As an entrepreneur, you meet people everyday, make a connection and exchange business cards. But what do you do from there? Do you add it into your CRM? Do put the card in a shoebox somewhere to gather dust? Do you follow up with an email? and do you do it consistently?
I'm a bit of a geek, and so I'm always passionate about how you can use technology to systemise a process. There are some amazing online services that you can connect, that allow you to automate simple tasks that occur on a regular basis. It's not just freeing up time, but also ensuring that you do things consistently every time.
Today I'm going to look at how you can handle business cards, and flow that through into a CRM or marketing solution like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign.
Capturing a Card
First thing first, you need some way to convert the business card into a digital contact when you're out on the road.
I always have my phone on me and my favourite app to use for converting business cards is FullContact Card Reader. There are other solutions out there, but two of the reasons why I love FullContact are -
- A real person transcribes the card (it's not an OCR solution where software does its best to interpret what's on a card). If you do a lot of networking - the number of cards in funny fonts, with business names on the back, or creative writing make this a must. Accuracy is important.
- The web app allows you to connect other services like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Gmail and other platforms to create unified contacts. What does this mean? You transcribe a card and you can see a person's public social context as well - additional contact details, photos. If you're visual like me, then a face to a name is great.
2) The app will prompt you to sign in or sign up - hit the sign up button and fill in your details
BOOM! Done. Now you can take snaps of business cards, tag them (I tag contacts with how I met them) and submit them for transcribing. Once complete you'll see the details of the contact appear in the list.
Setting up the message
So you've now captured a card and have it transcribed. The next question is - what do you do with it?
You can either enter the contact into a CRM, or you can do what we do and add it to a marketing solution like ActiveCampaign, InfusionSoft or MailChimp.
What you're looking for in a good solution is the ability to do marketing automation. What is this? It's the ability for the system to send out emails in response to triggered events. For instance, you may set up a campaign to send one email a week for 7 weeks. You might even get fancy and change the message depending on whether the reader takes certain actions.
In one of our campaigns, we have a trigger that if someone subscribes to an online course, but doesn't participate - we get in touch with them for a one on one training session.
Marketing automation solutions give you the ability to create tailored communication while still reducing your time.
We use ActiveCampaign at Digit, so for the purposes of this guide I'll show you how to get it going there.
1) First - go to activecampaign.com and sign up for a new account.
2) Now log in - on the top of the screen under the menu you should see a Getting Started section. The first icon there is Create a List, click on it.
3) Complete the details to create a list. The list is basically a container for the contacts you'll add. We call ours Digit Connect' since it consists of people we've met face to face.
4) Next, go to Automations and create a New Automation -
The automation should start 'when a contact subscribes' to your new list. You want to specify a list as the message you'll send will be specific to face to face connections.You don't want to send a 'hey it was great to meet you' email to someone who subscribed on your website!
5) Once that's done, choose 'Send email' as the action.
6) You can then click on Create an email (and give it a name) and edit the content to what you would like to say.
Our first email essentially says - 'hey lets connect, it was nice to meet you - we'd love to stay in touch and talk about a few things we are passionate about - improving businesses, startups, and understanding finances'
7) You can continue to add other actions to the sequence by clicking on the + button and adding a delay or email or sms to the sequence (you can also add logic to choose a different action depending on what the contact does)
8) Once you're happy with the automation - you can make it Active
Connecting the dots
Services like Zapier allow you to connect two online services and have one update the other when an event takes place. It's perfect to use when two online services don't have the ability to directly talk to one another.
On Zapier they call these connections Zaps', and it supports over 300 web applications that can be connected together. I like to think of Zapier as the glue that holds everything together.
The Free plan on Zapier allows you to have up to 5 zaps, doing 100 tasks a month (Zaps run every 15 minutes)
1) To connect the two services, first sign up for a Zapier account
2) Click on the 'Make a New Zap' button
3) Choose 'FullContact' as the Trigger App and select 'New Business Card'Choose 'ActiveCampaign' as the Action App and select 'Add/Update Contact'
Next Zapier will ask for details to authorise the connection with each service. What makes Zapier great is that it tells you exactly where to go on each app to get the information it needs.
4) Connect to FullContact by entering in the Access Token
5) Click Continue, then Next
6) Connect to ActiveCampaign by entering in your API URL and API Key
5) You can find your API URL and Key by first logging into ActiveCampaign, clicking on your name in the top right and selecting 'My Settings'
6) Then click on the API tab to show your API settings
7) Next click Continue, and when Zapier asks to apply a filter - just hit Continue again
Now Zapier asks for the fields to map from FullContact to ActiveCampaign - this allows you to determine which information is copied across and where it goes
8) First Select the ActiveCampaign List you created earlier, then complete the form as follows -
9) Hit Continue - now you can check to see whether the Zap works
10) Once you're done, hit Continue
11) Lastly give the Zap a name then hit the 'Turn Zap On' button and you're done!
You'll be shown a screen to view your new Zap, to test it out - simply open up FullContact, take a photo of your business card - and minutes later you will receive an email through ActiveCampaign saying hi!
Being able to connect services together allows you to build a workflow that matches how you work, using tools that fit specific needs. In this particular example, something that used to take me a few minutes every day is managed seamlessly with little input.
If you're interested in finding out more about what we do at Digit, and how we can help improve your business by leveraging technology - get in touch we love to chat!