The Role of Data in Direct Marketing


The-Role-of-Data-in-Direct-MarketingData has become currency in direct marketing, and it’s going to stay that way for some time. It has always been valuable to have customer intelligence, but since the advent of digital marketing with its ability to track and measure, data has soared in value.

It’s not only companies that are aware of it, though; customers know you’re using their data for marketing purposes and they are singularly unforgiving of those who get it wrong. That makes it a two-edged sword, but one you can’t live without. 

The Role of Data

Data plays a number of roles in direct marketing, such as:

  • Calculating market potential and your share of it
  • Segmenting your audience into manageable, bite-sized chunks for better targeting
  • Identifying the geographical spread of your target group for budgeting purposes
  • Informing the printing and publication of direct mail campaigns
  • Determining the cost of campaign postage
  • Providing a benchmark against which to measure your results/ROI, based on the percentage of sales you get from a campaign
  • It enables you to use historic data to predict future interactions with your customers

Why You Need It

Without data, every direct mail campaign is simply a shot in the dark, pun intended. And if you’re a small business just starting out with your inbound marketing, you can’t afford to take shots in the dark. Direct marketing is one of the most effective forms of reaching prospects, but it’s also one of the more expensive methods and untargeted mailings are the equivalent of throwing money away.

How to Get It

So, how do you get hold of the data you need to target your direct mail campaigns effectively, and what will it cost you? Some of the most common ways of getting it are:

  1. Data mining: This involves analyzing the information you have on your current customers, such as their purchase history, address details, demographic information.
  2. List purchase: You can typically buy a mailing list that reaches your audience from various sources, but depending on the popularity and size of the list it could be an expensive exercise.
  3. Data collection: Gathering raw data through any number of avenues is usually the lowest cost method and can yield high returns, but it requires knowing how to work with it to make it useful. Channels used include surveys, trade shows, and online opt-in methods.

What to Do With It

Once you have the data and it has been processed and categorized into usable lists, you need to analyze which lists to use for your direct marketing campaigns. Determine which list or segment has an interest in your particular product or service for promotion, and create your mailing specifically for that group. You might reach others, but you want to be speaking directly to them. Use the data to set up, send, track and measure the result of the mailing.

Direct Mail Best Practices