Arthur Hughes, Who Wrote the Book on Database Marketing, Dies at 86

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First published in the early days of the Web, Arthur Middleton Hughes's Strategic Database Marketing remains a bible for direct marketers.

Arthur Middleton Hughes
Arthur Middleton Hughes

The book “challenges the very way we go about using our data and where we should be going in the future,” says Global Marketing Alliance Founder Matt Edgar. It describes “the fundamentals of consumer data management that every marketer should know,” says Universal Music Group marketing chief Angela Sanchez. It is a “must-read for anyone in CRM or email marketing,” according to Dell Computer eCRM manager David Hordwedel.

The book they are describing, Strategic Database Marketing, first emerged at the dawn of the Internet Age in 1994 and has continued to educate and inspire direct marketers  ever since. The fourth edition—with updates on mobile and social media strategies—was released in 2012. It was the seminal work of Arthur Middleton Hughes, a renaissance man who spent 26 years in the service of the U.S. government, 32 years in the service of economics students, and 34 years in the service of modern marketers. Hughes died on August 20 of a heart attack at 86.

A magna cum laude graduate of Princeton, Hughes worked for the U.S. Treasury Department and the Agency for International Development before turning to the private sector to begin his groundbreaking work in database and email marketing. As director of subscriber acquisition strategy for e-Dialog, he pioneered the calculation of customer lifetime value in maximizing revenue from the email channel--a concept just now finding traction at many enterprises.

Hughes was the founder of the Database Marketing Institute, which provided seminars on the topic to corporate executives.  Along the way, he taught economics at the University of Maryland and wrote eight other books besides Strategic Database Marketing, including The Complete Database Marketer. A debunker of the popular science behind current theories on global warming, Hughes recently co-authored About Face! Why the world needs more carbon dioxide.

Hughes was an “intellectual beast and social delight beloved by all who knew him,” who entertained friends and family with his skills to improvise songs at the piano, according to his granddaughter Sara Shielke. He is survived by his wife, Helena, four children, nine grandchildren, and one great grandchild. A memorial mass will be said in Hughes's honor on October 25 at Saint Sebastian Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale.

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