Database marketing is a term for information-rich marketing efforts that rely on carefully aggregated database information. Although many kinds of marketing use consumer information, database marketing is distinguished by a specific kind of approach that uses database information to crunch the numbers on demographics, come up with specific target audiences and otherwise direct marketing efforts.
Database marketing really began to come about after the mainstream use of databases in enterprises in the 1980s and 1990s (aspects of this marketing approach are sometimes attributed to efforts by consultants Robert and Kate Kestnbaum in the late 1980s). In some ways, database marketing is often a form of direct mailing — systems interpret database information, identify consumer trends and craft marketing communications accordingly. Some database marketing techniques seem like "spam" or use auto mailing of content that many consumers do not like, and so many of these systems have "unsubscribe" tools built into them.
Database marketing relies on a number of relatively new technology enterprise tools. The traditional relational database has given way to brand-new information container systems that allow businesses to do much more with the customer data that they have. Goals involved in database marketing may include identifying certain kinds of VIP customers by their purchase histories or inspecting the use of social media pages or websites by consumers. These approaches rely on big data, which have become a big part of business in the 21st century, and on analytics tools as well as automated marketing tools that can take those data and act on them efficiently.