Show Me the Data: Do You Know Your Customers’ Channel?

Do you know how your customers found you—through the Web, a catalog or some other channel? You’re doing something wrong if you can’t answer.

But the truth is that many marketers don’t know how many channels their customers use to research and make a purchase.

You can learn this from your customers’ actions. For example, you can tell their channel preferences if you have a way to compare your direct and online buying records.

The linking of names and addresses from many sources through merge/purge processing to produce a unique record for each consumer is the secret to good multichannel marketing. The order in which you process your lists is the key to success in identifying your multichannel buyers and prospects.

Running a merge/purge to find and eliminate duplicate records from your customer file and from outside files will also help you determine a customer’s channel. Ask your service bureau to break up the merge processing into several phases.

First you can merge your catalog customer file with your direct mail response rental lists and flag the mail multi-buyers. Then your service bureau can merge your online customer file with your web buyer prospect lists and show you those multi-buyers.

As your third step you can have the bureau merge the direct mail and online unique and multi-buyer records and separately output the direct mail only customers and prospects, the online only customers and prospects, and the multichannel customers and prospects.

The result of all this carefully sequenced processing will be six files of consumers to which you can communicate different, channel-focused messages.

If you want to know if your customers prefer one or more channels, you can. If you set up your merge/purge processing as described, then you will know which consumers are direct mail buyers, which are online buyers, and which are truly multichannel buyers.

Bill Singleton writes “Show Me The Data” each month for Lists and Data Strategies. He is manager of analytics and consulting services at The Allant Group in Naperville, IL. He can be reached at: and 630-579-3448.