You’ve probably seen video clips of buildings being brought down with explosives, after they were found to be too old or in too poor of condition to continue serving a useful purpose. I saw one of these the other night. It’s certainly dramatic, especially when you consider the scale and value of the resources involved.
This prompts me to ask: Which building are you currently operating in?
It may seem like an odd question, but as a marketer, your customer database has a lot in common with the buildings pictured above. Both are vital structures that enable multi-million dollar business operations. Both are designed to house and protect core business assets. And both are subject to decay and collapse if they are not routinely maintained.
In our last blog we talked about some of the problems that can occur when that maintenance doesn’t happen – when your best marketing ideas are compromised by outdated customer data. It’s an inconvenience for consumers, who end up receiving misdirected and often irrelevant marketing, but it can be a disaster for the retailers who send it, who can end up wasting huge dollars on promotions that just get clicked or dropped in the trash.
In this edition of our CRM blog series, I’d like to offer some practical tips for making sure your database stays clean and in top condition day-by-day, so you can continue to rely on it as a profit-generating business development tool year-after-year.
Assign one person to manage daily incoming files. The person in charge of maintaining your database must be responsible for all the daily files that come in. He or she must note who the contact is, the full contents of the files, when the information was uploaded and in which directory it was placed.
Make sure the files are correctly processed. Check in the appropriate folder for the time stamp; these can sometimes be overwritten, and if you check a day too late you could lose valuable data. Check the Process Watcher for any errors and correct them without delay (errors left unresolved can accumulate as fast a dirty dishes!). And if you use Epicor Retail POS, make sure to check the Trickle process. Trickle is the replication process that synchronizes all changes made to a customer’s record with the store’s database. Begin by checking the Outbox and Backup folders to make sure the files were sent to the store’s database and backed up by our application. Next, check the Implog.log file and the Trickle Process in the Process Watcher to see if it was successfully completed. If you find any errors, immediately open a call with Client Care – otherwise the changes made to customer records will not show up at the stores.
Respect and manage opt-outs. We all use email to maintain regular communications with our customers – and we hope they are receptive to our offers and information. But it’s always the customer’s choice to receive those emails or not, and we need to respect our customers either way. Make sure that any opt-out requests are implemented immediately, either by appending an attribute of “do not email” or setting them to do not email and rerunning your daily master lists to exempt them.
Investigate and correct undeliverables. You never want to incur the expenses that result from maintaining incorrect email addresses. As soon as they are identified, set them to undeliverable in the database and rerun your master list. A good practice after flagging any contact as undeliverable is to clear the email address from the record and set the email indicator to Mail. With a blank email field, it is more likely that the sales associate will ask the customer for their email address the next time they visit the store.
De-dup every day! Duplicate contacts are costly in at least two ways: they increase your mailing costs, and they increase the chances that your customer will become annoyed with your excessive mailings and eventually opt out. Duplicates throw your reporting off as well. Search for duplicates daily to minimize your costs and present offers to your customers as intended – professionally and correctly.
All of these tips are fairly simple, but because they are (or should be!) routine, they can be sometimes taken for granted and ignored. Consistent, daily practice of these essentials can help keep the foundation of your marketing efforts strong—and supporting your business forever.
Watch for our next blog on “Duplicates – Why do they exist and why do we care?”
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