CRM: Tapping Into the Power of Your Database
The smart technology designed to help marketers with customer relationship management (CRM) can get confusing pretty quickly. Direct marketing, database marketing and CRM are all overapplied terms, which, in many cases, have overlapping meanings. In order to run a successful catalog business, you must understand the fundamentals of targeted marketing—that means building and using a database of all your customers and inquiries.
“First off, I would caution anybody from jumping right in and looking at tools,” says Katie Cole, director of analysis and learning at Quris, an electronic touch communication consultancy. “Tools are just a relatively small part of a much larger process. The data mining process must start with a knowledge of the business itself.”
Vice president of sales and marketing for cataloger Delta Education, Mary Ann Kleinfelter, says tracking should begin with chronicling customer behavior, tendencies and preferences.
“You could be selling a lot of widgets in your catalog and be in blissful ignorance because what you don’t know—if you’re not in tune with your database—is that the widget buyers may buy from you once and never buy again. It may be that the gadget buyers are the ones who will continue to buy from you for years and years and will sustain a long-term, profitable business,” she says.
Such attention to detail may lead you to greater selectivity in who receives your catalogs. The more targeted your catalog mailings are, the more qualified the prospects, Kleinfelter reasons.
Where Do Databases Come From?
Think back to the first day you excitedly began taking orders. This is the day your database was born. Even if you haven’t focused on a database from the on-set, you have the information you need to get started now.
“Everybody who ships orders has this information. It’s just a matter of getting to it and using it. Just a by-product of filling orders can become a very good database, and you don’t have to spend that much money,” Kleinfelter explains. Basic pertinent information includes not only product preferences but shipping and method-of-payment preferences, amount of money spent, physical location and other contact information.