Where Do All the Other Contacts Go?

A customer recently wrote in to our support team with a terrific question concerning the number of contacts he should have in Batchbook. I want to share the question and my response with those of you who may have the same question or would like to weigh in on the response.

The question is:

If the thrust of contact management with Batchbook is to manage a smaller number of “important” contacts, then what happens to potentially thousands of contacts that could be generated from an ecommerce site using webforms?

First, I am delighted that this customer understands the gist of what we are doing with Batchbook and I appreciate the chance to clarify how this approach fits into traditional marketing channels.

Find the Right People

As I have mentioned before, Batchbook is designed to help small businesses build better relationships with the right people. It is not meant to maintain a giant list of every contact who has ever signed up for your newsletter, handed you a business card or bought your product. Instead, it helps you zero in on those folks who are on your mailing list, who gave you the business card or who submitted your form AND want to further engage with you.

Your customers and potential customers should drive the relationship they are forming with you. Just because they bought something from you does not mean they want a long term relationship. If they signed up for your newsletter, keep their e-mail addresses in your e-mail marketing software. If they commented on your blog, keep them in your blog report. If they fill out a web form, ask them how they want to engage and let that determine who goes in your e-mail marketing software and who comes into Batchbook. Let them choose if they would rather be added to your newsletter, talk to one of your sales people, offer up a testimonial or become your living mascot. Or, if you are lucky, all of the above.

What To Do With Thousands of Contacts

Don’t be afraid to leave the majority of customers in your newsletter list or as subscribers of your blog or social media accounts. If you are doing a good job, you will engage the ones who deserve your attention there. Let them hear from you a few times. See who is reading your messages, responding to your e-mails, or liking you on Facebook. Then bring the ones who want more engagement into Batchbook where you can give them the personal attention they are calling out for.

At Batchbook, we have tens of thousands of customers, so we do not keep every customer in our own Batchbook account. When you create a user account in Batchbook, we ask if you would like to be added to our mailing list.  We use MailChimp for our mailing list, which gives us the ability to see which subscribers are frequently opening, forwarding or Tweeting our messages. We can then bring them into Batchbook for some random acts of sweetness (we love spontaneously sending chocolate).

We also include in our Batchbook account anyone who does an Onboarding session with us, attends a webinar, frequently comments on our blog/Facebook/Twitter/Google+ or is just well loved by our customer experience team. These are the folks we send special thanks to, as well as reach out to for more in depth product feedback, brainstorming or press quotes. These are the folks we are focusing the bulk of our relationship attention on because, honestly, these are the folks who understand our mission and are helping us improve our business.

I would love to hear more about how you track different levels of relationships with your customers and prospects. We are always looking for ways to improve Batchbook and want to hear what would be helpful to you. And hey, you might even get some chocolate!

About Pamela O'Hara

Pam is CEO of Batchbook, which she co-founded in 2006. As a businesswoman and a mother, Pam is committed to running a company that can adapt to the unique needs of both its employees and its customers to foster better organization, increased productivity, and a more balanced life.

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  • http://www.juliarymut.com/ Julia

    Hello,

    This post really speaks to me and what I struggle with in Batchbook.

    First, to be perfectly transparent, I have had a Batchbook account for a very long time but (I hate to admit) I don’t use it. I LOVE the idea of Batchbook. I desperately want it to work for me.

    But…

    The first part of my hangup is exactly what you wrote about in this post. If I have to go to my email manager for my email contacts, to Batchbook for my clients, to some different place for cold offline leads, it feels like too much fussing.

    In addition, your project management is lite, so I would have to go to yet another place to manage my projects.

    And I have to go to my email client to forward emails into Batchbook.

    When I have tried to use BB, I have so many “headquarters” that I don’t know where to “live” to do business.

    In the end, I pick the worst solution of all–I do nothing(!) I manage my business with a hodge podge of Outlook, spreadsheets, notes and todo’s on scraps of paper, sticky notes and contact information spread in several different places (often in email threads). If I “live” anywhere, it is probably in Outlook because I have email, contacts and calendar all in one. But that doesn’t mean I like Outlook…

    What am I missing? How do I manage my business with BB?

    Thanks, Pamela!

  • Pamela

    Hi Julia, Thanks so much for the comment and the chance to explain in a little more detail our intention with Batchbook in terms of your daily workflow. I agree that working in a lot of different systems can be overwhelming, and is the main reason we put such a priority on integrating with other systems. Whatever we can do to help you seamlessly work across your web apps, the better.

    It is fine, and honestly what I do myself to spend the bulk of my time in e-mail (Outlook in your case). It serves as my inbox, so where I go for the daily workflow. But the problem with the e-mail inbox is that it is largely a responsive environment. You are responding to what other people are sending you. You are playing defense with your daily schedule. Where Batchbook can help is to get you playing offense. Rather than just responding to what is sent to you, you can keep an eye on the ones who are not responding. Or who you don’t realize you need to reach out to.

    There are a number of ways to set this up in Batchbook – and I’m sure the Onboarding team here would love to help you work out the best solution. But my workflow (which is hopefully helpful) is this: as I said, I spend most of my time in e-mail (Gmail for me), but I do copy many of my messages into our Batchbook account with my Batchbox e-mail address. I also forward messages and to-dos into Batchbox when I need to follow-up or just remember something I need to do (often at night from my phone – I read once that helps you sleep better). I go into our Batchbook account usually once a week to see what messages I have sent in, add some notes or research those contacts more (using the social search). I also browse through what messages our other team members have sent in. I have a list of people I’ve marked as champions and I browse through that to see what they have going on in their social stream, and if appropriate will comment, retweet, etc something there. You can also see a list of people you haven’t e-mailed in a month or so, to make sure no one is falling through the cracks. Sometimes it is the silent folks who need the most attention.

    As I said, we’d be happy to help you come up with some workflows that might work well for you so you do not feel the need to go back and forth so much. Let me know if we can help.

  • http://www.juliarymut.com/ Julia

    Thank you so much, Pamela!

    From your explanation, BB is a big picture view of what’s going on with your clients–who needs contact, who needs follow-up, etc. You use it as a kind of “database” of follow-up & communication activities with clients.

    Your answer helps me a lot.

    Thank you,
    Julia

  • https://identify.us.com IdentifyUS

    I pretty much totally disagree with the philosophy of using Batchbook only for “important” contacts. Batchbook is an online database and databases are meant to be repositories for lots of data. Tools within the database, like lists and reports, should be able to quickly and easily provide you with subsets of customers that you tag and deem important, but should not limit what gets stored in your database. In a world where storage is cheap, trying to convince users that they should only keep certain records live in Batchbook goes against everything a database management system stands for (IMHO).

    We live in an era of BIG data, not little data! If the database engine and server tools behind the Batchbook service can’t meet this demand, then those limitations should be made clear, otherwise it just sounds like an excuse when you tell us not to track all our customers in one place. I like the features that Batchbook provides and luckily am only tracking a couple of thousand contacts at this point, but if you are telling me my business and contacts can’t grow and scale inside of Batchbook, that is worrisome. When a basic Box.com business account starts with 1000GB of online storage space I don’t think you can make the case that online storage is too expensive. Online processing – searches, sorts, links and integration is trickier to master but that’s where Batchbook needs to excel to maintain a leadership position. Short of that others will come along and eat your lunch.

  • http://BatchBlue.com Pamela O’Hara

    Hi IdentifyUS. Thanks for chiming in and I appreciate your raising these issues. Not to worry, my suggestions for limiting the number of contacts in Batchbook is not because of data storage or processing issues, but more for relationship issues. You can have a large number of contacts stored in Batchbook, and in fact many of our customers do. But our feeling is that to develop better relationships with your customers & potential customers, you are better served by focusing in on a smaller number of contacts, listening as much as talking and keeping in regular contact with them. While you can keep as many contacts as you like in our system, I think it is important that you know we are focusing our product development efforts on the tools that will help you find the right people (from your social streams, blog comments, newsletter lists, etc.) and stay in regular contact with them. I’d love to hear more about how we can help you with that.