How to Import Contacts into CloudNet360
When migrating to any new shopping cart or CRM, such as the business management solution I recommend and support, CloudNet360, I’ve found the idea of importing contacts from old system to new is usually at the back of a person’s mind.
The excitement of finally escaping the confines of a difficult-to-use, overly costly, support laden and feature deficient shopping cart, email auto-responder system or CRM to one that’s easier to use, feature rich, and most importantly sells more…faster, seems to mask the importance of what should be one of the first questions a person has BEFORE even choosing the new business management system. That question is, “You can import my 5,000 contacts right?”
The Five Stages of Importing Contact Data
There are five main stages to moving your data from just about every customer management software to another. The process is pretty much the same whether you are moving to a CRM that includes a shopping cart and auto-responders or even a new accounting system. First you have to get the data into one place so that you can then prepare it for importing. Let’s go through the five steps in detail.
1. Data Gathering
You may be using an email broadcast system like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. Those contacts are stored in one database. Once someone purchases your product or service, the customer’s contact information is stored in another database, maybe a WordPress shopping cart plugin or whatever transaction gateway you’ve been using such as PayPal, Authorize.net or a more involved shopping cart like Infusionsoft or 1ShoppingCart. Then, there is the “off-line” database of customers and contacts you may have stored in Excel, Act!, or even notebooks or a combination of all.
That’s five potential sources of stored data…and you could have even more!
Having multiple databases is common when we talk to a new CloudNet360 subscriber. Fortunately, With CloudNet360, you will NOT need to continue more than one single database ever again!
All of your contacts, opt-ins, member subscribers, off-line and online vendors and suppliers, will be stored inside one main secure web-based location inside the CloudNet360 system. That’s just one of the many advantages you have to look forward to, once using CloudNet360 to manage your business.
While importing into almost any system is very simple in nature, the process only happens quickly when the data is clean. I have yet to receive a file for importing into CloudNet360 that does not require some level of data cleanup, usually requiring the editing of each record. Before the data can be cleaned, it needs to be combined into one main editing file.
2. Data Combining
Once the databases are found, they need to be combined so that the data import technician can work with a single file. Merging multiple database files together can be messy and tricky because the files you export can have different appearances.
For example, one program might export your contacts as First Name and Last Name. Another program might export your database as First AND Last Name combined in one field. Bring in three or four databases worth of contacts that have misaligned fields and you’ve set yourself up for about three or four hour’s worth of data cleanup for every 100 customer contact records.
3. Data Cleaning
Cleaning data (also known in the industry as data cleanup) is the most time consuming action of the contact import process when migrating to a new system. This process involves manually reviewing all of the contact information that has been combined into one file for importing and assuring there is a continuity.
For example, email addresses must all have a .com or .org or some sort of TLD at the end. Sometimes when people place orders or opt-in, they forget to add their entire email address. Phone numbers should all have area codes. Suite and apartment numbers should be in separate fields so that they can be imported to secondary address lines. Lead or customer categories or identifiers need to be saparated by a “|” instead of a comma to be accepted into the CloudNet360 system, but this could require a different separator for other systems.
To properly import your customer contacts into a new system requires someone with exceptional attention to detail and a certain level of stamina to go through the tedious process of reviewing every record in the import file and moving content to the right fields so that your import will be successful the first time around.
4. System Formatting
The tool you are moving to needs to be setup properly to accept the import of data once uploaded. This requires considerable planning with someone very skilled with the system you’re moving to. Skipping this step or trying to jump into using a new system and guessing how this setup should happen could prove to be a complete disaster causing you to have to re-code your customer tracking information even months later.
In the CloudNet360 CRM, there is a convenient feature called “tags” where you can have an unlimited amount of tags to identify historic data from previously used systems. For example, you could tag a customer profile to track:
- Products customers have purchased over the years.
- Membership levels people are subscribed to.
- Workshops attended at different dates and locations.
- Lead sources of origin.
- Interest in your products and services even though the person has not yet purchased.
The application and use of tags could go on for quite a while! The point is that tags are a great way to organize historic data you want to transfer to CloudNet360, whereas that same information may have been hidden inside your other database(s).
5. Data Importing
The last step is to actually import the data. In CloudNet360, there are two main ways to import customer contacts. Then, there’s the “secret” 3rd way.
The first import method allows you to import up to 100 new contacts within a 24-hour period through the CRM administration area. This import method is great for when you attend a conference or speak to a group and you have several business cards full of contact details to import.
The second import method also occurs through your standard login to the CRM administration area where you can import your entire list. The system will auto-generate an acknowledgement email that will send to your entire list asking them to click a link to re-prove their interest in receiving email from you.
This acknowledgement requirement has become the standard among companies that manage the sending of email. Import your email list to Constant Contact, aWeber, Infusionsoft, they’ll all use the same method to make sure you’re not buying a list to send a bunch of spam to.
Of course, you can probably guess that only a small percentage of people will actually take the required step of reconfirming their interest in receiving email from you, even if those subscribers have been with you for years.
One of my clients used one of the leading 3rd party email management systems for more than five years. He built a 6-figure training business with more than 35,000 active subscribers; most attended one or more of his live workshops in the past. One day, he walked in to work to discover the email company decided to lock his account because “8” from his list clicked a link in the outgoing email that said “report this as spam” during one of his routine workshop promotions.
To me, 8 out of 35,000 is a pretty good ratio! The email carrier thought otherwise.
When the email company’s auto-acknowledgment email went out, only 650 people clicked the re-subscribe link. Can you imagine having an active database of 35,000 reduced overnight to just 650? The client was understandably upset. And, he wasn’t even moving his database from one to the next. He was an existing customer of the email system he subscribed to! You may likely experience a similar event when you import thousands of contacts into ANY web-based system that involves email.
But, then, there’s the “secret” import method I told you about. This import method allows you to bring thousands of contacts into CloudNet360 without having the auto-acknowledgement email sent to your list. This is only possible by having CloudNet360 support import the clean file for you.
All you have to do is prove to the CloudNet360 team that you didn’t buy an email list and that your contacts have already given you permission to send them email. You will have much better luck in this action if you use a certified services partner like HereNextYear for the import. I don’t have to give customer record samples or proof of opt-in. I can approach support at any time with an import file and they will import it for me, no questions asked.[Note: The file MUST be clean and formatted in a way that support can easily import the file. CloudNet360 does NOT perform data combining or data cleanup.]
My Formal Recommendations for Importing Contacts Into CloudNet360
With all of these possibilities and steps combined, I’d like to make a few suggestions to serve as a guide through importing your contacts to CloudNet360, whether you hire Here Next Year for services or not. These suggestions include:
- If you have less than 200 customer contacts, consider re-entering your customer records by hand. You’ll save some money and it’s a great way for you to get used to the system.
- If you have more than 500 records, definitely consider paying a qualified technician or company like Here Next Year to perform an import of your contact records. We’ve determined that hand-keying any more than this amount just distracts you from being up and running your new system. Most who have tried to key this many records have taken more than two weeks to accomplish the task. Their result is frustration and work overload.
- If you have between 200 and 500 records, well, your decision to re-key records or pay someone to convert those records to CloudNet360 format will vary depending on your cash flow, need for implementation speed, and how much time you have available to get the job done.
- If you have sentences and paragraphs of notes from a notes field in your CRM, these will NOT transfer automatically to CloudNet360 (or most any other system for that matter). Plan your expectations in advance that you will need to identify key customers so that you will manually copy and paste important notes to the notes field within the CloudNet360 CRM to re-populate notes fields.
- Names of products, services, events attended or anything else that was purchased or given away CAN be identified in the customer records within CloudNet360. We just have to be careful to tag them appropriately and the import process will assign tags to their records. From there, you will be able to run search queries based on items purchased versus non-clients who have not yet purchased from you.
What Can Be Imported into CloudNet360?
Here is a complete list of fields that can be imported into the CloudNet360 system:
Most Common Phone Number
Most Common Mobile Phone Number
Most Common Email Address
Business Company Name
Business Job Title
Business Company Phone
Business Zip Code
Home Zip Code
Tags (This is also where “group” identifications are imported)
Your next step is to review the five recommendations I made above and then export all of your databases into individual .csv files. This will give you a cumulative number of records that will need to be imported into the CloudNet360 system, which CloudNet360 support can help you with from there.
Check out my CloudNet360 Getting Started Guide Here >>