Three colleagues having a discussion around a computer in an office

Every handshake or connection your sales team achieves may not always make it into your CRM. And those that do aren’t always updated when someone makes a career move or changes their email domain.

Maintaining your CRM is a thankless job. We know it’s not easy, and now the challenge for many marketers is how to build a deeper, more meaningful customer database. Brands have realized that 1-to-1 conversations are the best way to interact with their customers and is the reason for the rapid growth of people-based marketing in our industry. People-based marketing is a powerful way to bridge the gap between offline and online data, enabling you to act on everything you know about your customers and prospects.

I get a TON of questions from clients about people-based marketing and how their own data stacks up. The good news is that regardless of where your customer data comes from or the shape it’s currently in, we can always help you leverage this data, or help understand how to grow your CRM data to make your people-based marketing dreams a reality. Here are some of the questions that pop up the most:

Q: Some of my partners/clients are skeptical about the security of all this. How can I help get them onboard?

Remind your partners/clients that we strip all data of personally identifiable information (PII) when we load it into the onboarding user interface (UI), with multilayered security protocols. Also, we share all CRM data files via secure Egnyte file transfer links, and we never store data locally or email sensitive first-party data.

Q: How do I know if I have enough data to work with. Where should I start?

Knowing if you have enough data to work with is never a black and white answer, but as a general rule, the more records in your database, the better. How large the data set has to be depends on what you plan to do with it and how robust the records are. For example, let’s say you’re an online retail brand with rich customer data: purchase frequency, category, brand, style, and more. Odds are you have a record count into the hundreds of thousands. In that case, we can segment that data several different ways, and still have enough users in each segment. As a rule of thumb, we try to have at least 20k users in retargeting segments and 60k in look-alike segments. On the other hand, if you’re a local QSR franchise, you may have less than 50k records total with limited customer information in each record. In those cases, we don’t recommend carving out targeting segments because the data set gets too narrow. The end goal is to have a solid pool of users to segment against key attributes, like recent and lapsed customers for a specific product or category, so if you’re not quite there yet, keep reading, and we can help you get there.

Q: Is there a way to leverage my website to grow my customer pool?

Definitely! Leveraging your owned assets is always the best way to grow your database. One of the easiest answers for how to grow your CRM data is with a good old-fashioned lead-gen campaign. Everyone loves freebies, tips and tricks, so consider hosting gated white papers, stat packs, playbooks and webinars on your site. These types of resources are what people search for online, and by prompting users to fill out a form to access the materials, you’ll have the opportunity to capture important customer information and grow your CRM.

Q: My data is really old. How can I get more recent info about my customers?

The more you know about your customers, the more effective and targeted your marketing efforts will be. Retailers have long been collecting basic details on their customers, but the rise of ecommerce, digital loyalty programs and more have made it possible to amass a rich, current profile of your consumers. Make sure you give new and existing customers a seamless, no-fuss way to share more information during checkout, whether that’s online or in-store.

Q: My CRM is a disaster. How can I start cleaning it up?

There’s no way around it – you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and start scrubbing. De-dups, merge records, formatting and row-by-row analysis are likely going to have to be a part of this cleansing process for existing data. And obviously while you’re doing all of this work, you’re going to want to build processes that help you avoid a similar painstaking cleanse in the future. Invest in a robust CRM that tracks meaningful customer data and uses import validation rules and other tools to keep your data clean. Wherever possible, automate the information flow into your CRM so that common incoming data is automatically formatted for consistency — like state abbreviations and phone numbers. You can also leverage third-party segments to enrich your data or overwrite incorrect information.

Q: I have an app with lots of downloads. Can I transfer those users into my database?

If you have an app, you can upload your users and match their device IDs during the onboarding process. To take your database to the next level, launch a Universal App campaign to drive new users to download your app and enter your system with targeted banner ad and search campaigns. But be cautious of those trying to trade an ultralow cost-per-install (CPI) for higher app store rankings. These types of campaigns often bring in low-quality traffic with extra incentives.

Q: I’ve done all of this, and I’m still coming up short. Any other tricks up your sleeve?

Some identity-resolution platforms can ingest your conversion logs and match users to online devices in order to grow your CRM data. However, these services are typically available at an additional cost and are only a one-time fix for improving your match rates rather than an ongoing solution to building out an effective customer database.

In the end, your people-based marketing efforts will only be as effective as the data that powers them. I hope these strategies on how to grow your CRM data help you boost not only the quantity of your CRM but also the quality of data points within it. You’ll get to know your customers better, and if you’re ready to try out people-based marketing capabilities, contact us today to start getting the most out of your data.