Proper contact management is essential to keep your business productive and organized. But even though technology offers countless solutions to effectively manage contacts on a large scale, your contacts can quickly get cluttered without good processes.
Without proper scheduling, centralized administration, and automated synchronization, contacts end up being spread across multiple email accounts and other databases. When your contact management processes break down, some team members may be tempted to go back to paper-or-do-it-yourself solutions and note down contacts on stickers where they inevitably end up getting lost or misplaced.
With the extra work required to find the right data and clean up, it’s not a recipe for productivity for anyone.
Fortunately, with the optimal mix of process and technology, you can improve access to this mission-critical information anywhere.
Here are five tips to improve your organization’s contact management systems for the most smooth operation, productivity and reliability.
Contact Management Best Practices
1. Clean your data.
The digital universe is huge and continues to double in size every two years. However, much of this data is of no use to anyone.
With so-called big data, the biggest challenge lies in deciding which data is valuable and which is not. When it comes to managing your contacts, bad data includes what does not help you deliver the right message through the right channels.
Examples included duplicate, outdated, or incorrect contact information, as well as contact information that you should not store due to confidentiality protection legislation such as the GDPR. Therefore, make sure that your contact data is cleaned and organized properly before making major changes to your contact management processes.
For organizations that have thousands of contacts, it is virtually impossible to clean contact data manually. Instead, you need a smart system to merge multiple data sources and get rid of any duplicate, incorrect or outdated information.
It is especially important to merge contacts without losing critical data, which you can achieve by smartly synchronizing different databases while enriching contact records, instead of keeping information from just one source.
2. Use a centralized database.
Contact data plays a crucial role in every department of every business. The challenge here is that different departments collect contact information in different ways.
Sales teams typically organize their data in a CRM, while marketers collect data such as email addresses via leadgen apps and email marketing platforms. Other departments, e.g. HR and support, also have their own systems for managing contacts.
Contact management is becoming exponentially more complicated in larger companies, where different branches use different tools and platforms, which do not always work well together.
To remedy these problems, you need a centralized database that all the right people have access to.
For very small businesses, a digital address book like Google Contacts or Microsoft Outlook may be fine, but it does not work for larger businesses.
When you have dozens or even hundreds of employees, it is easy to end up getting your contacts spread across multiple apps, therefore the need for a cloud-based CRM like HubSpot, Pipedrive or Salesforce is the central source of truth in your tech stack.
But a CRM in itself does not necessarily solve the problem – you need to keep all your data in sync by establishing the necessary app integrations between your CRM and the rest of your business tools.
3. Segment your contacts.
Unless your organization has a very niche audience, there is no point in sending the same message to everyone on your mailing list. Even if your business caters to a largely similar demographic, you may still need to group contacts to existing customers, leads, internal contacts, suppliers, partners, and so on.
Audience segmentation is one of the most powerful tactics for email marketing. Segmenting your mailing lists and using personalization increases open rates, clickthrough rates, and conversions, simply because email will be more relevant to your audience.
The optimal way to segment your mailing list depends entirely on your business and the kind of people it addresses. For example, you can send tailor-made newsletters to your audience with blog posts that will be more relevant to them based on their interests or past interactions with you.
Some companies segment their lists based on demographic attributes. Others group their audiences based on when, where, and how they signed up. Others target people who have already purchased a particular product or added one to their wish list. You can also use a combination of these tactics depending on what works best for you.
4. Prioritize security.
Protecting your contact data and enabling your customers to trust you is one of the most important aspects of contact management.
Although data such as names and e-mail addresses are not always considered sensitive information, they are strictly subject to data protection and confidentiality laws such as GDPR or CCPA.
This means that you must take all necessary steps to prevent your mailing lists from being exposed to spammers and cybercriminals – and only use the data you have in ways that your customers have expressly accepted.
You should also implement an opt-in that allows subscribers to give their explicit permission for you to send various types of emails, including marketing communications. All major email marketing platforms – such as Mailchimp or SendGrid – offer full compliance with data protection rules.
This will not only help ensure that you stay on the right side of the law, but it will also help you build a high quality mailing list with contacts who will actually hear from you. Trust, security and privacy should be integrated into your contact management strategy from the beginning.
5. Sync your data.
Maintaining customer data across various cloud-based apps and services can be a daunting task. But a centralized and synchronized database solves it.
While it’s always a good idea to limit the number of apps you use in your business to just the tools needed to get the job done, you’ll probably still end up with dozens of tools.
For example, you can use Mailchimp to conduct your email marketing campaigns, HubSpot for your CRM, Zendesk for customer care and ClickSend for SMS marketing. All of these apps collect contact data in different ways, so you end up with lots of different databases that take a lot of time to manage separately.
Automatic contact synchronization keeps everything in check between your business apps and devices. It does this by keeping the right data in sync between all your business tools.
This also helps you maintain a central database where all your contacts are easily accessible to anyone who needs them. By syncing your apps, you give all teams in your business easy access to critical data. That way, employees are better positioned to focus on strategic tasks and remain productive rather than spending their time on tedious and repetitive manual processes.