What Data Is Needed To Build A Data Warehouse for Direct Marketing?

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Once a marketer has decided to invest in a data warehouse for direct marketing, the next step is to determine what data is available to build the database. The answer to this question varies by industry and company, however, there are some guidelines which can be adapted to each situation.

Data Sources Needed to Build a Data Warehouse


Most businesses start by determining the best sources of their customer data. Your customer list may exist in a CRM system. Or possibly in your accounting software. Other times, a point-of-sale (POS) system may contain this data. Regardless of the source, the list of your customers used to create viable mailing and email lists is a key component for the data warehouse.


CRM systems exist in many different forms, and often are a data source for leads. Also common is the “spreadmart”, where data is contained in multiple spreadsheets. If this is the situation in your organization, don’t be afraid! There are experts in data management who can consolidate these worksheets while tracking the source of the data.

Behavior Traits

Knowing who your customers or leads are is a good start. Knowing how they behave is even better. Does your POS or e-commerce site contain purchase transactions? Or can these be extracted from a business management or accounting system? With leads, do you know how they entered your sales funnel? Did they express a particular interest or share information?

Products or Services

What does your organization provide to customers? Are there product SKUs or service codes available?

Distribution Channel(s)

How do you deliver your product or service to market? Do you have retail locations? Or a website with shopping or a registration feature? Or are you B-to-B with a sales force or channel partners?

Promotion History

Do you have the history of recent promotions? Is there data and metrics such as campaign date, channel cost, and response rates? The source of this data is almost always in spreadsheets. In a small number of organizations, a campaign management system or database exists.

Data Dictionary

If at all possible, a document should be created that provides a roadmap for the data used to build the marketing database. This best practice will accelerate the timeline between the initial build and analytical insight.

I help marketing leaders and their teams innovate by utilizing business acumen, technology, and data. I am energized by the process of learning about organizational challenges, specifying the root causes and effects, and then envisioning a desired future state. I then prioritize tasks for both myself and team members to make that vision into reality. My passion is solving problems, reducing complexity, and creating elegant systems that deliver significant insight and value.

About us and this blog

Welcome to the dDirect Blog where we will write about direct marketing for CMO's, Marketing Directors, Marketing Managers interested in marketing data solutions, data management, database marketing, marketing metrics, analytics, marketing technology as it applies to direct, digital printing for direct mail, postal issues and more. Please feel free to share and query us about our articles.

Tom Coggin, President

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