Showing posts from October, 2012

An Introduction to Social Network Analysis

Social network analysis (SNA) is the methodical analysis of social networks.  Social network analysis views social relationships in terms of network theory, consisting of nodes (representing individual actors within the network) and ties (which represent relationships between the individuals).  These networks are often depicted in a social network diagram, where nodes are represented as points and ties are represented as lines.

Example of a social network diagram

Relationships in a network can either be directional or nondirectional.  In a directional relationship, one person is the initiator (or source of the relationship) while the other is the receiver (or destination of the relationship).  For example, in the diagram above, node 1269 is the source while node 3777 is the destination.  Relationships can also be described as dichotomous or valued.  A dichotomous relationship is one where the only information that exists is whether or not a relationship exists between two people, where …

Optimizing Direct Mail Campaigns

Direct Mail Campaigns (and their online equivalents) continue to be a popular method to promote a company's offer to potential customers.  All of us have received letters from retail stores, financial institutions and other companies with special offers that prompt us to take speedy action to avail of a discount, a bonus or similar attractive proposition.  In most cases, I tend to discard these letters without opening them and in rare cases I open them before deciding that they don't apply to me.  My behavior is not unique; typical response rates for direct mail campaigns hover around 2% - 3% which means most folks who receive these direct mailers tend to discard them.  For companies, this is obviously not good news.  Each mailer costs them money (printing and postage) so it is in their best interest not to send out a direct mail to someone that is not likely to respond positively to a campaign.
So for example, a company sends out 1,000,000 direct mailers and gets a response …