Take the next steps toward a successful analytics plan

Chances are your organization has already made a significant investment in the IT infrastructure needed to support a mar­keting database. To maximize the return on your investment and truly unlock the power of database marketing, the next step is to implement a database analytics program that will return measur­able and actionable results.

The following are some suggestions so you can begin to realize the promises that justified your investment.

Ensure that the different tables in your database are each dedi­cated towards a specific function. This keeps your database to a manageable size and ensures that data collection and refresh is a smooth process that does not significantly impact performance or integrity.

Accurate data collection is the most critical step in the analysis process. Analysis is only as good as the data you collect. Clean data ensures that the information about your customers is correct, and that the metrics you compute are not influenced by wrong values.

Minimize holes by setting up data entry screens so users can’t skip over fields with­out entering a value. Limit the ability to input free-form data with pre-populated selection menus. Standardize values as much as possible.

Each customer should be uniquely identified by a “primary key” or control number, rather than relying on matching name, address, or other fields to group or count records. Enforce col­lection of campaign or tracking keycodes and control numbers, to ensure that demographic data collected on customers in one set of tables can be accurately joined to transactional or cam­paign data in another set of tables.

Force data collection to be automatic by linking a unique toll-free number or URL to a specific creative and media source.

While the IT department still has a vital role to play in maintaining the database and helping to ensure data integrity, responsibility for database design and analysis is a function of the marketing department.

Good analytics requires an understanding of statistics, com­puter science, and marketing. An MBA without a quantitative background or a statistician who doesn’t understand the market­ing challenges will not be able to create an effective analytics program. Make sure each discipline is represented on your team.

Strive to create a culture that respects and demands good ana­lytics. The best creative or media strategy is useless unless it can be measured and improved upon.

By Jeff Williams is senior marketing analyst at DMW Worldwide LLC. Reach him at [email protected]

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