How to Build a Database from Scratch

Digital Marketing and Sales Agency in Denver

If you’re looking to build a database from scratch, you can have two reactions…

  1. Oh my god, where do I even begin? This is overwhelming.
  2. This is great, I have a blank slate and can do things right!

I’ll be 100% honest – I’ve had both reactions in these situations. As I’ve gotten more accustomed to the process and have built expertise in the area, however, I find myself reacting much more like scenario number 2 and only find myself reacting like scenario number 1 when I inherit a database that is unsegmented, messy, and already overloaded with contacts.

So, the good news is, you must be starting from scratch if you’re reading this article. So, that’s great! You have a blank slate which is much, much better.

This article will teach you how to build a database from scratch – from setting up the foundational elements in your marketing automation software to actually growing your database with contacts.

Here we go!

The Foundation

Below are the steps you should take to set up a successful foundation (this is extremely important!)

1. Determine your target audience and ideal customer

Before you can even get started building your database, it is extremely important to know exactly who you are going to be targeting. Once you have your ideal customer profile and have identified your top personas along with qualification criteria, database segmentation will become much easier. This absolutely has to be step one, always.

2. Build Contact Properties

Now that you know who you are targeting and what qualification criteria you are going to look for to identify these people, you can begin building contact properties. Contact properties are going to make up the fields of information you are going to be collecting from contacts on forms. It is important to account for any of the main criteria you are going to need to use for segmentation to identify who someone is in your database.

Examples can be fields like “industry”, “job title”, “persona”, “what are you interested in learning more about?”, etc.

3. Build a Form System

Now that you have built contact properties and have the fields you’ll need to collect on forms, it is time to actually build your form system. It is important to not build a “one-size-fits-all” form and instead build a system of forms that will coincide with the buyer’s journey and marketing funnel you will be pushing contacts through.

This means you won’t build one form collecting 20 fields that someone has to fill out just to subscribe to the blog, but they also have to fill out to request a demo. The two are not equal.

Instead, build a form that only asks for “email” for a blog subscription conversion, a form that only asks for basic information for more awareness stage pieces, a form that asks more qualifying questions for a decision stage conversion, and so on.

The goal is to slowly gather the information you are looking for throughout the buyer’s journey so you can gain more and more intelligence about the contacts in your database for more effective marketing and nurturing. You don’t want to scare contacts away, or you’ll never grow your database.

4. Build Lists

Now that you’ve built all your contact properties and have built your forms, it is time to build the lists that your future contacts will populate.

You can build smart lists that use the criteria you are collecting on forms to segment your database and keep things organized. That way, you know who you have in your database so you can make decisions on how to market to them (or if you need to delete them!).

Growing Your Database

Now that you have the foundation set up so nothing gets unorganized or slips through the cracks, you can turn the machine on and start growing your database! 

Here are some ways you can do so:

1. Implement Forms & Conversion Points on Your Website

Having your foundation set up is a great start, but if you don’t actually implement the forms on your website and create different conversion points, how are you going to get contacts in your database?

Strategically place different Calls-to-Action on your website to funnel your target audience through the buyer’s journey and land on the forms you built to collect their contact information. You can also invest in chat bots and conversational marketing.

Once you capture their information, they will now be in your database and populate those lists you set up!

2. Decide on Ungated Vs. Gated Content

Choose wisely on what content or conversion points you choose to gate (i.e. require someone to fill out a form to access it) or ungate (i.e. give it away for “free” and don’t require someone to fill out a form to access it).

It seems counterintuitive when you are trying to build your database to have ungated content that requires no contact information in exchange. However, it is important to implement both tactics strategically.

Having ungated content can help build trust for visitors and if they see that the quality of your content is good, they will be more willing to give up their contact information in the future to access the really good stuff.

3. SEO

Building your database requires a robust organic search strategy; if you can get more eyeballs on your website, you can get more contacts in your database. It’s definitely a numbers game.

I’m no SEO expert, though, so if you want to chat more about it Nicole Lawrence or Juliette Tholey are your gals!

4. Amplification

Again, driving traffic back to your content and website through amplification is another great way to build your database. Much like organic search, it’s a numbers game; getting more eyeballs on your website will get you more contacts in your database.

With amplification, you can do it at an accelerated rate as you continue to build your organic traffic through your SEO strategy. So if you’re in a hurry, try paid search or social advertising.

There you have it; you have all of the tools you need to build your foundation and then grow your database to get that inbound marketing machine going at full speed!

This article just skimmed the surface, though. There are so many cool things you can do with your database.

If you want to chat about continuous improvement and get more advanced with your database strategy, contact us! We’d love to help.