Do you know who your customers are?
You may know people personally if you’re a small business and have plenty of repeat customers. You may know basic information about them, strike up friendships, or even know the names of their pets.
The benefits of building relationships are enormous and have seen businesses grow immeasurably over the years. Think of top companies like Virgin and HSBC; who all market themselves on customer service and being your friend during times of trouble.
That can be much harder for a small business looking to grow. We’re only human; you can’t be everyone’s friend at the same time and please everybody at once.
It’s time to look into data collection.
Data you should be collecting
Collecting data for business growth isn’t just about maintaining personal relationships with customers.
It’s also about building and cementing professional relationships with people who could potentially be long-term customers. It’s also so important to be open and transparent about the way you collect your data (more on that later).
But what do we mean by ‘data’? In marketing terms data can be boiled down to include information that’s given to you freely that can be beneficial to you communicating with customers.
That can be email addresses, social media information, physical locations, phone numbers and much more.
Collecting such information can allow you to reach out to people who may be interested in your products and the services you have on offer, vouchers, competitions and other beneficial deals.
But, again, it’s how you collect and use that data that you should be careful with. You need to strike a fine balance and not spam or overload people who have willingly volunteered their data for you to use.
Your marketing strategy is a hugely important part of your data collection plans. You need to know who you want to collect information from, profile those people, reach out to them at regular intervals and – most importantly – offer them incentives.
Collecting data in ethical ways
More about data collection itself, and there has been some muddled thinking post-Brexit.
A while back the European Commission drafted new data collection laws for companies to follow; the most essential things to note are that you have to outline fully the purposes of why you’re collecting data more than ever before and get explicit permission from people willing to submit their information.
That’s good, though. It gives people a better reason to pass their data onto you and a greater position of trust and security if you explicitly outline how you plan to store their information and if you’re sharing it with a third-party.
Only, people aren’t sure if the UK still has to adhere to such a policy now that we’ve decided to leave the European Union (well, at the time of writing…).
Our stance is that it shouldn’t matter too much and, from what we understand, the changes will still be in effect.
Even if they aren’t though in the future, the transparent, ethical opt-in way of collecting customer data should be how you do it anyway!
Being creative with the data you collect
Once you have collected people’s data, it’s up to you how you use it to reach out to prospects and the creative content you want to send them to entice them to your business.
Email addresses are especially useful for inbound marketing and attracting prospects in an unintrusive way if people have given you permission to contact them, plus they have the benefit of being shared and forwarded amongst customers’ friends and family.
Carefully-constructed creative and regular group mailshots to customers that leave their email addresses with you that lead to specific, well-optimised product pages can see more sales and greater interest in your brand as a whole for future growth.
How to collect the data relevant to you
As well as being creative in your inbound campaigns, you also need to be creative in the ways you collect data and use incentives for people to leave their information with you.
As well as highlighting your transparency and security policy when collecting data, providing potential customers with exclusive offers can encourage them to leave their data with you. Again in an email sense, offering email-exclusive vouchers and offers can be a great way to get people to sign up to your mailing lists.
Offering them exclusive content such as guides or mini-magazines – better known as a lead magnet – can also act as a useful trade-off; asking people to leave their details before they can download something which they may find useful.
Competitions, too, can be useful to segment data and ask people to submit a bit more information about themselves such as age, location, gender, interests and more; information that can be invaluable on a growth campaign when you want to reach out to certain groups of people with different messages.
Marketing automation and data collection
The better refined and segmented your data collection strategy is, the better your ability to reach out to targeted groups of people in a transparent, ethical way.
Only, that can be tricky for small businesses and SMEs to implement, especially if they’re new to marketing and are unsure about the legalities and changing rules of data collection and storage.
Even bigger businesses can get it wrong as we mentioned last week. McAfee was collecting all sorts of data, but a lot of it turned out to be useless, dead leads that wasted time. Marketing automation helped to collect and nurture better leads through a more refined data collection strategy.
Creating a data collection strategy with solid foundations through marketing automation can help build long-term goals and attract certain groups of profitable customers as well as reaching out to them in highly creative ways – all without losing the personal touch that makes your business so special.
If you’d like to know more about data collection and how you can use it to grow your business, contact Webpresence today and speak with one of our marketing experts.