of soliciting small donations from members and the relationship between an onsite visit and a member’s expiration date. For our third and final insight, we turned to the world of email marketing to see how that impacts member renewals.


Member Renewal Insight #3: Members who click on their emails are more likely to renew

As a former museum email marketing manager, I can personally attest to the challenges of using such a strong communication channel in the best way possible. Between balancing various departments’ needs to promote programs or raise funds along with providing mission-based messaging and educational content to increase audience engagement, email is a perfect storm. Communicating the importance of this channel to museum leadership in an understandable way was important to me, and it’s my own personal goal to help others do the same for their institutions.

Knowing the power of this channel, we explored a wide array of email behaviors to make sure our renewal model truly tested the relationship between member email engagement and renewal as well. The findings give us some solid numbers: Members with a 0% click-through rate renew at 45% while members at the industry average click-through rate (between 25-31+% for most) have renewal rates over 62%.

More importantly, click through rates tell us how much folks are reacting to our emails and the general content as well. The strong relationship between good click through rates and renewal rates indicates a couple immediate actions for us to take: first, it underlines that our email focus needs to be on testing for the best email content – we need to ensure emails are written for the right audience, are engaging, and have the right pieces of content and not just all the content. Second, it gives us a clear KPI to focus on for engagement – click through rate not open rate – and a rationale for why that is our KPI. Finally, it underlines the value of an email to a member and gives a real statistic behind why the email marketing plan should be built on respect and audience-focused messaging.