Archive for April, 2010

Using Marketing Automation Without Compromising Your Data Warehouse

duplicate data 300x199 Using Marketing Automation Without Compromising Your Data Warehouse

Duplicate prospect and customer data is a nightmare for IT and Database Marketing departments, but a requirement for some direct marketing systems. The solution? Integrated systems that use live data feeds.

There is no doubt that an enterprise data warehouse has helped countless organizations consolidate their information into one central database allowing for better analysis and use of the data.  This has certainly been the case for improving targeting and segmenting of direct marketing efforts. It has also been a boon to being able to use varying messaging, imagery, offers, and even formats to improve relevancy to the targeted audiences.

Increased availability of data has lead to the usage of 10s, 100s or 1000s of variables within an individual campaign.  It has also lead to a new level of complexity for automating a successful ongoing campaign that uses these variables.

Good direct marketing service providers, whether it be print, email, text messaging or direct mail, can work magic with the data… after all the data is brought into their system via a data pipe or XML stream.  This often causes IT departments and data analysts to cry “Foul! You just created redundant data from what was supposed to be a single data warehouse.”

So what’s the next step in email and print automation to make sure that redundant data sources are not created?  Creating a live feed that continually calls to and from your data warehouse.

We have a client who utilizes a proprietary segmentation model, as well as geographic overlays, and purchase history to determine the targeting of direct mail and email campaigns.  After combining this with localized ordering, they have a wonderfully targeted, relevant communications strategy that works like magic.  And best of all, their data and segmentation resides with them.

Building a continual data retrieval system is not the easiest way to feed data for automated marketing communications, but is the best way to maintain the integrity of your data warehouse.

Marketing Management & Execution Solutions: So What Do You Call Them?

Reading a dictionary

Searching for the right words to describe the marketing automation, management, or execution systems you're looking for? Maybe we can help.

Marketing Asset Management. Print Automation. Marketing Automation. Communications Portals. Distributed Marketing. Web-To-Print. Confused yet?

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything fit in a nice, neat package that is easy to understand and explain?  In the world of marketing communications management, many people would think the above terms all mean the same thing.  I actually think they don’t.  I think there are so many terms because each means something a little different:

Marketing Asset Management:

Focuses on creating an online library of digital marketing assets such as logos, templates, stock photography, videos and radio ads  for use by centralized marketing staff or a network of remote users.

Distributed Marketing:

A term coined to define organizations that have many local markets that are marketed to differently, whether marketing strategy and execution is controlled by a central marketing department or the local stores and locations.


The ability to order printed materials through an online printing management system. Typically, this reduces a company’s inventory waste and improves the customization available on the printed pieces.

Communications Portal:

A central repository for ordering and downloading all types of marketing communications and assets, including email, logos, direct mail, radio commercials, fliers, buck slips, etc.  Marketing Communications Portals are very useful for distributed marketing organizations.

Print Automation:

Eliminates human intervention in creating printed pieces.    This could be obtained via a web-to-print application or communications portal that also employs print automation, or could be a standalone system that creates printed pieces automatically based upon data streams and live data feeds.

Marketing Automation:

The process of triggering marketing communications to a specific individual or audience segment without human intervention.  This differs from print automation in that the automated marketing campaigns could include email, direct mail and other channels, by themselves or combined.

I’m sure there are many more terms and buzz words that I haven’t noted here. Just like any rapidly advancing technology solution, new terms are created every day.  The most important thing to understand is what you really need in a solution, regardless of what it is called.

A Ginormous Pitfall in Database and Direct Marketing Planning

Climbing out of a pit

Interested in continually improving your direct marketing results? Avoid a common database and direct marketing pitfall by devoting the time needed to document your strategies and techniques.

In the past two weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with a couple of fellow direct marketers.  One is a prospective client, considering the use of variable data printing for the first time.  The other is a long-time friend who needs help getting a better ROI on his direct mail and email campaigns.  Both have worked in online, database or direct marketing for many years, and both have large enough budgets to really drive revenue.

Ironically, both have the same, simple problem:  somewhere along the way, the “doing more with less” mantra meant the elimination of documentation.  So now one has a great strategic plan (and it is documented), but failed to log all of the results over time.  The other had a great testing plan, but didn’t document it, and six months later can’t remember the details regarding the target audiences.

Some of you may think this could never happen to you.  I challenge you to think back to a time when your plan (and I know it was the most stellar, innovative, revenue-producing plan ever written) was modified beyond recognition by the time it got through your boss, your boss’s boss, the client, legal, compliance and the ten other stakeholders.  Did you change the plan to reflect all the final decisions?

As direct and database marketing become more intricate and complex, it is impossible to remember all the detailed changes that take place over the course of the strategic planning process. If you don’t know what you did or how it worked, where does this leave you?  Back at the beginning.  Database and direct marketing is an iterative, building process.  So no matter how frazzled, busy and stretched your marketing department becomes, don’t shortcut the documentation process and make a ginormous mistake.  You’ll thank yourself for knowing exactly what you did, why you did it, and the resulting outcomes.

Ginormous as defined by Merriam Webster’s online dictionary:
Pronunciation: \jī-ˈnȯr-məs\
Function: adjective
Etymology: gigantic + enormous
Date: circa 1948
extremely large : humongous