In last week’s post in Cultivate Your Contacts we looked at why it’s important to centralise contacts from various sources into a single list. In a nutshell, contacts equal potential sales so storing them in different programs makes it harder to convert more contacts into customers.
If a central list is the goal, which is the app to hold it? This week we will look at which app is best suited to the task.
Email Address Book
The classic default for most businesses, the email address book is useful in that so much of work these days involves email-based discussions. While a comprehensive list of your email contacts, address books aren’t set up to capture contacts from other sources so it’s not easy to create a complete picture. (There are integrations and add-ons for Gmail that make this a little easier, but Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Outlook don’t have many good options.)
The other problem is that address books can record the email address of every email you have received or replied to. This includes no-reply company emails, one-off interactions and so on. It’s difficult to work out which contacts in an address book are the most important as it only records basic contact details.
Email Marketing App
Email marketing apps are really useful because they can collect contacts from several sources and store them in one list. They can also show useful things such as how the contact was added to the list, how often the contact reads your newsletter and how often they click on a story or product (this is known as the level of engagement).
By sorting customers or subscribers based on their behaviour (opening emails and clicking on links) you can find out which ones are the most active participants in your marketing campaigns.
MailChimp and Campaign Monitor are the two most common email marketing apps for small businesses. Both can collect newsletter sign-ups from your website or import a contacts file from your email address book.
They are also useful for collecting names and details from events. MailChimp’s Chimpadeedo mobile app turns an iPad into a sign-up clipboard you can use at a trade show to record visitors’ details directly into the marketing list. Both apps can connect to Eventbrite, a cloud service for promoting and selling tickets to events.
Email marketing apps can hold a very large number of contacts because marketing is by definition one-to-many communications. This list should be much longer than your actual sales list, but it’s not always easy to pull out genuine customers from prospects in an email marketing app.
Marketing Automation App
These are usually aimed at larger businesses but are included here for completeness. HubSpot, Eloqua, Marketo, SiteCore and the like cost from $1,000 to over $10,000 a month and can track the interaction of prospects with specific pages on your website.
These programs are very powerful and draw details from webinar software, newsletter sign-ups, social media, sales landing pages and so on. They then integrate with sales software by identifying and sending across the best leads for a sales team to follow up.
Entry-level CRM App
A wide range of customer relationship management (CRM) apps exist for small businesses. Popular software includes Capsule CRM, HighRise and BatchBook. They can import contacts from cloud-based email address books, Eventbrite (the event management app), webinars and other sources.
Nimble, a relative newcomer, does quite a good job of finding social media accounts by searching with a contact’s email address. If a customer has signed up to LinkedIn with their work email, for example, Nimble will ask whether you would like to add the information from that LinkedIn profile to the contact details.
This can be a quick and effective way to add biographical details to a contact which can be very useful in making a sale or creating a more rounded image of the person.
Full-service CRM App
At the top end of the list are the more mature CRM programs which can do much more than track your customers. Salesforce.com and SugarCRM, the two best known programs, have marketing apps for collecting contacts from a wide variety of sources; they then funnel in to the sales app proper, where more detailed notes can be made next to a contact as it progresses towards a sale; and the services app forms a third component to ensure customer satisfaction with the product or service sold.
These programs are very comprehensive and can scale from a small business up to an enterprise, so fast-growing companies are a great fit.
You should also check out the developer community which can provide lots of useful plug-ins and tools to the CRMs. A great example is Ecquire which integrates LinkedIn with Salesforce.com. Not only does it bring across LinkedIn profiles, but it can import email conversations occurring on LinkedIn’s internal email platform.
The ideal place to store and manage contacts are in a CRM as it is specifically built to centralise prospects and customers into one list, or database. It is also the most effective way to share access to those contacts among many people within a sales team, or (with the larger apps) among the marketing and support desk teams too.