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The Importance of Promotion History in Data Driven Marketing

You have inevitably eliminated some names from your data driven marketing list. That means you need a copy of the final mail file back from your mail vendor. Otherwise, you won’t really know who was mailed.

If your data driven marketing database is well designed, this is typically a pretty easy process. The basic idea is that every customer has a unique customer number or customer ID in your database. Include these customer numbers in the initial file that you send to the mail vendor. The vendor can then simply send you back a list of customer numbers that made the final mail file.

It’s about more than just who you mailed

The presence of customer IDs makes it extremely easy to integrate the final mail list back into your database. You don’t need to do a complicated name and address match and take into account updated addresses. The customer ID is persistent, meaning it doesn’t change as customer contact information is updated. You can perform a clean and simple match based on this ID.

Matching back to your database is important because you care about more than just who was mailed. You care about what was mailed, when, and why. This promotion history can be stored on your database at the individual customer level. Doing that allows you to evaluate and compare different offers, messages, and targeting strategies. It also lets you manage the frequency with which you contact your customers.

Keeping track of which customers are seeds is not something you want the vendor to do — you don’t want them to know. But you also want to be able to exclude these seed names when it comes time to evaluate campaign performance. Your promotion history file is a perfect place to flag these seeds.

Many database marketing campaigns use different messages or offers for different groups of customers. A cruise line, for example, might focus on different rate categories for different household income bands. Or it might use different imagery on pieces sent to families with young children versus retired couples. These offers and versions need to be part of your promotion history.

Timing is also important. In order to clearly define what constitutes a response to your campaign, you need to know when the mailing went out. If the mailing featured some sort of special offer, you also need to know when this offer was valid.

Your promotion history is basically your only record of whom you contacted, what you offered them, and when. When deciding what you should include in your promotion history file, it’s better to err on the side of including too much information. It’s better to have information that you don’t end up using than to want information you can’t find.

Document your mailing in data driven marketing

In addition to promotion history, there are some other aspects of your mailings that you will want to refer back to. It’s a good idea to keep samples of your mail pieces on file. These samples can facilitate discussions about the “look and feel” of future campaigns. They can also prevent you from re-inventing the wheel. Most companies have large catalogs of past campaign materials.

It is also important to document in detail how you chose which customers to contact. This information is central to understanding how to refine and improve your campaigns. It also makes it much easier to repeat successful campaigns.

Make sure that the technical details of how the mail list was created are documented and stored. You very likely gave instructions to a programmer like “I want to mail customers with teenage children who have bought a widget in the last six months.” The details of how the programmer actually implemented that request might be a good bit more complicated.

Those details, like the computer programs that were used, need to be documented and kept. Ideally, your technical team should maintain a library of computer code that is organized by campaign.

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