Managing one-to-one campaign databases

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Managing one-to-one campaign databases
Managing one-to-one campaign databases

A successful deployment of any one-to-one campaign can be linked directly to proper database management. Direct mail or e-mail messages with misspelled names or irrelevant offers can make communications ineffective and damage an organization's reputation.

A clean database ensures that the messages that reach recipients are accurate and relevant.

It also means fewer errors and returns on print and e-mail messages. When cleaning a database, avoid duplication of effort and do as much as possible at once. If you are cleaning addresses, make sure other data meets standards as well. Develop a plan to keep a clean database from lapsing back into disrepair as data is altered or added. It will make the campaign deployment process faster and easier if the data has been regularly maintained.

Lastly, for ongoing data cleanliness, employ applications that write back to the database.

We feature a built-in rules engine that not only reads databases and applies business rules, but also applies business rules to data being written back into the database. This provides a way to create rules that automatically ensure that new data meets existing standards.

Use tools that are designed for data. Many organizations store data in applications that are not designed to function as databases, such as Microsoft Excel. To avoid potential data pitfalls like zeros dropping off zip codes, use either Access, SQL, Oracle or another database application.

If you are provided with an Excel spreadsheet, convert the file and deal with potential issues during that process.

Another option is to use a variable data publication or cross-media application that allows you to write business rules addressing issues like zip code problems. Many organizations use both techniques in conjunction, so if something slips past the conversion process it can be caught by the business rule.

Limit free-form text fields. There are instances when free-form text fields seem necessary in a database, but this manual process allows for errors or typos during data input, increasing the likelihood of inaccurate information in the final product.

To avoid free-form text fields, assign a numerical value to your common free-form information.

For example, customer reward levels of bronze, silver and gold can be represented by 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Then, in the output business rules engine, a simple business rule could be written. Remember to apply similar business rules to the application that populates the database, as well.

As you can see, data management is a critical task before, during and after every campaign you deploy. However, if you follow these guidelines, your campaigns will be more accurate, relevant and successful. And that ultimately means more business.

Phil Rose is product marketing manager at XMPie. Reach him at philip.rose@us.xmpie.com.

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