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Top 10 Resources for Data Driven Marketing Information and Assistance

Data driven marketing is made easier by using available resources. Rules, regulations and processes need to be understood and applied to your data driven marketing campaigns and there are free and available associations and resources available to help you.

Join the Direct Marketing Association

The Direct Marketing Association, or DMA, is a non-profit organization that provides database driven marketing–related services and support to both consumers and businesses. The DMA is the standard bearer for best practices in database marketing.

It has a detailed set of policies and procedures that all members are expected to follow. These guidelines relate to all aspects of database marketing campaigns, from data privacy to the language used in marketing offers.

Subscribe to industry publications

Practically all industries have journals, blogs, and websites that are targeted specifically at that business sector. These resources can help you stay abreast of the issues and trends affecting your industry. Many are free. But most business sectors have a couple of best-in-class publications that are considered must-reads for industry participants. A simple web search for publications in your industry sector will give you plenty of options to evaluate.

Use census data

You’ll frequently find yourself asking questions about the demographic makeup of various markets. You may be trying to get a sense of how big a given audience is. You may be trying to determine how deeply your penetration in a given market is.

Get familiar with the post office

The Postal Service web page contains a lot of information related to direct marketing, including links to publications outlining the address standards for bulk mail. It outlines in detail the advantages and costs associated with different methods of dealing with returned or undeliverable mail.

To avoid having to deal with large amounts of undeliverable mail, the USPS has strict standards for how bulk mail needs to be prepared. These standards relate not just to how addresses are formatted, but also involve matching the addresses to a standardized database of valid addresses. These standards are outlined in detail on the website.

Keep up with the regulatory environment

A variety of laws apply to your database marketing activity. Some of them revolve around privacy in some form or another. Some deal with the sharing of data. Others deal with honoring people’s requests not to be contacted. The DMA can keep you informed about what legislation is out there and how to comply.

Hire direct-marketing service providers

A lot goes into the details of executing a direct-mail campaign. To take advantage of bulk rates at the USPS, several technical functions need to be performed. Addresses need to meet formatting standards. Addresses also need to be verified as being valid, which requires the use of software certified by the Postal Service. And the mail needs to be physically sorted.

On the e-mail side, there is also a fair amount of technical work to be done. But with e-mail, a great deal of this work has to do with tracking what happens to the e-mail. Did it get delivered? Did the receiver mark it as spam? Did the receiver open it? Did the receiver click the link to your website? The list goes on.

Buy creative services

Many companies also choose to farm out their creative development. If your company does TV advertising, you already have a relationship with an advertising agency that facilitates media purchases. These agencies are frequently part of a larger marketing services company. They typically have sister companies that provide creative services, from copywriting to graphic design, that are necessary for your database marketing campaigns.

Group your customer records into households

It’s important to collect customer records together into households. There are two main reasons for this:

  • Much of the demographic data that you use is only available at the household level.

  • Your marketing campaigns are typically targeted at households rather than individuals. It usually doesn’t make sense to send multiple copies of a message to the same address.

Consider third-party data providers

To enhance the data that you collect in-house, you’ll likely want to consider buying data from an external source. A wide range of demographic data is available that you’ll likely never be able to get from your internal data sources.

The data you can buy falls into two general categories. The first is data that’s tied to individual households. A fair amount of data has been compiled from a variety of sources, including public records. Home value, or at least the last sales price, is public record data, for example.

But data providers also have access to a large amount of data that’s protected by privacy regulations and corporate privacy policies. Vendors can’t provide this data to you at an individual household level.

What they do instead is analyze their data with a view to creating small segments of customers that have similar traits. In other words, they use the data they have to identify groups of customers who share very similar demographic traits, product tastes and needs, and even psychological attitudes.

Use analytic software

Analysis can be done with basic reporting tools and spreadsheets. But some of it requires an advanced knowledge of statistics—and software that can perform advanced statistical procedures on large amounts of data.

In the context of statistical analysis, a couple of software packages are commonly used in the marketing industry:

  • SPSS: Now owned by IBM, this software package has been a marketing industry standard since it first became available in the 1970s. Its widespread use in marketing applications began in the context of analyzing survey data and other marketing research applications.

  • SAS: SAS is a large software company that offers numerous data processing, analysis, reporting, and statistical tools. Many of SAS’s products are customized to specific business applications, such as database marketing.

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