When you’re running a business, you interact with many people. People you want to serve – leads, customers, subscribers.
Initially, you store their details on an excel file. With time the volume grows, the information gets more complex. Soon it gets overwhelming to manage.
Especially if you’re a small business without a dedicated customer relationship management team.
So what do you do?
You create a robust contact management strategy.
Contact management takes the pain out of storing and organizing your contacts. Smart contact management systems and CRMs also help you understand your contacts better.
It enables you to make the right choices for your contacts. After all, there’s a human on the other side of the email address.
Today I will talk about contact management and contact segmentation through 6 important questions that everyone has. And why it is an absolute must for any customer-centric business.
Let’s go wild.
6 Important Contact Management and Segmentation Questions:
What Is Contact Management?
Contact management is the process of documenting and organizing a contact’s data in the company contact database.
It helps store details about individual contacts, and divide them into groups. It enables companies to tailor content and messaging specifically for each group.
Many use contact management and CRM (customer relationship management) interchangeably these days.
But there’s a subtle difference.
Contact management tracks customer information and communication. A CRM is more advanced and tracks the entire life-cycle sales journey of your contacts.
However, contact management is an inevitable feature inbuilt with CRMs these days. So the scope of contact management has become wider.
Today you can use it to store much more than just vanilla information like name, email id, physical address, contact details, etc.
Sophisticated contact management software and applications can track a contact’s history, conversations, transactions, and much more.
It enables you to tell apart if a lead is a prospective buyer or not and assign resources accordingly. It also determines the sales readiness of buyers and helps nurturing your leads.
Wondering what lead nurturing is and why it is important?
Here’s Courtney from Hubspot with a quick video:
Thus, sales, marketing, and customer services now regularly use it as a part of their inbound strategy.
They use it to build, nurture, and maintain customer relationships.
You build a stable contact management strategy upon two things. A well-kept contact database and a robust segmentation approach.
What Is A Contact Database?
A contact database houses important information about your contacts. Think of it as a container that holds data about all your contacts.
If you have a good database, you can use it to organize and segment your contacts. This improves the quality of customer interactions.
People move jobs, change ids, unsubscribe from your email list, and so on. This means that out of 100, 22.5 email addresses become redundant each year.
So not only do you need to keep your database up-to-date, but you’ll also need a strategy to make up for these lost contacts.
This is why inbound marketing is so important.
Which brings us to contact segmentation- a key component of inbound marketing.
What Is Contact Segmentation?
Contact Segmentation is the process of dividing your database into relevant buckets. Each bucket contains contacts that you group together based on common characteristics.
It is one of the most important aspects of marketing and inbound. But more on the importance of contact segmentation in a little bit.
So far, so good. But there was a lot of jargon above.
Let’s put everything into perspective with an example, shall we?
Imagine you are a fervent reader. You buy tons of books each year and keep them scattered in your house. As a result, you can never find the perfect book when you want to read.
So you decide to have a dedicated place to store your books – a home library (awesome!).
You pick a room and place all your books there. You install cabinets and store each genre of books in separate cabinets. You then keep your favorite books on the top shelves.
In this example, your books are your contacts, and the library is your database.
When you divide the books into different genres, you essentially segment them.
And this entire process is contact management.
I hope this example made it clear. Great!
If not, then have a look at this example from Kentico Xperience (there are cute igloos! <3):
But, but. You may say- I understand what segmentation is, but why should I spend my energy on it?
So let’s talk about that.
Why Is Contact Segmentation Important?
Before you can understand the significance of segmentation, you need to understand inbound.
Hubspot defines inbound marketing as a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.
And at the heart of inbound marketing lies, the 3R framework:
- Right message (to the)
- Right person (at the)
- Right time
The most critical aspect of the 3R framework is the middle R – right person. If you don’t know who you’re targeting, understanding when to reach out becomes difficult.
And creating the right content becomes impossible.
It’s like eggs made to order, except the chef doesn’t ask. And just boil all the eggs.
Super easy, but a massive customer service failure!
That’s why contact segmentation is essential. It is the core of contact management.
A sound segmentation policy will enable you to mould your content into stories. And give it a shape that makes it relevant for your audience.
Through storytelling you can engage your audience and help them squeeze the greatest value out of your efforts.
Suppose you manufacture vitamin supplements for animals. You wouldn’t want to show the same message to the owner of a labrador puppy and a dairy farmer.
They are different people and have different needs. The dog parent may look for a shinier coat for their puppy. The dairy farmer may need good health and quality milk production.
You need to understand their unique challenges. And address them separately through your messaging.
One size fits all just doesn’t work here.
Are you confused about what your customer needs?
Check out this Hubspot article on 16 types of customer needs.
How To Create A Segmentation-Focused Contact Management Strategy?
I’d like to change it a little in 2020 – Relevant content is king.
But relevance is relative. You make content relevant by sending it to the right audience.
Remember the eggs made to order we spoke about earlier?
Boiled, poached, fried -all good options. But it’s important to know who wants what. Only then can you serve your customers better.
It’s the same with content.
By the way, if you want to consistently create amazing content that your audience will love, do check these out:
– 5 Steps To (Effectively) Planning A Long-Term Content Strategy
– 9 Easy Steps To A Wonderful Content Creation Framework
Getting back to the primary business at hand.
There are 2 essential elements in a segmentation-focused contact management strategy. These help in establishing relevance:
- Clean Database
- Proper information
Having a clean and organized database is necessary. It is the foundation of creating a customer engagement road-map.
It binds contact management and contact segmentation strategies together. And helps in creating a solid framework for building long-lasting customer relationships.
There can be a lot of things you can know about your contacts, not everything is important. Knowing exactly what you need will help you create the right strategy in acquiring it.
There are two kinds of customer information that you must have on your contacts:
- Direct Information
- Indirect Information
Information that’s available publicly. You can either get it directly from the client or through customer research.
Data like first name, last name, company, job title, location, phone number, interested / purchased products, etc. make up direct information.
You get indirect information through customer activity and are not directly available. This helps in examining user behavior and gathering valuable insights.
Information that falls under this category includes web analytics history, survey data, social media engagement, email engagement, etc.
Both these pieces of information are crucial in getting a clear and holistic picture of the contacts. It helps you derive the two most central pieces of information on your contacts:
- The associated buyer’s persona
- The stage in their buyer’s journey
Let’s say you have two buyer’s personas for your product – Marketing Myra and Sales Sam.
So you tag all your contacts either as Marketing Myra or Sales Sam. Next up you understand where they are in their journey – awareness, consideration, or decision. And place them accordingly.
Now you have 6 segments of prospects to work with – 3 each for Marketing Myra and Sales Sam. So you can powerfully engage with each of these segments with targeted messaging.
What Does Contact Management And Contact Segmentation Look Like?
We spoke about the theoretical aspects of contact management. Let’s look at a real-life scenario. This example comes from SmartBug Media courtesy of Hubspot.
SmartBug Media specializes in sending out highly targeted emails to specific segments. This enables them to bring context to any messaging.
Let’s see how SmartBug Media handles contact management and contact segmentation for a webinar.
First, they segment their list into people registered to attend live and people who just wanted the recording.
Out of the live attendance registrations, they further segment it into people who attended and who did not.
Next, they send these people a selection of follow-up emails based on their segment. This allows them to target the language correctly.
For the people who attended the webinar, SmartBug sends them a thank you note. They also include a link to a bonus goodie that can be accessed after the leads fill the feedback form.
Now it’s turn for the people who did not attend and the ones who wanted a recording. SmartBug sends them a link to the video recording available on their YouTube channel.
This strategy has helped them get a 62% open rate and a 23% click-through rate.
Let me tell you, these are some fantastic numbers in email marketing.
Have a look at this Campaign Monitor email marketing benchmarks report.
All because SmartBug married the existing customer information with their behavior. And tied it to a piece of content.
This led to a highly personalized email, superior value for their customers, and great ROI on their email marketing.
Over To You
Each new lead and each customer interaction brings more data.
Use contact management to segment them as per their buyer’s persona and journey stage.
With a good contact segmentation strategy and the power of analytics, you can unlock targeted contextual messaging. And provide personalized content to your customers that makes their buying journey seamless.
Are you still using Excel to store contact information?
Or do you use a dedicated contact management system?
Let me know.