why-you-should-collect-a-customer-database

If you own or manage a business in New Zealand and are interested in creating an effective marketing strategy, improving the relationship between your sales team and your customers, and maximising the capabilities of your support services, collecting a customer database could be your golden ticket to achieving all of these goals.

Simply recording a few details about the people that buy your goods or services will allow you to:

  • begin database marketing from real-time data;
  • understand your audience;
  • gain insights into the buying patterns of your customers;
  • personalise engagement strategies, and;
  • equip your sales team with the tools to succeed.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Fortunately, once you know how to collect your customer data and exactly how to leverage it, you'll begin to see results quickly.

Here's your guide to get started on collecting your own customer database.

What Type of Customer Data to Collect

The type of data you need to collect from your customers will differ from business to business and should be relevant to what you're planning on doing with the data. Ideally you'll aim to find the fine line between asking the right amount of questions about your customers so they're not irritated or reluctant to share information, and finding out as much as possible about your customers so that you can tailor your sales, marketing, and services accordingly.

Typically if you're surveying your customers with the aim of discovering who they are, you'll want to collect Personal Data:

  • Name (first and last if possible)
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Profession

For sales and marketing data that you're aiming to put into your CRM and develop strategies from, you might want to collect more complete data:

  • Company Name
  • Role Title
  • Location (or address if possible)

If your goal is to develop your products or services based on customer data insights, the data you collect might need to shift to Engagement, Behavioural and Attitudinal Data:

  • Interactions with your brand (social media, in person, shopping cart, ads)
  • Product usage
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Preferences
  • Motivations and challenges

Its important to note that your customers may not want to submit a full scale of their personal information and that's okay! It's all about finding the line between what you need to know for a purpose, and what your customers are willing to share. If you're not sure where that line is, run a series of tests to see which set of questions perform best.

How to Collect Customer Data

Once you've defined what kind of data you want to collect, it's time to establish how you're going to collect and organise that data from your customers. There are a few tried and tested techniques.

Manually and In-Person

Particularly if you're a business that has a shopfront where you're connecting with customers daily, a great place to start is by requesting information of your customers when they're with you. This could be through filling out a survey or review in exchange for an incentive, or simply by recording their name and email to sign up for a deal or loyalty programme.

Online Forms

The most commonly used way to collect data by marketers is through online forms (embedded on websites, landing pages, blogs, emails and social media) that are linked back to a selected CRM or marketing software.

When creating an online form, you can enter just about any field you can imagine - but it's best practice to consider where your customer is at on their buyers journey and ask only relevant questions. For instance, longer forms will be ineffective early in your engagement. Make sure to provide appropriate rewards/incentives when your customers provide their data.

Social Media

If your business has social media accounts (particularly Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram) you're in the perfect position to begin learning from the type of engagements you're receiving from your audience. Social networks are a proven source of information for your database.

Besides analysing the profiles of your followers and gauging who your audience is, you can look into the impact of each post, reviewing shares, likes and comments, and gain an idea of sentiment and brand perception.

How to Leverage Your Customer Details

Once you've completed step one (defining what kind of data you're going to collect) as well as step two (how you're going to collect the required information), you're ready to create a strategy on how to leverage the customer details you've collected. Here are three of the best ways we've observed customer data used.

1. Database Marketing

Once you have your customer's details and, in particular, their email address, you have all the tools you need to begin marketing to your database. As a marketer or a business owner embarking on their first database marketing journey, you're in a position to connect with your customers on a personalised level with the right messaging at the right time and measure the results.

To market to your database of customer details you can:

  • Identify groups of customers with particular commonalities such as when they joined your database, if they're a potential, new or repeat customer, and where they first engaged with your brand.
  • Personalised messaging in your marketing communications as you have each customers details at your disposal. This can be as simple as saying 'Hi Steve', rather than 'Hi there' in an email subject line.
  • Provide the right value to your segmented customer groups. For example, offer a loyalty rewards program to repeat customers, or offer discounts to potential customers who have not yet made a purchase.
  • Build lookalike audiences to increase your reach to people who are similar to those who have engaged with your brand before.

Of course, this is only scratching the surfaces of what you can achieve with your digital marketing. For more information on exactly how to execute this, checkout our blog: Kick Off Your Online Marketing: 5 Steps for Small Businesses

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2. Sales Enablement

Thanks to the information you've collected on your customers, your sales team will have a greater insight into who they're talking to and where the customer is in the buyers' journey - before they even send an email or pick up a phone. Combining data insights with sales is a sure-fire way to amplify your sales activity and generate ROI effectively.

To integrate your customer data with your sales team, you can:

  • Get your team to use a CRM such as Salesforce or Hubspot which records information about your customers as it's collected, and offers real time insights into your customer activity, such as when they're reading an email you've sent, or when they've engaged with your website or social media. This way your sales team can strike while the iron is hot.
  • Provide insight from your marketing efforts as to where a customer is in their buyers' journey, so your sales team can only attempt to close deals with customers who are ready to make a decision.
  • Use data to inform price points and develop value propositions that appeal to each customer segment, based on buying habits.
  • Analyse transactions to inform your sales team which products and services are performing well, and which are under-performing. From here, you can focus you sales efforts accordingly.

For more information on using customer data to boost your sales, check out our blog: 5 Buyer Behaviour Secrets to Grow Sales.

3. Improve Support Services

If you're a small business you probably already know that a lot of your brand perception and reputation comes down to how your employees handle support services and look after your customers' needs. In fact, every year U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service. The great news is, by keeping a customer database and collecting data, you can significantly improve how you identify and handle your customers' pain-points.

For example:

  • According to the Harvard Business Review, acquiring a customer is 5 to 25 times more expensive than keeping a current one. With this in mind, using customer data to ensure that you're doing all you can to retain your customers and lower your churn rate, as well as identify when you're about to lose a customer, is key.
  • Analysing the sentiment of your customer frustrations through quick customer satisfaction surveys will enable your support team to learn where they can improve in their service process.
  • Creating chatbots that are personalised using customer data and offer immediate FAQ help to customers who have simple troubleshooting issues will save time and offer around-the-clock support to your customers.
  • 75% of people who contact a company for customer support via social media expect a response within an hour. For that reason alone, we'd suggest using your customer data to know when someone has been left hanging and respond immediately to avoid any damage to your brand reputation.

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