Before investing in Contact Management Software or Small Business CRM, you need to have all the facts. Most systems today come full of "bells and whistles" that are touted as essential to helping you in your business.
The reality is that many of these features may rarely get used if at all. On the other hand there may be certain features that are critical to your business. This investment requires a methodical approach to ensure that you make the right choice. Don't make your decision based solely on price or on features.
Consider what's important to you before making a quick decision.
- What are the minimum requirements for you business today?
- What are your growth plans and will this system allow you to grow without a significant $ investment?
- Is it easy-to-use; allowing you to get off to a quick start with all of your employees using it?
If you would like a comparison to any other Small Business CRM or Contact Management Software, Contact Us at 1-888-286-6578. We will do the detailed research and provide you with an objective and detailed report.
Click Here for more details on what to look for and questions to ask when comparing BigContacts to ACT!
Click Here for more details on what to look for and questions to ask when comparing BigContacts to salesforce.com
At Big Contacts we offer a number of options for sending emails to your clients and prospects.
1) You can send and receive emails directly from our system without changing email providers.
2) You can easily filter a list of your contacts to send a group email.
3) You can create email templates complete with standard AND custom merge fields.
4) You can create automated email campaigns to deliver a message to clients and prospects.
Our system will store all of these methods/ modes of email directly in each contact record to make it very easy to track the entire history for each client or prospect.
That's the good news. The challenge, in the past, has been that (being a web based application) it was difficult for our users to simply copy and paste text into an email or email template and properly format all the text to the same font, etc. With this new text editor, you now have the option of pasting in plain text or pasting directly from a Word document.
We have just released one of the latest Email Text Editors on the market today and we hope you will like it.
Here is a preview of that the new toolbar looks like and how you can use it. We encourage you to get in there and click around to discover all of its great new functionality. The editor is so new, that we have yet to create the user guide. This will be coming in the near future, but we hope you will find this new toolbar and its functionality so intuitive that the user guide is not needed.
The Toolbar is the area in email editor where you can activate most of the editor features. Each button in the toolbar access a different function. There are simple functions for basic text formatting and more advanced features like creation of links and tables.
To use the buttons in the toolbar you must move your mouse pointer over the button. The button will highlight and a message with the information about the button function will appear. Click on the button to execute its function. With more experience you will have full control over all email editor features and you won't have to read the description of the buttons. You will just use them intuitively.
Besides the toolbars buttons there are also toolbar combos (drop down boxes). The combos are the white areas with a little arrow on its side. They can be easily accessed by clicking on the white area or the little arrow. Once clicked the menu will expand so you can choose from one of its available options. To execute one of them, simply click on it.
Special Note: We have had many requests from our users to improve the spell checking capability for emails. You asked for it, so here it is. Note above in the toolbar we have highlighted two functions.
The spell check button highlighted in green will allow you to spell check on your command.
The spell check button highlighted in light blue will allow you to enable "SCAYT" (Spell Check As You Type). This is a great feature as you will get instant feedback as you are creating your email document.
There are so many new features available to you now. We encourage you to look around, try it out, and send us emails with any questions or feedback you might have to firstname.lastname@example.org
Last time we introduced the concept of Contact Centric vs. Account (Business Centric Contact Management (CRM) Systems. We also mentioned that we are one of the very few systems on the market today that give you a choice based on how you do business. Well this new option is finally here!
On 8/25/09 we are unveiling our new business contact record for all current and new subscribers to Big Contacts. The first time you login after this update has been made, you will see a notice that will pop-up announcing that this new format is available. You will then have the opportunity to elect this new Account (Business) Centric format.
For those that already have contacts loaded into Big Contacts, we have developed a great new mapping/ linking tool to make it very easy for you to convert. This new tool will scan your contact database, identify all contacts that are associated with the same business, and give you the opportunity to confirm which contacts that you wish to consolidate under that particular business record.
For a quick review of how the different contact formats work, here is a Link to our Site where you can find more information.
To see how this new format will actually look, what it does, and whether it is right for you - Click here to Learn More .
As always, should you have any questions or need further detail about this great new feature, please feel free to contact us at 1-888-286-6578 Ext. 701.
Over the past few months our clients have asked for more security features within our system. The primary concerns were centered around the fact that anyone in their company could go in and make changes to contacts without management knowing or approving this.
We're listening and have recently implemented some additional security measures for your account with BigContacts-Web Based CRM Software.
You now must now be and "Admin" on the system to perform a number of functions that were previously open to anyone. Following is a list of what we have enhanced for security purposes.
1) The Marketing Tab - only Admin users will be able to access this tab. A note will pop-up letting the user know that they must get with the admin of the system to make changes to this area.
2) The Contact Tab - the following links, are only available to an "Admin" user. These links are no longer visible to the non-admin user.
- Export Contacts
- Import Contacts
- View Task Manager
- Contact Table
- View Reports
- View Sales Manager - any non-admin person will ONLY see their sales opportunities when they select this. An admin will see the sales pipeline for the entire company/ team.
- Recent Activity - any non-admin person will ONLY see their activity when they select this. An admin will see activity for the entire company/ team.
3) The Reports Tab - the following links, are only available to an "Admin" user. These links are no longer visible to the non-admin user.
- All Sales Reports
- All Outstanding Tasks
- All Outstanding ToDos
- All Completed Tasks
- All Completed To-Dos
- All Data Export Reports
Are you obsessive about your email marketing results? Can't stop clicking that refresh button? The VerticalResponse Gadget is the cure for your compulsion!
Add it to your personalized iGoogle page, or your Google Apps "Start Page" for an up to the minute view into your VerticalResponse email and survey results.
With the The VR Gadget for iGoogle and Google Apps, you can:
Get The Gadget Now!
So you might be thinking, that sounds great, but what the heck are iGoogle and Google Apps? Watch a short video to find out more!
BigContacts offers seamless integration with VerticalResponse to deliver a suite of award winning marketing tools. (On-demand e-mail marketing, online survey and direct mail solutions)
VerticalResponse now integrates with the free Google Analytics service to help you further understand how your recipients are responding to your email campaigns and how they interact with your website. Google Analytics is a free service, as is VR’s new integration.
If you're already using Google Analytics to track your website visitors and search campaigns, you know how powerful the information you see can be. Now you can activate Google Analytics for VerticalResponse email campaigns, right from within your account profile, so you can gain insight into where people are going on your site after clicking links in your email message.
Don't have a Google Analytics Account?
Get a FREE Google Analytics Account. Google Analytics is a free online service that lets you track where your visitors come from and the pages they visit on your site. Learning more about visitors' behavior shows where you can make changes or streamline conversion processes on your website to gain more from your site traffic.
You'll be able to see that your site visitors came from a specific email campaign. It's never been easier to track ROI right back to the campaigns you send.
- Track email campaigns as another traffic source to your website
- Determine whcih products or services grab customers' attention
- Send follow up campaigns to target people with a tempting offer
- Boost conversion rates by tweaking your purchase process
- Compare email marketing campaigns with other advertising efforts
It's easy to set it up and get started. Visit the "profile" section of your VerticalResponse account, and activate your domain in the new Google Analytics Section.
Download the User Guide and get started!
Big Contacts has just added to its suite of mobile applications with the release of the new Big Contacts iPhone App. The App was launched on the App Store on Saturday, July 18, 2009. This new App delivers a true “mobile office solution” for those on the go that need real-time access to important contact information.
You can download this new App to your iPhone for FREE and begin enjoying the freedom and flexiblity that you gain with mobile access to all your contact data.
The new iPhone app delivers much of the core capabilities found on Big Contacts' full featured Web-Based Contact Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation (SFA) system including the ability to:
Manage Your Contacts
- Edit an existing contact record
- Send an email
Manage Your Calendar
- Make a phone call
- Log a call
- Add a note
- Add new meetings
- View meeting details
- Edit meeting details
Manage Your Tasks
- Assign new tasks
- View current and overdue tasks
- Edit task details
- Close Tasks
Manage Your Sales Opportunities
- View and Filter Sales Opportunities
- Edit/ Update Sales Opportunities
- Add a new Sales Opportunity
We hope you find our new Mobile Contact Management solution to be a valuable new tool for you in your business!
Visit us on the web at www.bigcontacts.com or call us at 1-888-286-6578 Ext. 701 to learn more about this and other new features that we will be rolling out at Big Contacts.
Big Contacts has partnered with Vertical Response to give our clients the simplest way to build, target, send and track email marketing, newsletters, online surveys and direct mail postcards.
We have harnessed all of this great functionality within our application to allow you to:
- Easily identify and filter targeted lists of your clients and/or prospects
- Automatically upload these targeted lists into the marketing module
- Quickly launch an email, newsletter, online survey or postcard campaign
- Effortlessly track and monitor the results of your campaigns.
Our system will automatically note the contact record of each and every client or prospect that has participated in a given marketing campaign. You will always know what and when you reached out to these contacts anytime you’re in their contact record.
Email marketing is a fast, inexpensive and innovative way to communicate with your clients and prospects. Big Contacts enables you to easily perform your own permission-based email marketing with a solution that requires no software purchases, technical knowledge or hardware investments.
Our easy-to-use solution is accessible through any popular web browser. Create a professional email campaign and get performance statistics in real-time. Big Contacts also processes your bounces and unsubscribes automatically - helping to keep your database clean. Big Contacts puts the power back in the hands of marketers and takes the burden off your IT department.
Best of all, the price is right. You pay only for email addresses mailed — and our technical support and training is included in the cost! Choose to pay as you go by campaign or purchase email “credits” in bulk for greater savings.
Create Emails in Minutes!
Big Contacts’ email creation tool is so user-friendly, even people without technical experience can create HTML email campaigns with ease. Just select from our extensive collection of templates, upload your graphics, and you’re on your way to creating a professional graphical email! You can even match your border color to your logo for a more branded approach. After you’ve created your email use our Forward to a Friend feature, so when your clients forward your email on, the new recipient will have the opportunity to join your list.
Big Contacts is compliant with the Can-Spam Law. We adhere to and enforce a strict permission-based marketing policy.
No email sent from our system may contain deceptive subject lines or “from” labels. We also automatically hard-code unsubscribe instructions in every email sent from Big Contacts. When someone does unsubscribe from your list, we ensure that they never receive emails in the future sent from your account.
When uploading your mailing lists into Big Contacts, your data will be run through our special hygiene process. Big Contacts de-duplicates the entire list so you never email someone twice during the same campaign. We will also provide a list of any improperly formatted addresses so you can correct those records and append them to your lists.
Your lists are protected with a double line of defense. First, our physical database servers are locked in a secure facility and are monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Secondly, all Big Contacts servers are protected by secure firewall systems from the industry leader, Cisco Systems™.
Collect Visitor Information
Create your own free opt-in web form which allows visitors to sign-up and join your newsletter list. Capture details such as name, email address, city, state and zip code. You can even customize fields of additional information to fit your specific business needs. The result: you can target your email campaigns more effectively and build stronger relationships.
Delivery and Reporting
The successful delivery of your emails into your recipient’s inboxes is the main objective of Big Contacts’s Deliverability Team. We have established relationships (“white-listings”) with the major ISPs allowing emails sent from our servers to be recognized and not mistaken for SPAM. Big Contacts enforces a SPAM-Free environment and all client accounts are monitored for abuse and complaint totals. In addition, all email campaigns deployed from our system are screened by our Approval Team to ensure that no
SPAM-related emails can be launched.
As an active member of the Email Service Provider Coalition, Big Contacts supports and enforces Federal legislation aimed at stopping SPAM. Our staff is extremely knowledgeable on the legal issues related to email marketing and we help to educate our clients on the industry standard “best practices.”
You can view all statistics associated with your campaigns, right from your browser. Find out how many messages were sent, or how many people are opening the HTML email. Monitor unsubscribes and bounces, and track click-through rates. Big Contacts even allows you to view “who” clicked on a link and “who” opened your email. You can then download this data for future marketing opportunities. It’s easy to calculate your ROI on every campaign.
Technical support is included with every mailing. Our Customer Relations experts will handle all support-related calls, emails, and live chats in 24 hours or less.
Creating and Mailing Postcards Has Never Been Easier!
Big Contacts Postcard is a powerful tool that enables you to effectively communicate with your customers and prospects by taking the hassle out of the direct mail process!
Big Contacts Postcard requires absolutely NO technical experience and the intuitive interface guides you through the creation and mailing of a postcard campaign. To begin, simply select a picture from our extensive image library or upload one of your own. Then click your mouse on any section of the image to add your copy. You can even position the text by “dragging and dropping” across the card. It’s that easy!
The result? A professional high-quality postcard with your messaging on the front and the back. Big Contacts then prints and mails your postcards so they reach your recipients quickly.
Big Contacts remains affordable and easy-to-use whether you are mailing 10 postcards or 10,000.
Over 800,000 professional quality, high-resolution images are available to choose from within Big Contacts. Just scan our library for the image you need in the category you desire.
Create Postcards in Minutes
Need to send a mailing in a hurry - with no hassle? Do it all online with just a few clicks of your mouse. After choosing your high-resolution image or uploading your own, you can customize the postcard design to suit your needs.
You can invert the image or rotate it to find the exact look you require. If your image isn’t the right size for the postcard, Big Contacts automatically resizes the graphic for you. If you’d like to add copy to the image, simply click your mouse on the section of the image and start typing! You can even choose a specific font, size and color for the text you are adding.
No more going back and forth to your printer with proofs. Big Contacts provides a PDF of your postcard so you can see what it will look like before it’s mailed. Have a tight schedule or an impending deadline? No problem - we’ll take your finished postcard, attach your lists and mail them within a week.
Your postcards will be printed on high quality, 12 point card stock with UV coating. Your cards are printed with a full bleed so the artwork will extend all the way to the postcard edge, resulting in a professional look.
Upload and Manage Lists
You don’t need to change the way you manage and store your customer and prospect information when using Big Contacts Postcard. Whether your list is in Excel™, MS Outlook™, ACT!™, Palm™ or any other text-based format, Big Contacts’s simple-to-use List Upload tool helps get your lists uploaded quickly into your account. Big Contacts will also scan your uploaded list to ensure it has proper addresses and zip codes.
Advanced Data Segmentation
Our advanced query tool, Big Contacts Select, is our proprietary data segmentation system. Big Contacts Select enables you to run counts and create new lists based on specific criteria that you choose. You can now send more targeted postcards based on demographic information, purchase history and even behavioral trends.
Big Contacts support is included with every mailing. Our Customer Relations experts will handle all support-related calls and emails in 24 hours or less.
Over the past few years, BigContacts has evolved from a Contact Management System (Small Business CRM) into something much more.
We realized that today's top CRM systems were evolving to include elements of Sales Force Automation (SFA), allowing company's to effectively target and manage larger pools of prospects.
But we felt that there was still something missing in this equation. The foundation to any business that ensures things get done are the processes or work-flows that a company establishes. This is true whether your serving existing clients or going after new prospects.
These processes set the stage and ultimately determine the entire flow of activity and level of efficiency within your business. You could go to great links to develop and articulate these processes, but you need a way to effectively keep score. How well are you serving your clients? Where are the weak points in your business? Who’s delivering on the promises you make to your clients and prospects and who’s falling short? Our system incorporates a discipline we've talked about before and that is Business Process Management (BPM). This discipline, coupled with technology can truly help you streamline your operations and ensure that your business operates as efficiently as possible. Feel free to call one our Account Managers if you would like to learn more about this tool. It's included as part of our core service at Big Contacts, you might as well take full advantage! 1-888-286-6578 Ext. 701
Well, this is where we are today, but we feel that our work has just begun. Our mission is to deliver a platform that has all of the essential tools that you need in your business that will make your life easier and put more money in your pocket. It's that simple. Everyday we ask ourselves how we can harness technology to deliver real value to you in your business. Late last year we even surveyed our growing subscriberer base to find out what you felt would make this a better application for your business.
We learned alot from that survey and we have listened! Below is a preview of what we have coming within the next few months. As you will see there are a number of great new features and tools that we hope truly will deliver on our mantra and that is to give you:
More TIME to spend in front of clients and prospects
- More MONEY as a result of satisfied/loyal clients and more targeted selling efforts
- More CONTROL over your business and personal life
What's coming the first half of 2009?
PLEASE NOTE: All system enhancements listed below will be available to you at no additonal charge to our currently low prices.
In March we unveiled our new Client Support Center. We offer several new self-help tools like our new knowledge-base that contains dozens of frequently asked questions, downloads for the system, and dozens of 30 second feature videos that can walk you through a quick overview of how any feature works. We asked ourselves "Why stop there", so we now offer LIVE Chat Support (M-F 9am - 5pm EST) to give you instant feedback to any questions or issues you may have.
Two-way Outlook Synchronization plug-in . This plug-in will be something that a user will download from our site, and you will now be able to keep all contacts, and calendar events synchronized. Any work that you do while offline in Outlook will automatically synchronize to Big Contacts the next time you are back online.
New Marketing Module. This will replace the “Auto-Pilot” tab and create an entire marketing suite for you to use to stay in touch with your clients and to more effortlessly and effectively market to your prospects. This new module will include:
- Our Current Sales Pipeline Drip Marketing Manager
- A New Email Campaign Manager complete with reports and analytics that will integrate directly with our system and feed campaign data directly to each contact record.
- In a future release (later in 2009), weoffer a complete Direct Mail Campaign Manager. You will be able to develop a number of campaigns using any combination of these direct mail pieces (Postcards, Letters, Flyers, Certified Mail, and Booklets)
GREATLY Enhanced Business Contact Record. This new contact record will allow you to create a business contact record and then add as many individual contacts to that contact record as you like. As a matter of fact all communication/ history in that contact record will be organized by individual contact so that you will know who you spoke to, about what and when.
iPhone application, and later this year a Blackberry application will be released on the newly formed Blackberry app store that they are calling "Blackberry App World". These applications will give you true mobile office capabilities. For more information on what you will be able to do through this new application, feel free to give us a call at 1-888-286-6578 Ext. 701.
Enhanced Email Module. Enhancements will include advanced features that will ensure proper identification with email providers to prevent being categorized as a spam, and the ability to reply directly to emails from within the Big Contacts application. All this will allow you to easily maintain all email history within each contact record.
Enhanced Calendar. We will be moving this to its own tab so that we will have plenty of room for enhancements. Enhancements will include better, more detailed calendar views, customizable alerts and alarms, customizable reminders for the prospect and client via email and text message.
Enhanced Reports Module. We will be adding more data fields that can be searched - with the goal being that we have all fields in the database in the reports area where one can search. We already allow you to set up your own Custom reports, and now you will be able to set up a delivery schedule for reports that you wish to periodically generate. These scheduled reports will run in their appropriate intervals and will be directly emailed to your inbox for your review.
As you can see, we are working very hard to deliver the most functional platform in the industry. We hope you find that these latest additions will make a measurable difference in your business.
Here's to a great 2009!
We've all heard the expression "work smarter - not harder". This could not be more important than during an economic slowdown like the one we're currently experiencing. With the proper application of it's resources, your business can be more strategic in enhancing your client experience and deepening relationships with existing customers.
According to a study released by Forrester Research, an increased emphasis on business value will see companies focusing on customer retention and creating better solutions to support customer facing processes.
It is not enough to ensure business value in the new projects, enterprises will begin focusing on customer retention instead of customer acquisition to stay afloat Forrester predicts. "During an economic recession, sustaining revenue growth - or forestalling revenue erosion - becomes even more critical," the company wrote.
But customers are getting harder to win and keep, Forrester said, and the solution is improved customer experience. "Good customer experience is highly correlated to customer loyalty," Forrester said.
During these tough times, businesses usually look at how they can reduce operational costs. There are many approaches that businesses take, but one of the first ways businesses try to cut spending is through their IT budget. This makes companies less likely to spend money on new software or make needed upgrades to their current software. This can save money today, but could cause problems in how they manage their business and their customers.
CRM Software can provide companies with the tools needed to effectively manage the client experience and deepen relationships with existing customers. While cutting or postponing in some areas of IT may make sense, it would be wise to re-visit your existing CRM strategy. Does your company consistently deliver the client experience they are looking for? How are customers reacting to this experience? What do you feel you could better in order to deepen relationships and retain clients?
Investing in the right CRM can mean the difference between retaining or losing clients. There are many tangible benefits that the right CRM can deliver in your business.
- Provide more efficient work-flow or Business Process Management (BPM)
- Improve the customer experience through better organization of key client data
- Improve the accuracy of work from employees to ensure nothing falls through the cracks
- Improved reporting to track company performance and ensure service standards are being met
Traditionally, some software solutions have proven to be a very expensive undertaking that can require alot of time to implement. Time and money are two commodities that most businesses lack in times like these, so how can you accomplish all this with less money and implement these tools very quickly?
A solution to these challenges that many businesses are finding is software-as-a-service (SaaS). This form of software allows businesses to take advantage of the tools they need today without large investments of time or money. SaaS CRM can be very inexpensive, very fast to implement, and very effective in helping you better manage your business.
Finally, another aspect of SaaS CRM that can be so appealing in a down economy is the ability to add new functionality to the system WITHOUT capital expenditures. Your business can remain current with the latest software and hopefully ahead of your competition due to the wise choice you made to more effectively utilize your current resources and invest in a platform that will grow with you.