Customer data 101: How to start from Scratch – collecting and storing
If you have read our Small Business Growth Formula, you would know that Customer data is at the very heart of any and every successful business and marketing strategy. (If you are not familiar with the Formula, you can discover it here. Trust me, it’s a must-read).
Long gone are the days when you would produce a product and push it to customers using marketing efforts that talk at people. In order for a company irrelevant of its size to be successful in today’s day and age, you need to create products and services that are needed and desired by customers, and offer it to them using methods of engagement.
You need to be on the same level as customers and talk with them rather than at them. In order to achieve those fundamental building blocks on which you would build on later, you need to know who your customers are. And this is why you need customer information and a customer database.
What is a database?
I am so glad that you asked. People often believe that databases are very complicated and expensive. Personally I had my reservations too (Have a look at my 3 Misconceptions about database marketing) but I was wrong!
As it turned out, database marketing is not expensive, it is not complicated and it does make a difference. Maybe you already have a database and don’t even realise it. Do you have customer purchase histories or a log? Invoices or even a spreadsheets with clients’ names and email addresses? If you do, then you are a step closer than you thought!
Is it any different than a spreadsheet?
It is, yes. A spreadsheet compiles information, a database software however allows you to not only store it safely (you will soon find that customer information is a precious company asset), but also allows you to automatically add information through web forms, segment your list, input up the necessary data within seconds and much more!
How do I start?
First things first, invest in a database. Trust me you need it and once you have it you would be wondering how you ever did business without it! Those don’t cost a fortune, actually there quite a few free options out there. Have a look!
Second, make the most of what you’ve got. Remember those invoices, spreadsheets and customer histories I spoke about? Draw all the information together and input it in your database.
Thirdly, never stop on growing. Use every opportunity (online and offline) to collect customer data. Either through online web forms, collecting business cards on a trade show or using a QR Code at the back of your product, continuously keeping your database growing means that you are growing your audience and your clientèle!
Now that you have a database and a nice list of contacts, the real fun can start! Explore your data and look for patterns. Are most of the people on your list single or married, how would that affect how you market your product? Are they are a certain age? Can you group them according to their preferences? Learning from customer data is a real eye-opener and can greatly improve the effectiveness of how you communicate with your prospects.
Another great thing you could do is send out personalized communications. How much better would you look if you can send a Happy Birthday email to a client? Or if you could send a message addressed to them personally as opposed to the Dear Sir/Madam? It is little things like that that make all the difference between success and failure, between you and your competitors.
Captivated? Most people are, and that is why most people have databases. Look at our Growth Formula and discover in more depth how to incorporate Database Marketing in your marketing plan for a minimal cost while maximising results.
Let me know how you get on!