Using database marketing to build customer experience

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As leading chain store retailers marshal their resources to create the optimal shopping experience for their target customers, the secret no one is talking about is that database marketing is the key to their success.

The reason for this is that database marketing is not just about technology, but the application of customer analysis to the functional operations that impact the client experience, such as merchandise, service and marketing.

The knowledge that database marketing can provide to an organization to create differentiation is not reserved for just large retailers.

San Diego-based Road Runner Sports, a multichannel retailer of shoes and gear for people who run, is proving that stepping onto the database marketing track to drive a multichannel marketing strategy has little to do with its company's revenue or size and everything to do with its desire to apply sophisticated marketing techniques to drive customer loyalty.

Over the past 20 years, the face of the running consumer has expanded from hardcore marathoners to embrace an assorted collection of runners of all levels of interest. And since its inception in

1983, Road Runner Sports has developed a keen understanding of the needs of these running enthusiasts to realize the value of the entire sphere of people who run, not just the dyed-in-the-wool aficionados.

In order to best meet the retail needs of its entire customer base, Road Runner

Sports realized its marketing would need to move beyond basic demographics. It needed a database marketing strategy that would allow the retailer to integrate and segment its customers across all touch points in order to understand and communicate with its customers as the individuals they are.

"The key to growing our business is to create a compelling shopping experience with every customer interaction," said Peter Taylor, general manager for Road Runner Sports. "To do this with the highest degree of effectiveness, we quickly realized that we needed a database marketing solution that would integrate our customer data across our entire enterprise to provide the foundation of analyzing customer information."

Road Runner Sports knew that to understand its customers was to define them. This meant the implementation of sophisticated, persona-driven marketing analysis that looked across the entire spectrum of its customers and prospects to understand not only what its customers were buying, but why they were buying.

Road Runner Sports implemented an analytical road map tapping into a centralized customer database that could capture, integrate and apply data across all of its marketing channels to effectively score and analyze customers for prospecting and retention applied across the persona-driven strategy. By creating a single view of its customers, Road Runner

Sports could easily segment and identify specific customer personas to which it could deliver targeted solutions that more accurately addressed their needs.

"Today's consumer expects more from a retailer in exchange for their loyalty,"Mr.

Taylor said. "To be competitive, you not only have to have the product they want, you need to deliver it in a way that adds value to the enjoyment of their purchase."

So now the secret is out. Successful multichannel retailers depend on database marketing to build differentiation and customer loyalty.The marketing database delivers customer knowledge to support all areas of retail operations from merchandising and marketing to customer service and store operations. It should be the analytical backbone for companies, regardless of size or revenue, to measure the impact of business decisions on the customer and act as a tool to apply that knowledge as a key driver of growth.

Alex Schumacher is director of retail, marketing services, for Experian, Schaumburg, IL. Reach him at alex.schumacher@experian.com.

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