Your customer database is a powerful sales tool – this four-stage process will help you leverage it for increased profit.

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Regardless of the product or service a business offers, its greatest asset is its existing customer base. To keep in touch with this important group of people it is absolutely essential that your customer database is:

·       Fit for purpose.

·       Contains relevant and accurate data.

·       Provides the information you need to create targeted, personalised marketing campaigns.

Here are four simple steps to achieve those goals.

1. Clean

‘Dirty’ customer data is virtually useless for sales and marketing efforts. Where contact data is out of date, your sales team will find:

·       Calls go unanswered.

·       Targeted offers are no longer reaching the correct person due to internal promotions or departures.

·       Your company begins to develop a bad reputation as a cold-caller, and your staff appear ignorant of their customer base.

Cleaning data involves deleting or updating records to ensure that the information is accurate. When calculating the cost of data cleaning, try factoring in:

·       How any investment in mailing lists or suchlike is wasted if the data is poorly maintained.

·       The cost of potential sales lost because contact data means the sales team cannot contact the right person.

·       The damage caused to your brand when the sales team appears ill-informed or incompetent.

·       The cost of potential fines arising from breaches of the Data Protection Act by not keeping legally-compliant records.

Dirty data may be more costly to keep than it is to clean. You should also seek the services of a professional data cleansing specialist to see how they could reduce the potential overheads of getting everything up to scratch. However, don’t underestimate the importance of this activity as database accuracy can increase B2B messaging effectiveness by 38%.

2. Analyse

Once clean, your customer database is a veritable gold mine of useful information. As well as details of how to get in touch with each contact, your system should allow you to record additional information for further analysis.

Each sales account manager will have notes about conversations and buyer intentions, but you can also glean additional insight:

·       Do certain customers buy in cycles? – If your typical customer buying cycle lasts around nine months, why do your campaigns last only three?

·       Which of your clients have unresolved complaints?

·       Which of your clients could be sold add-on products or services based on their purchase history?

Analysing your data in this way will help you identify the clients and products with which your sales team will have the greatest chance of success.

3. Maintain

Once data has been cleaned, it must be maintained to prevent it from becoming stale and inaccurate. This could include:

·       Implementing filters that check contact data when it is added or amended, to prevent typos or other errors from being saved.

·       Organising regular data cleaning routines to catch errors early and reduce the need for a major database overhaul.

·       Assigning a member of staff to act as a ‘data controller’ who can advise other workers on best practices, perform data clean-ups and check that information is being entered and updated correctly.

Routine maintenance is the best way to avoid repeating the ‘clean’ stage of the customer database management process. Failure to maintain data means that the information stored is less likely to be relevant, and any messages sent based on it will be less successful.

4. Act

Armed with insights generated from clean data, it becomes possible to make informed marketing decisions and begin the process of reaching out to contacts and customers. At this point, your sales team will be able to:

·       Create targeted campaigns based on customer segmentation, thereby increasing the chances of success.

·      Collect data from each campaign that helps give additional insight for future efforts – what worked? What didn’t work? What could be improved?

The customer database should provide far more than a large list of contact details. It should also be the starting point for any and all sales efforts.

‘Segmented campaigns distinctly improved email-newsletter performance.’

Effects of List Segmentation on Email Marketing Stats – MailChimp

·       Open rates were 14.4% higher with segmented marketing messages.

·       Click-through rates were 14.9% higher with segmented marketing messages.

Putting it all together

Your customer database should be a major asset to your sales team and company as a whole. To make sure that is the case:

·       Get your customer data cleaned up. Seek professional assistance if required.

·       Get creative with your data analysis to identify new opportunities for sales.

·       Put systems in place to keep data clean and accurate.

·       Use the insights gathered to make sales.
For more tips on email marketing, download the eguide: 6 tips for email marketing that work