Effective email database management unlocks major marketing gains

Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012

For advertisers, managing the email database infrastructure that they use to store contact data for existing and potential customers is among the least exciting things possible. For most, the thought of developing creative marketing plans and innovating how consumers are reached is much more interesting. However, a recent Dynamic Business report explained that while not the most exciting process, database management has the potential to deliver considerable benefits when performed well - and carries potential for major headaches if it gets messed up. As a result, it is vital that organizations evaluate how to best manage their email databases and move forward strategically.

According to the news source, the primary issue facing marketers is whether they should have a single email database or two. When looked at broadly, both methods offer pros and cons, and some organizations will certainly be better off with two separate email databases. However, with a second database comes another set of management concerns. Handling a single database will usually be simpler from a technical and operational perspective, making a single email database approach the best in most instances.

Having a single email database can be much easier from a subscriber management perspective. To illustrate this, the news source explained that many businesses with multiple email databases will use one for a newsletter and one for promotional marketing emails. But in the eyes of the subscriber, they are both the same. As a result, when an individual decides to unsubscribe to a company's marketing emails, they expect that they won't be hearing from that organization again. Most database management programs will automatically input that command and remove the customer from the list. But if an organization has two email databases, the customer may have only unsubscribed to the newsletter, but not the promotions. This problem is one of the primary causes of spam compliance issues, and having a single email database can make it much easier to avoid regulatory trouble and customer frustration.

Updates are also simpler within a single-database setup. The report said a good database management platform will allow customers to update their own contact data to make sure it is accurate. Within a single email database, this is extremely easy. When client information is spread over multiple DBs, the system needs to be equipped to automatically query all of the database systems and ensure that the old information is deleted in each one and replaced with the updated content in every instance. This can be a major challenge when establishing database infrastructure, while also hurting business prospects if data is right in one system and wrong in another.

Having a single database also makes it much easier to identify if users are engaging with emails or simply deleting them immediately, according to the news source. Tracking whether marketing emails are opened, whether links are clicked and how much time is spent viewing the message is among the most important tasks when evaluating how successful the message was. However, when this information is spread over multiple email databases it has to somehow be compiled and analyzed, requiring specialist tools and creating expense. This is another area where putting the email-related information into a single database can simplify operations.

Establishing a single database that can handle all email-related functions can be difficult, but working with an open source database system can help. For the most part, open source databases are much easier to customize in an effort to meet specific requirements. This is especially handy when consolidating into a single email database, as various aspects of the system will need to play different roles to make sure data is gathered and analyzed effectively.