In-house data: Use it or lose it!

Building a customer and prospect database is one of the most important things you'll ever do for your business. In this article we look at why your own organic database, as opposed to a purchased list, is the best money can buy and tips for collecting customer data.

Why is your in-house database better?
  • The people on your in-house list have already shown an interest in your business.
  • You'll be communicating with the right person - this helps avoid wasting time and money.
  • People who have purchased a product or service from you before are more likely to buy again or recommend you to somebody else. 
Ask yourself, do we really use our list? Do we collect data at every opportunity? If you're not using it, you're losing it. People and businesses are always changing, this can result in your database going out of date extremely quickly. A simple email once a month can help you monitor any changes in your database. Spotting changes to email addresses is quick, easy and very low cost. You can then use this information to check that the person is still contactable and update your database accordingly.

What data should you collect?
You should always collect as much as you can but the most important data to collect is:
  • First and last name
  • Postal address (or simply a city or county)
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
If you're one of the lucky ones and your customers are very open with their information then collect more. If they're not, collect a small amount of data at the first opportunity and then build on this over time. People will often tell you more at a later date because they have built trust in you and have a better knowledge of how you will use their data.

Above all else, keep it simple, you can always ask for more. Ensure that you can store the data effectively and that you will use it. The more data you collect the more data management you'll need to do at a later date.