While we’re not yet in the realm of A.I.s that can run your marketing department for you, some marketing databases are smarter than others. Think about the limitations of first-gen CRMs and email marketing software tools compared to what’s available today, and you’ll see why some database marketing options need an upgrade to more intuitive, responsive technology now.
Database marketing solutions are fairly smart to begin with, but some are performing at a genius level while others are still working out the basics. Where are your current database services on this scale?
The Fundamentals: Access and Availability
The primary responsibility your database has is to gather, store, and return data when you need it. Without this baseline functionality, you might have data, but you don’t have a working database. As the foundation of any database marketing activity, the capture and retrieval of data must be automatic to move on to the next stage of database intelligence.
Moving Up: Hygiene and Accuracy
Once you have the capacity to gather, store, and recall information, you need a way to assess the value of the information itself. Data hygiene and governance processes that remove duplicate records, correct errors, and create complete files are another critical element of a reliable database. Marketing directors look at a number of factors when cleansing and validating data:
- Accuracy: Does the database recognize, flag, and correct records that clearly contain unusable data – for example, phone numbers that lack a few digits or words with triple letters?
- Format: The system should recognize records that aren’t in a usable format. Dates, for example, typically have a four-digit year in modern records, but old records may still record only a two-digit year and must be standardized.
- Completeness: Isolated data unconnected to other pieces of information can’t do you any good and should be removed.
- Uniqueness: Removing duplicate information is a primary goal of data hygiene procedures.
Putting It Together: Functionality
You now have a system for gathering data and the means to verify it; at this stage, the data becomes actionable. Instead of simply collecting and storing information, databases at this phase of development use this knowledge to facilitate communications, run analytics, create visualizations of data relationships, and generate comprehensive reports. At this point, you’re able to develop customer personas, outline audience segments, and analyze campaigns for success. It’s the standard-issue database, the minimum at which data-driven marketing truly becomes possible – but given the swift pace of technological development, it’s only the middle of the pack right now.
A Step Beyond: Automation and Omni-Channel Communication
In many ways, marketing automation is to older technology what modern flat-screen technology is to cathode ray monitors: The old tech is still out there, but the new alternative is so clearly superior that it’s hardly a competition between them. Marketing automation creates a centralized database that can then be used to manage omni-channel campaigns, anticipate audience behaviors with predictive models, and conduct nurture programs that free your creative team from managing increasingly complex marketing tasks by hand. Marketing automation technology is an essential platform for the leading-edge evolution in marketing knowledge.
The Crest of the Wave: Full Integration and Implementation
Here’s where human ingenuity comes in to make a database marketing solution transcend the sum of its data. At this phase, it’s how your database management team works with the system that allows it to draw deeper correlations and reveal more meaningful insights. Time becomes a factor at this point; real-time feedback that allows your marketing team to adjust instantly or analyze the results of A/B split testing immediately clearly outperforms systems that take days to reach the same point. With contextually relevant content going out in real time to an audience you understand thoroughly, no one else can compete. Now that’s real genius.
© Reach Marketing LLC 2016 All Rights Reserved.