You may already have a database but the chances are it only has personal data and not the key information you need to collect. The importance of creating a quality list with the fields that enables you to sort and send relevant and timely messages to those customers who will welcome it, cannot be overstated.
The secret to creating email strategies that work is in identifying the key points (often called "touch points"), which are the dates, times, events when you can contact you customers with relevant information. By identifying the touch points up-front as part of developing your marketing strategy, then you can be sure you are capturing all the data you need to turn your customers into raving fans!
Creating a database - What fields do I want?
The most valuable thing you can do before you start creating and sending emails, is to ask yourself three key questions:
Who is my customer?
What would be the best thing I could do for that customer?
What information do I need to enable me to do it?
The answers to these three questions form the basis of your e-marketing plan. If you have not already done so, check out one of the "Marketing Templates" provided and see how we have answered these questions. Armed with this information you can work out the information you need to capture for your database. This is your data-capture form.
It is likely to include:
Demographic information that is relevant to your customers i.e. postcode, male or female, private or corporate client etc.
Dates that are specific to each customers e.g. birthday, wife's birthday, anniversary. Anniversary of a purchase i.e. times when you can contact the customer with relevant information. These are "touch points" (see below) these dates became fields in your database.
Key Dates - "Touch Points"
Touch points are when you "touch" your customer. They are key dates that are relevant to your customer's expectations of you as a supplier and when your contact will be welcomed. Some "touch points" are specific to the customer e.g. their birthday, but others are relevant to you e.g. Melbourne Cup if you are a Restaurant.
To create a raving fan you need to develop an ongoing positive relationship with your customers. Identifying the touch points enables you to create email messages that are relevant, personal and timely. Over time you build trust and loyalty with your customers and they become ambassadors for your business.
Touch Points obviously vary from industry to industry and the following list is intended to stimulate your thinking on what suits your business.
Tip: you can also look at the Marketing Templates for more ideas.
Back to School
End of Financial Year
Company Annual General Meeting
New Product Announcement
Post School Holidays
Pre School Holidays
Retail Sale - Generic
Sales Survey Feedback
Thank You for Choosing Our Service
Thank You Inquiry
Thank You Generic
Thank You for Purchasing
Valentine's Day - Approaching
Valentine's Day - On the Day
We Miss You
Welcome - Business Card
Welcome - Competition
Welcome - Online Club
Welcome - Online Newsletter Registration
Welcome - Postcard
Welcome - Survey
And to see an example of their application we could look at a Restaurant. Touch Points that are date and time related:
Welcome to new customers - voucher to use for next meal birthdays – 2 days prior with special offer.
Mother's day and Father's day - 1 week prior with special offer.
Easter, Melbourne Cup, Christmas, Valentine's Day - days or weeks prior.
Once you have identified the "touch points" and therefore the fields you require in your database, you can now start collecting data, knowing that you have thought through all the ways you might want to sort your data in the future.
Electronic Data Capture
Your data-capture form should become your enquiry form on your website. Then by filling in the form, your new customers or enquiries, not only contact you by email, but their data is automatically loaded into your database. See under database in "technical how-to" for how to set up a data-capture form and load it onto your website.
The data from the form automatically loads into the database as well as communications with you via email.
Manual Data Capture
You may also want to implement an in-house data-capture form where every customer to your business is asked to complete the form. You would then manually load this into your database.
What if I want to create a database with quite a number of fields?
These are more than is reasonable to load onto your website contact form. The answer is to turn your database into two parts. The first part is the easy, common to everyone questions. Use these as your contact form on your website. The second part is the more detailed information and you need it to help you understand your customers more. And this is exactly how we introduce it when we send it out to your database.
You could send this out to your existing database when its loaded. And you can also schedule it to be sent to your new customers when they first register with you, as part of a thank you email. In both instances you should offer some reward for filling it in. e.g. FREE delivery with their next flower order.