When I began my career at my first job, I worked for a direct marketing company. As a new employee I was fascinated by how many things were getting done at the same time. Telemarketing calls were being made, events invitations were being sent, sales reps were going out and soliciting people, Mailers were being posted and Catalogues being printed.
All this was possible due to a strong database that the company had collected over time. The database was the backbone for all the above activities and more. We all know the importance of a good database today, but do we know where to get it and what to look for? If we have it do we know how to maintain it and manage it?
In the late 20th century, databases were brokered by list brokers who used to collect databases from various sources without any verification or check as changes in the database were few. Today in our fast paced world where the Socio-Economic Classification (SEC) classification itself has undergone a much awaited change, addresses, occupation and contact numbers; all undergo frequent changes. For instance the new SEC classification is based on ownership of white goods instead of occupation. However, this may not be the best database holder as we exchange what we own just as much as we change our occupation. However, I believe the SEC classification has just undergone a drastic change for the better and the best minds in the industry are working on its evolution.
While procuring a database from a database vendor, the most important thing to know is the source of the database. Today we have privacy laws in the country that do not allow contact to certain people who have listed themselves under a National Do Not Call (NDNC) directory. While the legal implications are only exercised when such a person complains, there are other nuisances as well.
Database procurement is a process that is the first step to any kind of list marketing activity. The list must be sourced from a legitimate source who has the rights to reach the database for solicitation. The database must be recent and refreshed on a frequent basis. For Example: The database is checked for changes every 6 months.
The database is maintained in a tabular format with rows and columns. While the topmost rows would contain the headings of each column. The database can be broken down into psychographic and demographic data. There must be a unique identifier in the database. The unique identifier will use one record that will identify the data of a single person like a finger print. This helps in pulling up the data required from several millions of records.
Database management has advanced with new software to handle vast databases. The database software needs to perform the task of maintaining the database by segregating them based on the tabular format and also be able to pull up the data required through the unique identifier at will. The software must also be able to correct errors of duplicate entries and logical errors. For example: “Mr. Lucy” with gender “female” can be corrected to “Ms. Lucy”. Managing the database involves management of storage space and transfers to other storage devices or spaces.
If your database is latest and pertinent, your chances of conversion will be the highest. The database is the key to all targeted marketing activities that began through Lester Wunderman’s theory of direct marketing.
At Digicat, we source our databases directly from the form that consumers fills. The database is usually updated through frequent campaigns and checks to ensure pertinence.