Developing Databases Doesn’t Have to Be Hard!

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker, Print Industry Analyst
Developing Databases Doesn't Have to be Difficult
For clients, one of the biggest challenges of 1:1 marketing isn’t the concern about whether or not the approach works. It’s databases. Unlike 1:1 online marketing, where the movements and habits of individuals can be tracked fairly easily using cookies, print marketing requires the purposeful, intentional creation of a database of customer and prospect demographics, purchasing patterns, preferences, and the like.
Even if marketers don’t have such a database, this doesn’t remove 1:1 print marketing from the equation. PSPs are becoming increasingly adept at helping customers maximize their existing data, purchase and append mailing lists, and build databases from scratch, even for smaller budgets. Despite all the talk of “big data,” it doesn’t take a 360-degree view of your customer to increase your response rates, per-order values, and bottom line.
Here are some examples of how marketers are getting around the “I don’t have enough data for personalization” problem:

  • Mailing lists are increasingly affordable. For $25 or so per thousand, you can add demographic qualifications, such as income level, general interests, and age. This provides a great starting point for any 1:1 print marketing program.
  • Even if all you have is an undifferentiated mailing list, you can still use specialized software like genderizing and mapping programs to create relevance. Mapping programs help to create relevant marketing pitches based on the recipient’s geographic location or distance from a location or event.
  • Successful 1:1 printing is about creating relevance, including grabbing attention with the unexpected, and that can come even from the most unlikely sources. One PSP created its own algorithm for calculating recipients’ mortgage payments and how much they could save by refinancing, for example, all based on information in public records. Then it did a highly successful mailing for a mortgage broker that reaped millions.
  • Customer profiling solutions are being developed even for small and mid-sized marketers. This software can expand even simple databases by creating a customer profile (or a “desired customer” profile) and appending the relevant demographics to that database.
  • Customer loyalty programs are a very effective ways of building a database of customer preferences and spending habits, while at the same time allowing you to reward customer behavior. Many boxed solutions are available, simplifying the process.
  • You can use personalized URLs to send recipients to their own, personalized micro-sites, where you can survey prospects, qualify them, and gather additional information to be used for future campaigns. This information can be automatically appended back into your database, taking a simple mailing list and turning it into a sophisticated tool for personalized marketing.

Developing a customer database sounds complicated and expensive, but cost-effective techniques with low barriers to entry are being refined all the time. This is by no means an exhaustive list of possibilities.

For more on 1:1 printing and marketing, XPPGN members can access “The State of 1:1 (Personalized) Printing,” an educational report available at no charge, through the XPPGN portal.

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  1. Christopher L. Perry September 26, 2013 -

    Curious, how does a profilier of a company or Industries customers collect and distinguish between retail, wholesale, corporate and enterprise catagorized purchasing?

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Walker September 26, 2013 -

    Hi, Christopher.

    If I understand you correctly, you’re wondering how list providers distinguish between retailers, corporate enterprises, headquarters, branch locations, and so on?

    Most list compilers draw from the Yellow Book and various directories using the sub-categories provided there. InfoUSA, however, which is the largest data compiler in the United States, claims that it uses more than 1,000 sources, and it resells its lists to many list companies. So when you buy from many list companies, you’re really buying InfoUSA data.

    InfoUSA distinguishes itself from other compilers by phone verifying all of its categories. It creates specific definitions of its categories (for example, headquarters vs. branch office), then one of its staff verifies each one. In seeking to answer your question, I contacted InfoUSA and found that they have more than 300 people on this task.

    So when purchasing a list, it’s worth asking where the original data is sourced and how it was compiled and verified.

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