Debunking 5 Myths about Database Marketing

In last week’s post, I talked about how A/B testing helps you optimize conversions, and how SQL can help you with database marketing. This week, I decided to delve a little deeper and talk about how database marketing has helped unveil the mystery of customer behavior to better target leads for business.

Database marketing has been tossed around a bit, and honestly, I was a bit confused when I went looking for a definition. Here is the best I found:

Database marketing is a process of identifying, collecting, and analyzing significant information from all sources, internal and external, about your customers, leads and prospects to drive strategic marketing and sales decisions.” –Market Data Retrieval

It’s a pretty broad concept. So it makes sense that a lot of people seem to think database is out of their reach, because of all the work that seems to be involved with it. I am hoping to debunk some of those woes with this list I compiled of the biggest myths I had heard about database marketing, and how it can be one of the best benefits to your marketing strategy.

1.  I can’t do database marketing, it’s too expensive!


Database marketing shouldn’t be seen as an added expense, but rather an investment. You know that expression, “nothing is ever free?” It applies here too. You can’t give nothing and get something in return. My tip? Look at your marketing strategy and see what will give you the best ROI. When you crunch the numbers, I think you will see database marketing is something that would be of benefit to you.

2. Database Marketing Takes Too Much Time

This one never made too much sense to me. Database marketing isn’t a gimmick or fad; it’s a proven marketing strategy that will help you make the best decisions for your business to reach customers. In order to have an effective marketing campaign, you need to take the time to coordinate the best strategy possible. Having live data to derive your knowledge of your market from is the basis you can have to crafting your marketing strategy. One of the best examples I have seen of database marketing is during the presidential election of 2012. In Obama’s reelection campaign, many said it would go down in history because he changed the course of how politicians can appeal to their audience. No longer were they talking to everyone with one broad message; instead they took a page out of the Marketing 101 textbook and started doing database marketing. I remember my mom and me getting an email from Michelle Obama, while my dad got some from President Obama, and rarely the First Lady. In this display of database marketing, the Obama campaign was finding the best point to persuade each of their supporters to help raise money for his campaign budget.

3. Database marketing can only be used for Email


I think people misunderstand that database marketing can be used for more than just ‘personalization’, though that most definitely is the one of the most recognized benefits of it. Database marketing isn’t focused on just segmentation for putting your customer’s name on an email template; it’s live data that can be used to make effective marketing decisions across your entire campaign. A great example of this is once again the Obama Administration. They used their data to see where to place ads. Instead of traditional local TV programming, the campaign bought ads during popular show times such as Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23, according to this Times article. That same article goes on to say that they were able to buy 14% more efficiently. Another use for database marketing is for predictive modeling; heck, Hollywood is doing it. We may not have to deal with movie flops ever again thanks to database modeling!


4. You can make multiple campaigns from one instance of data

Database marketing, like other marketing strategies, isn’t just a one-time deal. This white paper from Srividya Sridharan talks about how, “personalization is a process, not an outcome,” meaning customer data isn’t static. You can’t just look at past purchasing data and personalize to customers based on that data alone. Personalization gets better when you refine it as new data comes in.  If anything, the opposite is the truth. You can make one solid campaign from several pieces of data. Orbitz for example, was able to identify one in for their campaign: Mac users tend to spend more on hotels than PC users. So when they sort  hotels for Mac users, they show them the pricier hotels first before anything else.

5. If I let my customers see I know everything about them, they’ll love me!

no-no-no While you do want to gather as much relevant information as you can about your customers, using all that information for one database marketing campaign is irrational, and very creepy.  You want to be sure that your database marketing doesn’t freak out your customers. I read an article here about a man who created a program that allowed Target to send coupons to expectant mothers in their second trimester. As it turns out, a father wasn’t too pleased when his teen daughter received a baby coupon book, only to apologize later when he realized that she was indeed pregnant. Not only was that awkward, but pretty freaky as well. Just because you have all this information, doesn’t mean you have to use all of it on your customers. With great power, comes great responsibility. Think of it this way: would you like if you are just walking to work, when some random guy comes up to you and gives you coupons for babies because he’s been tracking your reproductive cycle? I didn’t think so.

So you see, database marketing isn’t this big scary tool that requires you to be a genius, you just need to know where it will serve you best in your company. Database marketing works when you are subtle about it, and work it into your overall marketing campaign, much like other strategies.

Have an example of database marketing that worked really well(or really bad) for you? How have you used databbase marketing to your advantage? Let me know!


Stop Guessing, Start Optimizing

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.“-Morpheus, The Matrix


With such a big decision ahead of him, wouldn’t it have been nice if Neo knew which pill would have been best for him? While Neo didn’t have that option, we in marketing do with an optimization strategy called “A/B testing”.

Continue reading Stop Guessing, Start Optimizing

Giving Consumers Control: The Power of Social Media

Since this is a rather hot topic now a days, I decided I should start off with a TED talk. The speaker, Sherry, talks about how we have become so dependent on our technology, that it is shaping who we are becoming. The control we have over what content we want to read, and more importantly, the content we share with the world, has become a worldwide epidemic. Our mothers warned us to never talk to strangers, yet we converse with them every day on Twitter and Facebook. Our online presence is starting to hold more weight in job interviews than actual resumes, and companies look through potential employees Facebook’s before even asking them in for an interview.  The idea of having control is part of the reason why social media is so big today.

Continue reading Giving Consumers Control: The Power of Social Media

Inbound Marketing: For the Self-Informed Consumer

We live in a DIY society. Broke your  bike? Go to Youtube to see how to fix it. Want to try a new hair gel? Go hit the forums for reviews and suggestions. Let’s face it: the age of telemarketing and direct mail campaigns has ebbed in the last decade or so. Thanks to the power of the Internet, people have become self reliant on finding information they need on new products; the constant bombardment of broad promotional material is no longer relevant. Our job as marketers is no longer  to find new leads, but to help leads find our company. This is why knowing about inbound marketing is so important; we are targeting our ideal audience with relevant content that acknowledges their problem, and gives them solutions. 

What is Inbound Marketing?


There are a multitude of other blogs, reports and videos on a definition, but Marketo’s really lays it out for you by saying it’s, “the process of helping potential customers find your company – often before they are even looking to make a purchase – and then turning that early awareness into brand preference and, ultimately, into leads and revenue.”

In short: it’s bringing customers who are looking for you, to you. It’s all very personalized, and is what consumers like because you are catering to them, not just talking at them. Example: Search Engine Optimization. I talk about it a lot in this post. 

Here are what marketing professionals had to say about inbound marketing in an article on Scalable Sociable Media:

inboundmktg_1 inboundmktg_2

inboundmktg_3 inboundmktg_4

In 2013, 60% of companies were implementing inbound marketing according to HubSpot; I’d like to see how many companies they interviewed to get that number, but I digress. What really matters is that consumers are responding better to the content-intensive marketing those companies used, with 82% of marketers who blog saw an increase in ROI.

There is also an infographic that actually is a great example of Inbound Marketing here for Stark Inbound Marketing  that gives a very clear definition of the strategy, and how it can really benefit you while promoting their agency. I personally think Inbound Marketing should be one of the strategies that stays in-house though, because you are the one who knows your customer, and customers should be building relationships and trust with your company; not the agency you outsource it to. Isn’t that the whole purpose of inbound marketing?

Bring In the Justice League

Most companies seem to think that Inbound Marketing is a super hero. There are tons of articles that champion its ability to get through the consumer’s “anti-marketing” shield, and advise to put all your marketing efforts into it. While inbound marketing is a fantastic strategy, it works best when aligned with the rest of your company’s  marketing mix. Marketo’s article mentions how to amplify the effects of your inbound marketing to gain even greater successThink of your marketing mix as the Justice League. You have all these strategies that work well on their own, but together, can benefit your company 10x more than they ever could individually. Inbound Marketing needs to be a part of your Justice League in order to be of most value to you.

In my opinion, I am surprised it took us this long to start using Inbound marketing as a part of our strategy. It all seems like common sense to want to build relationships with your customers. That’s how human beings make friends, it seems logical to do business that way as well.

Do you agree with Inbound Marketing being the next generation of marketing techniques? Which superhero do you think it would be in the Justice League?

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SEO: What’s the Big Deal?

Almost every marketing class mentions it. Every marketing blog I subscribe to talks about it, and almost every company I have been interested in recommends you know how to do it.  The Internet has come a long way since Netscape in 1994. People spend more time online than anything else; 78.9% of people online in the world is from America alone. This is why companies have thrown all their marketing efforts into digital marketing, and are looking for people who are masters at tackling the wizardry that is search engines. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, has become the pinnacle of internet marketing. If you aren’t using SEO, you aren’t taking full advantage of the marketing potential the internet has. But why is it so popular? Do we really need this? Let’s find out.

Continue reading SEO: What’s the Big Deal?

The Digital Game of Thrones


I love articles that reference Game of Thrones. That show is so complex and really shows the politics, delicateness and finesse that comes with war and trying to be on top. So when Mark sent us this article to read on the major tech moguls being compared to my favorite tv show, I already knew it was going to be a good read.I highly suggest listening to the theme song as you read it.

Before I even finished this article, I already had mapped out who was who in GoT terms:

Microsoft: Targaryen family

Google: Stark family

Amazon: Tyrell family

Apple: Baratheon/Lannister family

Facebook: Dothraki (hey I thought it was funny…)

But in all seriousness, the battle of digital dominance has been raging for many years, especially after Steve Jobs (our iron king) died.

The article lays out a world at war, where land is replaced with market share, and battles are fought with advertising.

Turf Wars

The article mentions that just like R.R. Martin’s novel, these top companies have there own corner of the market that they are desperately defending while venturing out to conquer more. Google has been doing well, protecting their search engine market share , being the largest search engine provider in the world. But that isn’t stopping  Apple from trying to create their own type of search engine in order to become “Google-independent”. It’s hard to believe that these two used to be best buddies…kind of reminds you of a certain two.


The Iron Phone

I think the most visible part of the war that we have seen is over the phone market. Everyone wants to have the perfect phone, the strongest rivalry being Google’s Android over Apple’s iOS system. Microsoft has been desperately trying to join in on this game by means of the Windows phone, but currently it is no where near the capacity of fans the first two have. Facebook and Amazon both are cruising along with these two, having apps on both systems, but that may change with the rumors floating around about Amazon creating it’s own phone. I don’t think Amazon would do well in that market; why try to establish yourself in an over-saturated market?  Especially when they are being pretty successful with their e-reader, the Kindle.

Content Wars

There are a couple parts of this war that need to be addressed.

The article mentions that the biggest competitors in the content war has been e-books. Amazon and Apple both have separate ways of getting content out to it’s customers thanks to cloud services, but Amazon, being known as an electronic marketplace, is dominating the industry, with Apple only taking in 5% of the market share. Apple has been trying to coax publishers over to their side however, by making fees smaller, and giving more freedom to rights as opposed to Amazon.

Next there is content-sharing. Here I believe Google has a bit of an advantage, since they own Youtube, the biggest provider of video content in America. Thanks to their YouTube partnership program, and various advertisement affiliates, they were projected to make $4 billion in revenue in 2012, and grow 20% each year from there.  However there difficulties in monetizing their users has been Apple’s strength, with their I-tunes.

Now you are probably thinking, “Why is Facebook included in this war?” Dothraki guys. They are the largest social network in the world, so once they find a stable way to monetize their users, they will be one of the biggest threats to these companies. They have been doing pretty well too, coming back from a disappointing 3rd quarter and monetizing their users in 2012 with $64 million revenue. My Dothraki comparison doesn’t seem that far off now, does it?



It seems as if this battle’s main issue is finding the best way to monetize audiences and pulling them to their side. It feels a bit like high school elections actually, only with a lot more advertisements in your face. So will we see an end to this war, and finally have a new King? The article doesn’t believe it will have an end soon, and I agree. There are too many factors that play into pulling ahead as the leader, and with so many ‘third party’ options, people will stay divided on who they want to do their business with for a long time.

As the battle for the iron throne continues, I will be sitting back, waiting for Khaleesi to come riding in on her dragons to take everybody out. Who that is has yet to be seen, however I feel that it may be Yahoo, they just acquired Tumblr, and we all know how massive that army is.


So, do you agree with my family assignments? Have a different idea on the tech wars? Do me a favor; read the full article here, and comment back here on what you think.

NFO: News Feed Optimization with EdgeRank

So I was scrolling through my News Feed when I saw something rather interesting:


As you can see, while I am seeing a post from my friend, I also am seeing a link from College Fashion about Thor 2 inspired fashion. So why am I seeing this? That would be EdgeRank doing it’s thing.

What the heck is EdgeRank?

Edgerank is a fancy algorithm by Facebook that determines what posts are shown on each user’s News Feed. It’s all a part of News Feed Optimization(NFO); a way to make sure that your business’s content is being seen by your fans without having to pay for an ad. Posts are ranked via 3 variables:

Affinity: Your relationship to your users. Now what does this mean as far as rating posts? It means that our posts are based on both personal interactions and network interactions. Depending on how much you interact with a certain user (or page), the more their statuses will show up on your News Feed. Additionally, the more times people ‘like’, share, or comment on your posts, the more likely they will continue to show up on people’s news feeds.

Weight: how important EdgeRank assigns your post based on the post type(text, image, video, etc). If you are posting pictures and videos, those are usually ranked the highest. Things with links are second, and text is dead last. Remember though, it’s all about relevance; if the post has no relevance to a user, it won’t show first thing on their News Feed.

Time Decay: How old your post is. The longer the post is on Facebook, the lesser the chance it will show up in someone’s News Feed. However, this isn’t a black and white type of deal; some users don’t spend every waking moment on Facebook, and only check in every once and a while, so to them, it’s new and relevant information. 

The graphic below shows the nifty equation(brought to you by Batman):

Facebook Edgerank

Since 40% of users spend their time on the Facebook News Feed alone, it’s important that businesses get that coveted spot on a user’s News Feed. Because of this, companies like Post Rocket, are were offering NFO services to businesses, so that they can rank higher on Facebook (granted they closed down August 2013).

Do I Need EdgeRank?

It depends a lot on what your social media strategy is. People have said that EdgeRank is dead, but I think of it like online advertising, it’s simply evolving.  I would like to point out that as the algorithm changes, so does the factors. These three are still included, but there are over 100,000 factors that play into what users sees. But it’s not like Facebook ever changes right?

EdgeRank essentially is protecting it’s users. Users hate spam. So posts about liking pages or checking out companies that show up in our News Feed that aren’t related to us? Yea, that’s spam. And Facebook will make you pay for that (Sorry Mark Cuban). If you want to stay relevant on Facebook, and gain a bigger audience, EdgeRank will be beneficial. The more relevant you are, the more users will like and engage your page, the more viewers who engage, the higher you rank with EdgeRank. In addition to that however, every user  has a unique affinity; so their is no secret hack to get to every possible user you want. So it goes back to strategy. What do you want out of your social media?


The SQL to your Marketing Education: Becoming a Technical Marketer

You have all finished the basic education of marketing (4Ps, inbound marketing, content marketing, etc) but now it’s time for part 2. It takes more than a fantastic talent for writing copy in order to become a marketer. Nowadays, becoming a jack of all trades makes you stand out more in a line of applicants than anything else. One of the best trades any Jack or Jill marketer should know is SQL.

What the heck is that?

SQL(pronounced like sequel, now my title makes more sense), or structured query language, is a special language that is designed for managing databases, allowing you to run queries, retrieve data, among other things. In other words, it’s the way you are going to pull off database marketing without needing to call in a “tech guy”.

Database marketing is targeted marketing for the new technical age. Think inbound marketing, but a bit more segmented and technical. It is simply using the data you have in your database, running a query of people that fit the campaign you have in mind (so for example, 18-24 year old females who bought something in the last 3 months), and crafting an email, postcard, or whatever specifically for them. Can we say segmentation marketing? It’s brilliant, targeted, personable, and helps you gain more revenue. At Logos, our Email team knew how to do database marketing like a boss, and it showed in our sales reports.

So why are they both awesome? Let’s look at an example: This article talks about how it would be cool to have companies tweet you when they are ‘thinking of you'(i.e birthdays, parent’s birthday, etc). With SQL, depending on how you  structure gathering information from your clients, you can do what this article suggests. You can set up automated tweets on technology such as Hootsuite, pull a query from your sql database for those who have a birthday coming up, and send birthday tweets from your corporation to valued customers. Granted, this may not be your main priority with database marketing and would take a bit of work,  but it is possible.

Still don’t think it’s a big deal? Look in your email inbox. Those emails from brands that seem to know when your birthday is and give you a coupon? They are using database marketing.

Here are some of the ones I found just in my inbox:

  • Menchies-They sent me a lovely birthday email with a free coupon for froyo
  • JustFab-Sent me a free shoes coupon because I hadn’t bought anything in the last 6 months
  • Logos- This was a test email, but it was an email to those who haven’t upgraded a plan in the last 3 months, etc
  • Weebly- Realized I had a site, but hadn’t upgraded yet, so they sent me an email with advice on how to upgrade at a low cost

That’s Cool, but why do I personally need to know this? Don’t we have a Dev team for that?

Putting it frankly, your Dev team has much cooler and more complicated things to do, and if you can take it off their hands, it would be much appreciated. Also, it’s great for your career. To succeed as a marketer you need to constantly be improving on your skills in order to stay relevant to your company. It’s funny because a few years back, it seemed that everyone wanted a specialist; someone who knew how to do one thing better than anybody else. According to Jamie from SEOmoz, you now need to be both a specialist (knowing how to do something very well) and be a generalist (know a lot of different topics) to bring the most value to your company.


I couldn’t agree more. There is a reason I am a double major in both Marketing and Management Information Systems: it’s because I want to make sure I know how to do technical things such as creating and managing databases, coding dynamic websites, as well as having the tools to be a great marketer. Having the knowledge of both will help me stand out more as a candidate for jobs I want.

Conclusion: Being a technical marketer, is like being a superhero in the marketing world.


I am ready to start my Marketing Education SQL! Where do I start?

I highly suggest reading this article, besides further explaining why having these tech skills are helpful to you, it also has a lot of resources at the bottom of the article to get you started. I also suggest looking into basic database design from W3 schools.  In addition to SQL, look into other languages such as  Html ,CSS, and PHP,  because all that knowledge will help support your marketing efforts when it comes to web optimization and targeted marketing.

Do you think the next step for marketing education is learning to be technical? Did you get my SQL joke?  What did you find in your inbox? Let me know in the comments below!


You Want A Burger With That? The Fries King Troll

So, there I am, minding my own business going through my Twitter feed, when I see this:

Needless to say, I had to investigate.

Woah! What the heck is going on?

Let me fill you in: On September 24th, Burger King unveiled their new low calorie fries (Satisfries) in order to appeal to the health conscious crowd. No one batted an eyelash. Fast food restaurant trying to be healthy? We have already seen those types of campaigns before right? So Burger King decided to step up their game: they changed their name. You can now go get your whopper from “Fries King” in select locations in Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles. They have completely changed all branding both online and at the store front level, including:

Their website:


Their products:


Even their trashcans:


Their official Twitter and Facebook handles have also been changed to reflect the new name. This is all a part of the #Satisfried campaign, set off by Burger–well Fries’ King’s new fries. Burger King’s angle was to set off enough hype for people to want to check out the newly recrowned company.

Well….they got a response alright. People took to twitter faster than the official press releases could be published.

Sounds like people aren’t too happy with Burger King changing their name…but hey, despite the bashing, Burger King is getting what it wants: publicity.

This is a perfect example of what I was talking about in my name change post. No one would have been paying attention to the newest menu item from Burger King, if it wasn’t for this drastic name change. Burger King has shot up in the rankings with their bold move.


I just had to type in fries, and the suggestions bring up Fries King first. Also according to YouGov brand Index, Burger King has a positive feedback brand score of 25, reaching an all time high of 28 the day of the campaign (scores are measured from -100 to 100). Another review from Topsy mentions that twitter mentions for burger King have tripled since Wednesday, when the name change hit the social media channels.

But why the name change at all?

I would like to redirect your attention to the bottom of Burger King’s webpage.


There’s your reason. McDonald’s, while still a fast food joint, has managed to claim a little bit of the healthy America pie with their menu of calorie conscious items. Burger King has been developing a fry that still tastes good, but has lower calories for years, and they wanted to make sure it overshadowed McDonald’s fries by a longshot. Look what came up when I put in McDonald’s Low cal fries:


All about Burger King. And what have we learned about search engine users? They rarely look past the first page. So yea, Burger King is getting what they want.

So, they are trolling us?

Hardcore trolling. I actually found an article that mentioned “trolling the masses”. Burger King has always had a playful marketing strategy, so this seemed to fit right along with their past promotions (May I remind of the great McDonald Heist?). However, I found this gimmick to be a bit confusing. Burger King kept this under wraps for the shock value and to receive a lot more attention; but it might have actually worked too well. No one really noticed, nor knew much about the Satisfried campaign, so when the Fries King promo hit the market, people weren’t prepared at all. People are focusing more on the name change, than the actual product is was done for. That is my only problem with the name change gimmick; you never want the product to be forgotten. Business Article  and Adweek both share my sentiment.

For the record: the name change isn’t permanent. It will only be going on as long as the #Satisfried campaign goes for. I am not entirely sure if this is the boost Burger King needs in order to get actual sales, but it definitely has people talking. When I mentioned it to my former Integrated Marketing Professor, @dannpurdy, he had this to say,

Kudos to you Burger King. I applaud you.