'It's The (Database) Economy, Stupid!'

Years ago, notorious political mouthpiece, James Carville (who “Family Guy” patriarch Peter Griffin hilariously dubbed “Scary Clown”) uttered the phrase that many credited as a turning point to get Bill Clinton elected; “It’s the economy, stupid.” Succinct and to the point, this rallying cry was more about getting back to basics rather than drumming up something new, fancy and eloquent.

The same can be said of your CRM efforts (just stick with me here.) While we are all steamrolling into the fourth quarter and critical time for most businesses, those of us on the data side are looking behind us, trying to glean some strategy from how things have looked all year. 

(In a word, grim.) 

But the outlook for 2013 could look somewhat better as economic prognosticators look to modest (read: minimal) signs of recovery for the two to three quarters ahead. (After all, it is an election year, per Mr. Carville, right?) So how do you capture that upswing for your own efforts?

Look no further than your database.

What? Spring cleaning in September and October? Yes. In fact now is the time to do a few deep dives into your database and analytics to see where customers are (and are not) in your universe as well as some serious post mortem on your CRM efforts to date.

Through the third quarter, are customers opening more email around the 15th and 30th of the month? 

Are they buying more at the end of a season on sale? 

Are social commerce conversions happening more and more within 12 hours of your posting them? 

Are you tracking engagement over social efforts by number of likes, shares, and pins?

Are lead-gen efforts happening in predictable cadence in the same bumps month over month?

How many customers have you reactivated in the past 90 days? 120 days? 

How many have you “purged” from your email database as they have sat dormant for too long?

How long and how deep are your page views? Time on site? Going up or down?

Sure, it’s a lot of questions but questions you need to be prepared to ask and answer as the new fiscal year has begun for some of you and the new calendar year is just one busy quarter away. Are you ready?

If sales and conversion in your world is down and the fourth quarter makes you nervous, how confident are you in your CRM efforts and database? In most cases, the secret and rationale for the decline can be found in the numeric with the proper analytical eye on it. 

Tablets, mobile, social, direct, media-driven, and viral are all methods of getting customer attention and, granted, the time-starved, distracted consumer is even more difficult to lock in than before. However as you gear up for the fourth quarter romance, are you confident that the budget dollars headed out the door are supported by a robust database and firm grip on your CRM efforts?

Look at your creative; are your efforts matched up perfectly with the performance you have seen over the last two quarters? Are you optimizing? Are you taking into account how email and out-bounds are doing week over week and month over month based upon creative testing? Have you conducted any surveys lately or asked customers how you are doing?

In essence, you need to look behind you in order to accurately chart the course ahead of you. Now is an important time for the business and even the economy overall, for a lot of reasons. Control of those results for your efforts literally sits at your fingertips.

Don’t be stupid, it’s your database.

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