Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Google Apps vs Google Anything Else

Google has a wealth of tools beyond search.  It seems, if you can imagine a web app, put the name "Google" in front of it and it probably exists.  There are Google Calendars, Google Docs, Google Contacts, Google News, Google car washes.  Ok, I made that last one up, but you get the idea. 

And then, there's Google Apps.  What are these Apps you may ask?  Oh, you know, the kind of apps a small business might use.  Apps like calendars, docs, contacts... wait a sec.  I thought Google already had those? So, what's the difference?

The easiest way to describe it is this: Apps is a collection of all the disparate Google applications into a grouping that can be managed and shared as an organization as opposed to the individual nature of their applications outside of Apps.  That means, instead of me having my Google Docs account and storing my files, I access the company's Apps account where I create, edit, and store Docs.  The software itself that I use is exactly the same.  The real difference is in the collaboration and management available via the Apps platform.

What's this all got to do with AddressTwo?  Well, many who are unfamiliar with Apps, or unaware of its existence, are confused by the checkbox in the "Google Tools" area of the AddressTwo admin: "Is this a Google Apps account?"  After all, if you check the box, it simply asks for your domain name, which you likely have one, so why not give it for good measure.  Well, the trouble is that these two services -- while identical in the function they'll serve in AddressTwo -- are accessed and authenticated in different ways.  In other words, if you tell AddressTwo that you're an Apps user by entering an Apps domain and you are not, then we cannot correctly access your Google data. 

So, realize that Google Apps is a different entity than all the various Google applications.  Got it?  Good.  Now, whose on first?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

No Longer Uncharted Territory


One of the most popular wishes for the last several months on the AddressTwo wish list was to visualize contacts with a pie-chart. Wish granted! There is now a chart option in the search results, in the ‘Use this list’ drop down.

You can group your contacts by Customer Status, account manager, title, role, address, product or opt-In. This redraws your chart with the total number of contacts that fit each category.

You can see the chart flat or in 3D, no funny glasses required. You can choose colors by group, or choose your own custom colors. You can also adjust the chart size.

If you can think of another area you would like to see this charting capability please let us know.

Happy Charting!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Printing Labels

The AddressTwo Professional Edition (and all higher editions) makes quick work of printing your labels for a mass mailing, holiday cards, or even one-off mailings. There are two ways to access the Mail Merge tool.
  1. For an entire group, after pulling a query or recalling a list, in the "Use This List" drop-down, select "Mail Merge"
  2. For a single contact, when viewing that contact in the Account View, click the printer icon in the Actions column next to that contact.
You will find several documents that you can merge your contact details into. Each is based off of an RTF (Rich Text File) format which will open natively in any major word processor, such as Microsoft Word.

Google Contacts Synchronization

Synchronization has become a dirty word around here. Last week, Nick Carter shared his thoughts on the insanity of synchronization--much to the audiences delight (surprisingly)--during a panel discussion with InfoSmack. It's clunky. It's error-ridden. And it should be used as a last resort only.

That said, yes... AddressTwo does sync. To keep things simple, we allow contacts to be synchronized to Google Contacts. Why? First, because so many small businesses are moving to Google's docs, email, and other business solutions. Second, because Google Contacts synchronize with so many other platforms -- like iPhones, blackberries, and even Outlook -- that it's silly for us to create those ties individually. Instead, sync to Google and let Google sync to everything.

But, there are a few pitfalls to avoid that will reduce some of this inevitable error we've come to expect:
  1. Use AddressTwo as the primary point of data entry. If you're going to use AddressTwo, then resolve to make it you primary database. You only sync to other devices for ease of access, but do not expect additions through your Outlook or your phone to find their way into AddressTwo with any sort of intelligence. Why? Because, we track more. Your cell phone won't ask for the contact's industry, or their role in the sales process. Rely on A2 first and you'll avoid a lot of headache.
  2. Make sure your data is clean. Many of the "errors" that get reported about synchronization have to do with poor data. For example, mock first names like "John Doe" or "None" can actually cause false matching. If there are 40 "none's" in your database, how does Google know they're different people? They're not! The old maxim "garbage in and garbage out" holds true.
  3. Check the integrity of the sync the first time. After your first successful sync, check a few contacts to make sure that data was mapped as you expected it. It is much easier to correct issues after the first go-round than after multiple bad sync's.
Finally... and most importantly... just try not to sync. Seriously. Broadband is available in every corner of the earth, practically. Synchronization is most often used as a crutch to help people avoid actually changing their practices and using AddressTwo to it's fullest. Consider using the mobile edition of AddressTwo instead of synchronization. Consider using AddressTwo in lieu of Outlook Contacts, not in conjunction. The bottom line is: you can't have two databases without trouble. It will only cause problems.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Removing Duplicates


If you have duplicate contacts in your AddressTwo CRM database, you can easily remove the duplicates with the duplicate removal tool
Under Admin , click the remove duplicates button.

You need to make 2 choices to eliminate duplicate contacts.
First you choose the level of detail you want to use to determine if records match. You can choose:
  • Very Strict (low risk of false positives, but some duplicates might not be detected)Search for similarities in First Name, Last Name, and Zip Code.

  • Moderate (some risk of false positives, but almost all duplicates will be detected)Search for similarities only in First Name and Last Name.

  • Company Name Only (low risk of false positives, useful where no contact names exist) Search only for exactly matching company names.

  • Email Only (zero risk of false positives, but must have email address on file to detect duplicates) Search only for exactly matching email addresses.
Once you have set the Duplicate Criteria, the second step is to choose who will survive. You choose the survivors with these three options.
  1. The account most recently edited/created should survive.

  2. The account edited/created earliest should survive.

  3. The account contacted most recently should survive.
The Survivor Criteria determines which record is saved and which record is deleted.
In the case that you are removing duplicates in the import process, you will not see this option. The Survivor Criteria is automatically set to keep the contact created earliest. The Newly imported contact will be available to delete.
Once you have made your selections you can click Proceed button. You will see 2 columns:
Duplicate (to be deleted) and Survivor (to be saved)
Your columns of deleted and survivor will be determined by your Survivor Criteria. The survivor will be the record that fits the survivor criteria.
Now you can delete the appropriate duplicate contacts!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

BCC Me?

If you have added new users, or changed your own username and password, you may have wondered about this obscure checkbox called "BCC Me." Allow me to shed a little light...

AddressTwo can send all sorts of messages to your customers. The most common are:
  1. Verification Requests - a short message asking the customer to verify the information that you have on file for them.
  2. Referrals - a message that shares the contact information from one of your contacts with another. This is ideal for networking introductions.
  3. Project Collaboration Invites - an invitation to a customer or outsourced partner to view details of a project you're working on together.
These are called "system messages." As a means of control, you can choose to have a BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) sent to you, or any user in the system, so that someone is made aware when our system talks to your customer.

Contact Forms & Autoresponders

The free contact form is fast becoming one of our most utilized new features... probably because it's free. But, there have been a couple of questions come up about how it works.

First, where do I go to create a free contact form. Click the logo (which brings you to your dashboard). On the dashboard, right above the box that says, "recent website leads," click the "How" link.

How do I trigger an Autoresponder?
Well, first, this is where the free train ends. You must have the Campaign Manager enabled to use Autoresponders. However, there's a second catch. The campaign you wish to use as an Autoresponder has to have a "Trigger" activated first. To do this, go to the campaign, scroll to the bottom, and click the Active Trigger button. Disregard the HTML snippet it gives you. If you're using the form wizard, you won't need it. But, when creating the form using the wizard, you'll now have the option to select that Trigger to be triggered by the submission of this form, thereby "auto-responding" to leads.

How do I edit the form after it's created?
Unfortunately, at this time, you cannot. But, check back for later posts as this may become available in future releases. However, the short answer is this: the HTML that's created after you complete the wizard is a true output, not just the rendering of your selections. We use you selections to compose some HTML, and then spit it out, but reversing that process is not as easy as it sounds. Think of the HTML output more like a Poloroid than a digital photo -- once it's shot, not so editable after the fact. So, what do I do? Delete the one and start over.

To Blog or Not to Blog

Not sure if you're ready to blog yet?  I can make it easy for you: don't.  If you're not sure.  If you're uncommitted.  If you're going to try it for a month.  If you don't really have time but wish you did.  DON'T.

I'm not sure how blogging got billed as the end-all solution for thought leadership, or even for SEO, but it's not necessary.  I learned this the hard way.  When I first started AddressTwo, I was busier than the proverbial one-armed paper hanger.  I was starting my own business, bootstrapping it, and working long days on the business-critical tasks.  Even so, I convinced myself that somehow I just hadn't quite arrived unless I blog.  So I did... for about 6 weeks.

I soon learned this lesson: it's better not to have a blog on your website at all than to have one with the last post being months ago.  Better to let folks disregard your blog than to draw attention to the fact that you've had nothing to say for ages.

And, don't worry about the SEO.  Believe it or not, if you use your website correctly for what it should be used for -- not an online brochure, but an ever-changing persona for your growing company -- then it's possible to achieve substantial search rankings without ever writing a blog or offering an RSS feed.  It can be done.  We hit page 1 for 4 of our keywords before ever starting this blog.

Which brings me to a great question: why now?  To be honest, business is booming.  It's cooking.  And, more so than I ever thought possible, it runs on auto-pilot much of the time.  So, "where can I go from here" I asked myself?  Well, I'll keep those answers secret for now, but let's just say: it was time -- and I have the time -- to blog.

User Permissions

About a year ago, as our customer base began to include larger clients--well beyond the solopreneuer and micro-enterprises--the need arose for varying user permissions. But, in keeping with the spirit of AddressTwo, it had to be SIMPLE!

So, the solution was (and remains) this simple: 4 permission levels.
  • Administrator - The admin is, by default, the person who created the account to begin with. Other admins can also be added. This permission level can see all as well as edit settings in the Admin tab.
  • Super User - For those of you who were true early adopters of AddressTwo, you would remember this designation because it was every other non-admin user prior to the introduction of these permission levels. The super user, quite simply, can see all just as an admin can, but they cannot change any settings in the Admin tab.

    NOTE: If you're an office with no secrets and everyone plays nice, you ONLY need admins and super users. Don't bother at all with the next two. But, if you need to preserve some sovereignty among salesmen, here goes...

  • Manager - the Manager is just a step above the Restricted User, and in fact, if they aren't assigned as manager of anyone, then they are in effect a restricted user. The manager can only see contacts, tasks, projects, campaigns, etc. to which they themselves have been assigned, OR one of the other users that they manage.
  • Restricted User - Simple, they can only see what pertains to them. They see no tasks, contacts, accounts, projects, or anything else that they have not been designated as the Account Manager or some other role in.

A few more special rules exist for Restricted Users. Restricted Users cannot export. Restricted Users cannot create new Campaign Content, nor Task Automation series.

That's it. It's that simple.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Printing My Contacts

We regularly hear from customers who have a very simple question: how do I print my contacts? Or, sometimes it's tasks, or a history report, etc. Our answer is equally low-tech. The best and most agile way we could think of to offer print capability is to export to CSV. This gives you full control over what fields get printed and in what style.

To export a CSV follow these steps:

for contacts...
  1. Create a "Query" or recall a "List"
  2. In the "Use This List" drop-down, click "Export to CSV"
for a task list, when viewing your Task Dashboard, click "Export CSV" from the upper-right corner