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Six Ways to Build Your Customer Relationship Management Database

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Assistant Editor’s Note: This article by and reprinted with permission of Outdoor Industry Association.
The key to retailing and brand building in the spam-filled 2010s is gathering enough data to break your customer lists into smaller segments for more targeted marketing.
The good news is even marketing neophytes can find inexpensive ways to do this.

The key to success is to simply get started. Don’t become overwhelmed by all the whiz-bang campaigns you read about in marketing blogs or trade journals.

“We very much advocate a crawl, walk, run approach,” said Ben Lockett, director of CRM (customer relationship management) sales for Leisure Trends Group. “The important thing is to do something and then just keep chipping away.”

Small businesses might start by identifying what customer data they already have and then integrating it into a basic database that could include the customer’s email address, sex, age, marital status and number of children. Below are six tasks for getting started.

Identify data silos. Retailers should identify what customer data they can glean from their point-of-sale (POS) systems, e-commerce sites, newsletter subscriptions, customer surveys and registrations for in-store clinics and presentations, races, demo days, etc. Manufacturers can draw data from their customer service departments, product registration, e-commerce and social media platforms. Once the information is located and quantified, a company can begin discussing whether and how to integrate it into a single CRM database.

Web forms. Make sure customers can opt into your email newsletter and/or register for in-store clinics, races and other events by filling out forms online. Deploy a tablet in store so consumers can enter the information directly into your database and save you the time and cost of manually entering the information later. Consider using a “popover” form that will appear automatically 30 to 60 seconds after someone visits your site. Research by the email marketing vendor AWeber Communications shows that when used properly, popover forms can improve opt-in rates by up to 70 percent.

Incentivize. To collect more than an email address may require offering an incentive. In addition to relevant content, consider offering newsletter subscribers exclusive benefits to entice them to fill out a more extensive web form that asks for sex, age, marital status, whether they have minor children, and their favorite outdoor activities. Many retailers offer coupons, figuring it is a cost-effective way to gather customer information. Keep the registration process short and simple by letting them choose options rather than type in responses.

Contests. To move beyond basic customer data, consider launching a sweepstakes contest. Many brands are getting good results by running sweepstakes on Facebook. This allows you to obtain an email address for your Facebook fans. The offer of a substantial gear stash will usually provide enough incentive for customers to offer more information, such as income range or annual gear budget. Better yet, partner with a vendor or other company and offer an adventure travel trip with a gear stash.

Leverage social media. Make all your content shareable by including “Like,” “Follow,” “Pin it,” and other buttons in all of your marketing materials. Consider enticing people to share the sweepstakes via social media by offering them additional entries for every other entrant they recruit via social media. Go viral.

Use your POS system. Most POS systems are capable of generating hundreds of reports that can be used to create a targeted list for a quick email campaign. For example, retailers can create campaigns for customers who live within five miles of their stores, customers who have not purchased anything in six months or customers who have purchased specific categories of product. Depending on your bandwidth, you can add all of this information to your CRM database.

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