How to Organize a Data Driven Marketing Database
Connecting data driven marketing information to a customer is not always easy. Sometimes it’s impossible. Often, customer information isn’t stored in your operational systems. If you work for a bank, this is not a big problem. At banks all transactions are tied to accounts, which are tied to customer records.
The IRS, among others, cares very deeply that this is so. But if you work in retail — say, a grocery store — you don’t have this luxury.
Your ability to tie your company’s data to individual customers is highly dependent on the nature of your business and the details of your information systems.
There are tricks of the trade that can help you make some of those connections. With grocery stores, it has become commonplace to get customers to sign up for rewards cards. For example, a grocery store may give discounts on gasoline for every 50 dollars spent.
This makes you quite willing to let them scan your rewards card every time you shop there. Because they mailed you the rewards card when you signed up, the rewards card has the effect of tying all your purchases back to you.
A marketing database is not typically limited to just data from within your company. Third-party marketing service providers can supply you with extremely useful data about your customers.
These providers are able to give you significant insight because they collect data from a wide array of sources across many industries. Definitely familiarize yourself with the major data providers and keep yourself up to date on new offerings.
The key to an effective marketing database is that everything revolves around the customer. The litmus test for whether to include some piece of data is this: “Can I connect the data to a customer?” You want to make the customer the star of the show. A very common and intuitive way to conceptualize this idea is illustrated.
This figure, known as a star schema, shows the customer at the center of all the data. Data from various sources is connected to the customer like spokes in a wheel.