4 innovative ideas to build your customer database

How to build your customer database…it’s a tough question that keeps many business owners up at night. You want to reach your customers and clientele on their level. You want to meet their needs, provide service that wows them, and keep them coming back for more.

But at the same time, many marketing managers worry about coming on too strong and getting too personal. You want to build a genuine relationship with your clients—not wear them down or come off as invasive.

While your key customers value their privacy, they also expect personalization—so many companies end up attempting a balancing act. Yet, most research shows customers willingly share information, provided they know it’s being used to create a positive experience.

Your best bet? Give customers opportunities to share information openly rather than staying quiet and waiting for data that will never come.

Here are four innovative ways to get your customers to open up: 

1. Conduct (short) surveys to capture details

Micro-surveys have become quite popular over the last few years. These quick surveys consist of less than five questions and are often conducted right at the point of sale. While they’re obviously effective for collecting customer satisfaction metrics in B2C settings such as retail, they’re ALSO a great way to capture metrics about your key buyers, even in B2B. But don’t get greedy—keep your surveys short. Measure overall satisfaction or let clients quickly assess one issue like delivery speed. If you want to collect a demographic metric, focus on one, such as company size or volume. Keeping it concise keeps your contact from feeling hassled.

2. Work with micro-influencers who click with your audience

Micro-influencers (those with a social media audience of under 5000 followers) are also great promoters of your brand, especially seeing as 85% of consumers trust peer recommendations over traditional ads. This same approach works for B2B sales as well. Campaigns driven by micro-influencers show 60% higher engagement. For a much lower cost than a “celebrity endorsement,” an influencer will share your products or services with their enthusiastic and loyal peer supporters—many of whom share commonalities you can use for segmentation as you build your customer database.

3. Offer subscribing customers incentives

Can you give your top clients access to exclusive notifications? Bonus content? New products or services before they’re otherwise publicized? If you want to collect customer data by sharing a weekly newsletter or another piece of content, then give them exclusive access or extra incentives for handing over their information. Customers respond well to value-driven opt-in incentives: a series of demonstration videos, a printable maintenance schedule, an easy reference guide. Don’t offer a one-time opt-in to trade for their email address and contact information and then forget about the relationship. Use communication, incentives, bonuses and exclusive opportunities as a method for building that ongoing relationship and discovering more about your clients.

4. Provide easy signups to build your customer database

How easy is it for your clients to share their data with you? When your customers visit your website or place a job order, are they given a clear, easy way to sign up for future communication? It may seem like a no-brainer, but many businesses skip this critical step. Clients may visit your website one time, but if you want to build repeat business, create a clear, obvious, easy method for capturing those leads. Customers spend under a minute on a website (sometimes far less time), so don’t miss out on a chance to build a connection.

If you want to build your customer database, it’s important to focus on building your relationships. When you’ve forged a strong bond with your clients, built loyalty, and offered them incentives, they’ll keep on comin’ back for more.

Rock your list – it’s your biggest asset

Rock Your List

Do you have a strategy for growing your email list and using it to communicate with your target audience on a consistent basis? If not, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Email isn’t a sexy topic, but it represents the backbone of nearly every successful content initiative and digital marketing success story you’ve ever heard about. There is no better tool for building your online community and communicating with them on a regular basis than email.

Why is email vital to your company?

Email amps up trust. When someone signs up for your email list, it’s a sign of trust and interest in your brand. They’re intrigued by the content they’ve seen so far, and they want to learn more about how you think and the solutions you offer. Even if they aren’t ready to buy immediately, they’re thinking about it.

You own this. Your email list is an asset that you own and control. In contrast, the owners of the social media channels you use tend to change their rules on a regular basis, as they explore various models for monetizing their audiences. If you don’t own the platform, you’re at the mercy of someone else. That’s a huge plus for email. You own that. Plus, this asset can be valued if you ever sell your company.

Repeat traffic. An enewsletter, published on a regular basis, keeps prospective customers returning to your website to engage with your content. It’s essential to educating and nurturing your target audience down the path to a sale or other desirable action.

Email enables you to communicate with your audience in a creative, personalized way that blog posts or tweets can’t. Considering that research shows that people buy based on emotions and then backfill with logic, then it’s essential that you include this tactic in your marketing mix.

How to jump-start your email list

Even if you have an anemic email list, it’s not too late to transform it into a powerful marketing tool. Here are some “bodybuilding” tips for your email list:

  • Deliver your best content to your audience. Always. Audience attention is a fickle thing. Make a commitment to deliver real value with them on a consistent basis, sharing information that is tailored to their needs. Make them feel COMPELLED to sign up for your enewsletter, just so they won’t miss your NEXT big insight!
  • Place an e-newsletter subscription form prominently on your website. Many companies treat this as an afterthought. It should actually occupy a key position on your website. Here are some recommended locations for it:
    • Above the fold, on the home page
    • Above the fold, In the right-hand column of content
    • Centered, between your website’s masthead and its primary content area. This is a can’t-miss location.
    • In a pop-up window. Many people don’t like pop-ups, but they work. Make sure you select one that plays well with mobile devices – otherwise, Google may penalize you.
    • Make sure it’s clear and easy to understand. Limit the number of fields – the more you ask for, the less likely they are to fill it out.
  • Provide them with a compelling reason WHY. Be very clear about what you’ll provide them in return for sharing their email address with you. What will your enewsletter contain that is unique and valuable? How often will you send it out? What will they miss if they don’t subscribe?
  • Exchange something of great value for their email address. Offer them an ebook, a checklist or other exclusive content. But remember: This is a two-step process. Just because they gave you their email address to get your latest content asset doesn’t automatically give you permission to email them on an ongoing basis. After you get them to sign up for your free goodies, make a separate ask for the newsletter subscription. Get permission – always!
  • Publish consistently. Just like your blog, your enewsletter needs to be published on a consistent schedule. Your readers will become conditioned to receive your communications at a set date or time of day, increasing engagement.

Are Print Catalogs Still Relevant in Today’s Digital World?

Today you can order online, order over the phone, and even order from your phone. With so many choices, where do old-fashioned paper catalogs fit in the marketing mix? Printing and mailing are expensive propositions. Is it even worth it anymore?

Are Print Catalogs Still Relevant in Today's Digital World?

Are print catalogs still relevant in the age of digital marketing? Oh yes.

Here are some surprising reasons print catalogs are making a comeback…and why multi-channel marketing is the way to go.

Catalogs Spark Ideas

According to management consulting firm Kurt Salmon, 44% of consumers say they’d like to receive fewer catalogs. But get this: in the same survey, 58% responded that they get ideas from paging through catalogs, and nearly 30% said they have retailer catalogs in hand while purchasing goods online. Almost 90% said they’d bought products they first saw in a catalog.

Why the contradiction? Catalogs have an appeal that goes beyond product photos. We may be annoyed when they stuff our mailboxes, but two out of three can’t resist opening them. And when we do, they undeniably influence us. Print catalogs showcase products in context, group items that can be used together, and suggest new uses for familiar items. It’s a great way to upsell, cross-sell, and compare products. Mailing list customers spend an average of 20% more per sale after receiving a catalog.


Cutting Catalogs Means Less Sales: Learning the Hard Way

Faced with the rising cost of print, Land’s End decided to stop mailing catalogs in 2000. The result was a whopping $100 million loss in sales. After they resumed catalog mailings, Land’s End used a pop-up to ask customers if they had seen a catalog before placing their order. 75% said yes.

Ikea aims to be the most successful retailer in the world and they’re well on their way with sales driven by print catalogs full of ideas and personality. Their answer to “why print catalogs?” is as clever as it is funny…

Their attitude is funny, but their catalog business is not. Ikea prints 211 million catalogs worldwide each year.

B2B Sees the Same Results

“Some customers only shop through our website, some only through our catalog…Our best customers use both. When we look at their lifetime customer value, we get a considerable bump.”

That’s from food handling equipment distributor Hubert Co. They report that multichannel marketing—employing a mix of catalogs and e-commerce—boosts sales and inspires customer loyalty.

B2B decision makers are driven by the same motivations driving retail consumers. Show them products specifically targeted to make their workday more productive and you’ll get (and keep) their attention.

Is It Worth the Cost?

“Catalogs remain the highest-quality, most visually-alluring vehicle to capture an audience, present product, create an aspirational lifestyle and generate solid customer loyalty and brand-awareness. No one can argue the distinct advantage catalogs have through photography, paper and printing quality, size, use of models and share of customer attention. And, catalogs have proven to be the most successful driver of web traffic. There’s no better way for a multi-channel marketer to target and acquire customers.”

That’s Andy Ostroy, the Chairman and CEO of direct marketing agency Belardi/Ostroy, breaking down the cost/return ratio on Huffington Post. Powerful stuff.

While they may seem like old-fashioned relics to some, are print catalogs still relevant? You bet. Clearly human nature never goes out of style. Catalogs provide a tactile and visual experience that can’t be equaled by digital media. Catalogs don’t really sell products, they jumpstart the idea process that leads to purchasing decisions. It’s storytelling at its finest.

For ongoing ideas to hold onto your customers be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe to receive Motivational Monday updates in your inbox each week below.


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Online Advertising Saturation: How to Rethink Your Marketing Approach

Today’s consumers make buying decisions based on a wealth of information—and the number of sources they access grows every day. Online, they’re looking at consumer reviews, crowdsourcing opinions on social media, reading third-party reviews from a variety of publishers, plus they’re examining the valuable information you offer up on your company website and social channels. Offline, consumers are bombarded by advertising—on billboards, on the radio, literally everywhere. (Hey, there are even TVs on gas pumps nowadays.)

Making Noise in a Noisy Room: Online Advertising Saturation Means You Must Rethink Your Approach

The sheer depth of advertising saturation makes it difficult for a business to stand out and make an impression. So. Much. NOISE. This increasing complexity in a crowded marketplace means marketers must rethink their approach and create marketing strategies that include both traditional and digital methods.

While cutting through the noise may seem overwhelming to some, effective marketers figure out how to integrate marketing channels and present a cohesive message to their customers. Agile companies that effectively integrate their marketing can realize much higher ROI compared with companies mired in old-school methods or invested in only one digital approach, such as a using only a website or only a Facebook profile.

Boosting your profits means embracing the new along with traditional tried-and-true methods you trusted in the past, using every tool at your disposal to strengthen your brand and get your message across.


Why Explore Incorporating Direct Mail?

While email marketing is still very effective, today’s consumers are shuffling through an awful lot of email. However, most people still open ALL of their physical mail, especially when it comes in an intriguing package. With direct mail, you have the opportunity to make your marketing truly special and unique, whether packaged in an eye-catching envelope or sent on a postcard with a stunning and intriguing graphic.

Time your direct mail to land WITH an email message and you put your message in the recipient’s hand and on her screen. Now that’s hard to ignore.

By incorporating direct mail into online campaigns, sending the same branded message to the customer’s mailbox and inbox—to the kitchen table over breakfast and via mobile during the morning commute—means you’ll have a better chance of earning their trust. Wrap it all up with a compelling CTA and you’ll be able to track which delivery methods and most effective at helping you close the sale.

Incorporating direct mail allows you to blend familiar marketing methods with new technology to deliver your message to all your customers…even those not tethered to an electronic leash.


What Customers Say About an Integrated Approach

A 2012 Gartner study found that 72% of consumers want an integrated marketing approach…and only 39% get one. If you’re listening, customers will always tell you what they want.

Marketing is an interwoven discipline with a single purpose: to speak the customer's language and reach them wherever they are, whether that be online or at their desks with a cup of coffee, opening a pile of mail.

There’s a word for the marketing concept that involves separate channels and it should be banned from every marketer’s vocabulary: silos. Marketing is an interwoven discipline with a single purpose: to speak the customer’s language and reach them wherever they are, whether that be online or at their desks with a cup of coffee, opening a pile of mail.

If you’re struggling with incorporating direct mail into online campaigns, consider a whole new strategy—one that covers the spectrum of your reach with a consistent message and reinforces your message on across all your channels.



Growth Cycle Marketing: A proven process for growing and attracting more customersToday, the decision to buy is no longer a moment–it’s a process. Are you truly connecting with your prospects? Are you engaging with your customers before, during, and even after the sale?

Not sure? You need to know HOW…now. Get a jump start by downloading our FREE White Paper on Growth Cycle Marketing.

You’ll learn:
  • 14 ways to engage your prospects to drive home the sale
  • How to influence your customer’s decision to buy
  • Why your current customers are your biggest asset
  • The exact type of content your prospects and customers want
  • How this proven, 5-stage process attracts new customers and grows your business


Your Brain on Direct Mail

Here is your BRAIN on DIRECT MAIL — It’s a good thing!

Brain on Direct Mail

There has been a lot of chatter going around about print marketing and its effectiveness — Is print still relevant? Does it reach audiences? Is it worth the time and money?

Let me answer your questions in one simple word — YES!

Don’t believe me? Let’s allow the science to speak for itself…

Bangor University’s Centre for Experimental Consumer Psychology used functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery (fMRI) to see whether our brains react differently to digital and physical marketing mediums — such as direct mail and printed pieces.

Brain on Direct Mail

The Red shows brain areas stimulated by physical/tangible ads. The Blue shows brain areas reacting to digital ads. Image Source: Millward Brown ©2009

So what does this all mean?

The Millward Brown research shows that:

  • Tangible materials leave a bigger impression in the brain — and in many more areas of the brain.
  • The emotional centers of the brain react significantly more for paper-based ads.
  • Physical material is more “real” to the brain. It has a meaning, and a place. It’s better connected to memory because it ENGAGES with our spatial memory networks.
  • Physical materials produce more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization” of ads.

So remember:

When your clients and potential customers are handling a tangible material, it feels more “real” in the brain and produces brain responses that trigger emotional reactions that leave a lasting impression in their memory.

Technically, printed materials became subliminal messaging. {Tweet this!}

Want to leave a lasting impression on your audience? Utilize PRINT!

Want more ideas for how to improve the success of your next direct mail piece? Click or call Heritage Printing (262.790.5000). We’d be happy to help.

If Content Is King, Distribution Is Queen

 If Content Is King, Distribution Is QueenBack in 1996, Bill Gates coined the phrase “content is king” to emphasize how a website’s content is essential in attracting visitors. The better your content, the more people would come to your site. Gates realized early on that a website is no different than a newspaper, a TV show, or a musical recording:

To get the most readers/viewers/visitors, you need a great product that people want to consume.

This new way of the world required a great deal of self-publishing. What Bill never told anyone, though, was that self-publishing takes work…a lot of work. Creating original, informative, and helpful content requires a jumbo-sized can of elbow grease and help from nearly every employee.

But there were — and still are — MANY benefits to creating original content. Primarily:

Search Engines Love Juicy Content

Your site’s content — as well as the content you publish via email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so on — helps drive search engine performance. The more your company looks and sounds like a “guru” on specific topics, the more likely other sites will link to yours…and Google will reward you.

Now remember: Good social marketing requires a delicate balance of both curated and original content. Even so…

Take a moment to consider the content you create from another aspect. Your content is an asset, so the more you create, the more information wealthy your company becomes. {Tweet this.}

There’s a great temptation to borrow other people’s content and simply re-distribute it. It’s fast and easy. And it seems as though everyone is doing it. I mean, how often have you received an email or seen a tweet that simply links to someone else’s content?

Smart companies are getting leads by creating original content that matches up to the customer’s Buy Cycle and that truly engages people. How? Through a process we call Growth Cycle Marketing. Learn more in our FREE whitepaper.

If Content Is King, Distribution Is Queen.

 If Content Is King, Distribution Is QueenAre you fully using all the “distribution channels” that you own or control? Do you know which social media platforms are best for growing YOUR platform? Click here to learn the perks, drawbacks, uses, and features of some of the most popular social media choices out there today.

Lessons Learned
In a new, more challenging era of marketing that includes more and more competitors entering your arena each day, you can do three important things to keep your marketing viable:

  1. Own your content and make it original. It’s an asset that adds to your informational wealth. Don’t fall prey to the urge of simply re-sending other people’s content as a quick fix for staying in touch.
  2. Build a reputation as a guru in your field of expertise. Develop content that is helpful to people and brings real value.
  3. Seek to control distribution. Engage people on social networks as a way to grow channels you control, like email lists and blog RSS readership.

May the tips above give you a more solid platform for building a strong marketing strategy.

Let us know your progress below in the comments or by connecting with me on LinkedIn.

Till next time,
Johnathan Crawford of Data Dog Marketing
 If Content Is King, Distribution Is Queen