As a small business or startup, you have a lot of things on your to-do list: increasing your brand awareness, converting leads into customers, and supporting customers after the sale. And, of course, there’s the whole administrator behind the scenes.
A big part of this is contact management.
In order for your small business to grow successfully and sustainably, you need to have a strong contact management strategy in place. But what does this mean and how do you get there?
What is contact management?
Contact management is how you manage all of your business’s contact data, including contact details, communication preferences, sales history, and customer interactions with your business. It gives every team in your organization the information they need to stay productive and the context they need to deliver personalized interactions.
Your contacts may include:
- Leads (or people who are in your pipeline but haven’t bought from you yet)
- Current and previous customers
A contact management strategy is implemented with CRM software that stores all of your small business’s contact data in a centralized location.
Although contact management has traditionally been the domain of salespeople, CRM has evolved rapidly in recent years. Now, many all-in-one CRM platforms provide advanced functionality for marketing and customer service teams to store and manage their own interactions, remove information silos, and strengthen collaboration with sales.
An all-in-one CRM, or a CRM that is strongly integrated with your other applications, is a particularly suitable solution for managing and streamlining the entire customer journey when you:
- Attract and collect new marketing prospects
- Nurture these leads so they’re ready to sell
- Convert leads into paying customers
- Perform integration services and provide ongoing support
- Provide upgrades and added value
Benefits of strong contact management
Contact management impacts much more than sales. When you do it right, the benefits spill over into your entire small business, as each role has more data and information at their fingertips. It also enriches all aspects of the customer journey.
With good contact management processes, you can:
- Enrich your customer experiences with data-driven insights and automation
- Spend less time on administration and free up time for what matters most
- Maximize conversions by delivering the right messages at the right time
Managing contacts is something your business will always do, but most small businesses have a lot of room for improvement to maximize their effectiveness in this area.
Keep reading our tips for getting the most out of contact management in your small business.
Six best practices for contact management
Here’s our guide on using contact management strategies to drive growth and reduce headaches for your business, both now and in the future.
1. Keep your contact details clean.
Smooth contact management starts with clean data. You can’t deliver a great customer experience if you have incorrect or conflicting data about your customers, and neither can you have smooth business operations and reporting within your company.
While you can reduce the amount of bad data entering your database by tweaking your lead generation forms and introducing clear processes for your team to follow, you can’t avoid everything. That’s why every business needs regular data cleaning. For example, you can schedule this quarterly.
As part of a data cleansing, take the time to remove:
- Duplicate contacts
- Incorrect or out of date contact data, such as permanently bounced emails
- Contacts who no longer want to hear from you
Data cleansing does not have to be completely manual. There are a lot of things you can automate. For example, many CRM and email marketing tools highlight duplicates so that you can merge or remove them.
Your email marketing software will also help you identify emails with hard bounces, alongside groups of unsubscribed contacts. Once you are sure that you can clean this data, you can delete it from the app.
2. Choose the right CRM.
As part of a strong contact management strategy, your CRM should be at the heart of your business. It is the software in which you store all your key contact data as well as interactions with each customer and prospect.
This makes your CRM one of the most important applications to run well in your business. Take the time to research different CRMs and find the one that works best for your industry, business size, sales and marketing strategy, and goals.
As your business grows, your CRM should evolve with it. It could mean upgrading your plan, adjusting your strategy, or even switching tools as you evolve.
3. Centralize your contact data.
The best contact management strategies include a centralized database that stores all contacts in one place. Usually this will be your CRM which is another reason why it is important to go through step 2 and choose the right one!
By having a centralized contact database, you can:
- Find all the key information you need in one app
- Make it easy for other teams to find data, without the need for login information and training for many tools they don’t need to use
- Break down information silos between departments
To start centralizing your data, identify the top apps in your stack that collect contact data. You can then synchronize this data with your CRM.
4. Automatically synchronize contact data between your applications.
Remember: For the most effective contact management results in your small business, you can’t let the contact databases in your apps be isolated from each other.
Your CRM, your marketing applications, your sales stack and all the other tools in your business deliver the best results when connected as part of an integrated ecosystem. The best way to do this is to synchronize the data.
After you’ve created a centralized contact database, your next step is to sync relevant data from it with your individual apps.
5. Collect data that enriches your knowledge.
By synchronizing contact data between your apps, you can automatically enrich the information you have at your fingertips.
If you collect geographic or content consumption data in your CRM, you can sync it with your email marketing platform and use it to segment subscribers into more precise mailing lists.
6. Use common sense with your contact information.
All businesses, large and small, should pay attention to data protection regulations. However, it goes beyond respecting the rules and the checkboxes.
Be a brand that your prospects and customers can trust with their data. Protect the information they give you and respect their privacy. It may not have an easily measurable ROI, but having customers who trust your brand will always have an impact.