Why you should use market research to improve database marketing

improving database marketing

Why you should use market research to improve database marketing

Please! Database and Research you must talk!

In the local cafe two people discuss the village’s future. One is a wise old man with a lifetime of local experience. He has never ventured far from the village and has little interest in the outside world, but his longevity convinces many he has seen it all and his judgement is often sought.

His adolescent granddaughter, her head hard-wired to the world’s real-time news channels, is animated by the latest bulletin and the implications for their community.

He listens, but does not appreciate the insights his well-informed granddaughter describes to him. And she is frustrated that her experienced grandfather is so unmoved by her analysis …

Using market research to improve database marketing

The grandfather is a database of deep local knowledge, while the granddaughter is a real-time research window to the outside world. It’s a mighty shame each can’t appreciate the value the other brings to the discussion – how database marketing can be improved through market research.

And so to direct marketing and one of its greatest challenges; combining the historical power of database with the real-time flexibility and perspective of research. Few people are committed to both database marketing and research. They have generally learnt their marketing craft with a heavy focus on one or the other; but that is only half the problem.

As a young direct marketer in the 80s, I was encouraged to appreciate the power of a database, but also to depreciate the value of research. The obvious point is that both disciplines have their strengths and both their weaknesses, but most of us focus on the strengths of our chosen discipline and the weaknesses of the other.

A database specialist can often be heard saying:

“Database is actual consumer behaviour, but research is what people say they will do. It’s just not reliable.” 

While a research specialist might say:

Using your database to drive your business is a bit like driving through the rear-view mirror. It lacks the perspective of research.

Perhaps this was less of a lost opportunity in the pre-internet era when quantitative research was expensive and slow. Nowadays, online research panels allow researchers to engage large amounts of consumers quickly and cost-effectively and easily use this information for improving database marketing.

The penny dropped for me in 1997 after an entire decade of database indoctrination. While attending a marketing conference, I heard the marketing director of a Scottish train company describe how he had used research in parallel with its considerable transactional database to better understand how travelers with different profiles would react to new ideas.

The big direct marketing opportunity is to combine database with research. To understand actual consumer behaviour, but use a well-informed vision to be better able to plan for the future. The goal is to improve the chances of predicting how segments within a database will react to future events; creative treatments, new products, new campaigns, competitor behaviour, pricing and so forth.

… Back in the village café, the father enters. He is someone who can appreciate his daughter’s passion for the latest news from beyond the town, but also has respect for his own father’s lifetime of experience. As he sets about helping the two to communicate, the discussion about the village’s future takes on a new meaning for all of them.

This article was written by David Cole, Managing Director at fastmap. To learn more about how fastmap can help you improve database marketing through research why not take a look at our webinars ‘3 Tips for Targeted Marketing – Customers v Prospects’ and ‘Marketing & DB Insights: Tips for Increasing Response Rates’ where we discuss this in more detail. To find out how we can help you in other areas visit www.fastmap.com or get in touch with David Cole on +44 (0) 20 7242 0702 or david.cole@fastmap.com.

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