customer database

Making the most of your database will turn contacts into customers – it’s as simple as that. Here are 10 ways to harness every last golden opportunity your business software has to offer.

1. Identify everyone

You’ll want to put every last person into your database in order to have a comprehensive list. This should include professional clients, customers who buy your products or services, potential customers, local and trade press members, business partners, suppliers and contacts from conferences, trade shows, award schemes, networking events and groups.

2. Enter all the current details

Put this information into the database for a more complete listing of each entry: names (see Point 1), mobile numbers, social media contacts (such as LinkedIn pages, Twitter followers and Facebook users), address book entries and business cards. Whenever possible include details of an individual’s business, job title, full contact details, identity tag (are they a client, customer, contact from an event?) and a note about when you last contacted them. You can even rate their potential as a future client if time allows.

3. Email

A lot of small businesses have contact details stored in a variety of programs, which makes using email to target potential customers an ineffective tool. Can you be sure you’ve emailed everyone? Use your database to keep email address in a single location and you won’t have to think twice about it. But keep reading for ideas to make these emails into useful tools rather than spamming readers with unwanted promotional junk.

4. Scope the competition

You can always learn from those who are getting it right. Have a look at what the competitors and businesses whose success you aspire to are doing. Is there a list of important clients featured on their website? A list of retailers? Do some digging into the trade press, too, and find out about the exhibitions, awards and press coverage. Each of these can be added to your database for future contact.

5. Ask for referrals

These are wonderful names to have in your database as they can open a huge number of doors. Think hard about who might prove an asset – business advisers, accountants, suppliers, specialist organisations, trade bodies and top names in the field you may have met at an event or who are members of the same professional groups.

6. Examine media possibilities

Start with social media if you want to be au courant, following people on Twitter, businesses on Facebook and LinkedIn members, then reaching out to bloggers. But don’t neglect other popular outlets such as the local press and radio. Any coverage your business can get will make direct contact with potential customers, so don’t be shy when it comes to shouting from the rooftops and getting others to shout along with you. Enter everything into the database as you go and you’ll be able to come back to them any number of times.

7. Make it personal

Throughout the year you can give customers an incentive to provide a little information about themselves through feedback, surveys and quick follow-up emails. This makes for excellent customer relationship management (CRM) and a deeply personalised approach to running your business. When the time comes to let them know about an opportunity to buy your products and services again, you can engage in some one-to-one marketing, making them feel as though they have a more personal relationship with your business and are considered individuals. That’s pretty powerful stuff and builds loyalty over time. So where do you keep the details about Anne Swanlea’s new puppy, the Kennedy Family’s kitchen renovation or Ben Cromwell’s latest car repair? The database, of course. When it comes time to let them know about a new range of pet grooming services, a high-tech fruit juicer or a promotional offer on winter tyres, your customers will be grateful to be in the know.

8. Create marketing opportunities

As well as identifying current and future customers, your database can also help with identifying presentation opportunities such as trade shows, networking events, conferences and training workshops. There may be a number of people already listed in your records who take part in these promotions and would welcome a chance to see your business there. The Design Trust, for example, lists the best fairs and they are just the sort of supplementary listings you need to make a part of a database that goes the extra mile.

9. De-clutter

You don’t want a database loaded with obsolete or unhelpful information, and this requires a certain amount of annual weeding, pruning and composting – to borrow a horticultural metaphor. Set aside some time to update contact details (yes, we know about that little stack of accumulated business cards hidden in your desk drawer) to keep everything current. Look at the entries in your database and honestly assess whether each of them is likely to be useful before deleting those that aren’t. It will be cheaper and more effective to contact only the people who might be interested in your business and this is the best way to do so. Think of it as a once-a-year task and it won’t seem so awful!

10. Assess whether your current database is good enough

There’s a reason this point has been made last. You can now see how the best software will get the most out of marketing and sales opportunities, and that if it runs well a database is a goldmine of contacts. Think carefully about what your current database is capable of, and if you think your business could do better consider investing in a revamp or replacement.

If you’re considering a new database development that drives business efficiency and you’d like some advice, give our team a call on 020 3096 6199.