Marketing Database Past-Point-In-Time Views

This is the third issue of an e-letter for direct and database marketing practitioners. The focus is on topics that help you do your job better and make money for your company. In this issue, we will discuss why Best Practices Marketing Database Content "the topic of the first two issues "is essential for Best Practices Strategic Analytics.

Most marketing database developers are not deep-dive data miners. Therefore, all too many of today's databases do not support Best Practices Strategic Analytics. An important factor in these failures is a misunderstanding of Time as it relates to data mining. This is because analytical professionals work in the present, on the past, in anticipation of the future. Therefore, a seminal requirement of a marketing database is the easy and rapid recreation of past-point-in-time views.

Past-point-in-time views are essential for the construction of the analysis and validation files required for predictive models. Likewise, they support the creation of the underlying data required for all cohort analysis, including long-term value and the monitoring of changes in customer inventories such as fluctuations in segment sizes over time.

Past-point-in-time views also are known as "states" or "time-0 views." A third common term, "freeze files," is terminology that refers to archaic database processes. In fact, the following test will help determine if your firm is working with Best Practices Marketing Database Content:

  • Consider a promotional sequence that is done within a marketing database environment; say, a mailing with a follow-up email to your best customers.
  • Assume you intend to perform subsequent deep-dive data mining on this promotional sequence; perhaps, a predictive model or a sophisticated response analysis.
  • If, in conjunction with the database selection ("pull") to execute the promotional sequence, you have to create a "freeze file" so you can do the analysis later, then you are not working with Best Practices Marketing Database Content. This is because, with Best Practices Marketing Database Content, all the data required for deep-dive data mining "by definition "already resides within the database.

The Ten Commandments of Best Practices Marketing Database Content are discussed in detail in a two-part article that appeared in the February 1 and May 1, 2007 issues of Multichannel Merchant. The following are links to the articles:

"The First Five Commandments of Database Content Management," Multichannel Merchant, February 1, 2007, and "The Second Five Commandments of Database Content Management," Multichannel Merchant, May 1, 2007.