How do you build and manage one of the most important business assets you have?
Your marketing database is perhaps one of the most critical parts of your business. Of course, as a small business owner, you could argue that you are the most important asset of your business. Still, we’re assuming you don’t want to work on your own forever and can’t remember everything about your customers. Therefore, your database becomes the lifeblood of your business and you can’t effectively run your marketing without it.
Building your own database will help you directly and regularly communicate with your contacts, network better, and allow employees to grow and manage your business.
What is a marketing database?
The term ‘database’ is relatively ambiguous, so here’s what we mean when talking about it in relation to marketing.
In its most basic form, a marketing database is where you store all of your contact information. In marketing, perhaps the most common link or association with the term marketing database is a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM).
Your database doesn’t have to be a fancy system, it could be an Excel Spreadsheet with a list of names and contact information, but it’s usually better if it’s a dedicated system – we’ll explain why later.
Why is YOUR database important?
You may do all of your business through Facebook, LinkedIn or even through re-sellers. So, why do you need to keep a database of customers and prospects?
Remember, these contacts aren’t yours. If Facebook goes down, or you’re LinkedIn account gets blocked or hacked, how are you going to communicate with your customers? These services are communication tools, NOT your database.
Example: Say you want to launch a product through Facebook advertising. Then, suddenly, your Facebook ads account gets automatically blocked because of an unknown ad’s violation – this happens all the time, and you may not have done anything wrong, but it can take days to resolve.
Without Facebook, how are you going to promote your sale? Hopefully, you have been busy building your own email marketing database in the background and can launch a supporting email campaign to announce the promotion yourself.
What should be on a marketing database?
The type of information on your database is dependent on the business. Typically, you’ll want to use your database to store contact details, such as:
- Full name
- Telephone number
- Business address
- Email address
You may also want to group different contact types in line with your customer segments. To learn more about customer segments, please read the second in our How to market your small business series: Organising your customers to grow your business.
What is a CRM system?
A Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) is a place where you can store your contact information. Typically, these systems have tools and processes to help you record interactions with clients, such as recording when you last sent them an email; helping you nurture your relationships with your contacts.
CRM systems can help you automate processes and set tasks related to contacts. In addition, you can record marketing and sales information for each contact and assign lead scoring for a prospect. CRMs also allow you to share connections with others in your business.
If you haven’t already invested in a CRM system, here are some free systems to consider*:
A lot of CRM systems can also be integrated with other platforms, such as an email or SMS marketing service. Combined, you can harness the power of your contact data with communication tools to deliver a sophisticated, efficient marketing campaign with relative ease.
Database marketing: making the most out of your database
Database marketing is about making the most of all your customer data to deliver more personalised, relevant and effective marketing messages to your customers.
Combining all the previous learning from our How to market your small business series, you can populate your database with more than just the standard contact information.
Think about how the likes of Tesco and Amazon promote their goods and services to you? They know precisely what you’ve bought and can tailor their communications specifically to you. This type of communication greatly increases the chance of future sales and gives you plenty of reasons to stay in touch with your contact.
Manage your data wisely
As detailed throughout this article, collecting customer information is essential. However, you need to be wise in how you collect data. Here are some things to consider:
- Build up as many ‘relevant’ contacts as possible
Imagine you’re delivering a presentation on stage at Wembly, and you invite everyone in your database to come and watch. Your presentation has taken you 10 hours to put together. Everyone in your database turns up. Now, have 100 people turned up or have 12,500? The hours you invested are the same, but how many relevant people listen depends on your database.
- Relevance is key
Don’t confuse quantity with quality. 10,000 people may have turned up to your presentation, but was it only relevant to 500 people? Could you have given those 9,500 seats to people who were in a better position to receive that message?
- Respect your data
Imagine if one of your employees stole your database, set up their own company and used the information to poach your clients. You would be pretty annoyed they used your data to do this! As businesses, we need to think the same way for the people who have given us their personal data. Did they give it to us, or did we ‘steal’ (take) it from somewhere else. Respect the importance of the data you have, and your clients will be more willing to share their information with you.
If you don’t already, make sure you understand The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), especially the differences between communication types. Can you only email them directly? Have they agreed to be part of a marketing list, or are they a new contact and you’re using legitimate interest?
How ETC can help
If you need help creating an efficient database to successfully implement your marketing plan, please get in touch.
If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.
*ETC is not affiliated or connected with any of the CRMs listed in this article. We do not endorse a particular CRM. For a complete list, please use your preferred search engine to find other CRM alternatives and conduct your own research.