How to Set Up & Organize Your Customer Mailing List For Optimum Results

Your list of customers who have previously bought from you is your most important asset. These are the customers who will provide you with return business, which is more profitable than the first sale. But, are you getting the most from your customer list? There are some secrets you should know, so you can squeeze the most benefits out of your mailing list.Most business’ customer lists consist of this information: Name, Address, City, State, Zip. That’s it. Unfortunately, this mailing list is almost worthless. You need to have more information in your files than just that. One mail order operator has a customer database with 32 information fields! You should be able to set these up in your computer’s database, or, if you don’t use a computer(you REALLY should), all this information should fit on a large size index card in a card file. Here are some more useful fields to include in your customer database:LastName; FirstName; Title; Position; CompanyName; Address1;
Address2; City; State; Zip; PerPhone; BusPhone;
FaxPhone; InqDate; ReferSource; FollowUp1; FollowUp2; SubDate;
SubAmount; RenewDate;Purch1; Purch1Date; Purch1Amount; Purch2;
Purch2Date; Purch2Amount; Purch3; Purch3Date; Purch3Amount;
TotAmount; Comments; Cust#The first 10 fields (reading across) should be self-explanatory. Almost any address possible can be put into my database without having to leave out information or abbreviate. The next three are for phone numbers. You MUST have your customer’s phone numbers, when possible, to be able to follow up quickly and efficiently. Making one phone call can be the difference between a big sale and NO sale.The InqDate field is where you record the date the customer first inquired about your products and services, and the date you sent the information, since it’s always the same day (there’s no excuse not to follow up your inquiries on the same day you receive them). This information, coupled with the ReferSource field, tells you when your ads are hitting, and how quickly people are responding to them. If you see that inquiries are coming in slowly, or long after the ad is out, you know that you need more action incentives in my next ad. The ReferSource field is where you enter the “key” from my ad. You should use a letter code after my street address to indicate which publication and issue the inquiry comes from. You should also code your mailings, for the same reason.You enter a date into the two FollowUp fields to indicate when you want to send follow up literature to customers who don’t order on the first try. You should put a date two weeks from the InqDate in FollowUp1, and one two weeks later than that in FollowUp2. Then, every day, you should run a search on these two fields to pull up any records that have today’s date as a follow up date. You canteen print labels and put them on the envelopes and literature you have ready for follow ups.You should use the next three fields (SubDate, SubAmount, RenewDate) forth newsletter you publish (if you decide to publish one). These would have the
date you receive their subscription, the amount they paid (You should sometimes run special prices), and the date you want to send subscription renewal information (usually 10 1/2 months from the SubDate). You can then print labels in the same manner as you do for the FollowUp fields.Next come the Purchase fields. You should have three sets of purchase fields, one for each purchase the customer makes. In the Purch1field, enter a code for the product they have purchased. The other two fields get the date and amount of the purchase. The second and third sets of fields get the same information for the customer’s second and third purchases. The best customers to mail offers to are the ones that have purchased within the last90 days, so you don’t have to worry about many customers making more than three purchases during that time period (though I hope they will!). If someone does make a fourth purchase, move the second and third sets of data up to the first and second lines, and enter the new purchase information in the third data set.These fields are extremely important. You can instantly pull up a list of customers that have purchased within the past 90 days, or60 days, or 30 days, or even 15 days. When you rent out your house mailing list, this information is vital. The rental amount you can charge increases as the amount of time since the customer’s purchase decreases.The next field in my database is TotAmount, which contains a formula to calculate the total dollar amount that the customer has purchased from me to date.The Comments field is used to store any miscellaneous information about the customer that you think is important to know.Use the final field, Cust#, for a specially coded customer number that you assign each customer. Use this code to identify the recipient of any commissions you may pay to customers who have brought business my way.That’s a lot of information, and you may be wondering why I would need all of that. Well, I’ve already told you how to use the purchase data fields for identifying the “age” of the customers. You can also use the TotAmount field to compile a list of customers who have bought more than a certain amount from you. Together, these field searches can be used to produce a customized mailing list of, for example, customers who have bought more than $50 in the past 30 days. These would be the most responsive people to mail to, and would render the highest rental rate of my customer list.You can also use certain mailing list fields to identify people who should be dropped from my list. For example, you can search for customers with FollowUp2 dates that are four weeks past today’s date, and TotAmounts of zero. These customers could be erased from the list. Or, you could leave them on file, and put a word or two in the Comments field reminding you not to mail anything else to them, in case they inquire again. This saves me the cost of mailing something to someone who probably won’t respond. They might, but chances are they won’t.Finally, if you get a customer who has returned too many orders, or has defrauded you in some way, you can put that information in the Comments field. Then, if they order again, when their file comes up, you will see their history, and can use extra caution with them.As you can see, if you use foresight when initially setting up your customer list, you will have a valuable tool that you cause to increase your order potential, increase your income through specialized list rental, and decrease your mailing costs by eliminating “deadwood” from your list. This is one of the most important methods you can use to increase your chances of success.Copyright 2004 by DeAnna Spencer

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