December 12


Growing Your Database

By Georgia Davis

December 12, 2019

Building Your Database

"The money is in the list” and you should be deadly serious about making the most of your database.

For pretty much any business, your database is the heart and soul of your marketing. Everything revolves around your database.

When we talk about your database, we’re talking about your list of people...

  • who have bought from you in the past

  • who are buying from you right now, or

  • who might buy from you in the future

Your customer database is perhaps the most powerful – and often overlooked – tool in your marketing arsenal. 

Whether you’re a start-up business finding its feet, or an established company looking to take their marketing to the next level, you need a solid database marketing strategy.

Growing Your List: The Basics

The results you’ll get from bought data, scraped lists or otherwise ‘acquired’ databases will NEVER be as rich or effective as a database that you’ve lovingly built by hand. Databases aren’t about numbers. 

Databases are all about the quality and completeness of your data and the relevancy of the contacts you add to your list. In an ideal world all the data on your database should have been organically gathered by you but sometimes you can speed up your database building process by adding big chunks of data to it. 

There are 3 ways of building your database:

Organic Growth

Growing your list organically isn’t the fastest way, but it’s the best.

This is organic growth, adding prospects and customers one at a time to your list.

Buying Data

There are plenty of list-brokers who’ll sell or rent you data, some of them are better than others, but it’s possible to click a few buttons and quickly add thousands of people to your list.

Making this strategy work is about finding and buying the right data - get it wrong and you’ll be spamming people who don’t want what you’ve got.

Scraping Data

Scraping data is a cinch. Log onto the website of an organisation that lists its members, or a government database that lists members of a particular industry and simply copy the data to build your database.

Of course, the easier the data is to find and scrape, the more people are likely to have done it.

Growing Your Database Organically

Building your database organically doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long-term, on-going process that will see you develop a valuable, powerful marketing tool for your business.

To help you do this, we’ve broken the process of building and managing your database into three simple steps.

Defining The Information You Want To Collect

The first step is to outline exactly what information you need to collect from your customers in order to market to them successfully. The secret is to strike the perfect balance asking for so little information that nobody thinks twice about giving it to you, whilst also making sure you get all of the information you need to market to them. Think about the last time you were asked for your data by a brand or business. If they asked too many questions, chances are you simply didn’t bother. Your prospects and customers will think in exactly the same way. It’s important to ask for the vital contact information first, and as your relationship deepens, you can find out more.

Here are the key things we’d recommend you asking for initially:

  • Customer Name
  • Contact Information 
  • Additional Information (relevant and needed for your services) 

The trick is to keep your data-capture forms short and sweet.

Working Out How You're Going To Collect It

As with all forms of marketing, there is most definitely a RIGHT and a WRONG way to capture your data. The examples below look at some of these right and wrong ways.

Online Data Collection

You can build your list very quickly online. A tried and tested strategy is to drive paid traffic from Google AdWords or Facebook over to a Landing Page.

Offline Data Collection

In an environment where you actually see your prospects or customers (retail, restaurant etc) just ask them for their details. Get a form and give it to them with a pen.

It’s the asking that makes the difference though so you’ll need to think about when the right point is to capture people’s details. You’ll need to give people a reason to hand over their details: maybe to join a VIP club, to get a special offer or get a free trial or to enter a prize draw.

Prize draws and competitions can be a great way to build your database up quickly, but it’s important to make sure the prize on offer is related to your business; if you use a prize with broad appeal (an iPad, say) then you’ll be getting quantity over quality.

Offer something that’s only relevant or valuable to your target market and you’re much more likely to attract entries – and therefore capture data from – a demographic that is genuinely interested in your business.

Growing Your Database By Buying Or Renting Data

What Is Bought Data?

Like most forms of lead generation, buying data comes at a cost-per-contact, usually expressed as a price per thousand contacts. Most good lists have more information than just the name and contact details of each person on the database. So you can specify the additional information that’s of interest to you.

For example, if you’re buying a list of people who’ve bought clothes from a particular online retailer then you might be interested in:

  • when they bought the clothes?
  • have they placed any orders recently, or in the last 12 months?
  • how much they’ve spent in total? More than £1000?
  • whether they are multi-buyers or they’ve only made a single purchase?
  • how old the buyer is?

Sometimes there might be an additional fee for overlaying additional information, sometimes not. For example, if you’re buying the list from a clothes retailer and you only sell ladies clothes, then you’re going to want to specify gender, so it’s worth understanding what selections are available. 

Compiled Vs Response Data

Compiled lists are large databases that have been gathered from a source like the electoral roll, the phone books, credit files, or other public record sources.

Response databases are lists of people who have purchased a particular product or service, or subscribed to a particular magazine.

Response lists are usually more expensive, but they are also much more targeted. Using a targeted response list of people who have purchased goods or requested information on a similar or complementary product will produce a higher response, so although your list investment will be higher, your ROI is likely to be too. 

Where To Buy And Rent Data

You’ll be able to find a plethora of data sources online, so do your research and find out which specialise in the kind of data you need. Some great places to start include: 

Adding Bought Data To Your List

Growing your database through bought data isn’t as simple as buying it, uploading it to your CRM and patting yourself on the back.

For a start, if you’re using response data, it’s likely that you’ll only be “renting” the list, rather than buying it outright. You’ll be able to mail the list (or the segment of the list you’ve selected) an agreed number of times, then you’re done. You don’t own the data, so even if you get your hands on it, you can’t just add it to your list. Any decent list broker will have ‘seeded’ the data, so they’ll quickly spot if you’ve mailed the list more times than you’ve agreed and paid for.

You CAN use rented data to grow your list. You just need to be a bit smart about it. 

Instead of trying to sell to the list, use it to generate leads. Find out who’s interested and who’s not. Find out who’s responsive and who doesn’t want to hear from you again. Drive the traffic to a squeeze page where you can capture the contact details of people who are really interested in what you’ve got. Use a simple “tripwire” strategy to sell something relevant for a very low price point (£2 - £15) to see who’s prepared to spend money. Do this bit right and you can rent a list of thousands of contacts and quickly whittle it down to a much smaller and much more responsive list. That new list belongs to you. 

Of course, if you’ve bought the data outright then you own it, so you could add it all to your database, but you’d still be smart to run a process like that described above to identify your hottest, most engaged prospects.That’s just good database management. There’s no quicker way to waste money than to treat your whole list the same. The key to success is to segment, categorise and segment again.

Growing Your List: The Next Steps

Keeping The Wheels Turning

Your database is one of the most valuable tools at your disposal, treat it with respect. A couple of tips to keep your list ever-growing and maintained:

  • manage your database using a proper tool, like a CRM software. 
  • Only allow trusted members of staff full access to the database.
  • Make regular back-ups.
Stay In Touch

Once you’ve got processes in place for collecting data and building your list, you need to start working on your relationships with those new people. You need to keep in regular contact in order to thaw them out and convert them into paying customers. No matter what marketing methods you plan on employing, the goals are the same: Remind them about what you do and that you’re still there. It really is as simple as that.

You should however, avoid making the mistake of jumping in with the hard sell right away. This will only put your customers off and see you falling at the first hurdle. Instead, focus on giving genuine value through every point of contact and building relationships.

Personalise every communication you have with those on your database and be sure to mix things up. It can get boring – for both you and your customers – if you only ever send out the same kinds of marketing.

Here are just a few ways you can communicate with your database:

  • A regular newsletter (monthly works best)
  •  Regular informal emails from you
  •  Irregular postcards with offers on
  •  Handwritten letters
  •  Mini-courses on topics that you have unique expertise
  •  Regular reports or white papers that are appropriate for your market
  •  Mailing (or offering to mail) freebies, samples and trials
  •  Podcasts and Videos
  •  Exclusive invitations to events
Measuring Your Success

It’s not preaching to the choir when we say you should be tracking and measuring your marketing. When you’re marketing with your own database, this is easier than you may think.

In fact, your software should allow you to set up your campaigns and track: 

  • The number of leads/sales resulting from each piece within each campaign
  • The cost of those leads and sales
  • The ROI and relative performance of each element within an integrated campaign

In need of a CRM to store your contacts?

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool is a business must have, for reasons like maintaining an effective customer database. If you would like to hear more about the CRM Keap have to offer, and how we can help get you set up, give us a call now. 

Georgia Davis

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