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Data mining a very important vestige of the direct marketing world may be falling behind the real time, behavioral tracking of social media and automated demand generation programs out there. I’ve had many recent conversations with database managers starting new positions, and they all want to go back through their various lists, combine them, clean them, get the historical “touch efforts” and then put that data to use.

In the couple conversations I had, I argued that the months of them going through the list could be useless in that the contact list will grow old very quickly. “why not start marketing and get the contacts to self-select, then let the demand generation system track their behavior?” I asked.

The retort, “we want to develop relationships.” Isn’t a behavioral segmentation, that is more recent much more useful that going 2 years back and consolidating all the separate histories. Sure, you could do that in parallel, but I think the concentration on this step is the result of years immersed in data.

We’re really both talking about data, but I’m not sure in a professional services industry, data collection beyond 2 years is really worth much, and the time it takes slows you down for developing engagement now with different media. Spending months pouring over data in this space and not really finding the trends just seems like a lot of work with little return.

I’d clean up the lists, but prioritize based on simple segmentation and start fresh. Bring in new lists to append important segmentation information and market to the list. Now you are getting immediate engagement and can add the long history later if there still appears to be a need.

With today’s newest automated demand generation systems you can track behavior and engagement, then segment based on that behavior and associated demographics. Database managers need to learn how to interpret actual sales cycle behavior as oppossed to just the transactional behaviors. If you are going to perform lifetime value then transactional history is important and can lead to marketing strategy, but an automated lead scoring system does this on the fly, based on strategies set early on.

At the end of the day, the ability to understand the historical data to develop future automated strategies is key. You just have to understand that the definition of history or historical data is now counted in days, not months or years.

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