Database Camp

You have to keep up contact to keep your customers

Did you know attracting new prospects to your store is more than six times as expensive as catering to existing ones? Or that more than 66 percent of customers opt out of shopping at a store because they feel “neglected”??If you make keeping contact with your customers a key part of your business marketing plan using database marketing, you can reverse that dropout trend. Database marketing involves sending direct mails or emails to your existing customers or prospects that have expressed interest in your jewelry.

Ask a group of jewelry retailers how many of them maintain such a database, and they will respond with a pretty good showing. Then ask how many send information to their database listings, and replies start to dwindle. If you ask how many make contact at least four times per year to sections of the database, those replies will be even fewer. Press on by asking how many include an offer that encourages an active response and whether they have the means to gauge its effectiveness, and only a few hands will go up or, worse still, you’ll get no replies at all.

Sadly, this is typical of jewelers. And even businesses that do maintain databases need to be smarter about how to work them. As huge fans of databases, we feel they are the most important part of any jewelry marketing strategy and that they handily trump other promotional approaches. Database marketing taps directly into your established customer base. Its results far exceed its costs. And it’s easily measurable.

Opt in to email marketing.

Maintaining a database allows you to contact clients in various ways: mail, fax, phone, or email (by far, the most economical). Email tools such as Constant Contact or Swiftpage let you download databases into email format. Simultaneously, you get to track each campaign’s response rate—Are the emails opened? Is there a click-through to the Web page?—which can help you gauge whether your email contacts are as effective as, say, your in-store responses. For Constant Contact, expect to spend $15–$150 per month (depending on the number of addresses in your database). Swiftpage starts at $14.95 per month; additional charges vary based on how many emails you send per day.

A word of caution: Any worthy database email marketing software allows customers to opt out as well as to opt in, and email opt-outs prevent you from contacting customers again. Thus, it is crucial to get your content down right off the bat to draw in your customers and to keep them reading and interested in what you have to say. Are your emails worth opening?

Any point-of-sale system worth its salt enables you to collect customer data with ease for marketing purposes. Naturally, you must know how to build a target database in a nonintrusive way—a way that encourages customers to give their names and addresses in a trusting and voluntary manner.

Two good ways to go about it are in-store competitions and guarantees. The competition would include entry forms where customers have to select whether to receive future offers by post or email. For the guarantee to be recorded and honored, they would need to provide their names and email addresses.

Your competitive edge is severely dulled if you are managing your business without a database in this day and age. The sooner you get started, the greater your business growth and potential for success.

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