Marketing has been and always will be the cornerstone of big business. Technology might have changed how we market our wares but in its essence the song remains the same. The majority of companies operating today will use a database to organise their marketing as it’s by far the most logical and direct platform from which to properly arrange a targeting strategy. Though a decent database of clients and potential clients is an incredibly valuable asset though, it can be difficult to build one from scratch. Here we hope to give you a few pointers so that your businesses database is stacked full of useful contacts, is easy to navigate and is exhaustive without being exhausting.
Making a list
Before you even start to think about setting the gears into motion you’ll need to first draw up a list of all your contacts and potential contacts. You can compile this list from numerous sources, such as existing customers, through mailing lists or even from an electoral register (though simply picking names from a roster in this manner is a bit like firing blind). It’s also possible to look up directories in your local library, though copying an entire list verbatim would count as a breach of copyright.
Buying a list
The most common (and logical) way in which to build a healthy database however is through purchasing lists from the DMA (direct marketing association). In general, lists will cost around £100 for every thousand names. You can purchase (or ‘rent’) lists of either business or consumer contacts but generally consumer contacts are cheaper and depending on your product or service might actually prove to be more valuable to you anyway.
The reason why these lists are so useful is because they will include valuable lifestyle information on contacts that will be able to help you target your marketing campaign more effectively. For example, information such as a contacts income, type of car, marital status and number of children could be used to decipher whether or not they belong on your database. If you’re working for a firm that offers expensive, luxury holidays for example you could target your marketing at those who earn more and will actually be able to afford your product. Adding names to the database that would never be able to afford it in a million years is counter-intuitive and a complete waste of their time and yours. When you’re contacting the DMA, describe clearly exactly the type of consumers you’re looking to attract.
What else should I consider whilst compiling my database?
No duplication – The majority of companies these days will combine their own contacts list with a contacts list bought externally from another source and it’s possible that there could be duplicate contacts as a result. Duplication can prove not only frustrating but damaging as you could be sending out two or three of the same marketing tools to the same contact, which will not only be incredibly wasteful on your part but will make your company seem completely unprofessional.
Follow up – If you have had a success with a contact you bought, remember to add it to your own ‘primary’ database. Keeping the databases of ‘potential’ customers, ‘interested’ customer and ‘return’ customers separate could prove vital.
Check you’re not spamming – Many consumers simply don’t take kindly to direct marketing and will have registered with the mailing preference service so that your marketing materials will not reach them. Be sure to check that none of the names on your database have actively objected to direct mail in the past.
Performance tuning – Though hiring an outside firm to make sure your database is up to scratch might appear a little unnecessary on the surface, many of the world’s top companies outsource database performance tuning to firms that specialise in the practice, especially if they’re experiencing performance problems. Sometimes it’s important to get a set of experienced, impartial eyes on a problem and the vast majority of database specialists will be working remotely so that they can track, monitor and manage your database 24/7 from anywhere in the world! The general aim of a database ‘tune-up’ is to maximise the systems resources so that it works faster and more efficiently without sacrificing its functionality. Many modern databases will include their own software, which will manage their resources internally, but there’s still plenty of wiggle room for efficiency to be improved by technicians who know what they’re doing. A good database performance tune-up should improve your databases response time and overall performance, minimise its potential downtime, make the best use of your hardware and software and reduce any future risk of poor performance to a bare minimum.
A freelance copywriter Jeremy S has worked in the world IT for almost a decade now so has come into contact with numerous database specialists. His own databases are utterly pristine.