How to Build and Optimize Your Customer Database

Take your database from feeble to flourishing.



If your client base is the lifeblood of your business, then your customer database is the heart that keeps that blood pumping. Maintaining a healthy database is anything but trivial; it’s vital to protecting and harnessing your most valuable asset. When you have the right information about your customers and leverage it properly, you’ll be better positioned to boost client engagement, nurture leads, and generate more business.


But what does a healthy database look like? Let’s dive into the best practices for database management and how to get the most out of yours.


 



Any person who has a relevant connection to your business should be listed in your database. That includes past customers, prospects, partners, and anyone in your overall sphere of influence. If your contact list is small right now, you can work to build it over time.


 



Like the name implies, your database is compiled of data … and it’s only as valuable as the quality of data it contains. At a minimum, when a contact enters your system, be sure to capture their:



The more information you have about a contact, the more accurate you can be with your messaging. As time goes on, try to collect other information such as birthday, lead source, occupation, hobbies, family information, and buying preferences. As your data gets more granular, you can segment your database with hyper-specific marketing (more on that later).






 



A customer relationship management (CRM) software is essential for maintaining an optimized database. This is about more than where you organize and store your data but what you can do with that data. Think of a CRM as the brain behind your database, telling you who to contact, when to do it, and why. Many CRMs will even do this for you automatically, saving you time and energy. A CRM will also give you analytics and insights that empower you to make smarter business decisions.


Bottom line: If you haven’t already, ditch the spreadsheet and invest in some tech. Don’t worry about getting the most robust or complex software right out of the gate. Choose something that you can use and manage on your own, until you’re able to scale your efforts.


 



Once all of your contacts are organized in one central system, it’s time to start putting your database to work … and that means reaching out. Create a communication plan to engage your clients and generate opportunities for new business and referrals. This is where segmentation comes in. Categorize your contacts into key customer segments, with each segment receiving a tailored communication strategy. For example, new leads can automatically be assigned a lead-nurturing email campaign. Past customers can be assigned a monthly relationship-building campaign, such as a newsletter with market updates. You can also drill down by location, age, income, and much more, depending on your goals.


Beyond automated campaigns, configure your CRM to remind you when to contact people at important milestones, such as their birthday, purchase-date anniversary, and when relevant market changes occur.


 



Each time you generate a lead or make a relevant connection, add those contacts into your database. If you’re struggling to get new leads, here are some tips for growing your audience:


Use gated content with signup forms. Most people are willing to share their contact details in exchange for an incentive, and web forms are a simple way to collect their info and then sync it with your database. The incentive (or gated content) is usually something of value such as an e-book, newsletter, webinar, coupon, and so on.


Offer bonus content. In some cases, providing free and valuable information up front can help you hook a potential lead. Once they’ve developed enough interest, you can entice them with additional bonus content that can only be accessed by filling out a form.

Place CTAs on all your platforms. Invite people to sign up for your email list by placing calls-to-action (CTAs) on your social media profiles, website, and email signature. A strong CTA consists of a few words encouraging a desired action, like “Subscribe to my newsletter,” “Stay informed,” or “Learn more.”


Run a contest on social media. Promote a contest or giveaway on social media that requires a signup form to enter.


Branch out. Host a live seminar. Attend networking events and trade shows. Volunteer at local community events. Seek opportunities to get your name and face in front of new people and make meaningful connections, and when you do, be sure to capture their information and enter it in your database.