This was a guest post provided by Bradford Shimp, the content manager at Batchbook
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Email is a simple and effective way to communicate with your contacts. But, is it doing the job well enough for you? On your end, email is quick, easy, and cost effective. But what about your readers? Are you sending them the emails that they want to read? Do you even know anything about them, other than their email address?
It used to be that businesses knew a lot about customers and leads just by interacting with them. My dad, a classic salesman, could always remember the names of a contact’s spouse and children. Everyone in sales knows that learning this kind of personal information can help build rapport and make interactions much more friendly and meaningful.
But does this kind of rapport building have any place in modern email sales and marketing? Of course it does! When you have details about your email contacts, you can craft more personal messages to them. This will increase your success rate while helping your contacts feel more connected to you.
So, how do you collect the contact data that will help you do this?
Ask for more information
If you want to build out better profiles for your contacts, ask them to tell you a bit more about themselves. Maybe right now you only collect email addresses. If so, try adding a few more fields to your form. Name, of course, is essential. But what other information can you find out that will help you be more personal in your approach?
At Batchbook, we recently sent out a survey to get more details on customers, like their job title and the primary use they have for a CRM. This data helps us craft emails that will be relevant to them. A sales manager has different needs than a customer support manager.
You don’t need to collect all of your data up front. In fact, a long form on your website may just turn away potential leads. But once you have a little back and forth with a contact, don’t be afraid to ask for more details about who they are.
Take notes from your conversations
Not every piece of contact data can be (or should be) collected in a web form. A lot of tidbits can be picked up as you converse with a contact.
If you are on the phone with a lead, they might mention all kinds of interesting things about themselves that will help you email them more effectively later on. People will share information about their kids, their favorite sports teams, as well as nuanced details about their specific customer needs.
You can let these little details go in one ear and out the other and continue to just send generic emails. Or, if you’re smart, you can start to write this information down so you can use it later for more effective emails.
Aggregate contact data from multiple sources
Besides asking for information directly and picking it up from conversations, you can get a lot of data on your contacts on this beautiful thing we call the world wide web. Your contacts may be sharing info on social networks, blogs, and their business websites.
Doing a quick Google search for a person should turn up some interesting information. In a business to business setting, be sure to search LinkedIn, which will often reward you with a bunch of useful details on your contact.
There are also two great tools that can help you aggregate social data. Rapportive, which lives right in your Gmail inbox, shows you social details for your email contact. And Batchbook (shameless plug!) is a social CRM that lets you look up your contacts’ Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles and bring that social information right into their contact profile.
Where to Store and How to Use All That Data
Getting all that contact data is great, if you have a place where you can store it and use it. This is where CRM software comes in handy. With a tool like Batchbook, you can build out full contact profiles with every bit of information you collect on your contacts.
It’s important to choose a CRM that not only helps you store the info, but makes it easy for you to use it. In the case of email marketing, you want to be able to pull together groups of people who match certain criteria. For instance, “every lead who is living in LA who likes ice cream sandwiches.”
This is where the data you collect on your contacts becomes useful. By creating smaller groups of people who share similarities, you can move away from generic emails toward relevant emails that connect more personally with your readers.
Build these groups by first collecting useful data on your contacts in your CRM, then by sorting your contacts and moving the information you have on them into ActiveCampaign. Once you have that useful data in ActiveCampaign, you can really get specific with your emails, using things like personalization tags, conditional content, and segments, which will help you be more successful with each campaign.
Check our ActiveCampaign’s continuation of this post on the Batchbook blog called “How to turn your contact data into marketing opportunities“