December 10, 2013


Focus on the right contacts with Contactually CRM
(Contactually provided no incentives for the writing this blog post. Since I'm now a big supporter, I’ve become an affiliate to help them thrive.)

A successful business requires a solid Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The challenge is choosing a solution which is:
  • easy to use: adds contacts automatically from your emails and LinkedIn; shows social media feeds; notifies you of changes in your network such as new positions
  • scalable: to allow other users as your business grows
  • web-based: for access anytime from anywhere with nothing to install or maintain

Other Contactually IntegrationsOptions

You do have choices. I had Batchbook for almost four years but never really liked it enough to use regularly. I recently experimented with Insightly (tied to one email account and price based on the number of contacts) and Nimble (feels too lite).

If you’re married to Highrise, Pipedrive, Salesforce or SugarCRM, you don’t need to switch since Contactually integrates with them. That’s a solid sign that Contactually is different. If you find there’s too much overlap after your free trial, you might want to save money by dropping one.

Even More

Other useful features in a CRM are
  • email templates to speed up and standardize replies
  • pre-scheduling of emails (e.g., write at night and send in the morning)
  • track when emails are opened
  • unlimited contacts without a surcharge
  • sensible reminders to follow up
  • benchmarking against other CRM users (e.g., like RescueTime does for time tacking)
Contactually has all these features.

The Concept

Contactually is very well thought out. You get easy-to-use features without clutter or undue complexity. For instance, you can introduce two connections to each other with a few mouse clicks.

The basic idea is that you group people into “buckets”. That terminology still feels weird but is easy to visualize. Maybe that’s because we know what a bucket looks like. In contrast, synonyms like “group” or “category” or “tag” or “community” feel abstract.

You can put people into multiple buckets.

Email Templates

Contactually email templatesYou can send an email to some or all members of a bucket. You can even personalize these emails by inserting a name as when sending a newsletter. What's more — and this is very powerful — you can edit the message for each recipient separately.

Think about that.

Say you want to send the same message to 30 people but make minor adjustments for three of them. Does a BCC or email newsletter allow that easily? Contactually does. You get the benefit of a template and the customization of individual emails.

Previously, I’d create a draft in Gmail, copy/paste into an email and personalize. That’s time-consuming and error-prone.

nourish fading relationshipsRelationships

Contactually focuses on helping you build relationships by reminding you to stay in touch.

When you look up a contact, you get lots of relevant information such as the last time of contact, the emails sent and what they're doing via social media.

Contactually monitors what you do also and we'll update contact information from email signatures. You don't have to do anything. Sometimes you get emails from the same person but via different email accounts. Contactually is good at figuring this out. Some CRM systems are tied to a specific email account but Contactually lets you connect to as many as you like. Isn't that what you want?

reminders and tools to follow up (click to enlarge)Following up

When we don’t follow up, we lose opportunities and reduce trust. Contactually makes the process easy, almost enjoyable. You’re given tips on how to follow up. You get access to templates that others have created. Click on the screenshot to see options.
You have weekly goals for the number of follow ups and see your progress on a dashboard. This week, I’ve done none. There’s still hope, since I tend to follow up most on Fridays.


Contactually does not store a copy of your email messages. Instead, limited information is kept (e.g., subject line, sender, recipient). You can click on a message to read it from your email provider.

Sales Pipeline

Until recently, Contactually didn’t — gasp — have a sales pipeline. That was not a major omission. You probably know who your active prospects and where they are in the sales process. That's what many CRMs do and it feels redundant and painful.

Not Perfect

Contactually is not perfect but does keep improving. The support team is very helpful . They have live web chat which works well. They are open to suggestions.

For example, I wanted Contactually to connect to my newsletter service, Mad Mimi. Both companies were receptive and within months this happened.

Compare your performancePerfect for Freelancers

If you’re working on your own or in a small group, a CRM solution is especially important. Contactually feels like an addition to your team thanks to smart notifications.

It’s easy to adopt bad habits when you’re the boss. Contactually helps keep you track by benchmarking you against similar users.

Not Perfect

No CRM is perfect and you’ll have your own preferences. Most choices offer a free trial but experimenting takes time. Since a CRM solution contains your confidential information, how many options do you want to try?

If you’re a freelancer or working in a small group, do try Contactually. If you’re satisfied, you can stop your search and focus on your work. You’ll probably want the Small Business Plan, which has the features described above for $40/month. If you just want the basics, the Premium plan is well featured at $20/month.


PS Contactually doesn’t currently sync with calendars. Again, that isn’t a big deal.

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