How to Grow Your Data Driven Marketing Customer Base - dummies

How to Grow Your Data Driven Marketing Customer Base

By David Semmelroth

Your data driven marketing database is about your customers — not just your current customers, but also your potential customers, otherwise known as prospects. It’s not enough to keep your current customers happy and doing business with you. You need new customers to grow. You’re always looking for prospective customers. Knowing who has shown some interest in your products gives you a head start in this search.

How to identify online shoppers with data driven marketing

Your website is a natural place to look. People do a lot of shopping online. By encouraging them to register while they’re exploring your website, you can create an ongoing stream of prospective customers.

It’s sometimes surprising how little incentive many people need to register on your website. You don’t necessarily need to offer them special discounts. Sometimes it’s as simple as offering them access to a planning tool or other convenience in exchange for the registration information. The idea is that you’re trading information with your potential customer.

The power of this approach is that you get more than the customer’s contact information. You now know that the customer is interested in you.

Automobile companies allow customers to select features and packages. Then, in exchange for their registration, they display a full color photo of the resulting car, complete with price and availability.

Many hotels and travel companies offer vacation-planning tools in exchange for registration. Maps, videos of the destination, and suggested itineraries are all examples of companies trading information with their potential customers.

In trying to generate website registrations, being reasonable about the amount of data you are trying to collect is important. Asking prospects to fill out an extensive form with their name, address, telephone number, and other personal information can be off-putting. At the very least, it takes away from whatever convenience you’ve told them could be gained by registering.

Keep it simple. Sometimes just requesting the customer’s e-mail address can be enough to get started. It’s very easy to collect more detailed information when they decide to make a purchase. At that point, they need to provide that information to pay and receive shipment of their purchase anyway.

How to use call center data in data driven marketing

If your company operates a call center, it can be another valuable source of information on customers’ interests. Call centers are used for a variety of reasons. Customers call in to place orders, submit service requests, make payments, and complain about problems. Regardless of the reason, the call center agents are in a unique position to gather information about callers’ interests and situations.

Though it takes an investment in technology, much of this information can be captured and fed into your marketing database. It’s become standard operating procedure for medium to large companies to implement call center systems designed to capture customer data. These systems also feed data to the call center agents from other sources, including marketing databases.

This type of call center system is often called customer relationship management (CRM) or sometimes sales force automation. Oracle/Siebel and SAP are two of the biggest players in this market. But there are literally hundreds of other companies that have products in the market across a broad spectrum of prices. Once again, the Direct Marketing Association’s website, is a good place to start.

Some other sources of data driven marketing prospects

Newsletters are another useful tool in generating prospective customer lists. The principle is the same here as with web registrations. You give the customer something of value to them — namely, news about upcoming events and offers. The customer gives you their contact information along with an implicit acknowledgment that they have an interest in your product.

You may also have some opportunities to identify prospective customers in your internal source systems. The nature of these opportunities is highly dependent on your particular business and on your company’s system infrastructure. But you should certainly explore these opportunities. At the very least, have some informal conversations with some of the folks who interact directly with your customers.

When all else fails, you have another option: Buy a list. There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of companies that are willing to sell you lists of prospective customers. Many of them will work with you to define a prospective customer profile and provide only names that meet this profile. The Direct Marketing Association website is a good place to find list providers.

The quality of purchased lists varies dramatically among list providers. It’s important to understand where a list provider gets its data and how detailed it is. If you get vague answers to your questions on this subject, it’s a red flag. Many providers brag about having very detailed age and income data. But in some cases, this data is really only reflective of averages by neighborhood.

One effective way to evaluate a list provider’s data is to hand them a sample of names from your own database. Ask them to pick out those names that fit the customer profile you want to purchase. By comparing their results to the information you have in your database, you can get a good sense of how well they are doing.

Regardless of where you find them, converting prospects into customers is a core part of your job as a database marketer. So much useful data can be found outside your company’s operational systems. Going that route gives you the freedom to get creative about ways to engage your potential customers without needing to worry too much about impacting the core business systems.