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How to Spring Clean Your Database

It’s not just your closets and drawers that need spring cleaning – your database does, too! Cleaning and organizing your database may not be the most exciting thing on your to-do list, but it’s one that you will thank yourself later for. By completing this task, you can improve your data’s health, reduce costs and improve your marketing campaigns’ ROI. 

Below are the steps to follow when spring cleaning your organization’s database. 

Backup Your Database 

Before you do any type of cleanup to your database, backup your files first. You should be backing up your data regularly, but this step is especially important when you start making major changes to your system. 

Identify Duplicate Records  

Identify any duplicates in your database by running a search. Duplicates are often inevitable, but it’s important to catch them before they cause problems. For example, you don’t want to email the same contact twice or waste your marketing dollars on people who aren’t interested in your products. 

Update Key Information 

When was the last time you updated your data? It’s possible that you need to solicit new or updated information, such as email addresses or purchase histories. Your database should keep on top of important details. This will make reporting easier and more accurate. 

Remove Inactive Contacts

In terms of the information in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, now is a good time to remove inactive contacts. Filter your contacts by activity date to see who’s engaging with your brand and who isn’t. For those who aren’t interacting with your brand, you can remove them from your database or attempt to re-engage them with a new campaign. 

Go to the Source

If you do find a great deal of outdated information, duplicate records and other errors, identify the source. It’s possible that there’s a deeper issue going on within your organization that needs to be addressed, such as automated imports or volunteer data entry staff. 

Consider Training Your Staff 

Now is a good time to train your staff to improve the quality of data in your database. More people are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so you can ask employees to watch videos, participate in an online training course and more. This will help improve the quality of your data, reduce errors and limit employee turnover. 

Commit to New Processes 

Depending on what you find in your database cleanup, it may be time to implement new processes. For example, automating certain tasks is helpful, but there are some tasks that require a human to make decisions. You may also want to enlist help from a database consultant who can help design and document processes for your database. 

By spring cleaning your database, you can make a huge difference in reducing clutter, simplifying day-to-day activities and improving the accuracy of data reporting. To discuss a new or improved database for your organization, contact Arkware today. 

5 Benefits to Enjoy When You Upgrade Your Database

How long has it been since you last updated your database? If it’s been a while, you’re probably due for an upgrade. Outdated databases are vulnerable to security breaches, redundant data, inaccurate reporting and other errors. To ensure you are taking advantage of the latest software and technology, it’s important to upgrade your database software to meet the needs of your organization.

Below you’ll find five benefits to expect when you upgrade your database to something like Microsoft Azure or Microsoft SQL.

1. Get Security Fixes 

Databases are extremely vulnerable to cyber attacks because they are usually easy to get through. Organizations don’t update their databases as regularly as other systems, leaving them open to hackers. If this happens, all of the information in your database could be compromised. Thankfully, by updating your database, you can take advantage of the latest security patches. 

2. Utilize New and Improved Features 

Another benefit to upgrading your database is that you will have full access to new features like productivity tools and efficient architecture. When you have these tools at your disposal, you can organize your data and retrieve information easier, increasing productivity and reducing downtime. 

3. Resolve Bugs and Other Issues 

Outdated databases often have bugs and other issues that prevent you from being productive. Fortunately, most updates identify and repair bugs, internal errors and other technical issues. Plus, a database upgrade gives you the opportunity to review your software specifications. Oftentimes, new hardware is needed to support a new system. 

4. Reduce Operational Costs 

There are some updates that save businesses money. For example, some upgrades take up a smaller footprint, reducing storage costs. Others offer more storage and operations than previous versions, replacing older and more expensive hardware. Plus, when employees are able to work faster and smarter, this ends up reducing operational costs as well. 

5. Easier Transition to Cloud Migration

Many businesses start with an easy and familiar database like Microsoft Access and then shift to a cloud-based database like Microsoft Azure. By making this transition, the cloud-based database will be able to adapt to your changing IT needs. If your business needs greater size and scalability, a cloud-based database upgrade is worth looking into. 

Upgrading your database is an essential task that ensures the health and reliability of your database. To discuss your options for a database upgrade, contact the database experts at Arkware. 

Why Every Small Business Needs a Database

As a small business owner, it’s likely that you are assessing the benefits of having a database to streamline your customers and audiences. For many new business owners, a database isn’t the first thing on their minds. However, as time goes on and businesses grow, creating a reliable database sounds more appealing. 

Here at Arkware, we believe that most businesses can benefit from having a database. Not only can you keep track of your customers, but also you can understand your audiences better and develop new business strategies based on this information. Below we share the reasons why small businesses need databases. 

Customer Relationship Management 

One of the best ways to boost your profits is by understanding your customers. The more information you have about your customers, the easier it is to speak to them with personalized messaging. Thankfully, customer relationship management databases allow you to gather customer information to utilize when creating special offers, introducing new products, sending out direct mail and so on. 

Customer and Product Analysis 

When you create a database that holds customer and product information, you can quickly see which products are selling, which ones aren’t and which customers are returning for repeat sales. Doing this manually takes time away from your business, but a database makes it fast and easy. 

Inventory Management

You can use your database to control your stock as well. Take a quick look over your database to see what items are out of stock and which ones you have plenty of. This way, when you place orders, you’re only ordering what you need. To save extra time, consider automatically reordering stock once products reach a certain level. 

Payroll and Scheduling 

Tired of entering in payroll every other week? You can use your employee database to simplify payroll and reduce errors. Information to include is hourly wage, salary or commission, tax withholdings and more. Using this same database, it’s also easy to build out a schedule and track employee vacation time. 

Reducing Overhead 

The time and labor that is required to process manual transactions takes attention away from other business tasks. With a reliable and efficient database, you can streamline your business operations and save time and money in the process. And, when you know what buying patterns and purchasing decisions your customers are making, you can put your efforts into these areas. 

Ready to build a database that meets your needs and budget? Contact Arkware today for a free consultation. 

4 Types of Information to Include in Your CRM Database

A customer relationship management (CRM) system uses a database to gather information about your company’s prospects and customers. You can even use CRM data in your marketing and advertising efforts to target customers more effectively. With the ability to customize the information you collect, you can make endless configurations to fit your sales strategies. 

To ensure your CRM has the valuable information you need, we recommend focusing on these four areas.

1. Personal Details 

Anything that has to do with your customers should go in your CRM system. If you need to take notes on a particular customer, such as during a phone call, you can do so by adding notes and attachments to your CRM. This way, you can easily pull up your customer’s info and provide them with reliable and accurate customer service. 

This is not a complete list, but here is some key information to collect from your prospects: 

  • Contact name
  • Email address
  • Phone number 
  • Social profiles 
  • Order history 
  • Survey responses 
  • Payment history 

2. Lead Source 

New customer leads can come from virtually anywhere. It’s helpful to know how they are finding you, as this tells you which channels are most effective. Your CRM can read the source information coded in the URL to determine the lead source, such as an email campaign, organic search or social media. 

3. Customer Interaction Method 

When you have interactions with your customers, whether by phone, email or social media, it’s important to keep a record. This will allow you to look back on conversations and provide your customers with better service. 

Tracking customer interactions also allows your CRM modules to analyze customer communications and extract insight from them. As you come to certain conclusions about your customers, you can share this data with your teams. 

4. Purchase Records 

Use your CRM to keep track of your customers’ purchasing histories. Your CRM can analyze patterns in their behaviors and help you understand which products sell best and which ones don’t. Tracking purchasing information is also useful when creating campaigns, running promotions and ordering inventory. 

Having a CRM database is an effective way to manage your relationships with customers, provide excellent service and understand your audience. To learn more about creating a CRM database for your business, contact Arkware today. 

5 Steps to Building a Marketing Database

Marketing databases have gotten more complex over the years as new ways of contacting prospects have emerged. If you are looking to set up a marketing database, the following tips will help you create a database that is effective and supportive to your goals. If you have questions or need help creating a custom database, contact Arkware. 

1. Define your objectives. 

The first step is to have clear, measurable goals. Without them, it’s easy for your marketing project to derail from your original expectations. Here are some questions to ask yourself before building a marketing database. 

  • Are you building a database for customers, prospects or both? 
  • What will the database be used for – analysis, campaign management or both? 
  • What kind of reporting is required? 
  • Who will be using your database? 
  • What programs does your database need to support? 

2. Keep your database simple. 

If this is your first marketing database, keep things simple. This will make it easier to support your marketing program and reach success with your goals. As you get more comfortable using a database for marketing purposes, you can make your databases more complex. But even with experience, you still want to aim for a simplified database that is easy to implement, understand and track. 

3. Normalize your data.

If you’ve used a database before, you know the frustrations of having redundant data. Inconsistent data complicates queries and causes confusion among your marketing teams. Fortunately, there is a way to prevent this from happening and that’s by normalizing your data. The areas to focus on include code fields, common output structures and address data.

4. Create an accurate budget. 

There are many factors that will impact how much you spend on building and maintaining your marketing database. Some of the first questions you’ll need to answer are which database platform you want to use, how many records will be incorporated into the database and how often you plan on updating the database. Also, if you want your database to be accessible online, you can expect added costs. 

5. Set measurable objectives.

Most businesses opt for a marketing database to keep track of their prospects and customers, gather valuable information on their audiences and manage ad campaign spending. For example, when you analyze and profile your customers, you can be more selective in who you send mail to. Or, with more accurate targeting, you can show your ads to the right groups of people. 

Building a marketing database is an excellent decision for your business. The database will allow you to organize your contacts and streamline your marketing efforts. To discuss your goals for a marketing database that meets your organization’s needs, contact Arkware today.

Creating a Student Database with Microsoft Access

If you enroll students in courses or programs through a school or educational program, chances are you keep track of them with a spreadsheet like Excel. Your spreadsheet probably contains information about your students, such as their names, contact info and courses they’re enrolled in. 

Take things a step further, and you may even make this information available on the front-end of your website so that it’s easily accessible to students, parents and faculty members. To protect personal information, you can secure this area with a password. 

Let’s go over the fastest and most effective ways to create and organize a student database. 

Use a Student Database Template 

The quickest and easiest way to set up a student database is by using Microsoft Access. Access is user-friendly and has a similar structure to other Microsoft products. If you already have an Excel sheet containing your students’ information and courses, you can convert your sheets to Access. This way, you won’t lose any information or waste precious time. 

Your best option is to choose a student database template. This way, the database is already set up for you and you can start updating it with your students’ info. These templates are best for small schools and organizations because they are simple and straightforward. If you need a more complex student database, contact a professional database expert like Arkware. 

Capture the Right Data 

If you’re already using a spreadsheet to capture student details, you can simply move this data over to Access. However, if your database is new, you’ll need to determine what data you want to capture from students. When you ask for the right information in advance, you save time and headache from trying to track down this info in the future.

Here are some examples of the student details you might want to gather: 

  • First and last name 
  • Student ID number
  • Date of birth 
  • Email
  • Phone number 
  • Address 
  • Courses enrolled in 
  • Graduation date 

Organize Student Information 

When it comes to organizing your students’ information, Access offers different ways to do this. For instance, you can identify students by their name, major or student ID number. Within the courses they’re taking, you can add the instructor name, department, class times and grade. 

Having this information on hand makes it easy to manage your student base and analyze data, such as which classes are most popular. And, as new students, courses, instructors, etc. are added to your school, you can easily add them to your database to ensure consistent, accurate information. 

Looking to create a student database to manage student and course information? Contact Arkware to discuss your project.