One on One: Gail Goodman of Constant Contact

Welcome to another in our One on One series of conversations with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact, spoke with Brent Leary in this interview, which has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, page down to the loudspeaker icon at the end of the post.

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One on One: Gail Goodman of Constant Contact

Small Business Trends: Constant Contact has been around for a number of years, but just recently, you acquired a company called Bantam Live, which is well known for social CRM, particularly at the small business end. Before we discuss that news, can you tell me a bit about Constant Contact?

Gail Goodman: Constant Contact helps small businesses, nonprofits and associations stay connected to their customers using great-looking email campaigns, running events, online surveys and, increasingly, social media. It’s all about staying connected with the customer.

Small Business Trends: Why did Constant Contact make the move to buy a social CRM company?

Gail Goodman: We have over 400,000 small business customers who use our products to communicate with customers. That communication is increasingly extending from email to social media. Those conversations are staying alive longer because they move to social. We like to say, “Email lights the fire and social fans the flame.”

As [small businesses] move over to social, we were hearing, “I want to be able to remember which customers were engaged with me and what those conversations were about and have a more comprehensive view of where my contacts are connecting with me.” Social CRM is the answer. Bantam Live has a small business and social CRM focus–it was a perfect fit.

Small Business Trends: What will Constant Contact and Bantam Live customers gain from the acquisition?

Gail Goodman: For current Constant Contact customers, as we integrate this technology, they will have a more comprehensive view of their engagement with their contact database. Their contact database will become a living platform where they can see who is most engaged and least engaged, which audiences like which kinds of content, and which kinds of content drive the most conversation and the most viral social reach.

For the Bantam Live folks, on top of the great social CRM platform they already have, we will be bringing them a suite of applications to drive further engagement. Social CRM gives you a great view, but how do you engage, how do you start dialogues? Being able to drive email campaigns, surveys or invitations to targeted groups gives them a powerful set of tools to take advantage of the social CRM insights they’re already getting.

Small Business Trends: You speak a lot about contact, content and insights. Can you talk a little bit about that mix and how the move you just made helps small businesses get that triad together?

Gail Goodman: We all know what contacts are, right? I think most small businesses [understand] that making the most out of every connection, whether it starts with a purchase or a conversation, is the beginning of a relationship. If you do it right, that turns into repeat sales, word-of-mouth referrals and advocacy. The only way that happens is if you connect with them with information and content. If it’s all about what’s in it for you, nothing happens.

Modern marketing is all about using content, typically content that adds value to the audience, thought leadership that engages the audience and establishes you as the expert. That’s where content comes in. What makes content engaging is relevancy. You need to connect the contact information with the content information. Contacts are the people, content is how I connect to the people, and insights are how I learn what worked and what didn’t at both the campaign level and the individual contact level so I can continue to drive better engagement, which drives better business.

Small Business Trends: You’ve said social CRM will be a foundational piece moving forward with Constant Contact. How would you describe that?

Gail Goodman: We believe that no matter what you are doing to stay connected with and engage your customers, you need that social CRM view to do that correctly. Even if you are saying; “Boy, I’m not sure I want to be a social media marketing maven. My email newsletter is continuing to stay connected, and that’s all I want to do,” you still want to take that content for your newsletter and give it social reach. Make sure you’re following the preferences of your audience; they might move from email as their preferred channel to social as their preferred channel.

Whether you are leading with social or leading with email or leading with face-to-face, know the right places to follow up, and track the level of engagement of each individual. We believe that social CRM, from whatever angle you come into that world, is the foundational element on which every [business] should be beginning to build.

Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about social CRM, Bantam Live and Constant Contact?

Gail Goodman: Start at the Constant Contact website. In particular, Constant Contact/social media is an anchor page to lots of things we’re doing in social, and there is a great link to Bantam Live information from there.

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.

Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.