Database Marketing: Mining for Gold
At the turn of this century, cataloging — and all retailing for that matter — was revolutionized by the emergence of e-commerce. Shopping at home became easier than ever, and consumers warmed up to the concept of wielding their purchasing power with the click of a mouse. Today, so many orders are coming in online that it’s becoming difficult for some catalogers to recall the times when they were all but completely reliant on their call centers for order-taking.
Your Web site, however, isn’t just a vehicle through which orders can be taken and processed more efficiently; it’s a powerful data-gathering tool that an increasing number of companies are using to build their businesses in myriad ways. It’s no secret that the quantity of consumer data that companies can gather through cyberspace is extensive, but some industry insiders say catalogers are just beginning to scratch the surface.
Ned Barrett, president of Direct Logic Solutions, a database marketing and business intelligence provider headquartered in Peoria, Ill., points out that many catalogers already are gathering a significant amount of marketing data. The issue is, when collected by an older enterprise legacy system upon which the infrastructures of many companies are based, much of this information is stored in several different places, making it difficult to access and transform into anything meaningful.
Variables, such as e-mail click data, Web surfing behavioral data and purchase history, aren’t that effective on their own. But combined, they can prove very useful. The best solution, Barrett believes, is to create a separate marketing database that externally runs to the legacy system, configured so that the data gleaned from the Web site can be converted into practical information that marketers can access.
Find Specific Elements
“The challenge is not to drown in data, but to look at the specific things that are really valuable to take action,” says Michael Baum, president of The Guild, a Madison, Wis.-based company that started out connecting artists with buyers through its Web site before launching The Artful Home print catalog of gifts to drive traffic online. “The data that come off a well-monitored Web site are valuable in different ways to different groups in the company,” he adds. The Guild uses San Mateo, Calif.-based analytics firm Coremetrics to facilitate the streamlining of information.