Guide

Direct marketing

Using your customer database for marketing

Selling to existing customers is far easier and cheaper than finding new ones. That's why your customer database is one of your most valuable assets.

What information does your database currently hold? A list of customer contacts is a start - but more specific information about their needs and interests makes your marketing more effective. This data might include:

  • ordering behaviour - dates, frequency and timing of orders
  • order types - type and quantity of goods or services ordered and their value
  • your total annual sales - the margin on these sales and their payment history
  • distribution details - postcode, type of area (eg urban or rural)
  • personal profile of individual consumers - age, gender and details of their lifestyle or socio-economic status

With the right software you can use your data to send mailings to groups with specific characteristics. For example you could target women aged between 18 and 25 who live within a five-mile radius of your shop.

But remember that data-protection and electronic communication laws cover how you hold, use and otherwise process information about customers and potential customers and how you contact them.  You normally need consent before you can send an individual marketing messages. Read more about the direct marketing legal issues and best practice.

Your database must be kept up to date if it's to be a valuable business tool. You need to clean your list regularly by removing or amending incorrect data. Failing to do so wastes your money through misdirected marketing - and your data could become unusable within three years.

Read more about how to manage your customer database.