Database Role in Marketing

Verticle Leap has been  putting together a graph showing the relationship between various online and offline marketing channels, as well as other promotional efforts utilized by businesses. In mapping out the essential elements of this graph we were intent to visualize the relationships, primarily. This visualization took the shape of a circular model after the components were largely laid out. The graph shows the interconnections and synergy between numerous channels. Many of the channel relationships can be expressed in one-to-one or bidirectional relationships that branch out to corresponding or complementary channels. The connections or layers are defined by directional visuals, as well as a concentric layer that joins or encapsulates each element.  The visual connections join various methodologies and strategies surrounding the channels. As we started the graph, we worked off of the premise that there are three fundamental aspects of a solid marketing platform for both traditional and online marketing:

1. Data

2. Architecture

3. Creative Content

The three elements form the foundation of the outreach efforts of any business. Content, data and the related architectures are utilized for the production of media and visibility and the surrounding decisionmaking process. Without a fundamentally strong baseline including a well-planned, up-to-date data architecture and the creative content to entice leads,  promote branding or draw interest, the entire flow of this model is crippled from the outset.

One might make the argument that content is data, which is a fully valid statement. The difference we were intent to convey is that data is usually not creative in its nature. Creative in this case, or creative content, includes the assets of a business devoted to making a connection with the target audience or potential buyers. Data alone does not usually make that connection. It has to be humanized in some manner if so. Once a data architecture is in place, it is possible to then use it creatively or to build the architecture such that it accounts for creative content in varying ways. Analytics should not be forgotten in this case, as analysis of the content after deployment is key to making business decisions about what data needs to exist (or in essence what products need to be stocked, retired, made or produced in lower volumes) and how well any marketing campaign performs.

In many marketing scenarios there will be a product database, which is used to populate the product data on a business’ web pages, catalogs, collateral, and a number of other communications endpoints. The product database is a core component of  businesses that sell tangible goods online. However, I can’t recall ever having heard more than a handful of marketers espouse the virtues of optimizing a product database for ecommerce clients, as first and fundamental step in marketing optimization, whether SEO, paid search or any other channel. Try to find an online marketing agency that sells or promotes this kind of service: database auditing and optimization. Database optimization appears to be an concept or service that either doesn’t exist or is couched deeply in methods that go by other names. Perhaps such a concept may be obscured by other lingo. Whatever, the case, it’s not a standard portion of any process we’ve found referenced by SEO agencies or other marketers. This is rather surprising considering the fact that such a critical content source is seemingly ignored in the marketing practitioner’s process or methods. With access to a product database, technically proficient agencies can make demonstrable optimization progress within a matter of days, with smart tweaks to the most-visible publication available or potentially available to them. The alternative is to work in an ad hoc fashion in regard to what is like the primary source of the data that serves to pull product information into the pages of an ecommerce site.

Once one starts down this path, it is impossible not to think about what the database means to the company in terms of the company’s digital assets, particularly those related to the products and how these are presented to perspective buyers or leads.

Some of the questions an agencies might want to ask ecommerce clients based on their proximity to the database include:

1. Are you using your database to empower other sales channels and internal efforts, and how?

2. Are you sharing your database with distribution points such as retail sales outlets or other re-seller opportunities? Or, do you work with any partners that sell you goods? If not, what are the reasons? Does it make sense to syndicate such data for broader sales?

3. Can this data be appropriated to other projects or purposes that are planned or present today? Is there a place where consolidated use might improve efficiency? Is there a media this data will serve which will expand promotional efforts in an ROI-impacting manner?

4. Can this data be extended, extensible, more universal and more broadly used across the internal and external promotional landscape? Where would this likely be? Who are the stakeholders? What are their goals?

This is just the start of what happens when you begin to consider the power of how one can make product data work for a business, instead of simply using it to meet basic needs. Seeing the product database as an asset, a flexible tool and  means to grow a company’s reach and revenue is the only way to treat a component of business that touches so many other components and even makes them possible in some cases.

In coming posts, we will cover more of what the marketing graph entails and the relationships, methods and contingencies it expresses.