In my role, I meet with way too many marketing teams who are challenged with a rather sad database. Not sad in terms of numbers, but in terms of quality. Many marketing departments have hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of records stored in their digital marketing platform.
For this article, we aren’t going to discuss the number of inactive records in your system – we can save that topic for another time (or, check out re-engagement strategies here). To turn your database frowns upside down, I’m going to outline how you can increase the number of meaningful information fields that you can have about each record.
For many marketers, the information in your database may only be a person’s name while others may also include a physical mailing address and an email address. This is simply not enough to begin having meaningful digital interactions with anyone. As a marketer, you’re simply backed into a corner where all you can do is blast your contacts with static emails that will soon be ignored. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Below, I discuss some ways to improve the quality of your database.
Decide on Six
Start the process by thinking about six pieces of information you would like to know about every person in your database, beyond just a physical address. For example, if you sell ski and snowboard equipment, valuable pieces of information include an individual’s sport preference, skill level, how often they ski or snowboard, preferred mountains/venues, brand preference for gear and if they have additional family members that join them on trips.
Now, as a marketer holding the answers to these questions, you can completely personalize emails and even each individual’s website experience by providing all kinds of helpful relationship building content and product offers. Almost instantly you are adding value to every customer relationship, helping them improve their skiing/snowboarding skills and getting more enjoyment out of the sport. At this point, selling becomes much easier.
Of course, this is just one example, but think about the six things you’d like to know and how you would put the answers to your six questions to use in order to customize your marketing.
Collect Your Six
Once you have decided upon your six questions, it’s time to put a plan in place to get the answers. Here are a few options:
1) Email a Survey Request
The most obvious way to collect the information you need is to create a survey and email it out to your database, hoping for a good response. Chances are you will get some submissions, but most marketers probably won’t get nearly enough for what they really need to make an impact.
2) Install a Pop-over Window
For many marketers, pop-overs on the company website homepage can be a very effective means of collecting valuable information. Consider giving Web visitors an incentive, such as a weekly drawing for a gift certificate. Be mindful to limit the amount of information you ask for beyond the six questions to just the essentials like email address and first name.
3) Use Progressive Profiling
With progressive profiling, marketers can pose new questions each time a contact visits their website or landing page, steadily gaining deeper insight into each individual customer’s interests. This allows marketers to steadily gain all of the information necessary to customize the digital experience for each customer without overwhelming them with an abundance of questions at the beginning of their relationship.
4) Collect via Point of Sale
Instead of the ubiquitous question about zip code, train in-store employees to collect customer email addresses and the answers to a few of the six questions. Also be sure to incorporate a customer’s in-store purchase history into their online experience. The role of the brick and mortar store has moved beyond just selling goods in the store, and has evolved to include the overall customer experience – both on and offline.
5) Train Call Center Reps
Integrating your call center with your digital marketing platform is a long overdue initiative for most companies. There are so many blockbuster benefits of doing this that it should be a high priority for a lot of companies. Once the integration is in place, call center reps can easily ask a few, or all, of the six questions and record each customer’s answers in their system, which will automatically be reflected back to your marketing database. There are a handful of companies that specialize in this process specifically, so although this initiative may require additional budget, the long-term benefits will far exceed the one-time cost.
6) Leverage the Prospecting Process
If you integrate your digital database to your CRM system, then collecting the answers is merely a matter of training your inside and outside reps to ask the questions. Once they understand how much more effective the website, emails and other marketing campaigns will be, they’ll be anxious to get this information into the system.
These are just a few ideas. I’m confident you can come up with several more ways to get this information in your database in a way that is most effective for your business. Once you have these pieces of information, you must put the great data to use! Imagine the possibilities: Dynamically driven emails where each message is tailored to a customer’s particular responses; linking a digital marketing platform with the website Content Management System (CMS) to tailor every individual’s Web experience or letting the data points guide company writers to produce thought leadership that is far more helpful than bland product-centric content.
Collecting data beyond name, address and email will take some time, but there can be huge payoff in your marketing effectiveness. If you’ve successfully gathered unique data points that have positively impacted your marketing efforts, please let me know on Twitter, @EllenValentine.
1) White paper: 31 Tactics for Improving Your Database
2) Blog: 3 Tips for Shifting to a Rules-Based Email Framework
3) Tip sheet: 8 Tips for Thriving in Today’s Data-Driven Marketing World