Database bits and bytes

The theme of this year’s DMA World Seattle, held April 6, was “Relevance and Results.” Not surprisingly, database marketing played a significant role in many of the sessions. Here’s a sampling of suggestions and comments from speakers regarding how to improve your database marketing efforts:

  • Customers’ media preferences and aversions should be fields in your database, alongside demographic data, buying history, and other data points, said Ernan Roman, president of Ernan Roman Direct Marketing. You should also be able to sort your database by which media and channels customers prefer and loathe. That way, you don’t alienate a customer who strongly dislikes e-mail, for instance, by sending him an otherwise perfectly targeted marketing e-mail.

  • When asking customers and prospects to “self-profile,” or provide information about themselves, don’t ask for the moon, Roman said. Narrow down your questions to “what’s reasonable and immediately actionable.”

  • When comparing multichannel customers with single-channel customers regarding lifetime value or other metrics, be sure your single-channel customers are multibuyers, cautioned Mike Zodrow, director of marketing services for food merchant Harry and David. After all, multichannel customers are multibuyers by definition. If you compare all multichannel customers to all single-channel customers, naturally the multichannel buyers will show greater value.

  • If you’re a business-to-business marketer selling anything other than the most inexpensive commodities, you need to target the C-level executives as well as the “influencers” and end users, said Bill Babcock of marketing agency Babcock & Jenkins: “If all you do is target influencers you’re going to miss a lot of the big sales. When capital gets tight, the CEO and CFO take charge.” And while the economy may now be improving, once the buying decision has been “pushed up the chain,” he added, the C-suite are reluctant to relinquish their control over buying decisions.