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Why the KISS Principle Really Works in Database Marketing

  Article published in DM Direct Special Report
June 6, 2006 Issue
  By Phil Kramer

How many times have I heard, "It's not rocket science"? Many, many times. Yet, there are so many horror stories from companies that have unsuccessfully attempted large, complex database marketing implementations. In implementing database marketing systems, failures usually occur because the company did not keep it simple.

A successful marketing database requires that businesses "slice the problem" from the outset - deciding what pieces of the pie they can handle to reach their goals so that they reduce the risk of trying to tackle everything at once.

Here are three ways to keep marketing database implementation projects simple:

Data Sources

Choosing the source from which businesses take their data can be the most costly and time-intensive aspect of a marketing database implementation. Each data source should be examined carefully to ensure that it will provide ROI prior to being included in the database.

For example, businesses need to carefully evaluate whether those five or six files that contain a few thousand records each are worth the weeks of work required to initially incorporate them into the database, which will then be used for ongoing updates. Occasionally, this investment is absolutely worth it, but many companies do not even evaluate the situation first and end up spending months on an activity that has limited value. Up-front planning and evaluation of your data sources is essential to ensure success.

Too many companies believe that all of the data in their operation must be included in their database in order to obtain a true 360-degree view of a customer. Instead of focusing on a complete 360-degree view, decide which sources are going to give your business the biggest bang for its buck to get it as close as possible to 360, while doing away with the sources that are going to cost a large investment with limited return.

Data Hygiene

It is important to never skimp on data hygiene - the principles and practices employed to keep computer data clean and up-to-date. Too many customer relationship management (CRM) and database marketing programs have been unsuccessful because the data used was not accurate. Marketing departments must be empowered to trust the data they work with so that they implement accurate and effective programs.

In order to keep data hygiene simple, businesses must stick to the basics by looking at reports and merge-purge results to make sure that the type of data they are implementing makes sense for the company. Keeping it simple means that marketing teams must examine which data fields are most important and ensuring those fields are correct by taking a detailed look at purchase history and the accuracy of the numbers associated with it. It is important that total sales by channel add up to total sales by customer segment and geography.

Many marketing teams wait until the end of a project to get the basics right, and they expect that the data they are using is clean and should add up. Don't let that happen to you and put your project behind schedule from the start.

Campaign Management and Data Mining Tools

Once businesses have attended all the relevant conferences, viewed all of the demos for best-of-breed solutions and reviewed all the proposals, it is essential that the marketing automation selection team compares the business requirements to the tools under consideration. In addition, the functions that the company is trying to automate must be evaluated.

More often than not, the tool selection team forgets to ask the most important question for any tool or system: Does it work the way marketers work?

  1. Marketers need to be able to ask the database questions and get immediate answers.
  2. Marketers should not need to know SQL or have to ask IT to assist them when running a question through the database.
  3. Marketers need to be able to create a mail file on their own after adding seed lists and subtracting suppressions.
  4. Marketers need to be able to tag campaigns and cells onto individual records in order to measure responses and/or conversions.

There are a handful of tools in the marketplace that allow marketers to be so empowered while keeping it simple. When buying a database marketing tool, first consider how much it will cost the organization and whether the tools will work the way marketers work.

Did I just invent something? No. Was that particularly profound? Not particularly. So why don't companies keep it simple? Good question!


For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Best Practices/Benchmarking, Business Intelligence (BI), Campaign Management and Data Quality.

Phil Kramer is vice president of business development and director of marketing automation practice. With a background in customer management initiatives, he leads Green Beacon's marketing automation and business intelligence practice, bringing a proven track record of experienced business development. Kramer works with industry leaders to develop and implement mission-critical marketing automation and business intelligence programs. Prior to joining Green Beacon, Kramer was senior vice president of Business Development for BeNOW, a database marketing solution provider specializing in providing marketing database hosting and automation tools for multichannel direct marketers. He may be reached at pkramer@greenbeacon.com.

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