First came operational databases that ran order entry and fulfillment activities. From them evolved marketing databases, which have become central to overall business strategies. And from those marketing databases, trends are emerging that affect how we manage our relationships with customers and prospects, according to Gary S. Laben, president/CEO of Richardson, TX-based KnowledgeBase Marketing. Here are Laben’s picks for the top five database marketing trends:
* Multichannel support for touch points. “Today’s marketing databases integrate call centers, Websites, direct response television, lead management, and affinity activities,” Laben says. “The marketing database now shapes a customer’s user experience across interactive or real-time touch points.”
* Trawling for event-based activities. “With the help of frequent updates and filtering, you can search for meaningful activity in a database to drive your relationship marketing. Searching for changes in a customer account such as large purchases or returning goods allows you to trigger a personal call offering additional services,” Laben says. Or you can launch an event-based campaign to react to ‘trigger’ events such as the purchase of nursery items (which suggests that the buyer is about to become a parent) or the establishment of a wedding registry.
* Profitability segmentation. “Typically, database marketers have segmented by response, building models to identify the best candidates for their products. By moving beyond revenue segmentation, profitability segmentation helps you target those who are most likely to be profitable. By predicting profitability, you can better determine how much to invest in your communications,” Laben says. * Increased emphasis on data hygiene/integration. Now that more disparate data can be merged into a central repository, you’re more like to see “conflicts” or discrepancies among the data. “Data conflicts cause you to not only lose data efficiency, which is costly, but also the confidence of both the database users and your customers,” Laben says. “To address this challenge, there is greater emphasis on capturing, correcting, and maintaining accurate data.”
* Affordable prospect database environments. Once cost-prohibitive, prospect databases aren’t only affordable, but they can provide a rather rapid return on investment. “Lower hardware and software costs, increased competition in outsourced services, plus enhanced processing capabilities come together to help marketers expand their database marketing capabilities while delivering ROI above 100%,” Laben says. “The affordable prospect database is no longer emerging. It is a reality.”