Avoid Information Overload
Look to your ultimate business objectives to determine what data is worthy to collect and keep
By Irene Cherkassky
Common practice suggests that when you start any endeavor, you always should start at the beginning. However, when it comes to data collection, it’s far more advantageous to start at the end.
“Trying to decide what data you want without having a very clear picture of what it is you’re trying to do—what are the business objectives—[is like] shooting in the dark,” explains Chris Lucas, vice president of product management for the Sales and Marketing Solutions group at Short Hills, N.J.-based D&B, a global provider of B-to-B data information and solutions. “It starts with a clear articulation of what it is [you’re] trying to do, then work backward to the data information you need to support that business’s objective.”
Having a clear understanding of your business’ goals will help you home in on data elements that are most relevant, leading the way to a database that can underpin effective marketing campaigns, boost profits and be cost-effective.
One of the most important questions that will help shape your data collection is whether the data will be used primarily for customer acquisition or to increase the value of your current customers and manage communications with them. The answer will help guide your database design.
For instance, on the consumer side, Maria Marsala-Herlihy, senior vice president, strategic consulting and analytics for KnowledgeBase, describes, “There are probably 10 to 12 basic demographic fields that are going to be helpful for everybody, but are critical on the acquisition side.” This key suite of elements includes age, income, date of birth, net worth, presence of children, marital status, homeowner status, what type of house they live in, family composition, and length of residence. Additional behavior-based factors to consider include: