Developing a marketing database can be a daunting task. The vision is a single source of data that is accessible to marketing for the analysis of customer interactions. The reality is that developing the asset can be time-consuming and expensive. Plus, once in place, there is no guarantee that the database will be used or can produce a meaningful ROI. In other words, it may be just too expensive given the unpredictability of the outcome. Don’t bet on that ROI.

In our experience, companies are better off adopting a more conservative approach. Utilizing cloud-based technology, we often recommend to our clients a data mart approach. There is no reason to plow $1M or more into true enterprise CRM when most of the targeting and analytics that is desired can be achieved with far less investment. Getting this up and running first can be less daunting, less expensive, and serve as the proving ground for ROI. The secret to success is staying focused on only a few critical components:


Attractiveness: The ways in which a customer brings value to the firm. This could be revenue, profit, or some combination of customer value metrics. The key is being able to rank-order marketing prospects based on their potential ROI.

Addressability: The ways in which the customer can be contacted. This is the combination of “addresses” (physical, email, phone, online registration, etc.) for which a customer has not “opted out” of marketing communications.

Responsiveness: The ways in which a customer has been approached with marketing efforts and whether or not the solicitation has produced a response. This illustrates which initiatives (direct mail, email, banner ads, etc.) are working and which are not.


Access: Ability to extract data for analysis and targeted lists for campaigns. This is the single most important function of the marketing data mart platform. All “post-access” activity can be evaluated based on its likely ROI.

Updates: Ability to update the data mart with feeds from data sources on a timely basis. This is based on the schedule required to keep marketing efforts “current.” Monthly updates will generally suffice and put a minimal burden on internal IT resources.

Reports: Ability to publish simple reports. Simple data mart status reports are the life-blood of accountability. Communicating the value of the data mart asset on a regular basis and illustrating the marketing activities that are being executed against it are keys to early success.

Staying focused on these critical factors can result in a much more attractive initial cost outlay. While a seven figure investment is not atypical for enterprise CRM, a marketing data mart can be up and running in about half the time and at a fraction of the cost.

Scott Bailey is EVP, Strategy & Analytics of Target Data, which unlocks the power of customer data through targeted marketing campaign execution that enables businesses to quickly identify, attract and keep their highest value customers.

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