In many businesses, the relationship between the business and its contacts is the only relationship that needs to be managed through a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system such as Ontraport. However, many companies have more complex kinds of relationships and data that they need to keep organized. This is where custom objects come into play. Custom objects are simply a type of database in a CRM, similar to your contacts database and, just as your contacts database has many contact records, your custom object database can have many object records. These records can be tied to multiple other records to enable complex relationships to be organized and managed.


For example, consider a contractor who does kitchen and bath remodels and needs to keep track of his proposals, which include his estimated costs for labor and materials, estimated timeline and more. He can create a custom object for proposals, allowing him to create proposal records with fields for this information. If he’s remodeling both the kitchen and bathroom inside the same home, he’d have a proposal record for the bathroom remodel and a proposal record for the kitchen remodel, and he’d tie them both to the homeowner’s contact record. This allows him to keep everything organized, and he can even create automated follow-up campaigns and messages related to the proposals.

Similar scenarios often apply to personal or professional service providers who offer multiple services, and businesses that host many events or manage multiple clients from one family or company.

Custom objects are highly customizable to suit any relationship management needs. In Ontraport, you’ll use the same tools you’re already familiar with, such as campaigns, forms and messages, to create automated systems to manage your object records.

 

Understanding Custom Object Relationships


Before you create your custom objects, it’s important to understand how the relationships between objects work so that you can determine which is right for your business. In Ontraport, custom objects can be related to other objects in one of three ways:

  1. One-to-Many Relationships

In one-to-many relationships (often called parent-child relationships), a record in one object (the parent object) can be related to any number of other records in the other object (the children), but the child object can have only one parent object. This is the most common type of object you’ll create.

For example, in the contractor situation from above, the kitchen remodel proposal record is a child and the homeowner contact record is the parent (it’s important to understand that contacts are also technically a type of object). The homeowner contact record can have many remodel proposal records associated with it, but the remodel proposal record will only have one related homeowner contact record as the parent.

  1. Many-to-Many Relationships

Many-to-many relationships allow each record in either object to have connections to many records in the other object.

For example, in a school, the teachers object and the students object would have a many-to-many relationship. Each teacher can have many students, and each student can have many teachers.

Note, because of the complexity of many-to-many relationships, certain features are not available when this object type is selected. For example, you won’t be able to send emails to a related object in a many-to-many relationship.

  1. One-to-One Relationships

A one-to-one relationship means one record in one object can be linked to only one record in another object. One-to-one relationships are often useful as a supplementary relationship.


Steps for Creating a Custom Object


First, make sure the Custom Objects feature is turned on in your account.

  1.  Click  Administration > Advanced Features > Custom Objects.
  2. Toggle the Custom Objects switch on .

Once completed, follow the steps below to set up and manage your Custom Objects.

  1. Click the profile icon Administration > Data > Custom Objects.
  2. Click the purple new object button.
  3. In the “Name new object” field, type the new object name, such as “Events,” and add in the same word in the “Singular” field. Subsequent fields will populate. Ensure that the names are correct. Then click Next at the upper right.

    custom object name conjugations
  4. The field editor appears for the custom object you are creating. Each custom object has the ability to have any type of field just as you find in the contact records. Add fields as necessary, such as object date, object time, object location, etc.
    1. Note that if you add an email address field to the custom object record, it will count toward your contacts limit even if you never populate the email address field (just as a contact record without an email address counts).
  5. Set the relationship to another object. Here’s what each of those questions mean (note in this example, the Object is Event):
    1. Object is related to: Indicates what object the new object is related to. In this case, it’s contacts.
    2. Relationship Type: This indicates what the type of relationship will be between the two objects.
    3. This Object is: Select whether it’s a parent or child object.
    4. Where should we put the other object in [this] record?: This asks where the contact’s information will appear within the custom object.
    5. Where should we put the object in the related record?: This asks where the object’s information will appear within the other object.
    6. What should we call this relationship in the custom object record?: This asks what the header will appear as in the custom object.
    7. What should we call this relationship in the other record?: This asks what the header will appear as in the other object.
  6. Create the settings for how you would like the your object to display when you click on the record. For reference, contacts display as “[First Name] [Last Name] [Email]” but, in this case, you are able to choose what the label will show. Click the Insert Merge Field dropdown to insert merge fields.

    new custom object relationship settings
    dropdown field settings menu
  7. In the navigation settings panel, add the custom object to the navigation menu. Select the icon and color associated with the object. Use the up/down arrows to move the location of the object into the desired location.

Adding Records to Your Custom Object

You can add records to your custom objects in the following ways.

Manually

In the navigation menu, click on the object and then click +New.

From a related object

When inside an object, you can manually add related object records. In this example, we can add a new event from a contact record.

drop down options

Using Ontraport Forms

Each object includes its own Ontraport Forms, making it easy to add records. On your form, you can add fields from some related objects by clicking +Add and then the arrow next to the other object’s name.

Form field settings

Fields from other objects do not appear if the current object is the parent object in a one-to-many relationship or if the relationship between the objects is a many-to-many relationship.

Using a CSV File

If you’d like to mass import records into your new object, you’d use the same process to import contacts but access it from your object instead of contacts.

  1. Hover over your object in the main navigation bar and click Settings > Import
  2. Follow the steps to import contacts. Instructions to import objects with relationships are located at the bottom of that article. 

Through the API

View our article on using Ontraport’s API article for information. This functionality is advanced and should be used by experienced developers or programmers.