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  • Karen Barnes

Collecting Data: What Data Is Most Critical?


Data collection from your customers (or even those just slightly interested in your brand) is key in establishing and maintaining solid communication. I see many online signup forms that simply ask for an email address – while that is better than nothing (I guess), you have absolutely no idea who those people are and what their interests might lie. Here are some key data points you should be including in both your mailing list signup and your database system:

First and last name. I know – this is obvious BUT IMPORTANT! If I can’t read the name (which happens frequently due to the fact that many people are drinking during the sign up or order process), do some online research through their address or email address. I can usually find something in their signup that gives me a clue – and I spend the extra few minutes getting it right, which saves time, money and customer service in the long run.

Note: Proper spelling and punctuation of the first name is crucial, especially if you are sending personalized communication merged from your database.

Email and phone. Both of these data points are key for communication, so make sure they are correct. Again, take a few minutes to confirm the email address online, if it is in question. It will make all the difference in your bounce and open rates and ongoing customer communications.

Billing and Shipping Addresses. Not only can you segment your database geographically but you know where your concentration of customers exist. If you have an online billing system, most systems require an accurate billing address that matches the credit card in order to approve the charge. And always make sure the customer knows that if you are shipping alcohol, you will need a 21 and over signature. This will often make them change their mind about where to ship their order.

Birthdate. Many states require this information as part of compliance reporting, so make sure you have a required field for this data.

Customer types. Identifying different customer types allow you to target your customers’ interests and buying habits. The most common type of customers are club members – but you can also indicate other categories for those who may not be into clubs but are still big buyers.

Other fields. Social media handles, notes and comments, pictures – all of these help identify and relate to your customer. The more sophisticated your program, the more impact this type of data will have.

Order information. It is critical for order information to be part of your customer’s record. If someone asks you “what did I order last month?”, you need to have that information at your fingertips. Hopefully, your POS and/or online system is integrated into your database system. If not, try to establish a procedure that will allow you to track your customers’ buying habits.

Data is key for target marketing and establishing a connection with your customers, so don’t skimp when it comes to collection!


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