A Smart Way to Manage Your Contact List in Excel

The biggest asset you can acquire, as a business owner and marketer, is the contact list. Growing and cultivating this contact list is one of the most critical things you can do to positively impact your business.

Keeping a good track of your contact database is not altogether difficult for anyone. There are couple of ways to do it. CRM software, notepads, email contact list, and Address books all can do it.  Many business people keep these contact list in Microsoft Word. But what is the best way to move data from one place to another?

The Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Few applications can bridge more gaps than the spreadsheet. The most common spreadsheet programs are:

  1. Microsoft Office Excel
  2. Apple iWork Numbers
  3. Google Drive/Docs Spreadsheets

If you haven’t had any Microsoft Office or Apple iWork installed on your PCs, you can make a spreadsheet for free in Google Docs that can be exported to Excel format or the CSV format.

A Quick Tutorial in Spreadsheets

A basic spreadsheet consists of cells, rows and columns

Cells are the building block of a spreadsheet. They can contain numbers, text, or generally anything.

Rows & Columns
Rows and columns can help you organize and view your data in cells. Rows are the vertical collections, and columns are the horizontal ones.

The most important row for organizing data is most commonly referred to as the “header row”. This is the first row and typically is row #1. The header row allows you to categorize your data in the cells below.

Constructing Your Contact List

Who Can You Add To The Contact List?
Begin with your present and past customers. These are customers who have clearly “opted in” to your services, and you can likely find their contact information rather quickly. Speak to your sales team about any contact list they may have in their possession as well. Most good salespeople will have a good start on a contact list.

One thing to remember when constructing your contact list together is to make sure that the people you add are people who will want to hear from you. These individual should have opted-in in some way. When adding business people to this contact list, don’t over-analyze it. A better way to know if you are handling it right is to simply ask yourself, “Would this person be annoyed to have received an email from me?” This usually covers your bases.

Adding Contacts to your Spreadsheet

You want to use the spreadsheet to intact all your contacts in one place.

The First Name and Last Name should not be stored in a single cell. If you chose to import your database into any CRM or Email Marketing Service, these will need to be two separate fields in your contact database. So it is best to get a clean start now so that you will not have to do any editing eventually.

Here is a starter header for your contact list.

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Company Name
  • Website URL
  • Position
  • Address
  • City
  • State
  • Zip

Your contact list may include different points of data from the above contact list. The best strategy is to create a new column for any separate data point. This may be alternate phone numbers, assistant’s names, or even something specific about their industry.

Preparing your Contact List for Importation

Some email marketing providers will let you to match up your columns aligned with existing fields in each contact record. Which lets you full flexibility in naming your columns.

Other B2B providers require a specific set of header row fields to be used. These fields depend on your b2B service provider, but are commonly just variations of what we just showed above. For example instead of “First Name”, you can use “first name”. In this case, it is recommended that you keep a back-up copy with easily understood header row titles. This will let you the flexibility of creating a copy and simply renaming the header rows (once) before your import. This leaves you with an easily understood master copy for your Contact List.