Connection Engine and Digital Database Enrichment…Fast, Cheap and Easy. What’s not to Like?


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I’ve hopped down to San Diego for X Change and between pre-Conference prep and the first week of the National Football League, it might be a minor miracle if I finish this post (but obviously miracles do happen). So if you read it sometime around the 18th, don’t be surprised! Tomorrow I start with Think Tank; I’m teaching classes on Use-Case Analysis, Creating an Enterprise-wide Customer Feedback Analysis System, and, of course, a class covering modeling online behavior based on this year’s work and blogs. All very cool stuff.

And speaking of cool stuff, you might be surprised by just how cool some of the current technologies in online data enrichment actually are. If, like me, you grew up in the database marketing world, data enrichment was about like fertilizer to a gardener: part of your everyday life and, of course, essential; but not the exciting fruit of your labors. Well…maybe that’s still true. Online data enrichment has some new wrinkles, however, that make it more interesting than you’d expect.

Connection Engine is a really good example of that.

I’ve known Connection Engine’s founder, Eric Kirby, for years dating back to his time at Merkle. Before Merkle, Eric was SVP at Doubleclick’s Email Solutions division; so he has a great pedigree in digital database marketing.

You can tell, because while Connection Engine is far from the only service of its kind, it’s really easy to use and well thought out. With Connection Engine, you can take your email lists, upload them, and seamlessly append and report on wide variety of enhanced data. It’s so easy, inexpensive and interesting that I’m at a loss to understand why ANY company wouldn’t take advantage of this type of capability.

Connection Engine sources data from some of the massive U.S. Consumer HH databases for their service – with a focus on breadth of coverage for email addresses. You upload your email list and within minutes, you can get fascinating demographic snapshot of your list:

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If you’ve added a few key fields (like Customer Value or Campaign Source) you can slice all of your reports by those fields. That means you can quickly compare the demographics of, for example, emails collected via different campaigns or methods.

You can drill down on any of the metrics:


One aspect that I particularly like about Connection Engine’s reporting is the extensive use made of Baselines and Indexing. You can see, for any variable and any segment, exactly how your list compares to the Avg. U.S. HH list and you can see how any segment of your list compares to the whole. The indexicals make it a snap to quickly identify the unique aspects of your email list and each segment within it:


Core demographics like Age, Income, Family Status and Occupation are powerful and interesting.

That’s only a piece of what you can profile, however.

You also get basic GeoDemographics:


Because this data is based on HH Lookup, it’s more accurate and far more meaningful than what we are used to getting in Web Analytics. Imagine getting Home Value and Length of Residence statistics at the HH level for your list! In the right verticals, that’s golden.

The next slice of data is even more compelling – it’s Household Purchase data:


Note how the view is sorted compared to the baseline to instantly identify the highest relative buying proclivities for a segment or for the list as a whole. You can also take advantage of the vast amounts of data collected around HH interests (based on things like Magazine Subscriptions, Catalog Purchases, Memberships, etc.):


Connection Engine even provides a final "cheat-sheet" of the key indexicals for your list:


I think you’ll agree that it’s a very nice, clean interface and the data opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Keep in mind that this is a CONSUMER database – so Connection Engine may not be the best enrichment tool if you’re a B2B shop.

Everything I’ve shown here is part of the visible, front-end part of Connection Engine. This self-serve list enhancement for data mining is quick and very low-cost; you can even buy back those additional data items. But true to their roots, there’s another equally – maybe more – significant piece. Connection Engine provides modeling services that let you use the known characteristics and performance of your existing list to target new prospects. They also provide modeling to help you identify, on acquisition, the likely value of a new email.

Imagine that…a company that takes your data, enhances it and helps you actually use it to solve real business problems! What’s par for the course in the world of database marketing seems awfully innovative and exciting in the world of Web analytics. And by bringing a self-service online interface and some well-thought out baselining and indexing to provide direct access to a giant consumer database, Connection Engine has truly melded the best of both worlds.

Investing in your data is a critical step in the world of database marketing. Using data enrichment services, you can leverage your initial collection to create vastly more interesting data profiles. Those more interesting data profiles give you the opportunity to do real-world modeling and targeting. It’s the same in digital database marketing. Or, at least, it can be!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gary Angel
Gary is the CEO of Digital Mortar. DM is the leading platform for in-store customer journey analytics. It provides near real-time reporting and analysis of how stores performed including full in-store funnel analysis, segmented customer journey analysis, staff evaluation and optimization, and compliance reporting. Prior to founding Digital Mortar, Gary led Ernst & Young's Digital Analytics practice. His previous company, Semphonic, was acquired by EY in 2013.


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