And it truly scares me how few businesses have one.
Outlook & excel really aren't enough, access can be clunky and decent CRM (customer relationship management) systems usually start at well over the $1,000 a seat.
When looking for a local email marketing provider for a client, I came across Vision6. They provide email and sms services. But they will also host your database. And you can add all the fields you want in this database, give people access to update their own details if you want, search it and access it from anywhere AND build lists to market to based on criteria. It even has some handy auto email functions.
So it occured to me, this is also a great zero budget database solution. For under 1000 records it's $30 a month - you can't get much cheaper than that!
I'm sure there's other providers out there offering something similar. So why not use this as an inexpensive, centrally accessible database tool - with the bonus that you can then use it on a fee per use option if you decide to use for email marketing.