January is a perfect time to do some planning and maintenance as you set the release and club schedules for the year. Part of your housekeeping this time of year should include a thorough cleaning of your database.
Make sure all your mailing list entries are grammatically correct. This is especially important if you have an online signup form. Many people do not take the time to punctuate when they are making an order or filling out a mailing list form. If your system is integrated with your customer database, this could cause problems, especially if you plan to do any personalized online communications.
Collect as much information as possible from online forms. Just asking for an email address on an online mailing list form doesn’t do you much good – you need to know who is showing interest in your wines. Create a form that asks for full name, mailing address, email address, phone and any other information that will help you understand and target your customer.
Make physical address corrections in your system. Hopefully, you mailed out a physical piece last year with a request for return service, which will allow you to get new addresses if your customers have moved. Collect these returns, adjust the address in your system and you are ready to market to the new address.
Deal with bounces. Email addresses change much more frequently than physical addresses, so it is important to stay on top of bounces from your email campaigns. First thing to check is whether there are any typos in the address. It is easy to spot these when you go through and check – and easy to correct. If indeed the address has changed, this gives you a great opportunity to reach out to your customers for updates. Call them if you have a phone number for them or simply drop a postcard in the mail.
Report accurate numbers. It is important to maintain a good, up-to-date list so that you can accurately measure your progress and growth. Having a mailing list of 10,000 people is great, but if 3,000 of those are bounced email addresses and 3,000 have invalid physical addresses, that dramatically reduces the value of your list and your communications. Keep your list clean and accurate, and your results will be easily to track.
Database maintenance is one of those tasks that can easily be put off, but if you make a plan to do regular updates, your list will always be ready as a valuable tool in your marketing activities.