Essential Guide to Lists and Databases: Small Businesses Can Get Results From the Latest Technology

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Any marketing executives worthy of their title can rattle off the basics of database marketing. But can they fully leverage this knowledge using the latest technology? Do they even think it's possible? Many marketing executives don't realize that the newest generations of marketing databases were designed with them - and not the IT department - in mind. Not only are they easy to use, but these systems enhance the marketing process. Consider:

Target audience segmentation. This core requirement normally would be characterized as Marketing 101 - if your database marketing platform can't do this, then it isn't a database marketing platform - except that advanced systems can segment data at a more granular level than previously thought possible. For example, they can narrow a target audience to visitors of a particular Web page, or target visitors who bought more than $500 worth of products after viewing that page.

Tracking by lead source. Again, Marketing 101. And, again, this category has become so advanced so quickly that it must be revisited. Advanced systems can track by lead source from the front-end CRM side through to the back-end ERP side of the system, thus connecting a specific campaign or marketing activity directly to the sales of a particular product and ultimately the revenues.

Consider a company that places two ads in The Wall Street Journal on the same day. Yes, it will want to know that the ad in the front section generated 100 leads and the other ad only 50. But it's far more useful to know that the back-section ad was viewed by more procurement executives, thus resulting in 10 new customers purchasing on average $10,000 worth of services. And that ad in the front section? Because a more general audience saw it, it generated only five new customers. The marketing executive can see these results on her dashboard and has a clear direction as to how to proceed with the next buy.

Cross sell and upsell. Now that you can target your audience and track subsequent leads better, cross-sell and upsell opportunities are easier to identify. Many Web sites will point out that other customers who bought, say, that particular sweater also purchased a scarf. Advanced systems, though, can automatically generate tailored offers that take into account customer value and past purchases and offer the appropriate next product or service.

Reporting. None of this information has much value unless the reporting capabilities are as adept as your marketing features, and - on a more fundamental level - the system is easy to use and tailor. Can you tailor reports, for example, to add fields or categories that are specific to your business, your key performance indicators or your executives? A CEO may want to know the bottom-line revenue from a campaign, but the marketing executive is more interested in tracking down pending leads in the sales pipeline.

The bottom line is that many of these capabilities have been in use by large companies with multimillion-dollar budgets for some time, but only recently have become available to small and midsize enterprises at relatively little expense.

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