How to Manage Your Small Business Contacts

Every local business owner communicates with customers on a daily basis, whether it’s on the phone, over email, or in person. Every one of these customers has a name, an emailrolodex address, a phone number and a physical address. In the past you could keep all of this information up to date using your old reliable Rolodex. Nowadays you may be
wondering what you should be using to replace that Rolodex. You might be using an excel file which you update manually or maybe you keep them in your email program (Outlook or Gmail). Theses solutions are not ideal and can be costly. The most important thing is to understand that your address book is a valuable asset and you should ensure that it’s stored in a system that lets you use it effectively.

In this post we’ll cover the details contained in your contact information, the best way to manage them, and what to look for as you determine which software to use.

    1. What are the basic contact details that I should store?
      Every contact should have up-to date information about your customers. ThriveHive seamlessly passes all the information from a lead to the contact when you decide to add a new lead as a contact. If the lead came from a contact-us form you’ll also be able to refer back to the original web visit to understand which pages this person was viewing on your site. If the lead was generated from a tracked phone line, you’ll get the information provided from the caller-id, but you’ll also be able to listen to that call (if you selected the recording option). In general, every contact manager should contain at least the following fields:
      ThriveHive Contact

      • First Name
      • Last Name
      • Company Name
      • Job Title
      • Address Line 1
      • Address Line 2
      • City
      • State
      • Zip Code
      • Phone Number
      • Office Number
      • Mobile Number
      • Email
      • Website
      • Notes

 

There are many other fields that might be relevant for you depending on your business. Things like Office Branch might be very important for some, while other things like Birthday information might be more important for others. In general, you must ensure that you have the basic information and if your program allows for “Notes” you can use that area creatively to store the custom information that matters to you.

    1. Using lists to segment your contacts
      Many powerful platforms give you the option to create lists from your contacts. You can use these lists to segment your customers in different ways. ThriveHive automatically creates some lists for you to get started right away, but there are many other ways to use lists. Some example criteria to create lists by:

      • Zip-code for geographic segmentation
      • Active customers
      • Open opportunities
      • Inactive customers
      • Referrals
      • Vendors
      • Monthly birthday lists

You can be creative and use lists to send different messages to different groups of people. Some of them showed interest in your product or service, so maybe you can send them an offer to try it out for free or at a discount. Others are already customers and you’ll want to update them with your latest offering.  The most important thing is to remember that lists give you flexibility to communicate with all your customers.

    1. How can I use contacts and lists to market my business?

The most straightforward way to use contacts and lists is to send email newsletters. You should keep a close relationship with your customers and constantly send them valuable information to remind them of your company (some examples were given above). It’s important to respect your customers’ inbox and remember not to spam them. You should only send information to people who have opted-in to receive it and remember not to send emails to those who unsubscribe or opt-out from your mailing lists.

Another interesting way to use your contacts is to send them direct mail like postcards, however this is only possible if you have their full mailing address. It’s important to track these postcards using either a tracked phone line or a landing page. This will allow you to understand the effectiveness of your effort and help you determine what is really working to drive more business.

Finally you can also use your stored contacts to call or email your customers one-on-one. Many businesses require you to pick up the phone and call a prospective customer. It’s important to make notes of your conversations, so that the next time you refer to that contact you’ll have information about your last exchange.

    1. What are the things to look for in contact managers?

When you decide to start using software to manage your contacts it’s important to do a little research to ensure that your decision is the right one. We recommend using programs which allow you to create lists freely without limit, this gives you more flexibility as you grow. It’s also important to have a way to automatically upload or download your data. You don’t want to be stuck in a service where you can’t leave because they have all of your contacts and you can’t get them out.

We also suggest looking for flexible systems that allow you to freely take notes and update your contacts easily. This will allow you to update phone numbers and other information that might be outdated. Finally, make sure the platform you’re using allows you to easily use these lists and contacts to send out marketing communications to these potential customers.

Following these four steps will allow you to take a step forward and start managing your contacts in a structured way. Remember, your contacts are valuable and storing them in a system that gives you the flexibility to use them in a simple way is key to succeeding in your marketing.

Image credit: Klynslis

 

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