Throughout April we have talked about environmental issues. We can’t leave the topic before we hit on one that everybody can do: recycle your customer data. It’s one form of “tidying up” that can generate real profits.
Clear the dead wood
When is the last time you actually went through your customer database (you have one, right? RIGHT?) and strategically measured who is active, who has left you, and got rid of anything that is no longer current? If it’s been a while, now is a good time to do it.
Think of your customer database as a forest. From time to time, you need to get rid of the dead wood. People move away or pass away. They change their driving patterns because they now work from home or have a new job. You are no longer on their radar and never will be again.
By looking at the dates when people were last in or when they last had an order processed, you can start to form a picture of the dead wood that needs clearing. Using the Internet, you can look up those people and see if they are even still at those addresses. If they haven’t been in within the last 2 years, drop them. If they haven’t been in within the last 12 months, put them into the “to be tended” pile.
Fertilize where necessary
If you garden at all, you know that sometimes plants just get tired. The soil no longer has all the nutrients they need, and so a good gardener will add a little fertilizer to get them going again.
Your customers can be like that, too. Let’s face it, people like “new” things. They like a fresh-looking store, a new logo on your marketing pieces, a fresh offer to bring them back in again. The pandemic changed everyone’s traffic patterns; it’s time to put down some breadcrumbs to get them back to your door.
Come up with some special offers that won’t break the bank but will cause the customers to come in more than once. If you can establish a new habit, they’ll keep coming. Post cards or emails with multiple, time-dated coupons or other offers that aren’t all available at one time can help. Use these with your haven’t-been-in-for-a-year people. Fertilize, and see what pops up.
Polish the good stuff
It’s tempting to overlook your good customers, just because they are steady and loyal. You couldn’t be more wrong! They are the foundation of your success. Like fine wood, they will look and feel even better, and last longer, if you take steps to polish them up and make them feel special.
Promotions tied to a customer’s length of patronage are always good. They let the customer know you’ve paid attention to the fact that they’ve been bringing their clothes to you over a long period of time. You also get the chance to reward that loyalty with something special — maybe a gift card for a really nice restaurant for long-timers. Involve the place you are drawing the cards from and (because you are promoting them) they may donate the cards outright, or split the cost with you. Win-win.
Everybody wants to be appreciated. Saying “Thank you!” never goes out of style.
Plant new seeds
Now that you’ve cleared out the dead wood that was cluttering up your list, and tended to the customers that needed some attention or appreciated those who are steady, it’s time to evaluate where to put new seeds.
Study your list and see where the good customers are coming from. Are they in a particular neighborhood or area? An office building? Do many of them have something in common like the country club or some other social activity? That’s where you plant new seeds. The beauty of this is that the “plants” that are already there will encourage the “seeds” to grow — your current customers will talk you up if someone new asks them if you’re a good company to do business with.
Digging around in your customer database should not be a once-a-year activity, but if it’s been a while since you did it, today is a good day to start. Reducing outdated customer contacts, reusing the ones that just need an incentive, and recycling old promotions with new potential customers can bring in the results you’re looking for.
Becca Anderson spent 17 years in public relations, advertising and corporate PR before joining Fabricare Canada in 2000. She was named editor in 2013, and welcomes feedback about the magazine via the contact form on this site.