In a digital world, it is easy to think of contact management as something that has become complex and difficult. What used to be as simple as thumbing through a rolodex, or scribbling a note on the back of a business card has morphed into entire applications dedicated to tracking and managing customer relationships.

While CRM software might seem intimidating, the truth is that the heart of contact management has remained the same: maintain personal relationships, collect information, and leverage your knowledge.

Despite these fundamental truths, many businesses drop the ball on contact management because it has been hard, time-consuming work. However, marketing automation means it no longer has to be.

Integrating with marketing automation is one simple step you can take to enhance these 4 areas of contact management:

Optimizing Customer Interaction

Of course, customer interaction is at the heart of contact management. Not only does interaction with the customer provide a chance for you to learn valuable information about them, but it provides a sense of reassurance to clients that they are more than just another account. Marketing automation makes customer interaction easy by providing an opportunity to create more customized points of engagement that make customers feel unique. Best of all, this automation can be done quickly and with little specialized training.

For instance, you can automatically add a customer to an email campaign after they visit a specific page on your website.  Or, you can email a promotion to all of your customers who are interested in specific solution category you offer.

Marketing automation tracks customer behavior on your website and tracks their interactions with your emails as well.  This gives you plenty of data points to provide customized messaging and timely offers.  As a result, the customer feels special and you improve conversion efficiency.

Making Sense of Contacts and Relationships

Anyone who has been in business long enough has encountered a unique problem: managing a huge amount of contacts. A combination of regular business and networking (both traditional and social) can lead to a digital address book that runneth over. Even if you have a handle on your contacts, sharing your bank of knowledge on each contact with your employees can also be a challenge. Fortunately, one of the best parts of automation software is how it enhances your contact management.

The first obstacle to managing contacts is getting their information in one place.  With marketing automation, it’s easy to collect and organize contacts. Not only can you capture the basics – like name, title, email address and company – you can automatically append important info to their record. For instance, you can track which lead sources your contacts are coming from.

As your relationship continues, marketing automation can keep a record of correspondence with contacts. Ultimately, more automated data means there is less room for human error. Everyone – from you to your sales person and your marketing assistant – has the information they need to leverage contacts and relationships in profitable ways. As with other automation features, this simplifies a process that would otherwise consume much time, allowing you to focus more on the big picture.

Calibrating Communication Frequency

When it comes to communicating with your contacts, determining how much – or how little – to contact them is of paramount importance. After all, if contacts feel annoyed by constant emails, they are as likely to ignore your emails as they are to trash physical junk mail. But if your contact with them becomes too sporadic, you lose that vital feeling of a shared relationship.

This is where marketing automation can be a big help: Not only does it let you set specific contact frequencies for specific segments of your contacts, but it allows you to better determine where the customer is in the sales funnel. Marketing automation allows you to identify, for instance, who is in a “buying” cycle and who is in a “maintenance” cycle and to customize both the frequency and content of your communication accordingly.

Learning From Customers

Another cornerstone of contact management may as well be the first commandment of sales: never stop learning from your customers. Every casual lunch or shared elevator ride, for instance, provides an opportunity to gain new insight that you can leverage at a later time. As more and more communication becomes digital, marketing automation provides an opportunity to learn more than ever before. Instead of only knowing what a client vocally shares with you, you will be able to get detailed information about the emails they respond to and the pages they visit. Ultimately, this lets you gather enough information to create distinct segments of customers and to target them with information, tools, and services that are immediately relevant to their needs.

Marketing automation is a powerful tool when it comes to contact management.  But how do you get the two systems to work together?  If it’s time to upgrade your CRM or you’re looking into CRM for the first time, consider options that integrate both CRM and marketing automation in one app.  Contact management has evolved to meet the digital habits of consumers, but the heart of it is the same. When you add marketing automation to the mix, you can build more lucrative and satisfying relationships with your leads, prospects and customers.