As a marketing professional you already deal with so many apps and software packages you are probably wondering why you should have to deal with something that is designed specifically for databases. After all, you probably already have a number of Excel spreadsheets to handle calculations, contacts and email templates in your preferred email software, and marketing campaigns recorded in a third program.
This is exactly why you can benefit from an app or program that offers the organization of a database; it provides a centralized program to keep all of your information current from a single location instead of needing all of the different apps and programs.
Beyond making it easier to access information from a single place, databases give you the ability to pull reports so that you can track the progress of different campaigns. They also make it easier to ensure that information is entered consistently through forms, as well a way to verify information through queries. Any research that you conduct can be compiled and made available to others in the company through the database. There is even a type of marketing campaign that is database driven, and is aptly named database marketing.
Buy Versus Build
Your first question is likely to be whether you should buy a database or start from scratch. The answer is that it depends on how you plan to use the database. Even if you already have a wealth of different programs and apps and just need to centralize them, it may be easier to purchase a database than build one from scratch. Many database programs allow you to import data, making it both faster and easier to centralize your information. However, it is just as likely that you will find most software packages have more functionality than you actually need (or want).
While you are first thinking about a new database, do some research to see what kinds of databases are available. Marketing is one of the primary targets for database software because of its importance to companies. Too often people are willing to pay a lot for features they do not fully understand because there is a chance that it could be useful later. You already know that marketing is an area that is constantly on the frontlines of technological spread. You’ve seen a lot of promises and know that the majority of the time those promises do not pay off.
The best approach to finding the right database for your company is to sit down and determine which methods you currently use that you want to keep. As likely as not, something as basic as Microsoft Access will be more than adequate for the short term. It will help you get all of your information into a single place and get accustomed to maintaining a database. There are templates available to help you get started. Then all you have to do is schedule some time to get the database up and running; don’t forget to include some time for loading information from your other programs and apps to the new database. Access includes a number of help sections that cover things like importing contacts from address books.
If you find that the features you use in your different apps and programs require something more robust than Microsoft Access, set aside some time to see what kinds of databases are available that include the features you want. If there is an app for something, it’s almost guaranteed that there are several different software types that will work that feature into their programs. Look for a program that aligns with your company’s marketing style.
What a Successful Marketing Database Needs
Marketing requires that everything is easily connected and that queries can quickly and accurately pull the necessary information. Reports are perhaps the most important element that you will need for meetings and presentations. Marketing requires a lot of justification and analysis of the numbers to see what works and what doesn’t. You have to ensure that your database can pull all of the reports that you need to get the job done right. Relatively early in the process, you will need someone who understands how to query data and pull reports from the database.
You also need to be able to prepare and send emails and sales information to your customers. There are many ways to automate this process, but it requires that you keep all of your client and potential client information current. Setting up a regular schedule to update data and verify that it is correct will mean that you don’t have to worry about something being obsolete because no one has updated the information in over a year.
Finally, you have to be able to track the types of promotions and marketing projects. This gives you the data you need to determine how successful each of them is, as well as determine the best type of sale for different scenarios.
Marketing Research Databases
While it is possible to start your database with tables and forms for marketing research, the more successful your company is, the more appealing a marketing research database will appear. Between the research you do and the research done by others in your company, the data could reach a point that it needs a database on its own.
A marketing research database gives you a single location to store a period of weeks, months, or years’ worth of data. However, you may not need to create your own research database. There are established marketing research databases for numerous fields that are open and available (meaning they aren’t company specific). You can find these by running a simple search, and if you are interested you can even join some of them.
Database marketing is an element that could be added to your regular databases or it could be broken out as a separate database. It is a way to collect and consolidate all of your consumer data for easier processing and analysis. The bigger your business, the more likely it is that you will need more space for your consumer data and information, leaving less room for other required data. Unlike a regular database, database marketing is a way to better study your customers, their responses to different information, determine when they are more likely to spend money, and compare results for different marketing strategies. Essentially, it is a place to store marketing history for analytical purposes.
You probably won’t need this early in your company’s history, but it may become a necessity later on. It is something to keep in mind as you create and load data into your database. If you already need to split out your customer history from other information, you will need to proceed with two databases. If you don’t feel that you need one yet, make sure to create your database so that this information is easily extracted by keeping marketing history separate from all of the other information, like your contact information.