Tina Steil: Chief Technology Officer, MEREDITH CORPORATION
Oversees Meredith’s 85 million-name consumer database, covering 7 out of 10 U.S. households, and central to the $1.2 billion company’s integrated marketing efforts.
Customer relationship marketing has become a central business driver for many publishers, and perhaps none more so than Meredith Corporation, the $1.2 billion publisher of Better Homes and Gardens and More, among others, which has a database crammed with 85 million consumers that reaches seven out of ten U.S. households. Tina Steil oversees the database along with a team of infrastructure experts.
The database’s impressive size;there are an average of 300 data elements on each individual record and some have up to 2,000;enables the company to not only precisely target mailings but support any new product launch with a minimum circulation of one million. "The number-one criteria we put up against [the database] is not reader interest, is not advertising interest, it’s if there’s the ability to build and maintain a sustainable, profitable circulation model in excess of one million ratebase," says Steil.
And the impact goes beyond the publishing category. Hyundai has contracted with Meredith to house its 800,000 to 1 million-name owner database. "It’s a retention program, and we now do acquisition for them," says Steil. "They could have gone to any database marketing firm but we own three-quarters of the home-owning folks in the country, so the bottom line is we can help them further understand their customers."
Outside of magazines, the database drives integrated marketing efforts, which is the primary revenue generator in a category that accounts for 26 percent of Meredith’s $908.8 million publishing revenues in 2005;a figure that’s up 16 percent from the prior year.
However, the database wasn’t always an in-house operation. Steil engineered its transfer from a third-party vendor in 2002, saving 30 percent in costs. The main reason was to have the ability to move faster in marketing efforts. "At that point we were very decentralized in how we operated," says Steil. "There was up to a 16-week delay of really understanding our efforts."
VITAL STATS: Steil engineered the transfer of Meredith’s customer database in-house, saving the company 30 percent in costs.