Using a Centralized Database To Identify New Sources, Build New Products
Creating a centralized database for customer lists can help a company gain more insight into its customers by providing an organized and more effective environment. But should every company tackle this difficult process? And what are the benefits?
The "Customer-Relationship Database Primer" session at the 2006 FOLIO: Show featured William McMillan, president of Computer Fulfillment, AnneMarie Wills, director, database business development at Prism Business Media, and Hairong Crigler, VP database marketing at TV Guide, who provided their views on why companies that don’t have a centralized database may be missing out.
- By not having a centralized database, you may be missing out on leveraging your assets, which are your customers (readers, sponsors, advertisers, etc.) The value you can generate is incredible–by getting a 360-degree view of your customers, you can understand them better and, therefore, generate new revenue streams.
- Having a centralized database can tie all revenue streams together. For example, if your online and print customers are put together into one database, you can see which customers utilize both the online and print versions. This knowledge can be used to build better cross promotion strategies.
- A cultural/corporate shift needs to occur when implementing a centralized database because it’s a challenge and commitment is needed from the top down. Are the resources available to execute this database? Bring in various business units for input in order to have a unified and focused philosophy. You’ll also need a "hero"–a CEO, publisher or task force with a vision for how the database should be implemented. Try to show marketers that having a database can save money and increase DM response–then you will have champions.
- Because centralizing a database is an expensive, long-term investment, the decision to do it in-house or have it outsourced is a personal choice. If you have 250,000 subscribers or less, it’s very possible to build a database on Access, which may be best, since you’re not in the position to spend a lot of money, or you can outsource portions of the system.
- A centralized database is more about tools than about the data. There are interfaces available that can do simple analytics. It does not need to be in real time either. Changes in the customer lists are small and usually only occur on a weekly basis.
In conclusion, a centralized database can help to fill in holes, normalize data, identify new sources, and launch and build new products. And don’t overlook what you can solicit from your customers by just asking.