Customer-centric databases help meet several goals

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As publishers continue to evolve from solely print publishers into multichannel media companies, it's imperative to create customer-centric databases that tie traditional print circulation files together with Web data, trade show files, event files and ancillary products. Customer-centric databases can be applied at the brand, vertical market, and enterprise levels.


Customer-centric databases enable media companies to identify the depth and breadth of products, and create opportunities for expanding relationships with customers — such as cross-marketing, upselling, launching ancillary products (newsletters, paid content Web sites, wireless editorial), and repurposing existing content. Integrating their brands into the informational needs of the customer allows publishers to not only expand their brands, but to also develop additional revenue streams from existing and new audience members.


These customer-centric databases also allow for the creation of tiers or scores to assess the value of each customer, how to retain the most valuable customers and how to increase the value of the lower-tier customers.


We're now in an era of empowering the customer, where customers tell you how they want to be reached and served, often showing preference for premium web content, digital versions and do-not-promote. This preferential or permissioning data can also be incorporated into the database, along with behavorial data, such as e-newsletter opens and clickthroughs. 


By tracking the various customer touchpoints and levels of engagement, media professionals can become more effective customer-centric marketers.


Before the creation of a customer-centric database, certain questions need to be asked, to ensure that the end result is a cohesive, logical, user-friendly database that will enhance audience development, sales, marketing, and strategic planning. 


One of the key questions is, what is the overall corporate goal of the database? You should also ask which departments will be served by this database and who the project leaders are. Find out the different data sources that will be feeding this database, what type of information is stored on each data source and the frequency of incoming data feeds. Ask yourself how you want to combine/homogenize demographic data from various products. For example, you may have five publications with different “type of primary business” coding scheme; how do you want to summarize those codes for customer-centric marketing purposes? What reports will be required? What inquiries do users expect to make on a regular basis, and what types of extractions/outputs will users be requiring? You should also figure out how far back you will want to retain historical or transactional data.


Randy Renner is the VP of sales and marketing for Omeda, a database management company for b-to-b media. Reach him at

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