Best Practices Your Path to World-class Direct Marketing
By Hallie Mummert
World-class direct marketing doesn't happen by accident or overnight. Companies known for their excellence in one area of business—think L.L. Bean and customer service, Amazon.com and ease of use, The Sharper Image and merchandising strategy—spend years and buckets of money developing processes and technologies to advance their performance levels.
Of course, a large company can afford the investment high-level operations require. While medium- and small-size companies don't have deep enough pockets to compete with large companies inch for inch, they are not barred from tailoring best practices to fit the size and scope of their organizations. Every company can assess its performance levels and take steps to move them forward.
The best practices that apply to direct marketing could fill a book, so this article takes a closer look at a few of the key operations that drive direct marketing performance: database hygiene, Web-supported customer service and predictive analysis.
Best Practices: Database Hygiene
The customer database is the source of your direct marketing strategy. To perform meaningful analysis (see the section on predictive analysis), you must have faith in the accuracy of your data.
According to John Miglautsch, proprietor of Miglautsch Marketing, a database marketing consulting firm in Hartland, WI, three main principles guide sound database hygiene practices:
> Enter clean data;
> Keep reviewing your database for inaccuracies and clean them up accordingly; and
> Use your data to find out if it's up-to-date.
Putting a finer point on these principles, Miglautsch shares his eight best practices for database hygiene.
1. People responsible for data entry must care about the accuracy of the data.
When the acronym DM meant direct mail, marketers too often employed $5 an hour temps who didn't care, resulting in lots of sloppy data entry. Data quality did not improve much when the industry converted to real-time data entry via telephone operators keying in orders and handling customer service issues.