Posts tagged database management
The evolution of variable data printing (VDP) has significantly changed the landscape for the designers of direct marketing pieces. No longer are they forced to craft pieces that will appeal to a broad range of potential clients and hope for the best. Instead, they can utilize data captured from emails, web pages, surveys, phone calls and in-person interviews to create individualized direct marketing pieces to more accurately target the needs of their clients.
The Market – At its core, variable data printing is still a direct marketing strategy. As such, it relies on having data on your clients and prospects. This data can be self-generated by your company or purchased from third-party vendors. Lists are available in a range of options and can be tailored to your exact needs. In short, VDP combined with the right data is an excellent marketing option for clients as diverse as charitable organizations and casinos to insurance agencies and college alumni departments.
Individualized Pieces – The secret to a variable data printed piece is in how the information and artwork is integrated. While the name and address are from one database, the customers stated preferences are also utilized so that the right copy and artwork is also included. This process allows the designer to incorporate pre-written copy and preselected pictures about the best choices of product for a customer.
For instance, a casino might know that certain customers preferred “FREE Dinner” while others wanted their hotel room comped. With non-VDP, the designer is constrained into sending the same piece to both customers with an offer for a meal and/or a room. With VDP, the designer can send two or more meal offers to one customer and room offers to the other – complete with appropriate photos.
Increased Response – As you can imagine, this type of marketing better targets potential customers and produces a superior response rate. The most basic use of the process returns double the response rate while more sophisticated campaigns can yield a response 15-20 times greater than a static direct marketing campaign.
Lowered Costs – The vast majority of work in a variable data printing campaign is in the development of the text, graphics and images so that they align with the available data. In addition, the collection of data can be time consuming. However, once this effort has been made, a VDP campaign can be customized to fit any budget.
The campaign can affordably be run over and over again to a select group of clients or to new pools of prospects as they are generated. In addition, VDP allows a marketer to experiment on a small test group before committing resources to a larger campaign. Lastly, you can even build in “fail safes” to exclude customers who have never responded to a certain number of offers.
Customized Follow-Up Campaigns – Similarly, as more data is captured on responsive clients, further enhancements to the campaign can be made. More info can be sent on selected products or the piece can be modified to address what stage of the “buy-cycle” the customer is in.
The Bottom Line – As you can see, variable data printing can have a huge effect on the direct marketing campaign of a forward looking marketer. The technology is available and your company most likely already has all the data it needs. Now, you just need to a take that leap of faith and combine the two.
The direct mail list is the most important component of any direct mail campaign. Some studies indicate that it determines 60% of your mailing’s success rate. Before your nonprofit even starts on the creative aspects of the campaign, start with the nuts and bolts of securing the best list to bring you more donors.
If you’re supplementing your existing donor database by also buying an outside list, know that there are two types of lists (1) compiled lists and (2) response lists.
A compiled list is a database of names and records that have been compiled through public records such as vehicle owner registrations or mortgage loan applications. These lists can get dated quickly so it’s important to ask the list broker about collection dates and updates. Also be sure to always purchase a small test list. It’s the best way to be judicious with your organization’s dollars.
Response lists are compiled based on data from people who have responded to some other offer such as an advertisement, purchased from a catalog or entered their name and information in a drawing. If leasing a response list ask how recent these records were compiled. Frequency and the dollar spend are key factors in the solidness of the list you are negotiating to lease.
Test the List First
It’s wise to ask for a small list to start with – 1,000 to 20,000 names depending on the size of your mailings. Some list compilers have a minimum order of 5,000 records. You may want to shop around for a list partner with more flexibility or ask them to comp the test group of names in order to win your future business.
Make sure to build in enough time in your campaign to test the waters. Fine-tuning the list could save you thousands of dollars in postage and increase your donor acquisition twofold.
The Standard Fair of List Compilers
List compilers usually lease their list for a single use unless you negotiate otherwise. Prices range from $65 to several hundred dollars per thousand records and are available in a variety of formats. Depending on how many variables you add to your list request, the price goes up. Niche market lists can sell for upwards of $1000 per thousand records.
You should ask about spoilage or what part might come back undeliverable. A guaranteed delivery rate of 93% may sound good. In reality, 10% and sometimes up to 20% of your mailing may go to the wrong person and still never returned. Look for deliverability guarantees of 95%, 98% or even 99% because they are out there, according to direct marketing experts and blogger Jeffrey Dobkin of the Danielle Adams Publishing Company.
Other Sources of Mailing Lists
Trade and Membership Associations are excellent sources of mailing lists. There are nearly 8,000 trade associations listed in the National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States. Association lists are also available through the Encyclopedia of Associations by The Gale Group and online through Lexis-Nexis.
SOURCE:“Places to Buy Mailing Lists,” by Jeffrey Dobkins, The Danielle Adams Publishing Company,
Don’t neglect to inquire with your local Chamber of Commerce if you’re searching for good, local business names. You can select by business size, number of employees and government industry classification code (often referred to as the SIC).
You can find even more sources by searching the Internet. Just make sure to ask relevancy, accuracy, and integrity questions about how the list was compiled and insist on a small list to test first.
Remember the best list is a house list, your organization has compiled slowly and meticulously by gaining permission to add donors to your list, but it never hurts to augment your list from the sources mentioned above.
Trends Marketing Needs to Stay on top of Due to Data
The whole “big data” phenomenon may be overstated in the business and tech media at this point, but for good reason: Companies are proving time and time again that a data-driven approach leads to smarter business decisions and often creates a competitive edge.
As a result, more businesses — even small and medium-sized businesses — are turning to solutions that help them harness the power of big data to do everything, from more accurately tracking inventory to listening and engaging in relevant online social conversations. As the data universe continues to grow exponentially, tools are rapidly being developed and deployed
More Data Regulations are Imminent
While the marketing and advertising industries successfully deflected major regulations in 2012 through intense lobbying efforts, new regulations in 2013 are highly likely to be passed due to the sheer number of bills and other initiatives currently in the works, along with the need for laws to catch up with the fast pace of innovation in this area:
- Following the release in March 2012 of a two-year investigation on consumer privacy in the digital age, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission endorsed legislative action around data privacy, including the creation of “do-not-track” mechanisms in web browsers that help consumers opt-out of online behavioral tracking and targeting. Efforts by the industry to self-regulate DNT were stalled at the end of 2012; the consequence may lead to legislative action on the issue.
- Retiring Democratic Senator from West Virginia, John D. Rockefeller IV, launched an inquiry into information brokers like Acxiom, Epsilon and Rapleaf last October to better understand their practices and determine if they handle consumers’ personal data appropriately.
- Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) recently released a draft bill called “The Application Privacy, Protection, and Security Act of 2013,” or the APPS Act, targeted at creating guidelines for data collection, retention and sharing practices of mobile app developers. With other initiatives at various stages in the works, expect more attempts — and some successes — to introduce new marketing and advertising regulations in 2013.
Don’t Put Your Phone Down
The sheer size of the mobile audience, along with the diverse capabilities and immediacy that modern mobile technology can deliver, has prompted organizations to go back to the drawing board with their website and application designs to account for the unique features of mobile devices. Smaller screen sizes, touch interfaces, push notifications, location services … they are all pushing practitioners and technology firms to rethink their approach to design to help them reach their audience in a clear way.
It should be noted that the “large screen” desktop interfaces are not going away anytime soon, especially in the workplace, meaning that design ultimately needs to be multi-modal. Some companies are approaching this issue by building responsive layouts that automatically adapt depending on the browser or screen size. Others are taking a more piecemeal approach by designing for a particular channel or, in the case of mobile apps, designing for a particular device or operating system. Are you designing your multi-channel campaigns with mobile in mind?
Interestingly, some of the design elements born out of the necessity to create usable interfaces on smaller screens are now becoming common in designs for larger screens. The interface of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 OS is probably the starkest example of this phenomenon, but there are plenty of others. Forms are becoming less dense and easier to use due to the lack of space of many inputs and large drop-down menus, and icons are being designed and implemented in more meaningful ways to reduce interface clutter. In other words, mobile is driving more simplicity in interface design, which is a step in the right direction for creating more user-friendly digital experiences.
The Road Map for InfoTrends’ Digital Marketing & Media Trends (DMM) Consulting Service helps companies understand how to harness the power of interconnected media effectively to meet their business objectives. To read the full DMM report, visit www.infotrends.com.
This is the second part of a blog post series gleaning lessons from the direct marketing successes of four casinos that won the Romero Awards in 2012. Romero Awards recognize outstanding, accountable, measurable casino marketing.
In this post you can learn takeaways from Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs, Ark., and Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek, Fla.
A Scratch-and-Win Promo with an Anticipation Twist
Oaklawn Racing and Gaming learned there is emotional currency in creating anticipation. The casino had past success with scratch-and-win direct mail pieces and decided to play off of that by asking customers to not scratch their card at home but to bring that card into the casino on Saturday to scratch and redeem.
The response rate was more than previous efforts and the coin-in rate (money put through the slots and machines) was more than double the average of the previous four Saturdays.
SOURCE: Casinos Hit the Jackpot with Direct Mail, March 2012. Deliver Magazine.
According to Deliver Magazine, Oaklawn’s cost of the promotion was $34,894. The coin-in total grew by more than $1 million over the previous year and there was a visitor increase of 68%.
Penny Players Prove Direct Mail Test a Success
Seminole Casino wanted to learn if targeting specific denominational players would deliver better results than not factoring in which denominations players prefer to play. So they developed a list with all of their active players with more than 50% of penny play and added players who hadn’t played for up to 24 months.
The marketing piece had a dual message: that Seminole had increased the number of penny machines by 33% and were offering 1,001 spins on them. The promotion was basically the equivalent a $10.01 free-play offer.
Seminole then sent a press release and ran ads in newspapers and on billboards reinforcing the abundance of penny machines. A total of 49,882 pieces were mailed that earned a 33% response rate, including 18.8% from disengaged players.
Players appreciated the increased number of penny slot machines and the mailed offer.
Have you ever felt discouraged by data? Well never again! Today’s marketing is all about reaching your target market in an effective way. Whether that is by email, direct mail or social media, you need to target your communication and personalize it to the individual through data. However, collecting and analyzing data can be so overwhelming that soon you could be buried by it. So the big question is how do you begin collecting adequate data to reach your target market?
While you may aspire to have the marketing sophistication of P&G or an Amazon.com, there are steps you can take to get started right now. Jeff Hayes, President of Info Trends, shares 8 points.
1. Make an inventory of your customer touch points.
Look beyond your customers’ age and gender. Dig deeper to find what really makes your customers tick. Collect data on how often your customers shop, what their average purchase is per visit and how long your customers spend in your establishment.
2. Figure out what data you have, what data you need and how best to collect it.
All fantastic marketing campaigns start with a game plan. Establish what data is already being collected by your P.O.S. or other systems, and then analyze it. Once you know what you are collecting, it is time to establish what you would like to know about your customers and then devise a solution to collect that data.
3. Collect and compile your data for on-going analysis.
The more data a company can gather and know about their customers, the better! In the beginning, make sure you data is compiling accurately to your analysis system. You do not want to waste time or data by not being able to format it correctly.
4. Analyze your data and develop a market segmentation scheme.
“Developing a new market segmentation scheme requires a structured process that yields actionable results. A new market segment must respond differently to variations in the product, marketing, and distribution mix compared with other customers in the market.”
5. Test various messages and promotional offers, and measure the impact.
Survey or interview your customers. A company cannot reach their customers if they do not understand their needs or desires. Send out different types of flyers and discounts to measure the response rate to each promotion.
6. Continue to refine your data collection, analysis and messaging.
“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Hardly any project runs according to plan. Take the time to smooth out the bumps and get rid of the dead weight.
7. Get senior management involved – there will be cost and may be some internal “turf” issues that need to be resolved, plus you want their buy-in when the data challenges traditional assumptions.
The last thing you will want to do when working on a new campaign or project is to step on anyone’s toes. Talk through your plans and processes to make sure everyone is on the same page. This way the chances of a dispute are held to a minimum.
8. Consider working with an agency or consulting firm, especially to help you get started.
You don’t know everything and that’s okay. It is alright to reach out and ask for help. Smart people learn from their mistakes, but wise people learn from other people’s mistakes.
SOURCE: Market Segmentation, Info Trends, 2013
SOURCE: Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan, 2005
Casino operators have cued in to the importance of analytics because as little as one percent of casino customers can drive as much as 20 percent of the company’s revenue.
This fact alone has spurred casinos into building sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track and reward customer loyalty to increase the returns from select customers and retain them for the long term.
One tool being used by casinos is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is using statistics to analyze current and historical facts to make future predictions about a customer’s behavior.
For some casinos, as little as a five percent improvement in customer retention can lead to a fifty percent gain in profitability. Author Clive Pearson explains in Double Down on Your Data that by using predictive analytics, Harrah’s was able to identify a small group of customers who accounted for 30 percent of their overall customers.
They then learned that these particular customers spent between $100 and $499 per trip but actually accounted for about 80 percent of the casino’s revenue and 100 percent of its profits.
By using data mining and predictive analytics, casinos keep their highest value customers happier longer and take high-value customers away from the competition. Furthermore, predictive analytics can help casinos pinpoint customers who are most likely to “defect” from the competition with enough lead time to allow casino employees to intervene and possibly retain these highly valuable, hard to recapture customers.
Which of the Three Predictive Analytics is Your Casino Using?
The world of data has evolved. In the beginning companies would look at past events to predict future activity as gleaned from information management systems from the 1970s. Then drill-down technology of the 1980s led to data warehousing, which allowed more complex data querying. Then predictive modeling and optimization rang in the new millennium.
Now you can use one of three types of data analytics:
- Predictive – using past performance to predict future customer behavior.
- Descriptive – identifying different relationships between customers or groups.
- Decision – using the above information to predict outcomes or complex decisions, relationships, products or processes.
Executed correctly predictive analytics can determine how much a customer is worth today and for his lifetime, which customers come together in groups, and which customer might abuse an incentive offer by using the free room and not gambling at all.
Pearson so eloquently puts it this way. “Do you want to lead the analytics horse to profitability…or follow it with a shovel?” The choice is clear.
Business databases have moved beyond name, address, city, state and zip. Today’s savvy customer relationship management gurus capture purchase history, lifestyle, lifecycle, and lifespan info that enables them to engage, re-engage, and even dis-engage (that’s a fancy word for fire) customers when necessary.
Customer information that goes deep and reveals the lifetime value of that customer is imperative to long term business growth. To capture and record this data, a good software package is needed, but selecting the appropriate tool can sometimes be confusing. There are a ton of SaaS (software as a service) solutions that may make sense. Look into Salesforce.com, Sugar CRM, or Microsoft Dynamics. Plus, don’t forget to study industry specific packages. Be wary however of forcing the sales process to fit the CRM system. A good CRM solution should be flexible enough to fit your processes.
Who Should Manage Your Database?
It depends. If you’re a small business with a seasoned marketing person on staff, you probably can manage it in-house. The bigger your customer base the bigger the task.
The job of the database manager is to (1) build or buy a database that can capture and contain the needed data fields you wish to monitor (2) modify the database to add new areas of interest or products as your business grows (3) backup the system regularly (4) update customer info, purge customer info or initiate re-engagement campaigns as customers go dormant.
The best B2B relationship management (CRM) databases will allow you sophisticated functionality like multi-level SLA support, customer satisfaction surveys, timer-based escalation rules that are driven by complex criteria and automated issue re-assignments.
Your CRM system should also allow you to integrate with other software tools like your ERP or software, business management solution, website software, email tool, and even your accounting package.
What is the Most Important Data You Must Know or Might Forget to Collect?
A good customer database includes these four basic areas:
- Financial: Revenue generated from the customer’s transactions.
- Demographic: Describing customers in terms of their personal characteristics, such as age, sex, professional activity, etc.
- Geographic: Describing customers in terms of their physical location.
- Psychographic or Behavioral: Describing customers in terms of their preferred activities and actions.
A great CRM database plan allows you to collect and monitor competitor price, market share, and product features. It also allows you to collect data on the number of customer transactions, stores visits, and why they leave.
As you can see, you must plan well to collect the metrics that will guide your business. Businesses that don’t have a good database system or customer relationship management system are at a disadvantage in today’s world. Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, once said that “Datarati are companies that have the edge in consumer data insight. There has been and will continue to be an increased focus on data analysis as companies continue to invest in measuring social media, understanding customer value and modeling customer behavior.
What Should You Do With the Data?
Put it to work! The information you have gathered can be used to a great advantage. Look at what Amazon does with the data it collects as you shop their store. Each time you search for items Amazon tracks and knows what is of interest. Then, when you return, you are presented with items most likely to interest you. That level of data capture is huge in working to drive a business.
Other organizations use that data to personalize their direct mail with Variable Data Printing (VDP) a method of printing personalized promotional material using your database. The effect of customers seeing their names and preferences in promotions can give you a higher response and purchase rate. This response rate has been estimated to be as high as five times greater than with traditional static advertising.
Building or Buying a CRM System
There are so many great systems available, it’s really not necessary to reinvent the wheel. However, shopping for the right one for your business can be daunting. So much like going to Consumer Report for research, you can go to CRM Vendor Comparison and download the 2011 CRM Vendor Comparison Chart that shows 40 hours of research and a comparison of 30 CRM systems that range in web application prices from $40 to $100 per month for usage rights.
Once you pick and install one, staying in sync with your customers’ buying habits through their lifecycle and creating alerts to build that relationship can steady your company in poor times and send it through the roof in peak times. It is important to be aware of clients who are increasing their spending, as well as those who are coming back less and less. In such cases, the database can create an alert to cue marketing to develop a bounce-back campaign.
Knowledge is power. Storing it in a pliable database gives you power and strength. Why? To compete, you will need to know more about your customers and use the information to talk, engage and interact with their customers more often and more meaningfully in new and innovative ways (including dynamic content, blogs to social media networks).
If you don’t talk to your customers in an engaging, intelligent way, your competitor will.
If your boss asked you to build a thorough customer profile, would it take you an hour, a day, or a week? More importantly how would you go about building this profile? Below is a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.
It sounds simple, but do you REALLY know who your ideal customers are? You should have a customer profile for each one of your products and services because it gives you a clear picture of who you’re selling to and allows you to develop strategies to communicate more effectively.
This is a vital exercise for all businesses.
20 Questions: Who Is Your Key Customer?
- What would a customer buy from you?
- What advantages do you want to sell them specifically? (Ex: If you sell air conditioning units, you are really selling comfort, cost savings, air purification, humidity control, no sweat stains, comfortable sleeping)
- Describe your typical customer.
- What is their age?
- Are they male or female?
- Where do your ideal customers live geographically?
- How do they earn a living?
- Describe your ideal customers’ likes and dislikes.
- Why would this person be interested in your product, company or service?
- Why would they buy from you as opposed to someone else?
- What does a customer want from your product or service?
- What makes your product or service more suitable to them than your competitors’ products or services?
- What are the most common specifications or types of orders your customers request?
- What factors are your customers likely to consider before making a purchase?
- What do they tell you they value about your deliverables?
- How will your ideal customer find out about your product or service? What sites do they visit, what stores do they shop in, where do they get their coffee?
- What have your most recent ideal customers said about your product or service?
- How does the cost of your product/service influence your customer’s decision to buy?
- List all the ways you currently contact your potential ideal customers. What is their preferred method of being contacted?
- What does your ideal customer tell you they value in your product or service?
Now you have a clearer view of your ideal customer (both hard and soft characteristics). Don’t go outside this target market.
Build Your Customer Profile Electronically in 5 Steps
Once you have answers to your customer profile questionnaire, it’s time to get your data into working order. If you don’t have an IT manager in-house, find a reputable vendor with strong service and tech background to assist.
- Hold a Scope of Work Meeting. Layout your core needs, including understanding your customer(s) and aligning your budget and goals. Discuss challenges like not having enough buyers or taking in orders far beneath set quotas.
- Hand off Your Customer Information. Give your IT manager or mail list processing partner all your customer information for the past 18 to 24 months. Provide everything, including name, title, phone numbers, email, mailing addresses and purchase history if available.
- Get a Snapshot Report or X-ray Report created of Your Ideal Customers. Partner with an outside mail list processing partner, and compare your file against a national database of businesses or consumers. They will identify key characteristics of your current customer list. There are a lot of vendors out there, so if you need help picking a partner, call us, and we can help with the process. There are a lot of nuances in the variety of reports. Be sure you understand why one type of report is better than another before selecting.
- Identify Key Data Elements in Your File. Pinpoint the common characteristics of your current customers, and use that information when you search for leads. Now that you have a better understanding of who your ideal customers are, it should be easy to purchase a list of leads that match your customer profile.
- Reap the Rewards of Your Work. The end result is a perfectly clear image of your ideal customer profile from the database your customers were matched against. This becomes your target prospect pool, which is by far more rich and apt to bear fruit than any list you would buy based on simple selections of income/sales revenue or any of the various al a carte demographic characteristics available from a list broker.
Defining your ideal customer profile is Direct Marketing 101, and it will save you lots of time and money in the long run.
Source: Reach Marketing