Create Your Own Contact Database
Capture Contact Info For Your Customers and Prospects to Increase Your Revenue
by Laura B. Poindexter
Creating and maintaining your own contact database is the simplest and most important marketing tactic a small business owner can implement whether you are building an Internet empire or running a local automotive shop. It allows you to quickly drop your customers a note when you are running a special, invite them to a customer appreciation event or send them communication to further educate them about your product or service.
Research has shown that it is six times more expensive to sell to a new customer rather than an existing customer. The barrier of doing business with you has already been crossed and assuming the experience was a pleasant one, the likelihood that the customer will buy from you again is very high.
Create Your List
If you do not have a list yet, start one today. It can be as simple as creating your own format in Excel or using a database program like Access or a contact management program like ACT!. Microsoft offers a free Customer Management List template for Excel.
It would be beneficial to spend a few moments thinking about how you will use this database before you create it. This will help you determine what information you need to include for each customer. You should at the very least differentiate between contacts, prospects and customers. Maybe you want to note which products they bought or what specific niche they fall into if you serve more than one market. This will help you further personalize your communication so it will be more relevant to their interests.
Even if you have what seems like a tremendous number of existing customers and entering them into a database seems overwhelming, start with the customers you serve this week. You have to start somewhere. Once you begin your database, you can backtrack through the customers you served last week, last month, etc. when you have time. Or hire an intern/high school student with good attention to detail to enter in your old records.
Invite Web Visitors to Join Your List
If you have a web site that is currently serving as merely an online brochure and you are not capturing any information from your site visitors, you are missing a huge opportunity and potentially lots of sales. You must immediately begin to capture the email addresses of those who visit your site and may be interested in your product or service, even if you don’t sell online. I encourage all my clients to use Constant Contact. They provide a fabulous service that makes it easy to send beautiful emails using their templates (that’s what I use for Marketing Buzz). They also provide an easy way to segment their list. They offer a 60-day free trial as long as your list is less than 100 names. The service continues to be free until your list reaches 50 names. What do you have to lose?
I would put the email list sign up box in the same spot on every page of your site. First of all so the visitor doesn’t miss it and secondly in case they don’t come into your site from the home page.
Creating and maintaining your own list also opens up the opportunity to bring something to the table when discussing marketing partnerships and opens the door for expanding your offerings or finding other things to sell to your niche market.
You’re at your computer, open a file and begin the database today as you move toward higher profits tomorrow.