To get started you can use the ultimate multi-tasker – Microsoft Excel. Sure, when you get lots of consumers you will outgrow Excel, but at least you’ll have a structure that can be easily moved into a robust database solution.
Start with one tab in Excel and call it “Profile”. Create a unique customer number for each customer or prospect. In the Profile tab put every consumer. Make sure to have separate fields for each data element (a field for first name and another one for last name). Try to get as much useful information as you can about your customers and prospects. Anytime you learn something new about a customer update the record in the profile tab.
Don’t make the mistake of only collecting email address. If the contact gets one-character wrong you have no way of contacting them and the opportunity is lost. Try to get first name, last name, address, email and mobile number along with some information you can use to create a great offer for the customer.
Next, create another tab called “Response” and create a record for each time the consumer contacts or interacts with you. Be sure to have a field that tells you what the contact was (they called the 800 number, interacted with them at events, registered on the website –call this field response codes). Make sure for each record you record the date (if you don’t know it, guesstimate). Match up the consumer ID from the profile table to each response in the responses table. If you mess up the profile, having the response data makes it really easy to recover.
Lastly, create a “Campaigns” tab and list each time you send something to a consumer. Create a special code for each campaign (call this a campaign code) and use that for everyone that received the same thing. Make sure you make a copy of what their profile looks like when you sent it (we call that a snapshot) and have the date you extracted or sent the message.
Good news! You are ready to start building programs! Check out this post to learn more about how to utilize the database to engage customers and prospects into action.