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Introducing Smart Lists

For the last few years I’ve been in the US building a very small team whose sole focus is on delivering new features that drive additional value to our customer base. Innovations like Online Invoicing and Files have come out of this team. Today I’d like to introduce Smart Lists.

Having run my own small business before starting Xero, and after talking to a lot of our customers over the last eight years, I’ve learned quite a bit about how small businesses work. Actually, both the most amazing, and the most frustrating, thing about building software for small businesses is that while there are a lot of similarities across small business, every business is unique in some way. It’s beautiful. And the reason why we wanted to build them beautiful software.

When I ran a business the one thing that always struck me was how hard it was to find new customers. It was much easier making my existing customers extremely happy so that we could do repeat business. What I’ve realized is that for many small businesses, this is their prefered approach. In fact, according to Bain & Company, it costs six–seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. This is a key metric for small businesses of all types, and it highlights the importance of the connection you have with your existing customer base.

We’ve built Smart Lists because marketing to your existing customer is important. Smart Lists is all about unlocking the treasure trove of information you store in Xero about your customers – what they’ve purchased, how much they’ve spent, the last time you invoiced them, where they’re located and so on.

Smart Lists is essentially an advanced search over your existing customer base, using the accounting platform as the search engine. This search lets you generate highly targeted lists that you can then use to sell to, chase for payment, gather information about, or basically anything else you want!

Many small businesses don’t have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. With Smart Lists, you’re able to communicate with organisations that are already your customers, using the data you’re updating everyday – it’s far less hit and miss.

You can use Smart Lists to create a targeted list for a campaign by filtering by people who have bought a certain product, or who have been invoiced for a certain amount.

Here are some ideas:

  • Identify customers who have purchased a product from you, who may be interested in a new product you now have available.
  • Find all those customers who haven’t paid an invoice in the past few months, so you can follow-up with them and improve your cash flow.
  • See how many customers you have in a particular city or region, helping you understand your customer base and use as the basis of a targeted marketing or sales effort.

Once you have created a list of customers you can export it to a CSV file (at which point you can do whatever they want with it, such as sending the customers an email from your email system), or directly push it to a third party email engine.

Today we’re launching a direct integration from Smarts List to Constant Contact. We’ve worked with them to seamlessly link Smart Lists to their Email Marketing platform. By connecting your Constant Contact account to Smart Lists you can drive highly targeted email marketing campaigns directly out of Xero.

And we haven’t forgotten our add-on partners: we’re working on adding Smart Lists to the Xero API so you can leverage this functionality in your own solutions.

We’d love to know what you think of Smart Lists and what we can do to improve it for you. Let the comments rain!

In addition to Smart Lists, we’ve also released a number of additional features today, which we talk about here.

As always, please refer to our release notes for more information.

 

 

Read more about Accountants

 

34 comments

Karla Hourigan
23 June 2014 #

This is a fantastic new feature!! A small feature that would enhance this is to include an ‘equals to’ option when filtering on amounts
Good work #xero

Colleen Stromei
23 June 2014 #

Great innovation! Would love to see the Overdue option expanded to allow for searching on customisable days e.g. between 21 and 28 days . Providing an Email button from within the Smart Reports would allow for quick follow up of Accounts Payable. Maybe email templates could also be set up so the message for Payables could be tailored to the length of debt and an note added to the invoice of when and which message was sent.

Jack Pivac
23 June 2014 #

Is it possible to use the field “Customer usually pays within x days” somehow? So we can locate the poor payers?

Terri Hackney
23 June 2014 #

A great new feature, this will make my life allot easier when sending out my monthly newsletters and special offers. Thanks again for making things easy Xero :)

Jan Ross
23 June 2014 #

Wonderful. Just wish you’d gone one step further and made it suitable for new clients too.

Gayle Buchanan
23 June 2014 #

Superstars .. poof more dust in the eyes of the competition

Angela Wright
23 June 2014 #

Brilliant! Please will you also integrate with the best autoresponder system of them all, Ontraport? The baby version (which is quite enough for most businesses) is http://www.bit.ly/Sendpepper – only $29.95/month and far more functionality (and easier to use) tthan most systems, including Constant Contact (sorry!) Thanks for this new Smart Lists function – we love Xero.

Jon Scriven
23 June 2014 #

Who is setting priorities for this organisation? Although there is nothing wrong with this feature, I have no idea why it would be completed in front of other, more basic and useful functions

Trevor Miller
23 June 2014 #

Shame that the basics such as inventory, warehousing, job costing etc etc just aren’t there.

Tory
23 June 2014 #

So can this be used to identify overdue invoices and then send out automated reminders? It seems like perhaps it has the potential to, since this is really the chink in Xero’s armour for me at this point.

Colin
23 June 2014 #

Great feature guys – Thanks!

Stephen Paul
23 June 2014 #

A amazing new feature that will certainly add new sales to our clients and ourselves

Xero is such a amazing tool but to make this sort of integration of the data and then be able to push that straight into a marketing tool makes the process so much simpler and quicker then before

Really unexpected upgrade and very much appreciated

Keep up the great work

Andrew
23 June 2014 #

This may appear to be a small feature, but used well, with a smart email/CRM automation tool – it could generate significant sales for small business, giving them the sort of intel usually only big business with sophisticated systems and data management enjoy. And by being able to profile a customer’s product purchases, you can serve back more relevant comms …which will make those customers love you that much more

Ian Wilson
23 June 2014 #

Nice feature but I would like to do more with the list within Xero rather than just being able to export it. Let me send statements directly from it.

Uzair Kharawala
23 June 2014 #

Is it possible to link the smart list to Mailchimp. This would be a great add-on too.
Thank you.

Eva
23 June 2014 #

Awesome. Just awesome. Can’t wait to try it out!

Simon
23 June 2014 #

Hi,

A great addition to this would be to be able to use them for Statements. It is hard work avoid sending chaser e-mails to people who pay Direct Debit for example, whereas if customers were in groups selectable by the statement selector it’d be much easier.

cheers
Simon

Phill
23 June 2014 #

This is amazing! As usual, the Xero team put their effort into sexy features rather than building in the essentials, like being able to export your invoices as a CSV file… or, in fact, any table-view into CSV. As a developer I know this isn’t sexy, but it *is* really useful to your users, and as a dev I know it’s actually not that hard to do — you’re already producing the table, it’s very little extra work to reformat that as CSV for download.

I spent an afternoon trying to get a simple list of my invoices for last year out of the system and in the end gave up and built the CSV by hand, just so I could get some idea of what tax I’ll owe. That’s ridiculous.

C’mon guys, learn from your community. Exporting as CSV is a common action, and your users want this.

Hamish
23 June 2014 #

Great new features team- keep them coming! If there was an option to be able to show any notes that you have made on outstanding invoices (i.e comments from customers about when they might pay) it would be almost perfect.

Scott Mooney
24 June 2014 #

Still not quotes!!

Craig Walker
24 June 2014 #

Thanks for all the comments – I’m loving the feedback.

@Karla Thanks! Will add “equals” to the list.

@Colleen Everything you’re asking for is definitely coming. Will have to think about the customizable days option though – so that would be between 21 and 28 days old?

@Jack Now you’re getting into more business intelligence stuff. Very cool – but a little beyond the scope of what I can generate through the current search engine. Will add that to the list though!

@Angela We’ll be integrating with MailChimp and Campaign Monitor first. However we will also be opening up Smart Lists through our API so that any CRM/email marketing tool could utilize the lists without us having to do a direct integration. That’s probably the best course of action for products like Ontraport. Will update this blog when we have the API live.

@Jon We have other teams working on these things – today we released more than just Smart Lists: http://www.xero.com/blog/2014/06/todays-release/ My specific team is very small and we don’t pull resources from other teams to get stuff like this built. I understand your frustration – was surprised this wasn’t the first comment to be honest ;)

@Tory Great minds think alike…

@Uzair MailChimp support is coming.

@Ian @Simon This has been definitely been thought about. Statements in general need some love. So what you’re both suggesting is on the list – just not pirorizted yet.

@Phill World’s greatest back-handed comment compliment ever! I’ll take the “this is amazing” :) Actually I believe Sniper have something in the wings for this…

@Hamish Not sure what you want here? But

@Scott I’m guessing saying it’s coming is not what you want to hear? ;)

Denise Strong
24 June 2014 #

Hi,
I’ve been having a look at the smart list and it was great to see a list of all our clients within a particular contact group, but is it possible to create an export to Excel function so that the dollar value is also included. We have individual clients that are grouped according to the referring architect and I would love to be able to produce monthly reports of the dollar value of each referring architect. Do you think this will happen in the near future?
Thanks
Denise Strong

Yoni Risqilana
25 June 2014 #

Best !!

Dean
25 June 2014 #

Great. Now let’s spend some time on features and capabilities that people, users, are actually asking for. Go the the Community for some ideas!

Georgia Sinclair
25 June 2014 #

Great innovation
What would improve it further is a memo-type field to put in notes about conversations as many sales occur after dialogue over a period in time. If different members of the team are dealing with the dialogue at different times, then they all need to know that the others have said!

Derek Mckee
25 June 2014 #

Hi, now that all my customers are loaded on Xero, it makes sence for me to have a fields for servicing those customers or when I last saw them .
I service them currently every 16 – 32 weeks, Is there a field that will record when I do this as well as allerting when they are due for a service, as this would alliminate another data base.
Cheers
Derek

Derek
27 June 2014 #

I’m with Hamish, I cant get a copy of a years worth of invoices – I didn’t think I needed them, but I had a VAT inspection a few weeks ago and they “suggested” quite strongly that I have a full set on hand to avoid a fine in future. Too bad it’s not an option – why is that?

Derek %-)

Larry
27 June 2014 #

I firstly agree with Hamish regarding the payment notes and am somewhat concerned to note Derek’s comment. I’ve been printing hard copies but thought that this coming year I’d go “paperless”. That doesn’t sound an option anymore unless Xero can give us the functionality to print all invoices in one go in case of need.

Heather Smith
30 June 2014 #

Thanks for the new feature.

If you don’t use ITEMS what do you sent the three item fields/boxes to to generate an accurate result. I’m going around in circles. e.g. I want to generate a list of someone whose not purchased in the last 6 months? (ignoring items)

Also do we have any special Xero Constant Contact promo deal?

Thanks.

Heather Smith
30 June 2014 #

PS The likeness to someone quite Orangilicious in the video did not go unmissed :)

Heather Smith
1 July 2014 #

Ignore my ‘search’ comment – I figured it out

Phil
1 July 2014 #

@Xero – While this latest feature may serve a purpose to some users I would like you to consider this. Xero went live over 7 years ago and there are still obvious things missing with fundamental accounting processes. Every new update that introduces new functions before fixing the fundamentals, at this point can only be taken as an insult to Xero’s users. It’s physical evidence that Xero cannot see the wood from the trees, or maybe they do and they don’t care.

Kristen
3 July 2014 #

Great for marketing but I use xero for chasing debtors and what I need is to be able to use either smart lists or my contact lists for targeting clients who owe us money. At the moment it’s a bit frustrating having to open up the contact list, then go in to sales and sift through the particular group of clients I’m targetting that day to send statements to. We have “good” clients on 20th of the month terms and everyone else as payment first, but there’s no way to separate the two when sending statements. I also find it frustrating that I can’t easily print my contact list either. If you could add a button so I could print either the smart list or the contact list that would be a start. I’m a little disappointed that smart lists isn’t what I thought it would be in respect to debtors.

ben
3 July 2014 #

Would be great if you could add conditions for specific accounts.
then we can run reports like this for our wholesales and consignments that are Paid or Unpaid to our agents.

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