Database Services; We all know that the company database sits at the heart of an organisations marketing achievements. Hence why many organisations elect to outsource database services to providers like Blue Donkey. The right data, used and processed appropriately can be the difference between a good year and a bad one.
Why, well because everything that happens in the big cycle of marketing and sales starts with data. If there’s too much erroneous data, it creates budget wastage. If it’s full of the wrong decision makers, your targeting is likely to be hit and miss. If the data is old, incomplete or badly selected in the first place, your margins will be reduced by lack of sales.
In normal times you might choose outsourced professional database services to clean and qualify data for you, so you can get it working faster. However, as many of us are working from home currently, we thought we’d share some of the steps we take to build some of the best database services around.
So now you can while away the odd hour here and there, on the cathartic task of making your own shiny and magical database at home for free.
#1 Database Services: Standardise
Organising your data into a standard format will help you get the measure of what’s going on. If your data is organised so salutation, name, address field, sectors, turnover and any other field you hold are all in one standard format, you’ll easily be able to spot and remove duplicates, identify gaps that need appending, or records for companies that are no longer active.
Bought in database services can include electronic append for missing addresses, but these won’t replace the task of calling each record and asking the right questions.
#2 Homogeneous segmentation
Putting all your data into small groups that you can target with particular messaging or offers is an important first step for maximising the potential of your database. It’s not unusual for a client to say they sell to a broad range of companies, with a marketing strategy aimed at anyone and everyone. Ignoring the distinct needs of individual segments is described as undifferentiated targeting and is more common in B2C sales.
In B2B sales it’s almost always a bad decision to treat every company as if it represents the same value. Professional database service providers will look to group organisations into segments based on their potential needs. We call this homogenous segmentation, where records are grouped in to smaller sets based on certain characteristics which define their needs, such as size, sector etc.
#3 Drop down menus
You should build a dropdown menu into your database for every value that you might want to select on. For example if turnover is a field that’s useful for you, perhaps you sell different products based on company size, build a dropdown menu in so you can easily select companies with bigger or smaller turnover. That way you can treat each individual segment in a way that’s right for their particular needs, instead of treating everyone the same.
Additionally, a professional company will add these fields into their database services to provide callers with a number of standard options to choose from as they are whizzing through their calls. This helps with reporting as over time the data will yield a mosaic of information about buyer behaviour.
#4 Good Housekeeping
When agencies provide database services they will typically have several people accessing and cleaning the same dataset, so the task is completed in the shortest time possible. It’s therefore super important that anyone using the data is following a strict protocol about how new data should be entered and existing data treated. When the data is handed back to the client they will follow the same protocol so the data continues to improve with time.
So if you’re cleaning your database in-house it’s a great idea to follow the same discipline and make sure that every time anyone in the business touches a record, they do something to check it for relevance, or make it better than it was.
The Alpha, Bravo, Charlie of great databases is check and qualify everything carefully. Emails, surnames, and even common first names like Ian and Iain, Jane and Jayne, Fatima and Fatma may have a variety of different written forms.
To account for these differences spelling should always be checked. The phonetic alphabet is a well-known set of words that represent letters of the alphabet. It is used to make sure spellings are accurate, and it’s especially useful over the phone where communication has to be quick and clear.
The modern phonetic alphabet was created by NATO as a way for airmen around the world to make themselves understood and recognised because characters like M, N, D and B can sound the same, even when said by someone standing right next to you.
Providers of database services need to be accurate quickly, so spelling things out using the phonetic alphabet saves the heartache of getting vital details wrong.
Always make sure you are generating the necessary opt-in consents as you go along. Make yourself aware of GDPR and ensure you follow certain courtesies as you go through the process of dialling call after call. This includes aspects of your calling such as using redial.
Never just keep stabbing at your redial button. Calling the same number over and over again is considered nuisance calling. A company that provides decent database services for a living will have control levers in place to prevent over dialling the same pool of records, you won’t.
So even if it’s well intentioned, resist the temptation to shortcut best practice. The telephone is a magical tool where just one phone call can deliver career and company changing rewards. It can also work in reverse. So do use the power to reach anyone anywhere, with respect.
#7 Look for your M.A.N
When you are cleaning your database, you’ll come across people that have moved on, and you’ll need to replace them with new prospects. When a database service provider is working through this stage of the call they need to be very careful that they qualify the information being added to the client database carefully.
You should do the same. Before adding a new name to your database, make sure they are the right MAN. This will be the person with the Money (or Means), Authority, and Need to make a decision. Then qualify them in and out. That’s when you ask ‘what is the name of the XXX?’
This will be a job title such as Finance Director, take the name, check it phonetically, and then qualify out. That’s when you check ‘what is their exact job title?’ If it’s Finance Manager, you’ll know they may not be the senior decision maker you’re after. Rinse and repeat with every record one by one.
Every item of data that you add should be compliant with GDPR so again, please check the best practice protocols in the same way a database services company would. Remember your brand is a precious thing, so build best practice and good karma in to it as you go along.
You need to check and add any new data with the mindset that it must be Factual, Accurate, Relevant, and Timely (no acronym for that one). That way your nice new database is up to date and full of promise as life springs back in to action for us all.