Strategy: Maintaining a Relational vs. Flat File Marketing Database
Application for future housefile promotions. With a relational database, you can segregate your best buyers based on various queries. A cataloger can keep narrowing down its criteria until it has created its best buyer file for the desired quantity.
Application for merge/purge. You can query housefile segmentation to verify service bureau accuracy. You also can keep scores and other demographic selects on the database This, as well as housefile promotion information, can help you create a contact strategy. When multiple titles are processed on a relational database, models can be built for cross-buyer usage.
Housing Database, Updates
Maintaining a database in-house requires a lot of time and resources. If there are any software or hardware updates, have them maintained. Service bureaus can manage the updates, training and changes to the database for a fixed amount every month. It’s difficult, however, to match up an internal database used for data maintenance and storage to an outsourced database. Different factors are used when creating both, as well as different software and logic to update and maintain each one. I recommend that a relational database be updated monthly, or at the very least, quarterly. Keep the data current.
It’s important to decide in advance what information you want to capture, how you will capture it and what you’ll do with it once you have it. Often, I see companies go to great lengths to capture data they’ll never use. Your approach must be convenient and scalable. For multititle catalog companies, maintaining a relational database can improve your selling expense to sales ratio by mailing to the “right” people at the “right” time. «
Stephen R. Lett is president of Lett Direct, a catalog consulting firm specializing in circulation planning, forecasting and analysis. Lett spent the first 25 years of his career with leading catalog companies, both B-to-B and consumer. He is the author of a new book “Strategic Catalog Marketing” (Target Marketing Group Publications, 2006). You can reach him at (302) 537-0375 or by e-mail via his Web site: www.lettdirect.com.