Ryan Collier

The database where all of your prospect and client information is held should be both your business’ goal line and your quarterback – you should be very defensive with it, keep it clear (or organized) and remember that it is the key to your best offensive plays. But at many companies, the CRM (customer relationship management) is largely overlooked, and this is likely costing your company time and leads.

Database marketing is commonly defined as “leveraging information about prospects or existing customers to generate more sales.” If the CRM is managed correctly, it can boost your day-to-day operations and your bottom line. At Brafton, we often compare a clean database to a solid content marketing strategy: If you want your content marketing to achieve conversions, it has to be optimized to reach the right online audiences. Our account managers do their targeting homework on the informational needs of clients’ prospects and where they’re most active on the web. With our database, we have to do similar targeting homework to make sure the right marketing messages reach the appropriate parties via their platforms of choice.

I manage a very large database and have dedicated personnel to help keep the CRM organized, updated and accurate.  But whether you have a full team of database marketers at your disposal or you’re a one-person department, there are ways you can probably improve your database marketing in 2012.

In order to streamline your database efficiently for the upcoming year, try these six simple tips I highlight below.

1. Keep Your Database Up To Date

This might sound like an, “Of course,” kind of tip, but the importance of an updated database – and the challenge of maintaining it in a timely fashion – is worth discussing. Whether it’s a contact’s email address, role or any other data, things in the business world change constantly, so how do you keep up to date with this? You could certainly use some sort of third-party application which integrates with your database information and automatically updates, but that’s simply not accurate enough. Although machines are taking over certain positions, don’t let them take over this position. The most accurate information usually comes from manual updates. Still, this can be overwhelming if you have millions of leads and accounts in the CMS.

If you don’t have the employee resources for this, get creative about the fields that you use. For example, an account that needs to be checked for accuracy or one that you know needs to be updated can simply have a custom field marked with the problem which allows you to run a report and update the data in a streamlined fashion (without hunting and pecking for the accounts to update).

Whether you’ve got a team who can make this part of their daily routine or you use fields to streamline the process yourself, take the time to validate the information. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time (and potentially other departments’ time) by keeping inaccurate data in your sales cycle. What’s the point of a database if you have data that is flawed?

2. Always Add Value by Adding New Companies or Contacts

Database Marketing Tip 2

This one is simple: Don’t have a stagnant database. Add value constantly to your database by finding new lists of companies or contacts to upload. The US market is massive, and you’ve got no excuse about why you can’t continue to grow your internal database.

Try new things, always try to find new ways that you can increase your company’s profit by being proactive with your database. For instance, if you notice that the majority of the prospects you’re selling into are web developers, go out and purchase a list of web developer names and emails and get them into your database.

3. Track Properly (and Be a Broader Marketing Team Player)

Track the leads you’re sending through using campaigns or a simple lead source. This way, you can see what’s selling, who has interest and who doesn’t. And, of course, ACT ON THIS INFORMATION as it’s extremely valuable to you. If the leads that are being booked are coming from your email marketing campaigns, cycle this insight back to the online marketing team. Or if there is a month where booked leads are heavily from the website, share the information with those who handle your site’s content marketing to act based on what was being published during the period of increased activity.Database marketing Tip 3

We track each list or source of information that goes into the database and it’s been an efficient way for us to continue to push value to the database with the knowledge we gain. The point is, if you’re not seeing what’s working, how do you know what industries, job titles, etc. are bringing the most value to your database and, ultimately, your business?

4. Make Informed Choices

Database marketing Tip 4Be smart about what you’re putting in your database. Although, you want to try new things, you certainly don’t want to put a number of companies that, for example, are an industry that just doesn’t sell. The end result will be nothing but wasted time and resources and we all know that time is money. (Tip three should help give you the common sense insights to avoid these sorts of missteps).

Remember that the information you glean from your database should also give your good indicators of how you can be proactive and get creative. Small things like an email marketing blast to contacts in a specific region informing them you’re exhibiting at a tradeshow in their area can make a difference. Look for trends in what’s selling and find lists that make sense based on your company’s offerings, upcoming events or unique forms of marketing outreach that might best appeal to prospects in the database.

5. Stay Organized

There are many applications and products that prevent small things – like duplicates – and help keep your database clean, putting information where it should be. Here are a few applications I recommend:

Don’t ignore organization within your database! Even if you decide not to rely on an app, you can add custom fields to accounts or leads if it helps you keep things in order.

6. Educate Your Team – or Yourself

Employee or self education about the industry and the prospects you’re selling into is indispensable if you plan on having an intelligent database. Always stay informed about the current trends that are going on in your company’s industries so you can stay ahead of the eight-ball.

Be the expert in your industry, gain respect from your prospects by simply knowing what you’re talking about in the current age. Brafton always advocates that brands set themselves apart as industry thought leaders to gain prospects trust via content marketing – and we also advocate that that expertise come through at every level. Talk to other people in the business who are keeping up with industry trends, read your business’ site content and find other resources to help you create a database that really understands the demand.

Be proactive about your database, it can be one of the biggest values at your company, but you have got to use the basic tips above to keep it as efficient as possible. Don’t let you competition get ahead of you because of something as simple as ignoring your database or not using it to its full potential. If your database is your quarterback, you should be the offensive line who protects – otherwise, your database will be sacked!