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.