Avoid Information Overload
D-U-N-S Number, which helps identify redundant records. Also, as a result of the matching process, Oracle now can see corporate family tree relationships.
“Through D&B Corporate Linkage, we’re able to relate multinational locations together, and that’s a real advantage for us,” says Thomas Brauch, Oracle’s director of analytics, global marketing. This helps identify global opportunities. Brauch notes, “D&B’s marketing intelligence helps us determine which companies to contact, with which product, and at what price.”
Keep in mind also that collecting data and building a database are two different things. Various elements may be collected, but not all of them are going to be valuable for the purposes of your database. “It’s a two-step thing. One is collection of [the data] and keeping it offline and on tapes, and the other thing is determining what you actually need to keep online and accessible,” Marsala-Herlihy says. “Put in the database fields that are drivers of the consumer behaviors that can make a difference in revenue or profitability. Store everything else you are collecting offline.”
When it comes to data retention, Marsala-Herlihy offers the following guidelines: “Keep online and available two to three years’ worth of data, and then I usually recommend keeping an additional two years offline, but available for up to five years.”
Lucas adds that current technology offers marketers alternatives to collecting data files in bulk and maintaining them. “With advances in technology and standard Web services offerings, advances in customer data integration actually allows you to pull together information that’s not stored together quickly and efficiently.” Now, says Lucas, customers can pull the attributes they need from individual source systems on demand.
Is It Worth It?
Ultimately, data collection should be viewed like any other business investment. When deciding what data is worth collecting, Mary Ann Kleinfelter, director of marketing, direct mail, for Baltimore-based tutoring services provider Sylvan Learning Center, says, “The real acid test is whether this data is something the marketer can use to benefit customers—which will increase your sales and profits.” Therefore, as with any other investment, you need to figure out the cost of the data to you, which includes the cost of acquiring the data plus the cost of keeping it clean and updated. To calculate whether that cost is worth it, next you need to find out how much money that data is going to help you make, says Kleinfelter. Testing is the best way to calculate that worth. For example, if you’re trying to determine whether a factor such as high income or low income will influence your campaign’s outcome, begin by mailing an offer to customers you always mail to as your control. Then mail a separate group of high-income people. “Based on the lift you get from the high income, or the money you save by not mailing to the low income, that’s how you can quantify what that income selection would be worth to you.”