Almost all your objects in Ontraport — including built-in ones like Deals and Companies — will work the same as any custom object you might create.
But there’s one object that’s quite different from all the others — the contacts object.
The way your contacts object’s fields work, the way data is organized and the way you search, sort and group data will all function like your other custom objects.
But your contacts objects also have several additional features that are unique, and it’s important to know what they are as you plan out your systems.
I’m going to start by listing the features that only contacts have, and then I’ll share how they may impact you as you start to set things up.
Here we go:
First things first: Only contacts can buy things. This means all the features around credit cards and order forms and dunning are available only in contacts.
Second: Only contacts get tracked on the web. That means page visit histories, personalized URLs, tracked links, UTM tracking, cookie tracking, “identified visitors,” conditional page content, affiliate tracking and so on are available only in contacts.
Third: Only contacts can log in to membership sites, customer centers or access protected pages.
And lastly, only contacts have lead scoring.
So, what does all this mean for you?
It means that only your contacts can use these features. It’s not going to work if you create a new custom object called “Customers” and expect to be able to manage their credit cards or track their online behaviors.
While this may sound like a serious limitation at first, it’s rarely a problem because there’s a way to handle things just using the contacts object.
Here’s what I mean:
Let’s imagine that you’re a marriage counselor and you want to keep track of both husbands and wives in your system, relating them together so you always know who’s married to whom.
You might think it would be a good idea to create a new object for one of them — say, “Husbands” — and then create a one-to-one relationship between “Husbands” and their wives.
But it’s actually not a good idea because then you can’t track husbands, you can’t give them access to sites, and they can’t buy things from you.
Instead, all you need to do is create a new relationship between two sets of contacts. If you make everyone a contact, then everyone can buy things and you still can keep track of people’s relationships.
The same goes for basically any situation where what you’re storing is a person that you’re doing business with.
For example, we have lots of customers who work with parents and students. It might make sense to have students in their own object, but only if the student isn’t going to engage with you online.
This would be an ideal setup for preschool students. In this case, you could put students in their own object. Preschoolers aren’t going to be buying things with credit cards or logging in to your membership site — unless you’re dealing with a really precocious child.
But if you’re working with college students, you’ll definitely want to keep them in the contacts object. College students will be engaging with you online and you’re going to want them to have all the functionality that comes with that.
You can create as many relationships between contacts as you like, so it’s still totally possible to keep things organized. You can make groups of contacts that only include husbands or wives or students, and you can email them separately. The sky’s the limit.
The same is true for leads and customers. In some systems, people will store their leads and customers in separate objects. But in Ontraport, you won’t want to do that. Instead, just identify which is which by using a status field. Easy.
So, that’s really all there is to know about contacts, a.k.a. our special object.
I’m going to get into some meatier stuff in our last video on custom objects: “relationship management.” I’ll go over a few more important features that’ll be valuable to you, especially if you’re going to be building a web application.