Remember a few months ago when our offices used to be littered with business cards, and our inboxes were packed full of useful details about suppliers, clients, and business contacts? The problem with this is that each touchpoint holds different information, and so the data you collect on certain individuals, clients or competitor companies become fragmented and fractured. Not to mention the lack of access to all this information since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many of us still operate in this way – but there IS a better way.
Having a database is like taking all of that crucial and useful information about all those different contacts and putting them all into one easy-to-manage place. Provided you get it right, it allows for super easy tracking of any user type or customer category and makes business operations simple to follow.
Of course, the benefits come once you have a fully-functioning database up and running – so how do you get to that stage where the benefits outweigh the work required?
What does an effective and efficient database look like?
The best databases are those which are built AFTER answering the following question:
What are you hoping to gain by building a database, and how are you going to use it?
Once you know this, you can build something which is integrated with your website and which collects the kind of data that you will find useful in the long run – rather than capturing tons of data for the sake of it. (And if you don’t fancy building and integrating all that by yourself, you can always reach out to our team of data lovers for a little bit of support!)
In short, the best kind of database is one that is tailored to your business needs.
As a creative company, for example, you might like to know what your core client looks like, and what kind of creative support they are looking for – i.e., with the rise of online experiences, are you finding that more and more enquiries are about eCommerce design and how to fuse online and offline experiences?
Here at Slate, one of OUR biggest focus points through our own database is on establishing location and company size, as we market ourselves as a local business agency and so tailor much of our marketing campaigns to the local business audience.
Once you have answered that key question, the next steps are all around building a database that delivers the information you need to know.
The steps you need to take to earn a 5-star database
One of the first things to do when you build your database is to ensure it integrates with your website or mailing list in the right way.
For a customer database, the likelihood is that you will want to know who is on your mailing list, who is opening your emails regularly, which of them are clicking through to email links, and how many of them are actually converting into making enquiries or purchasing from your website. All of these break down into different touchpoints on the core customer journey from nurture to purchase, and with the help of a database, you can gain vital insight into what those people look like and how long it takes for them to convert.
For a business operations database, the internal workings are the same – just with slightly different information. For example, you may need to know what stock you have left, what has been recently ordered, when you last ordered something, and how many weeks or months go by before you need to reorder.
Both of these examples highlight the fundamental usability of a good database in delivering you the information you need – when you need it. And it all comes down to integration and ensuring your database is fully paired up with the right information.
And then we come to maintenance. A bit like hoovering the house and cleaning the bathroom, maintenance is something we know we need to do, but we are reluctant to channel time and energy into doing it – particularly if we feel that the information is for our eyes only and so doesn’t matter to the client.
But this is where we are wrong. If you don’t maintain and clean-up your database on a regular basis, the information will fast become outdated and clients and suppliers will start to receive communications from you that no longer relate to them – or you will continue to monitor the stock levels of something you discontinued months ago.
Database maintenance is another service you can easily outsource to an organisation focused on customer growth and retention, or you can dedicate time once a month to trawl through and cut out any irrelevant or dead leads.
Nurture your database today for the benefit of your business tomorrow
Learn to use your database as a business lifeline, and pretty soon the benefits of building and maintaining it will become clear. So much so that one day soon, you won’t know how you lived without it.
For more on how to build and optimise your database for the best possible outcomes, whether it’s an operational database or a customer relationship database, get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org