Is Your Data
By Jeff Zabin, research
fellow, Aberdeen Group
Each year, more than 100 million trees are
destroyed, three million cars’ worth of energy is
consumed and reprehensible-by-any-measure amounts of
greenhouse gas is emitted into the atmosphere—all in
the name of producing, distributing and disposing of
direct mail solicitations.
The good news is
that a growing number of companies,
including major retailers, are starting to
turn their attention to the problem.
In particular, they’re considering the
important role of customer data management.
"Duplicate catalogs being delivered to customers and
address errors resulting in returned catalogs are
key contributors to what is commonly known as
marketing waste,“ says Kristin Micalizio, vice
president of direct sales at Office Depot.
For its part, Office Depot has adopted a number of
database marketing practices and technologies to
help eliminate duplicate and returned catalogs,
including a real-time customer data integration
The solution combines transaction data with advanced
analytics to enable employees at the point-of-sale
to cross-sell and up-sell in a more effective
manner. It also allows Office Depot to know which
(and how many) direct mail offers and catalogs to
send to which customers—and when—to maximize
revenues while minimizing both costs and
Best Buy is another major retailer beefing up its
customer data capabilities, in the process steadily
reducing the volume of unwanted direct mail it
produces and distributes to the 130 million
customers in its database. Over time, the company’s
direct mail communications are becoming increasingly
personalized, based on customers’ past purchase
behaviors, their geo-demographic and psychographic
characteristics, and their value to the brand.
“The intention is to be able to offer up only
content that we know is going to resonate with the
consumer,” says Matt Smith, senior director,
customer insight, at Best Buy. His team matches and
merges customer data at a transaction level,
integrating online and in-store data to enhance
customer profiles and eliminate duplicate addresses.
“We do a lot of cleansing using persistent key
processes to make sure we get the customer data as
accurate as possible,” Smith adds.
I’m also buoyed by the
Association’s “Green 15” resolution. Scheduled to
launch in June, it includes a set of "environmental
action steps" the DMA is encouraging marketers to
take "to minimize defective addresses, duplicate
addresses, unwanted mail and undeliverable mail".
These steps include:
by matching against outside lists, house lists
and suppression files.
• Ensure accuracy of all incoming names by using
Zip Code correction, address standardization,
NCOALink data, etc.
outside lists to the same hygiene
standards as a house list.
• Provide mechanisms that allow recipients to
modify or eliminate direct mail.
• Utilize predictive models and segmentation.
Finally, I’ve received a lot
of enthusiasm from industry practitioners regarding
my forthcoming Aberdeen benchmark report “Green
Marketing: Leveraging Customer Data to Reduce
Environmental Waste.” (Readers are invited to take
the 5-minute survey—
in return, receive a complimentary copy of the final
report, when published.)
The goal of the report is to further educate the
marketplace about the value of customer data
management from a green marketing perspective. It
could also prompt more database marketing vendors,
including providers of list processing, customer
data integration and advanced analytics solutions,
to follow the lead of companies like Pitney Bowes,
which has long touted its environmental stewardship
around the mailstream.
Smart vendors should realize that green marketing is
a market opportunity. And they should capitalize on
it by communicating the benefits of
waste reduction as part of their overall
---Source: Multi Channel Merchant
List and Data Strategies Feb 4, 2008 issue
www.multichannelmerchant.com. Jeff Zabin can be
reached at email@example.com.