Problem: Declining circulation
Solution: Build a relational database to support modeling and customer segmentation
Result: Better targeted offers boost response to acquisition and renewal campaigns
A household name for 50 years, TV Guide was feeling the pain of competing TV listing sources and a subsequent drop in newsstand sales in the late 1990s. Its circulation steadily declined by 20 percent over the course of a decade. But thanks to an aggressive modeling strategy, the tide turned in 2003. With a renewed focus on its subscribers and a relational database, TV Guide’s circulation once again is climbing.
In the fall of 1999, Hairong Crigler, TV Guide’s director of database marketing, embarked on a new database strategy that heavily relied on modeling and customer segmentation. At the time, the publication’s mainframe held a good deal of information—which could be enhanced—but it was archaic, and data was difficult to extract. To adopt an aggressive modeling strategy, TV Guide needed a flexible relational database, a project that would require a hefty investment of time and money. To prove the value of database marketing to management and, more importantly, demonstrate that it would recoup its investment, Crigler’s team executed a smaller, easier program that didn’t require the support of a sophisticated database. The database team began building response models to select names from outside lists for an October 1999 acquisition mailing. The program was a success: The mailing resulted in a 50-percent lift in response and a significant drop in costs.
With the help of analytics software firm SAS, work on a flexible relational database began. TV Guide started by pulling together all available data sources from its mainframe, including current and expired account information, as well as data enhanced by global data solutions firm Experian. From there, Crigler’s team developed models based on age, gender, past offer response and account history to create segment-appropriate retention offers. “Every person on [TV Guide’s] file is touched by modeling,” says Crigler.