Quite a bit of thought, time and work go into choosing which CRM platform best fits your business, but what happens after you’ve made up your mind? What do you do next?

Once you’ve done your research and settled on a CRM platform, your next step is to get all of your business and contact data inside of it. That means importing your contact list, setting up your first campaign, training your team and more. It’s not until you’ve successfully set up and customized your account that you’ll start to get the true value out of your new software.

Here are some implementation do’s and don’ts to help you get your new CRM account set up quickly and efficiently.

Importing contacts

Moving your contact list into your CRM should be one of your first set-up tasks. This usually entails preparing a CSV (comma separated value) file of all your existing contacts and then mass uploading that data into your CRM.

Don’t: import a disengaged list

If you’re moving your contact list over from a different system, we advise that you do some “list cleaning” prior to importing those contacts into your new CRM. List cleaning is going through your contacts and removing disengaged contacts, spam email addresses, dead email addresses or those who no longer want to receive email from you.

At Ontraport, our postmaster team randomly pulls newly imported contact lists for review. During the review process, if a list contains a large amount of spammy or dead email addresses, it could get flagged for potentially violating anti-spam laws.

Do: add a tag to all contact imports

You can import as many contacts as you’d like in whatever order you’d like, but keep in mind that groups are not automatically created when you import a new list of contacts. Tags are a way to help you label and easily find specific contacts again. You can create groups of contacts based on the tag that you attach to them when they are imported into your CRM. Make tagging your contacts a habit — this will help immensely when you’re segmenting your contacts into targeted groups.

Organizing your data

One of the most intriguing features of all-in-one CRM platforms is that they are completely customizable so you can show your business data exactly the way you want to view it.

Don’t: have sloppy naming conventions

As you build out your CRM account, you will be amazed at how much data and information you can collect. However, that data can get lost or become overwhelming if you don’t properly organize it through standardized and shared naming conventions. Naming conventions are the practice of diligently naming all your assets according to standards you set so that your team can easily find exactly what they need. This extends to all the data and assets within your CRM from emails to landing pages to tags.

Do: organize your contact records

A contact record houses all the information and behavioral data that you have for each individual contact. In Ontraport, a contact record is broken into multiple tabs, and each tab houses your default and custom data fields. You can think of tabs as separate pages of information, similar to the concept of browser tabs. You can customize these tabs into subsections of data fields that show exactly what you want to see.

Be sure to move and organize your contact records in a way that makes sense for your business and workflow. Need to quickly see which sales rep is assigned to each contact? You can easily organize a sales tab to show that exact data. Going even further, get rid of the fields that you don’t use. While you can’t delete default fields in most CRMs, you can move them all to a designated tab so that they aren’t cluttering your contact records.

In Ontraport, you can also choose how you want to view groups of your contacts: in a traditional list format or in a compact Card View format. In Card View, each contact’s information is displayed like a business card, showing only what you want to see at a glance, and the cards are sorted into columns to represent stages within any process.

Creating your segments

Properly dividing up your contacts into specific segments based on their interests, behaviors, demographics (or whatever criteria you choose) allows you to personalize your interactions with them to produce better results.

Don’t: randomly send out mass emails

Haphazardly sending your contacts emails is a surefire way to annoy your list with emails that don’t necessarily relate to them or their interests.

Segmenting your contacts into targeted groups based on their interests, behaviors, demographics and more is key. In Ontraport, you can segment your list in almost any way you can think of using groups. Groups are dynamic collections of your contacts that automatically update when new contacts meet the criteria of that group. For more strategies on how to segment your contacts, check out this guide.

Do: create individual campaigns

One of the most common actions that new Ontraport users want to take is to send emails to their list. But rather than sending one-off broadcast emails to the segmented groups that you’ve created, you can build a campaign to send and monitor all future correspondence to that group.

A campaign consolidates all of your marketing automation into an easy-to-use graphical format called a campaign map. From the map, you can send emails, view their open rates, set goals for your contacts and more. This also provides an historical record of all of the emails that you’ve sent to a specific group at a glance.

Onboarding your team

One of the first obstacles you might run into is getting your team onboard and encouraging adoption of the new system across your business.

Don’t: delegate the task of learning your CRM

When migrating your business over to a new CRM, it’s important to stay in the loop. Even if you know your team members or virtual assistant will be running the day-to-day tasks in your CRM, make a point to understand your powerful new software yourself. Set aside time specifically for training on your new CRM platform, for both yourself and your team, so that you can ensure everyone on your team is using your new CRM the same way.

Do: regulate your users and permissions

In most CRMs, you have the capability to customize the level of access given to each member of your team. You might have sensitive data that you don’t want everyone you work with to have access to. You can use a combination of users, permissions and roles to keep certain information secure and to further streamline your team’s individual jobs.

In Ontraport, there are administrators and users, and they all have their own unique login. Each new account starts with one administrator who has permission to do everything in the system. From there, you can create roles which designate a user’s access to certain parts of the system. You would add your team members as users under specific roles. You might have roles for each category of user such as sales rep, manager or customer service rep — all with varying permissions to view different data in your account.

Customizing your CRM

While your CRM can be ready to use “out of the box,” it’s important that you customize your system to work for your entire team and business as a whole.

Don’t: get stuck in information silos

An information silo is the way organizational knowledge tends to be stored within separate departments, making it difficult for that information to be spread between teams. An all-in-one CRM is designed to break down these information silos by making customer and business data available to everyone on your team, regardless of department.

That being said, it’s easy for different teams to get intimately familiar with one feature of your CRM platform and completely ignore other features. Take this opportunity to cross-train your team on how each department fits into the overall customer journey and how you can use your new CRM as a collaborative tool.

Do: create custom fields

Depending on your business model, there are many different highly specific bits and pieces of information that you’ll need to keep track of for your clients. For example, if you’re a real estate agent, you likely want to track the dates that your client’s property entered escrow and the transaction closing date. If you repair air conditioning units, you probably want to know what the make and model of your client’s AC unit is. If you are a wedding coordinator, you need to know the wedding venue and dates. Custom fields make it possible to store all of these types of information and more.

There are different types of custom fields you’ll have to work with, such as numeric fields, checkboxes, dropdowns, text fields and so on. Some fields, like text fields or checkbox fields, require no further setup. Other fields, such as dropdowns or list selection, require you to specify a list of possible inputs. This gives you the capability to collect and store the exact type of data that is most important to your business.

About Tatiana Doscher
Campaign Strategist Tatiana Doscher is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a dual B.A. in Communication and Global Studies. After working with several small and local businesses, Tatiana joined Ontraport’s Marketing team. She loves running, hiking and enjoying Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches.