Where to Begin

Collecting Customer Data

There is a lot of information you may already have about your customers that you may not be aware of. You should at the very least have you customer’s name, addresses, and the items or services they bought from you. From this limited information you can send out a nice friendly sales letter or postcard but this is only the beginning. As a business you have access to a smorgasborg of customer information and it’s just a matter of compiling it all together. There are many contact management systems available to help you keep your customer information in order. These systems can organize your customer activity, history, key contacts, communications, as well as internal account discussions. Some systems will even tap into social media to allow you to gain greater insight on your customer’s behavior and motivations. In a pinch, you can manually create an Excel sheet of all of the consumer information you have collected.


Do not overlook the information that can be gleaned from less likely departments in your organization. You may get some basic information on your customers from the sales and marketing departments but other departments like customer service and technical support may offer more fine-tuned information. These departments can shed light on your customer’s likes, dislikes, triumphs or struggles. Information within the customer service and technical support department can be extremely useful in understanding how your customer uses your product or service. For example, if you collect data on how many tech calls you receive on a certain product and notice that there are a number of people who call on an older model, you can do a personalized comparison direct mail postcard showing the old model in comparison to a new model addressing some of the issues they brought up to tech support.


Other ways to collect data on your customers can be from the orders. You can add optional information to your order form such as birthday, or email address. If you use online ordering you can add fields like “how did you hear about us”, “how often do you use this product or service” etc.


A municipal federal credit union used VDP postcards to drive $1 million in loan activity and achieved an ROI of over 2,700 percent for the first year of interest income. Source: The Print on Demand Initiative. Wallingford Municipal Credit Union. 2010


Surveys and competitions can be a useful way to gather information from clients and potential clients alike. With surveys you can ask more detailed questions such as age, gender, income and hobbies, and if you give away something for answering the questions, people are more likely to give up some of their more personal information for it.


Finally you can do some research using Google Analytics or some other analytics program, or hire a consulting firm to get your customer data.


Prospecting for Customers

Another way to collect data is to purchase data.  Information like age, gender, presence of children, home type, home square footage, number of employees, years in business, etc…can all be utilized to create a specific message to a targeted individual.  Whether you use data that is self-collected or if you purchase data all depends on who you’re looking to target and what your end goal is.


Give Your Client What They Want

Collecting and purchasing all the data in the world means nothing if you aren’t prepared to use it. Use your data to connect with your customers in a way you have not done before. Only mail to them the deals, product information or services they are interested in or build your marketing campaign around what your customers really want. For example, if you are in the fitness center industry and want to do a spring into summer special on your Cross fit and Group Fitness classes, one option would be to send out the postcard and personalize it with your customer’s name, but if you have more data, you can tailor the mailing to what each member likes to utilize most at your gym. Should you send your older “silver sneakers” a mailing about Cross fit Probably not. By simply changing the graphics and the image on the postcard from a muscular man flipping a truck tire to an older crowd enjoying a low-impact aerobics class, you’ve just managed to target what your older member values most about your gym.


To be continued


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