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CASE STUDY - Meredith Corporation Gains Marketing Intelligence

Commentary by Julie Liggett, Senior Business Analyst, Meredith Corporation

Meredith Corporation is one of the nation’s leading media and marketing companies, with businesses focused on magazine and book publishing, television broadcasting, integrated marketing, and interactive media. The Meredith Publishing Group, the country’s foremost home and family authority, features 18 magazine brands, including Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies’ Home Journal, American Baby, and approximately 150 special-interest publications.

Prior to implementing MicroStrategy, Meredith had many roadblocks preventing it from effectively analyzing and reporting on its marketing campaigns. Meredith had multiple data sources with no clear or easy method to analyze campaigns across its publications. “Some of our groups didn’t have an analytical system, or if they did, it was an outdated series of Access databases with a Visual Basic front-end,” explains Julie Liggett, senior business analyst at Meredith Corporation. “This old system couldn’t deliver the information our marketing and circulation managers needed. In addition, it was very inflexible. New report requests would require programmer resources since users couldn’t modify any reports. Certain manual reports were taking support staff literally 40 hours each month to pull together disparate data and then download it to Excel.”

In 2004, Meredith reengineered its customer database and added an ETL process around each of its disparate data sources. Today, Meredith’s marketing campaign data is in one Teradata® data warehouse, and MicroStrategy is the business intelligence standard used to analyze and report on crucial customer information to plan and implement effective marketing campaigns.

Today, we have a global view of our new subscriber, gift promotion, billing renewal, and online marketing campaigns—and the insight gained from one campaign can benefit all the publications.
—Julie Liggett, Senior Business Analyst, Meredith Corporation

Meredith’s business users are now able to track the performance of marketing campaigns and use the information across all of the company’s publications and campaign types. “In the past, the data for each publication and marketing campaign was separate from one another,” says Liggett. “Today, we have a global view of our new subscriber, gift promotion, billing renewal, and online marketing campaigns—and the insight gained from one campaign can benefit all the publications.”

Not only are Meredith’s end users getting transparent access to the data they want, but their operational reporting is also being enhanced. As an example, reconciliation reports are allowing employees to apply real-time fixes to fulfillment issues as they appear. One type of reconciliation report tracks subscription transactions from the time a Web order is taken and written to the database, to the time the order reaches the fulfillment vendor, and through the point that the fulfillment vendor processes the subscription order.

Meredith analyzes promotion profitability using MicroStrategy reports. Meredith is able to determine whether a given promotion campaign was profitable by comparing the revenue received from the promotion against the costs (such as printing or postage) involved.

Meredith is also able to conduct test analysis and apply the uncovered insight to all of its publications. “With MicroStrategy we have a big-picture view of all the magazine test results,” says Liggett. “This kind of analysis helps us spend our test budget wisely and better analyze which test campaigns work really well and which ones don’t work as effectively.”

Meredith has identified real advantages with its reporting system, citing reduced charges with fulfillment vendors, higher employee productivity, and greater focus on planning and implementing marketing campaigns. “Our marketing managers and circulation directors are empowered to work with greater independence and accuracy, and focus on the real issues of our business instead of having to chase down the data,” says Liggett.

“Consider our marketing manager in charge of direct mail campaigns for our largest publication, who’s an avid user of MicroStrategy,” adds Liggett. “She is able to look at the data in ways that she was not able to previously do. It has helped her better plan her campaign and make decisions that ultimately impact the success of the marketing campaign. That’s the beauty of our consumer marketing application. Our trained marketers can consume the data in multiple ways and focus on planning and implementing effective marketing campaigns that increase response rates and revenues, which is the real benefit to having our business intelligence system.”

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