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Direct Marketing Essentials – Know and Keep Your Customers by Using Your Database
So why in the world do you need to keep a database anyway? Well, here are some reasons:
- Provides a comprehensive picture of customers and prospects
- Increases the value of your customers by providing an opportunity to sell and cross sell
- Allows you to match products and services to customers’ wants and needs
- This is the perfect tool to help you build relationships with customers
- Helps retain existing customers and acquire new customers
- To give a definition for the common database, it is just a way for you to record relevant data about your customers and prospects. It only includes information to help you maintain a relationship with your existing customers by recording a history of communication over time.
- Databases should be planned and developed as a separate entity in your overall strategic plan. If you are a small business, then recording information in an excel spreadsheet should be easy(Just make sure you back it up on more than one computer, or an external hard drive).
- Larger businesses often prefer an off-the-shelf or purpose-built database system that can be tailored to specific business needs or easily integrated with other database systems used eg Sales, financial and operational .
- The key aspects to keep in mind when planning your database are:
- How you collect data
- What type of analysis will be done
- How you report the data
Be very careful when collecting customer information. If you sell consumer-based products like beer, then asking for a customer’s job title is not important information. However, if you are marketing a conference in a specific industry, then this type of information is exactly what you are looking for.
I also learned that the more fields the customer has to complete, the less likely they are to complete the transaction, whether it’s an email inquiry or purchasing a product online. So make sure you only collect as much information as you need.
In some cases, you can ask additional questions that will help you gain more insight into the customer. For example, requesting a customer’s birthday may help you provide a special birthday offer.
Collection of Customer Data on the Internet
Many businesses these days allow customers to update and manage their own personal information using a secure page within their website. The benefits are significant, where the customer actually becomes the operator of the data. No manual input is required in the business and less administration costs are incurred as a result. The internet directly feeds the database in real time.
Fairfax Media sets a good example, where you can choose the online content you want to receive and you keep your address and contact information relevant. BPay is another good example of customers being able to update their financial data in real time. If your credit card has expired, then your transaction will not be processed until the new details are updated and approved by the transactional system.
Learn From Your Database – Analysis and Segmentation
Your business database is a multi-dimensional one that provides a lot of information about your customers. You need to be able to analyze and segment it quickly, while building and keeping customers.
Data typically collected may include geographic information such as address details, demographic information such as age, marital status or the number of children. Whereas psychographic information usually includes more abstract characteristics such as interests and opinions.
A common example of database segmentation might include analyzing the geographic trends of your customers, derived from the collection of address information. If you know that there are some suburbs that buy from you, then it might be useful to do a mail drop in these suburbs, or give a more personalized offer to your prospects, maybe You join a list broking company that specializes in gathering customer information that fits your customer profiles.
Renting a list for a one-time non-use usually charges a $250 set up fee, then databases can cost anywhere between $300 and $500 per thousand depending on how accurate the data is, who its owner and how much customer information you are requesting (eg email and mail).
Please remember that a rented list is just a one-dimensional database and is more commonly used to test against your database, usually in acquisition marketing campaigns.
Financial Data – A Simple Guide to Analyzing RFM Transactions
When evaluating customers’ past buying behavior there are three principles you should be aware of, which will provide valuable information on your customer’s buying habits. These are:
The Acronym is clear: RFM
Newness is the most predictive tool, which allows you to document the latest purchase or communication activity.
A general assumption can be that the most recent customers are the most likely to buy from you again. This time, you select customers with the most recent purchase date, then contact each of them as they near the end of the purchase cycle.
Frequency shows the number of purchases within a certain period or timeframe.
If a customer likes your products then they are more likely to buy from you again. At this point you will be in constant communication with your client, perhaps signing them up for an email broadcast. This is a great way to send tailored product information, new sales or new product information, and even provides an additional up sell/cross sell opportunity.
money is the total spend made by a customer in the same timeframe.
Customers who spend a lot of money may do so again, whether it’s over a period of time, or one time. In this instance, a special promotion may be the best way to attract this customer again.
Essentially, the most valuable customers are those who rate highly using all three (RFM) criteria. By providing a measure of past purchasing behavior, you are allowed to predict future behavior, with accuracy being a key ingredient for database predictability. This is why the old cliché ‘it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find a new one’, is so true. Besides that, it just makes good business sense to get to know your old customers.
To illustrate the power of retaining old customers, I would like to show an example to get back customers in the retail sector. It can be applied to any retailer such as clothing, automobiles or sporting goods.
Basically every retail classification has a recurring sales ratio. In the clothing business there is usually a ratio of three to six months, because buyers usually buy with the seasons. With cars, you can upgrade every 3 years, or when the next model becomes available. Based on the repeat ratio, every retailer has a built-in ‘reverse horizon’, where a customer is lost to the competition if they are not reactivated within a given time frame. (Claude A Johnson, Winning Back Customers Through Database Marketing).
Therefore, using the valuable RFM information provided in your database, you can select customers who did not shop in the store within the specified time frame. From there, you can further target the customers who have spent the most money with you and are the most valuable to the company. (It is always a good idea to focus on the top 20% of your customers because they always give a greater return on investment).
The offer might include sending a personal letter directly from the business owner saying, “I haven’t seen you in a while. I’d like to invite you to visit our store to see the our new selection of branded products”. Included in the letter will be a personal voucher that gives a 20% discount on any purchase. You may wonder how successful a marketing campaign with an inactive customer can be. The response was very successful.
Campaign History Reporting
One of the most powerful advantages of database marketing is the ability to measure the results of each and every promotional campaign or event. Unlike other advertising mediums, there is absolutely no guess work.
But many businesses fail to record their campaign history. Responses and conversion rates provide evidence of marketing success and failure and also allow you to test campaign element results. But I will discuss this in more detail in my next blog about simple ways to test, measure and record your marketing activities.
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