Driving Performance
June 1, 2006

When shopping for a new car, the choices are infinite: Nissan or Honda? Accord or Civic? Atomic Blue or Galaxy Gray? And don’t forget about all those extended warranties and factory options. The number of unique combinations, not to mention the odds of marketing the ones that will resonate with individual consumers, are mind-boggling. But that didn’t stop AutoNation, America’s largest dealer of new and used vehicles, from leveraging analytics and digital print technologies to create a variable content direct marketing program that consistently delivers customized and relevant communications. As a result of its innovations, AutoNation has doubled response rates and generated a return on

Present Perfect
May 1, 2006

Some folks have a knack for gift giving. They just know the perfect gift for every special occasion, leaving you marveling at their great intuition and taste. However, while intuition may be good enough for some, Cleveland-based personalized gift retailer Things Remembered has taken gift giving closer to a science. What started as a key kiosk in a shopping mall parking lot has grown into a nationwide enterprise with approximately $300 million in sales, more than 650 retail locations and some 7 million active customers on file (another 8 million customers make up its customer archive). Specializing in personalized gifts for all occasions—everything from

Can You Integrate Your Channel Data In-house?
April 19, 2006

In general, marketers are good at managing their data systems in-house on a day-to-day basis, says Alan Weber, founder and CEO of Marketing Analytics Group, a database/direct marketing consultancy in Prairie Village, Kan. But the skill sets used to create day-to-day reports are different than those needed to assess the information in a database to make strategic decisions about what data stays, what gets deleted and what gets combined to create new data elements, he explains. The IT department’s desire to keep the database in-house is not a good enough reason to tackle data integration on your own. When considering any data integration project, especially

Taking Risks,
Increasing Response
March 9, 2006

Assurity Life Insurance Co. is a study in innovation, change and risk-taking—from its history to its direct mail program. Innovation: In 1890, Dr. E. O. Faulkner created Modern Woodmen Accident Association because he saw a need to make accident coverage available to working people—not just the wealthy. This Lincoln, Neb., company continued to expand and add products over the next century. Change: In 1954, three Woodmen companies were merged to create Woodmen Accident and Life Co., and in 1997, the Assurity Life Insurance Co. was formed as a subsidiary of Woodmen Accident and Life. Risk-taking: Assurity Direct, the direct marketing division of Assurity Life,

What’s Your Value?
March 1, 2006

In today’s multichannel selling environment, there are a number of important analytical metrics that every direct marketer needs to know and constantly measure. Among them: • What is the value of your customer list—today and projected for the next three years? • What does it cost to recruit or acquire a new customer? and • What is your “payback” period—that is the time it takes for a new customer to become profitable? These are critical measurements of the financial health of a company. Let’s look at ways to value your customer list, and home in on the specific customer metric of

Seattle Times Segments and Scores
March 1, 2006

Challenge: Increase subscription and retention rates for daily newspaper Solution: Use predictive modeling to develop a comprehensive segmentation strategy Result: The Seattle Times Co. now is able to vary its prospecting and retention messages to different segments When The Seattle Times Co. (STC) set out to increase the subscriber base for its daily newspaper and get a clear picture of its retention rates, the multimedia publisher knew that good, solid data would be the backbone of such an initiative, so it got busy gathering a robust set of survey-based attitudinal data on both customers and nonsubscribers. But once it had that data, the challenge

Customer Data Mining
February 1, 2006

Customer data mining is a complex process that involves highly trained professionals. Some companies handle data mining in house, while others farm it out, and still others follow a hybrid solution. Which option is right for you? Here are some factors to consider when you’re making this difficult decision. What Can You Afford? Most mid-size to large direct marketers have an in-house data mining department to handle at least some of the analytics work. They feel it’s important to have total control of this critical function, and for the data miners to be continuously steeped in the business. Also, the cost of an in-house staff can

Avoid Information Overload
January 1, 2006

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

TM0106_Nuts/Book Club
January 1, 2006

Book Club: Let Your Data Do the Driving "Most business models that fail, do so because of a misunderstanding of the customer base," contends data analytics expert and author Alan Weber in his new book, "Data-Driven Business Models" ($49.95, Thomson Texere). This, he goes on to explain, means you should develop your marketing strategies around who your customers actually are, not who you think they are. But that's the rub—how exactly do you find out who your customers are and how they differ from your perceptions? The answer, according to Weber, is data analytics. Throughout this nine-chapter book, Weber discusses—and illustrates through a collection

How Clean Is Your Database?
July 1, 2005

Companies increasingly are placing a high priority on database marketing initiatives. According to the report “In Search of a Single Version of Truth: Strategies for Consolidating Analytic Silos,” released by The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) last summer, consolidation continues to remain a top project for businesses. Driving this urge to merge is the “need for consistent data across the enterprise,” as noted by 90 percent of the respondents to TDWI’s survey. Respondents also reported that only about one-third of all the data structures in their enterprise were consolidated. What’s the stumbling block? The TDWI report points to disagreement between company departments on “terms and