How to Maintain Your Housefile
If you’re using a third-party service bureau to maintain your housefile, have your file updated (duplicate records identified and consolidated) using a match-code, a value that’s calculated based on a combination of each customer’s name and address attributes. Some service bureaus offer flexible matching logic that can be tweaked to your unique requirements.
Accessing the Data
Once your database is constructed, the next challenge is to ensure that your staff has adequate access to the data. To make intelligent marketing decisions, organize the data so it can be reported on quickly and cost effectively. Typically, this begins with a standard set of static reports that provide simple metrics on some common variables, including RFM and gender. Such reports can be produced either as hardcopy or sent electronically.
While static reports are useful for allowing quick access to standard counts, they’re limited for marketers who want a more in-depth snapshot of their customers. These “power marketers” often require a point-and-click marketing database application that allows them to slice and dice their customer database by any combination of variables on their databases.
A few traditional service bureaus offer list owners the option of receiving a free-standing Quick Count System or having online access to their customer databases. Such arrangements are ideal, because bureaus that offer these services often can provide these database tools faster and more cost effectively than third-party providers. Service bureaus most likely have performed much of the up-front pre-processing during the traditional database build process, including data conversion, address standardization, CASS Certification and duplicate account consolidation.
If you find a service bureau that offers online access to a simple flat list rental database, it’s also beneficial to determine if its solution is scalable. For example, what’s the incremental time and cost considerations to maintain more comprehensive relational databases that can perform advanced analysis and provide multi-user access from different physical locations? Additionally, request performance benchmarks on processing speed for databases of similar size to your file, allowing for reasonable growth.