Consumer Data, we all know what it is. It’s the key to our marketing and business strategies. It’s what we use to understand our customers better, and it’s what we use to tailor our marketing efforts. Lets talk about Consumer Data and Efficiency and how the DIY Online Marketer combines both.
Data is the one thing in your company that you can not do without. You need it to survive! Data doesn’t have to be the complete life story of your consumer right from the start. Data will build upon itself over time as you learn more about your consumers. If you’ve ever seen an computer icon for a database it is not one giant container when it starts. It has levels that build on top of previous levels. It starts with a foundation builds on top of that foundation.
I’ve heard an analogy comparing consumer relationships to dating relationships used many times and I will try paraphrase it here. Gathering customer data is very similar to dating. The first time a consumer lands on your website they take an initial look at you and your company. Comparable to the first time you see someone of the opposite sex at a bar. You check them out briefly and mentally give them a ‘Thumbs Up’ or ‘Thumbs Down’ according to your personal taste. If a consumer gives you a ‘Thumbs Up’ now we can approach them and hopefully get some information. The consumer likes our site and wants to give us their Name and Contact info. This is Great! They have knocked down the first barrier to begin the consumer-business relationship. As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, this is just like getting the name and number from that attractive person at the bar. You don’t wanna lose this information you want to store it in your database! Because who knows this could become your next big client/customer.
Now that you have a way to contact this consumer you can take them out on a ‘1st date’ and learn more about each other. The only way to build customer relationships and loyalty online is to take it slow. You don’t want to just rush in and ask this person to give up all their valuable information. Thats rude and very invasive. Sticking with the analogy you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you after just one date would you? Some people may, but it is definitely not the norm.
Now lets talk about efficiency with your consumer data. I’ve been talking about databases as places to store this information. However the database does you absolutely no good unless you can find this information and put it to good use. Everything I do is on an iMac so I use the Filemaker Pro database program. This program is extremely powerful and when set up correctly, a very efficient program. I know there are database programs out there for PC I am just not as familiar with them as I should be. You always need to do research before buying a database program and make sure that has what you need. A very popular alternative to a local database program is to use an online CRM program such as SugarCRM. This program is Open Source and very powerful. I am currently learning its in’s and out’s and will write a post on it soon. As I was saying you need to find a program that is efficient and manageable. It’s very frustrating to have a lot of data and not know how to use it to help your business!
Data collection is an essential to maintaining customer relationships. This starts with the ‘1st Date’ and continues through the dating cycle. As I said earlier lets build on the foundation that we gathered on the ‘1st Date’. Now we can start asking our consumers more questions. Get to know your consumers so that you can fulfill their needs! That’s why we are in business anyway, to fill someone’s needs with our product ( and hopefully make some sort of profit while we’re at it).
So what data should we be collecting? Well the answer to that is, what data do you need? Since I am strictly an online marketer. I need the following: Name & Email address! If all of your marketing is done online this is the only way I will be able to consistently reach my new consumer. After initial conversations I can begin collecting more data such as demographic data. I like to know my consumers favorite websites and their favorite things to do on the web. There is a good chance if one of my consumers like a certain website then others that like the same site could need my product!
Now once you know what data that you want to collect you have to develop an efficient and simple way to extract it from your consumers. There are countless ways to do this. Web forms are probably the most widely used on the net. They are simple and very efficient. However most web forms just send an email to you with the data that was entered by the consumer, and then you have to enter the data into your own database. Since I’m lazy and hate doing extra work that computer can do for me I opt not to do this. There are many ways to work around this. One of the best ways that I have found is to use a php Form Generator. This thing is simple to use and sends the results of the forms to your mySql database. If I just lost you I apologize please leave comments and I will post some tutorials on all the above information.
As I said I try to be as efficient as possible when working. Therefore I have created a PHP form that connects to my local Filemaker Database on my iMac. When someone fills out a form the information gets posted right to my Filemaker database. Very efficient I don’t have to enter any information. I then have automatic scripts that run when a new contact is entered through the form that can send an email to the contact or do numerous other things. All of which I have written into the Filemaker Database. Talk about efficient. It’s time consuming to get all of these systems set up, but when they’re working it is sweet! Now I know there are services online that can do this same thing for me. I know a lot of Internet Marketers that use Aweber’s services. The services look great, but I like to do things myself on the cheap and learn some new technologies while I’m at it. I believe Sugar CRM will also be an efficient program once I get into using it more. So check that out as well!
Setting up data collection systems can be time consuming and difficult learning a new program. Remember you have to collect data or otherwise you will never build the relationship with your consumer. Try and find the best program that meets your criteria and learn about the program. You can find a book on almost any program out there on Amazon and teach yourself. That’s what I’ve done. Arm yourself with the knowledge and reap the reward when you figure it out! It’s a wonderful feeling!