What is a CRM database?
The database is the foundation of your CRM system. We explain how to use and maintain it effectively, and how it can help your business grow
Thanks to CRM, it’s easier than ever to store vast amounts of retrievable data in one, centralised, cloud-based location.
But turning this data into business action can prove somewhat harder.
A lack of understanding of how to make use of this wealth of data renders it effectively impotent.
Read more: How to use a CRM system
That’s why you need to take the time to get to know your database. So you can easily discover the golden nuggets of information that could present huge commercial opportunities.
This page will cover:
What is a CRM database?
Your CRM database stores all of the valuable data you have about your customers, which is produced through every action and interaction. This data includes:
- Name, title, and email address
- Date and nature of last interaction
- Visits to your website and engagement with your brand
- Their previous orders and spend
- Even personal information such as their interests and hobbies, or the name of their dog (for the sake of small talk)
This information is the foundation of positive customer interactions. Arming your salespeople with this information will set them up for success.
For more information, visit ‘what is a CRM system?’
How to maintain a CRM database
The first thing to do is to tailor your database to the needs of your business.
You may want to create unique fields for information that relates to specific objectives you have.
An example: if you run a car garage, you might want to include the date of a customer’s car’s last service.
But don’t overcomplicate things!
Too many fields to fill can be tedious, and is more likely to result in errors in data entry. It should be quick and easy to retrieve that vital piece of information.
You also need to keep your CRM database clean and organised. If it’s messy and lacking attention to detail, it could do more harm than good.
Here’s your essential checklist for how to maintain a CRM database:
1. Only import the most relevant data
What data do you actually need to drive conversions? This is the question you need to ask yourself. If you are updating to a new CRM system, are all those fields still relevant?
Retire custom fields that are no longer useful to keep your database lean and mean.
2. Ensure all data is in the right format before importing
If importing a CSV file of customer data, make sure the data in the file matches up to the requirements of your new system.
This means checking that every column header has the same format, and information like date is dd/mm/yyyy or otherwise. Otherwise, you’re going to be facing a lot of errors, and missing key data that is rejected from the new system.
3. Avoid partial contact records
Decide what your essential data fields are, include them in your webform, and automatically discount any contact records that don’t fulfill those requirements.
This will ensure consistency, and make marketing campaigns easier to put into action.
4. Prevent false information entry
Unfortunately, people will try to enter false information to avoid being contacted. This results in a database full of confusing and useless information.
But how can you avoid this? By placing validation measures on your contact information fields.
Most modern CRM software has the functionality to instantly verify whether an email or phone number is valid and active. If not, users won’t be able to submit their form.
5. Check for duplicates regularly
Duplicates happen when someone completes your webform multiple times with different information.
Duplicates can be a nightmare for effective marketing efforts as the system doesn’t know which contact record is most current, and which one should receive a personalised email.
Also, make sure names are entered correctly. Receiving a ‘personalised’ email with the wrong name does not make a good impression.
6. Remove unresponsive contacts
If contacts have unsubscribed, they never pick up the phone, or your emails bounce, it’s time to get rid of them. They don’t want to talk to you.
Not only will this ensure your contact efforts aren’t wasted, but it’ll also ensure that email tracking and reporting are accurate.
7. Keep an eye on where your leads are coming from
It’s important you know the source of leads that are coming into your database. Some will have voluntarily opted in, while others may have been purchased.
This will inform what the nature of your communication should be, as well as your wider marketing strategy.
How to use a CRM database
The first thing you need to know about using a CRM database is which one to choose.
You should make your selection based on the following criteria:
- Functionality – a CRM system’s features should align with your goals. Make sure the system you choose includes tools that make it easier to achieve your objectives
- Ease of use – it should be easy to enter and retrieve salient information when it matters, and not so bafflingly complex that it becomes a hindrance rather than a help
- Accessibility – in the modern working world, your remote and roving colleagues need to be able to access CRM software on their mobiles. A good opportunity might not wait until you’re back at your desk!
- Integrations – choose a CRM system that integrates with other tools your business uses. This will make life easier for everyone
What kind of business do you run?
The type of business you run can affect how you use a CRM system, and which functions you might use. Stel Kabouridis, a CRM expert from a large lead generation company, gives the following examples of how different businesses might use CRM software:
Any business could use CRM software to inform customers about one time offers, or other special deals.
A website, blog, or publishing-based business could use CRM software as a forum to build brand loyalty, and to promote engagement via newsletters and other correspondence.
They could also use the software as a consistent method of driving return visitors to their sites. This in turn would raise their domain authority, as well as promote their commercial pages.
An ecommerce business, or any business with multiple conversion points, can use CRM software to help with upselling. The software could also help nurture users towards a conversion – for example, a customer who has searched for “how to build website” could eventually by steered towards an affiliate website builder they can sign up with.
Refine and rejig
Monitor how your business uses your CRM database, and assess how the metrics and tools you use translate directly into performance.
This way, you can abandon or replace aspects that aren’t working to create a leaner, more effective CRM.
Also, make sure to keep an eye on data entry across your organisation. By maintaining standards and consistency, you’ll be able to burn that juicy data like rocket fuel to help your business scale.
You should now have a comprehensive understanding of how a CRM database can help to grow your business.
Careful maintenance and consistent data entry will ensure your database is kept in an optimum state for use by you and your team.
To start comparing quotes from leading CRM suppliers, fill in the form at the top of the page.