How to set up a marketing database

Allocating time and resources to gaining new customers can be a difficult issue for small businesses – purchasing a database for marketing purposes can sometimes be out of the question.

However, there are a number of consumer information specialists that are now offering small companies the opportunity to build and purchase lists that can be specifically tailored to your needs, so finding the investment to generate new leads can be less of a barrier.

Robert Neely, general manager of data solutions company Claritas Direct offers the following advice.

“Whilst most expenditure in this area is measured in terms of ‘output’, it’s important to remember the ‘outcome’ that investment in a quality marketing databases can fulfil. Consider the return on investment that you would be looking for in terms of using the lists in order to best evaluate the success of usage in terms of generated leads,” he says.

The most cost-effective method of purchasing names for a database is to look online. Downloading names from the internet is fast and simple, and you can store the data using standard desktop applications such as Excel, Access, Outlook and Notes.

Claritas for example, offers a wide range of names across specific sectors such as automotive, charities, financial services, publishing and retail. By tapping into specific sectors such as these, you are already beginning the process of purchasing only highly targeted names relevant to your business.

“Getting your targeting right is the most critical part of any direct marketing campaign and the prime driver of success. But it requires access to high quality data that can be refined precisely to reflect your target audience and be available in the volumes to make your campaign viable,” explains Neely.

He offers the following tips:

Look at what you already have. You may feel that any existing customer data you already have is limiting in terms of marketing as you only hold name, address and transactional information. However, these addresses can be turned into ‘real’ individuals by enhancing existing records with specific information from consumer data.

Is your information up to date? Ensure that your data is as up to date as possible so you don’t mail people that have moved, died or opted out of receiving direct mail – another way of reducing wastage.

Purchase names online. This can help smaller companies to avoid the minimum order syndrome – 5,000 names quite often being far too big a group to target, or to deal with if they respond!

Gauge the number of responses you will get. Knowing your target audience and the number of responses that your company can realistically deal with is key to building a successful, bespoke marketing database.

There is no avoiding the costs of setting up a good marketing database – remember that if things come cheap, they come cheap for a reason. However, with good targeting, and by limiting wastage, you can start to generate new leads in a cost-effective way.

See also: Advantages and disadvantages of direct marketing for small businesses

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