Taking Inventory of Database Marketing Capabilities

Note: This is the second article in an ongoing series on database marketing strategy that will outline an approach to understanding the details of building a world-class database marketing system—even if you’re not an expert in analytics or technology.

The first step in shifting to a more strategic approach to database marketing is to take a careful inventory of your current capabilities vis-à-vis current established best practices. The inventory will then serve as the basis to determine your options and priorities for making changes to your database marketing capabilities.

One innovative model for this inventory reflects the core processes of any effective successful database marketing effort:

* Strategy. How effective is the connection between your marketing strategy and your database marketing execution? It is critical to document and understand the ability to connect and manage strategy.

* Content. From a database marketing perspective, content can be viewed as valuable data contained within an actionable infrastructure. Important questions that must be answered concerning your content capabilities include the ability of your system to integrate multiple data types and enable a clear understanding of the value of those different types of data (for instance, vertical lists vs. compiled data).

* Analytics. Analytical management covers the process by which you analyze your data. It is also an effective measure of your ability to conduct and execute analytic decisions in an effective timeframe.

* Data. Data management processes are the core of database marketing efforts. Issues such as multichannel data integration, data timeliness, and capture of time-of-mailing demographics are key differentiators.

* Campaign. An effective campaign management process includes clear connections between campaign strategy, campaign planning, and campaign execution. This section of the inventory highlights the effectiveness of these three components and focuses on the use of analytics and models in the campaign selection and execution efforts.

* Performance. One of the most important processes is the ability to measure, predict, understand, and leverage your results. This is an area where many companies fall short. A clear understanding of your capabilities to not just measure response rates but to actually understand and predict marketing performance at an individual level is critical.

In addition to these processes, you need to examine two major components in detail. First, you must assess the capabilities of your database marketing organization. This includes evaluating both your internal and external staff’s capabilities to support all database marketing processes. Second, you must examine the capabilities of your database marketing infrastructure.

In summary, a database marketing inventory allows a marketer to understand the breadth of his capabilities in comparison to industry best practices. While the system and infrastructure areas typically are a primary focus of “fixing” most database marketing efforts, it is important that this be balanced with a thorough assessment of the processes outlined above. Preferably, an inventory should be conducted by an independent, experienced third party who can provide you with honest feedback.

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