How to create a database marketing strategy in 5 easy steps

Database marketing is the practice of collecting and using data to create more personalised, relevant, and effective communications with clients and prospects. Maintaining a high-quality database is essential for the success of your marketing campaigns.

A well-researched and verified pool of contacts helps you target the right audience with your messaging, improving your engagement rates and making your campaigns likelier to succeed. Removing inaccurate contacts reduces wastage which results in lower marketing costs and focuses your team on those prospects most likely to engage.

Database marketing is not about adding random people to contact lists and then spamming them with all types of company communications to try and get their attention. A well-crafted database marketing strategy is about extending the lifetime value of client accounts with personalised and highly targeted communications. Here are the first steps to maximise your database marketing success.

1. Setting up objectives for the data


With a clear vision, it’s easier to take the next steps in your strategy and you’re more likely to achieve your aims. The SMART formula is a great way to help set objectives that work, these are:

Specific – Your objectives need to have a clear outcome. This should align with a common goal that pushes your organisation forward.

Measurable – The numbers used to decide whether the goal is achieved. A quantifiable measure to track progress, for example, the number of products sold. It is a clear indicator of when an objective has been achieved.

Achievable – The objective needs to be realistic and something attainable with the resources you possess. There is no point in setting goals that are wildly unrealistic and nor should you set your bar so low it does not push your organisation forward.

Relevant – You can determine relevance if the desired outcome of the objective provides a key benefit to your organisation. It should fit with your wider plans and complement other business activities.

Time-bound – Your objectives need a deadline or else you risk running campaigns for longer than necessary just to try and hit your targets, overspending your budget in the process.

2. Finding the data

finding the data

Once you’ve set your SMART objectives, you then need to identify the necessary data to achieve these and where this can be accessed. It is important to know what information you need but just as important is knowing what you don’t need to avoid wasting time and money.

How will you acquire the relevant data? Doing so in-house requires a lot of time and effort and a dedicated team with a clear idea of where and what to research. The time this takes, and the resources needed are often costly and can dent your marketing budget. It also takes time away from the important daily tasks your team carry out.

Large data providers can be a cheaper option on the surface, but they offer data in bulk which lacks the quality of a bespoke approach and has to be sifted through by your team to extract what is, if at all, relevant to your marketing strategy.

The bespoke approach combines the best of both being the most cost-effective in the long term and providing the researched and verified, quality data you are looking for and avoiding the reams of irrelevant and unusable information associated with bulk data providers.        

3. Organising the data

Once the newly researched data has been collected, you need to decide where it is going to be held. For example, will you store this data in an internal document, a mass email-sending platform, or a full-scale CRM? Usually, cloud-based storage options are perfect for this as they offer an unmatched level of security to safeguard confidential information.

Wherever you decide to store your data, you’ll want it in one location to avoid silos and make it easier for your team to collaborate from one single source. You should also have a backup copy of this data that is automatically saved when new information is added.

4. Measuring and tracking progress

database marketing

With your SMART objectives in place, you have a clear idea of what to measure and can track progress. Campaigns need to be checked on regularly, so you know whether you are on course to achieve your objective and make changes if needed.

Having a process to monitor how your campaigns are performing will help you analyse your actions and report on the progress to other stakeholders. The key performance indicators (KPIs) you monitor should be tied to the objectives of your campaign, only then can you measure how well it is going and if you need to make improvements. The number of KPIs should be kept to a minimum to avoid analysing irrelevant metrics.

5. Minimising data decay

Like death and taxes, data decay is an inevitable part of life. People change jobs, move roles, abandon emails, and get new ones all the time. This data decay means the information you hold slowly becomes less accurate.

According to Marketing Sherpas research, the average monthly B2B data decay is about 2.1%. This means that if you have 10,000 contacts and you lose 2.1% a month, you would have lost 1,050 in just 5 months, and each year you would lose 22.5% of your database if nothing is done to it.

That’s why it’s important to cleanse your database frequently by removing invalid information and updating it with freshly researched data or find a provider that can do this for you. This allows you to focus on reaching the people who could be your next client and take care of those who already are.

Getting your data in order

updating data

A well-maintained marketing database can help improve your campaigns’ effectiveness and conversion rates. Ultimately, database marketing will only be effective if your data is accurate, up-to-date, and aligns with your target audience.

Like most marketing activities, building a marketing database takes time, and you shouldn’t expect a huge number of sales leads from the first communication that you send out. However, as your database grows and people become familiar with your brand and products, it will generate a steady supply of leads and drive revenue growth.