Get It Together Part 2: Asking For Information

Asking For InformationLast week I focused on normalizing data fields. How did you do? Were you able to set standards for your data fields? Did you go in and do some house cleaning? If so, you are now WAY ahead of the game!

Even if you don’t have a huge amount of data on your contacts, having pre-determined standards will establish good habits that will benefit you for years to come.

This week, we are going to explore populating your contact database with more information. This doesn’t have to be done all at once and should be a well thought out process. No grumbling here – it’s not that hard!

Step 1: Determine your goals

  • What do you want to accomplish? Is it sending a holiday card campaign?
  • Is it recognizing high volume clients or large donors?
  • Are you hosting an event and need to send invitations to a specific region?

Whatever your goals, this will determine the data for which you should begin your focus.

Step 2: Look at the data you do have

  • Do you have an email service?
    • If so, then you have email addresses. I have worked with organizations where that is all they had.
  • Do you have names of people?
    • If so, be sure that first name and last name are kept in separate fields.

Step 3: Outline the fields you need now and those you can ask for later

In Step 1, we talked about determining your goals. Once you see what information you do have, you can begin to create a roadmap that will outline the information you need to gather. If it is a localized event, then address will be a high priority. If it is a specific event to a specific job type, then job roles and company departments will also be important. If you are marketing to your high donors, then financial information will become important to include in their record (you can’t ask for that, but you can record it), as well as ensuring their name, title and any suffixes are accurate. You wouldn’t want a high donor’s name to be misspelled in a thank you campaign!

Step 4: Determine how to ask for more information

If all you have are email addresses, then I recommend sending an email to your database asking them to update their profile information. When you do a request of this type, be prepared for unsubscribes – they will happen. Below is an example of a campaign I have used for a client in the past. In fact, we now do this annually to keep the information clean and accurate:

End of Year Profile Clean-Up


The big red “UPDATE PROFILE” button links to a unique code to the receiver’s profile. Each field where we have information in our system populates automatically (like a mail merge). The fields with no information will default to say, “Could you please update this for us? Click below.”

One note about this tactic – if you gather email addresses from an event and upload them into your database, and then only do sporadic emails to them (if you’ve sent anything at all), you may want to preface your request for their updated profile with a brief message reminding them of who you are and why you wish to stay in touch. Value proposition is very important to the recipient. It clarifies their WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me”).

It all comes down to taking a holistic approach to your marketing strategy, setting goals, determining what information you need to reach those goals, then putting a campaign into action that will get you there.

Next week, “Out of the House Data Collection.” How to collect data when at an event.

Do you need assistance setting up a campaign to collect contact data? We can help. CONTACT US  for information on our Data Integrity Program.