Data is the oil of the digital era. The driving force for business; everything we do results in data. But with so much of it, it has become difficult to manage. Huge data breaches in recent years have proved that secure data management is essential. As a small business, you can’t afford the billion dollar systems that large enterprises implement. So do it in Gmail, instead.

Customer Data is any kind of information about customers that an organization collects and tracks. There are an unthinkable amount of categories of customer data that a business can gather; there are even more ways they can use it to their advantage. Generally speaking, having a grasp on customer data means having a grasp of knowing exactly who customers are, what motivates them, and a comprehensive understanding of how they want to be engaged with. Data is priceless.

It’s estimated that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) experience average losses of $120,000 per data breach (Source: Kaspersky).

Obviously, your data needs to be secure. But your data management strategy also needs to make sure that data is easily-accessible to the right people. As a small business with limited resources, you might think you don’t have many options. The truth is, you don’t need many.

In fact, if your company works out of Gmail, you’re already using a secure, accessible, souped up customer address book. Let’s have a look at the different features of Gmail that make it a cheap, secure, and accessible tool for data management.

Google Contacts

The first logical step towards Gmail data management is Google Contacts. Store prospects and customer details, access them anytime, email them, call them, or use your favoured marketing outreach to get your leads over the line. Google Contacts feels like a simple address book, but given that it is closely integrated with Gmail and G Suite, it can become a powerful tool for small businesses.

Take a look at the core features of Google Contacts...

  • Add new contacts.
  • Update or edit contacts.
  • Group contacts.
  • Send from both Contacts and Gmail.
  • Search through contacts.
  • Merge contacts.
  • Restore deleted contacts and groups.
  • Access and view contacts.

In the absence of a totally sophisticated CRM system, Google Contacts can be leveraged as a very basic CRM for small business needs.

  • Segment your contacts with Labels, much like you would in a dedicated CRM system. This allows you to put your contacts in groups depending on their characteristics or situation, before sending highly-personalised to those groups and maximising the chances of, at least, a reply, and at best, conversion.
  • Track sales activities and give yourself and your team full access to customer context whenever, and wherever it is needed. Google Contacts offers the option to add notes to each contact whenever something notable has happened with them. This way, you can keep up with where each one is up to in their buyer journey.
  • Nested folders keep all your data organised within the Google Contacts system. Simply put, it allows users to create subfolders within existing contact folders, giving them the ability to infinitely refine and streamline their data to make it as precise as possible.

The G Suite Update

Incidentally, the recent G Suite updates (2020) have made it an even more powerful productivity platform. In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, Google developers recognised the need for more flexibility, in terms of being able to access different features from one central location. They brought features such as video, chat, emails, files, and tasks much closer together, to help users stay on top of things, whether they are working from home or working from the office.

The feedback Google received told them that users were tired from switching in between tabs for basic tasks. They needed to create more fluid working processes. Now, we can quickly join a video call straight from the chat feature. We can use the famous search bar to search our chats and find vital business information at the click of a button. Finally, we can pin our most important rooms in a workspace to give us access at vital times. We know at least one person who can’t wait to try it.

For your data, all these updates simply mean that it is much easier for anybody from your team to access what they need, when they need it. As our Anna said, it’s everything in one place, and it brings G Suite one step closer to being a real-life CRM system.

Install a Gmail-based CRM System.

But what’s the point in having something several steps away from being a CRM system, when we’ve got one ready-made, waiting for you in the oven? NetHunt CRM is the best CRM for small business. Better still, it’s built inside Gmail, meaning our users don’t have to flit between tabs anyway.

But I’ve already followed your advice and set up a kick-ass Google Contacts database!
If you’re already married to Google Contacts, that’s fine. NetHunt CRM brings all your Google Contacts into the dashboard automatically. You won’t lose any customer data, and as soon as you get the system up and running, you’ll find all those old contacts in special folders on the dashboard. You can start adding data to them within minutes of signing up.

How can I add more data to my contacts?
There are loads of different ways to enrich your customer data which will help you make informed decisions and offers on an individual basis. Incoming emails are tagged and added to customer Records automatically, so real-time deal updates are added for everybody to see.

Apart from Google Contacts-sync, our users can also import raw .CSV files which will transfer your data and make it NetHunt-friendly automatically. We’ve got a handy guide about how to do that. Alternatively, users can also cherry-pick data from third-party sources. It has to be said, our favourite data enrichment source is LinkedIn, and we’ve got a heap of guides to help you out with that. If you’re reliant on other sources or tools to capture customer data, you can feed this information to NetHunt CRM through Zapier or using our open API.

It sounds like I can really get to grips with my data, but how can I use it going further?
You’re right, imaginary title writer. NetHunt CRM does help you really get to grips with your data. After you’ve got it all in one centralised dashboard, the different arms of your business octopus are going to be able to use it to tailor your product or service to über-specific audiences.

Your sales team is going to have all that juicy data on hand every time they reach out to a prospect. They can tailor their offer to match exactly what a prospect can and will afford, even if they’ve never worked with that prospect before. Your marketing team can create bulk email campaigns using the language and techniques that they know work by tracking previous campaigns. NetHunt CRM gives them the opportunity to see who clicks on their emails, and where they click inside them. Finally, your customer support team can see customer context on hand whenever a ticket needs resolving, and they have a full interaction history available to them to solve problems in the best way possible.

Your data is your business. It’s what happened in the past, it’s what you’re working on in the present, and it’s telling you what’s going to happen in the future. As a small business owner, who often thinks ‘what on earth is going on here?’, that window into the future is absolutely essential to help you make informed, worthwhile decisions.

Keep your data safe, and keep it all in the same place. Eventually, you’ll smell the sweet aromas of success cooking in the oven.

Don’t forget to share this post with friends and colleagues!