B-to-B Cataloging Every Cataloger's Guide to Analysis
By George Hague
Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series on analytics and measurement. This month's column focuses on circulation essentials.
Response analysis sets direct marketers in their own class. Of all the marketing professions, we have the best opportunity to be precise in our response analysis and predictive in our forecasting.
Whether the analysis examines circulation efficiency or product profitability, direct marketers pull the numbers together to help guide their companies with strategic plans and forecasts projected from actual results.
For marketing analysis to be effective — for both circulation and merchandising — we first must look at three factors.
1. Understand your raw data. Direct marketers must always question the raw numbers. With raw data in hand, look through each column heading on your spreadsheet with your IT person. Do you understand what's being reported in every column?
Ask specific, exacting questions: Are returns already removed from these sales? Are you sure that shipping revenue isn't included in the product sales number?
If your questions don't cause your IT staff to double-check its queries, you're probably not asking specific enough questions.
This also is a good time to make sure everyone is on the same page with your definitions of housefile segmentation. It's not uncommon for a programmer to misunderstand that frequency and monetary criteria apply to the life of the customer, not to a 12-month or other predefined period of time.
2. Update your data. When you begin your actual data analysis, make sure you have the most recent, complete data.
For example, it's not uncommon for raw data to be pulled, spreadsheets to be built and numbers to be flowed in, only to wait for several weeks or months before planning the next season starts. By that time, your data will be out of date.