Data Management for Database Marketing Efforts

This is the fifth article in our Database Marketing Strategy series, which outlines an approach to understanding the details of building a world-class database marketing system.

One of the fundamental components of any database marketing effort is data management. Poor data management practices can lead to data privacy violations and damage to your brand. On the other hand, strong practices will lead to intelligent customer communications, optimized marketing decisions, and improved marketing ROI.

Data management encompasses the set of support processes and activities used to capture, transfer, organize, transform, store, analyze, and use data. With so much riding on the ability to manage data effectively, it is essential to follow some best practices for each of these categories:


  • Capture enough personally identifiable information (PII) as possible, including account numbers or logins.
  • Keep track of unique sources, times, and usage permissions for all data captured.
  • Keep captured data at a transactional level.


  • Encrypt sensitive data and use Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP).
  • Eliminate all nonsecure transfers in your organization ASAP.


  • Logically organize your data using a customer-centric data model, with marketing and activity transactions.
  • Analyze, standardize, and cleanse data prior to putting them into a formal database.


  • Use metadata-driven processes SUCH AS?? to create and manage aggregates with precise, documented business rules.
  • Invest in data discovery and analysis to maximize the value from the existing data.


  • Manage your data in a flexible infrastructure that enables rapid change and tracks source history and timing. Integrate, but don’t eliminate.
  • Keep the detailed transactional data while creating summary level aggregates and analytics.


  • Build an effective analytic environment that interacts rapidly with your production database, enabling the analysts to focus on the actual analysis and providing a linkage back to execute on the findings.


  • Keep track of all actions taken as the result of the data and analysis at an individual level.
  • Use this history to build a knowledge base of what works from both a marketing and a data management perspective.

Data management is clearly the core underlying capability that enables database marketing. It is becoming more complex in today’s multichannel, permission-driven world, and it is critical that you address it as ongoing priority.

Scott Cone is vice president/client leader for Merkle, a Lanham, MD-based database marketing services provider.

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