Building Your Database
DATABASE BASICS TO GET YOU STARTED
Before we begin, this article is for those either first starting out in business or have been in business for a while, however unsure where to start when it comes to building their database.
When it comes to building a valuable database, our philosophy is to approach it like you have plans to sell your business at some stage (even if you don’t). One of the first things you’re asked when selling a business is “Have you got a database?”. To a prospective buyer, it’s one of the most lucrative and valuable assets a business can acquire.
The upside to having collected all of this database information is that, while you run the business, you can also leverage it to keep in contact with your existing and prospective customers.
Defining What A Database Is
What we mean by ‘database’, we refer to the collation of names, emails and even phone numbers for not only your customers, but also anyone who had ever made an enquiry with you.
As Said By Xero
“Think of a customer database as an interactive and intelligent contact list. Your database stores valuable information about your customers, such as emails, demographics, and purchasing history. The database provides visibility over customers who are buying your products or services, while driving acquisition, retention, and development of your customer base. You can make more informed selling decisions, as the most likely future customers are those who have bought from you in the past.”
What Data Do You Need?
As very much a starting point, we suggest collecting both the first name and email address. This is the bare minimum you’ll require if you’re planning to send email newsletters with their name at the top. For actual clients, you’d also need to collect their phone number/s and any other details pertaining to their business with you as described by Xero above.
Over time, if you also collect other information, like birthdates and what products/services they are interested in, you can further segment and send custom sales emails to suit.
How to Manage Your Database + Send Emails
DIRECT EMAIL | If you only have a small database, sending out a direct email, remembering to BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) your email recipients so they cannot see each other’s email could prove a nice and simple temporary solution. The only problem with emailing your database via direct email is that most email platforms (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, Office 365) automatically detect if an email is being sent out to a lot of people and could assume your email is spam.
Also, with this method, you’ll need to manually maintain a list of what email addresses have subscribed and unsubscribed to your list to ensure your sending these communications out to the right people each and every time. Using dedicated email marketing software will allow you to grow your database without any of these concerns.
If you’re starting small and don’t mind a bit more manual labour,
then this very basic Excel database spreadsheet is a nice place to start.
WEBSITE HOSTED | MailPoet is specifically for WordPress-powered websites and is a good starting point. It’s cost effective solution that take care of the database management, the sending of your emails as well as provides a collection of templates that you can modify to suit you. It’s also fairly easy to synchronise your enquiry forms and online sales software to automatically add prospects and customers to your MailPoet database as you go. Adding subscribers manually is available as well.
EXTERNAL DATABASE + EMAIL MARKETING | If your looking for a solution with a few more features, like sales funnel tracking, email marketing automation and reminders, then Active Campaigns is a fantastic option. This is what we use here at Web-Sta.
Both of these two email marketing platforms allow you to track how an email campaign is going with specific statistics on who opened each email and who clicked on what links. From here you can determine who your ‘warm’ leads are, and which topics or offers are most attractive to your database. You could then make follow up contact that could lead to stronger wonderful connections and increases in sales.
How To Encourage Database Growth
We a few different and basic approaches here that will cover you for the basics.
1 | Online Enquiries
Anyone who visits your website and completes an online form can be automatically added to your database. The idea is, even if they’re not interested in doing business with you straight away, by staying in contact with them, you maximise your chances of being their first point of call when they are.
You can also manually add any other prospects to your database as sourced through things like:
- Business cards collected at a networking meeting
- Direct email sent to you enquiring about your offering/s
- Facebook enquiries captured in comments or direct messaging
- LinkedIn contacts
- Other external advertising platforms
NOTE: Be sure to ask their permission before subscribing them to your database. If you have the intention of sending out email newsletters (more on this in a moment), you’ll need to adhere to Anti Spam laws.
2 | Blogging
Blogging has a bit of a two-fold purpose and benefit.
Firstly, by publishing relevant and engaging blogs on your website, you’re positioning your business as gurus in the field. Imagine a prospective customer is doing their research and likes what they read in one of your blog articles. By offering them the Call To Action (CTA) to either send you an enquiry or subscribe to receive future newsletters (like we have done at the bottom of this article), you’re effectively gaining access to someone who is already engaged and interested in what you do.
Secondly, by referencing your blog articles as part of your newsletter content, you’re further demonstrating, to your audience, that you know your stuff or that your product is worthy of their investment.
There are also a number of added benefits of using your blog articles as your newsletter content:
- It duel-purposes this content and your effort | 1 piece of content published both on your website and in your newsletter
- Google really, really likes it when you blog | we’ve gone more in depth about why you need to add more content to your website for the purposes of search engine ranking.
Keeping Your Database Engaged
The furthest reaching strategy is to send out a regular email newsletter or email campaign. Depending on your marketing plan, a newsletter may suit your audience more vs a salesy-focused promotional email.
An ideal approach is a mix of the following:
FREE Resources | in the form of helpful blog articles (as mentioned above), training resources, checklists and service date reminders. You can get quite creative with these and yes, this is adaptable to almost any industry. Sending this out quarterly or even monthly is a nice way of staying in contact with your audience.
Promotional Emails | this can include your latest special service deal, an announcement for new products or sharing a competition you’re running. A lot of high-turnover retailers use almost badgering email marketing techniques because they often have databases of 10000’s of customers so are almost guaranteed a boost in online sales each time they send out a promotion.
By leveraging a balance of these two types of emails, you can not only keep your audience engaged (and happy to read your emails), but also convert your efforts into sales. And YES, this strategy can also work for service based business too. It’s not exclusive for retail.
The Wrap Up
Whichever database platform you choose, remain mindful that it’s about the connection and growing the relationship with your audience. If a customer (or potential customer) is happy for you to regularly be contacting them, it means they like something they’ve seen or experienced with your business. Don’t let that interest slowly die – connect, build that relationship and don’t always be focused on grabbing sale. Business is so much more than that.
Here’s that link again to an Excel Spreadsheet template to get you started.
Be sure to download a copy to your hard drive before you begin filling it out!
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