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Commentary & Analysis

It’s All In the Data

Over the past several years,

By Barb Pellow
Published: June 25, 2008

Over the past several years, we have all heard variations on the data marketing theme. Sometimes it is labeled “relationship marketing,” “integrated marketing,” “1:1 marketing,” “customization,” or “personalization.” The rising cost of postage, consumers who are "money-rich but time-poor," the rise in the service economy, the desire of people for more information about the products they buy, new electronic shopping and payment methods, and advances in computing and print technologies are driving data-driven communications. Getting the right information to the right person is no longer “junk mail,” but an important, desired service for the marketer as well as the consumer—and one that is more cost-effective in the long run than the hit-or-miss blanket mailing approach. It’s time for graphic communications service providers to understand that it’s all in the data!

Cross-Selling, Up-Selling, and Reselling

The ultimate goal of marketers is to cross-sell, up-sell, and resell. This may include selling more of the same product to a customer or reactivating a dormant client relationship. For example, if an individual purchases supplies from Staples or OfficeMax but then doesn’t order again for a period of time, savvy retailers will send a direct mailer with a coupon enticing these consumers to come back to the store.

Up-selling is frequent in the auto industry. If a consumer has a lease expiring on his/her Toyota Corolla, Toyota’s marketing department might provide that person with the latest data on the newest Corolla. They might also forward information on the hottest model of the Toyota Camry.

If the product you offer is consumable, the objective is to create annuity buyers. As an example, consider the Napa Valley experience. Every good marketer will try to get visitors to join a “wine club” before they leave the premises. That failing, visitors can be reminded of their wonderful experience with follow-up marketing literature.

Why Data-Driven Marketing?

There are ten good reasons for your customers to engage data-driven marketing:

  1. It improves the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing expenditures.
  2. It increases the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing communications.
  3. It increases customers’ purchase of products and services through effective cross-selling and up-selling.
  4. It leverages customer feedback to identify new product and service offerings.
  5. It identifies new prospects for products or services.
  6. It evaluates and ranks the value of customers and prospects/leads (i.e., “suspects”).
  7. It optimizes sales productivity by providing qualified leads.
  8. It builds customer loyalty to grow the existing customer base.
  9. It helps you measure and understand the metrics associated with various sales and marketing strategies, programs, functions, staff, etc.
  10. It delivers ROI.

For you as the graphic communications service provider, data-driven marketing delivers differentiated value. To the extent that you can position your business as an organization that improves efficiency and effectiveness of marketing communications, builds loyalty, generates leads, and delivers ROI, you have transformed into a marketing services provider.

The Value of a Good Database

Data-driven marketing starts with good data. You must work with your customers to examine both internal and external data sources. Internal data sources abound, and marketers must work across the array of internal data points. These include:

  • Purchase or transaction histories provide valuable insight into future buying behaviors. They create an opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell new products and services. Specifically, an individual that has purchased audio equipment probably needs cables. If a consumer’s car lease is expiring, it’s an ideal time to up-sell that customer to a newer, more expensive model of a similar car or a different one that fits his/her changing lifestyle demographics.
  • Customer service is sometimes referred to as the “new marketing.” In many business situations, the customer will have many more interactions after the sale with technical, service, or customer support people than they did with the salespeople. If you're serious about retaining customers or getting referrals, these interactions are the ones that are really going to matter.
  • Trade show leads should be an integral part of data infrastructure. If a prospect takes the time to visit a trade show booth, he/she probably has some level of interest in its products and services. Savvy marketers are using a variety of new software solutions to qualify prospects. Graphic communications service providers can offer services to optimize the value of tradeshows.
  • Prepaid business reply cards are an effective way to lift customer responses from direct marketing and magazine ad campaigns. With International Business Reply Service (IBRS), marketers can use this essential technique with customers in almost every country of the world, including Canada.
  • Managing Web leads and integrating them into your database is critical. The Internet has facilitated a fundamental shift in marketing power from buyers to sellers. Customers are leveraging 24/7 access to businesses and want unlimited interaction with organizations. The Web provides an ideal opportunity to gather customer data for an integrated marketing campaign. It can also be used to pre-qualify customer leads.

Finding the Right List

In many cases, the biggest challenge to obtaining internal data is finding the right list. Good mailing lists are used to effectively target consumers of different ages, genders, lifestyles, backgrounds, nationalities, economic circumstances, occupations, business needs, and a host of other criteria. In the B2B space, good mailing lists are equally important. You want to identify the right customer with the appropriate needs for your products and services. The bottom line is that the database is the most essential marketing tool for reaching prospects and customers who are more likely to have interest in a specific product or service directed at them. If your customers don’t have adequate internal data sources, you can work with them to buy (or rent) a good list.

Buying or renting a mailing list can offer enormous potential. There is a five-step process for identifying the right list:

1.     Identify the target audience that you want to reach. The most critical aspect in list acquisition is a clear identification of the audience you want to attract and the specific characteristics of the most likely prospects for your products or services.

2.     Decide if you want to rent or buy. Many companies only rent lists, which means that you are only allowed to use them for a specified time period, a specific number of times, or for a specific marketing campaign (such as a direct mail piece). This type of list does not work well if you are planning an ongoing lead generation program. You are better off acquiring the list and engaging in a qualification dialogue that migrates the customer from suspect to prospect to customer with a meaningful relationship dialogue.

3.     Develop a budget for the campaign and the associated list acquisition. Mailing list providers offer a host of services that can be quite persuasive. Setting a budget is critical.

4.     Evaluate options. In the B2B space, there are a number of company level data lists from companies like Dun & Bradstreet, Hoovers, Accudata, or InfoUSA. These lists include all of the demographic data typically needed and have extended contact information. Lists also abound in the B2C market and can be acquired based on any demographic trait ranging from geography to income to gender.

5.     Compare the mailing list prices and depth of information from at least three list providers before you make your selection. Because list providers vary, some may offer more information than others and you want as much data as possible.

Data Mining and Scoring

While you might have an internal list or access to a rented or purchased list, identifying the best prospects and customers in today’s market requires good data mining skills. Data mining involves sorting through large amounts of data and picking out relevant information. The first task—identifying market segments—requires significant data about prospective customers and their buying behaviors. Data mining application software solutions automate the process of searching through mountains of data to find patterns that are good predictors of purchasing behaviors.

Data mining information is designed to feed actual marketing campaigns. Marketers need to recognize that the success of a campaign starts with good data modeling. The central element is identifying the variables that can be measured for an individual or other entity to predict future behaviors. For example, a car manufacturer may consider factors like age, gender, past purchase history, or number of children when marketing automobiles to prospective purchasers. The complexity of the model creation typically depends on many factors, including database size, the number of variables known about each customer, the data mining algorithms used, and the modeler’s experience.

Next, the data needs to be scored. There are software tools available, given the model, to dynamically score prospects or customers. The score assigned to each individual in a database indicates that person’s likelihood of exhibiting a particular customer behavior. If a model predicts customer attrition, a high score indicates that a customer is likely to leave, while a low score indicates the opposite. After scoring a set of customers, these numerical values should be used to select the most appropriate prospects for a targeted marketing campaign.

For example, banks that know the age of a depositor’s children can trigger college savings initiatives. As depositors age, they may also become more concerned about saving for retirement. By gathering and effectively mining data, marketers have the ability to substantially improve business results. With today’s technology, they can also track responses in real time and determine if any behaviors have changed. The bottom line is the profitability and ROI of all ongoing campaigns.

Conclusion

Today’s business market is changing rapidly. Graphic communications providers that master data and work with clients to understand how, what, and why customers purchase deliver the ultimate value. They help customers grow their businesses. It’s all in the data!

This material is prepared specifically for clients of InfoTrends, Inc. The opinions expressed represent our interpretation and analysis of information generally available to the public or released by responsible individuals in the subject companies. We believe that the sources of information on which our material is based are reliable and we have applied our best professional judgment to the data obtained.

A digital printing and publishing pioneer, marketing expert and Group Director at InfoTrends, Barbara Pellow helps companies develop multi-media strategies that ride the information wave. Barb brings the knowledge and skills to help companies expand and grow business opportunity.

Please offer your feedback to Barb. She can be reached at barb_pellow@infotrends.com.

 

 

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