If you want your business to expand, you need to understand your customers’ needs and aspirations so you can come up with ideas for new products. This is where marketing data comes in.
Marketing data consists of information that helps your business build up its knowledge not just of your customers but your competitors as well. It can be collected and used in a number of different ways. The range of marketing data that businesses collect can include anything relevant to their customers’ needs – their shopping habits, average incomes, regular mode of transport and computer use for example.

It’s a good idea to keep a record of every contact with your customers from phone calls to emails. This will help you communicate more effectively with your customers, understand their needs better and allow you to offer them the most appropriate products or services.

Marketing data can be divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary data is information that you collect while secondary data is information you can buy from outside agencies.

Sources for primary marketing data include comment cards, interviews and questionnaires. These are particularly effective if you want to collect lots of different information. As for secondary marketing data, there are a number of companies which offer to sell businesses commercial information they have collected. While their services can represent the most cost effective way of finding the information you need, you should also bear in mind that some of this data can be accessed for free from government statistics or trade publications.

Your business also needs a database to record the marketing data you collect. Look for one that allows you to record information against a customer’s name and then segment the data when you want to run a marketing campaign.

Using marketing data effectively means your business will be in a position to develop products and services that your customers want to buy. And remember, the most expensive means of collecting data are not always the best. Some of the most effective, such as comment cards, are easy to use and cost you next to nothing.