Thursday, July 4, 2013

Email Marketing in Act!: Which option to choose?

We recently compared two of the leading e-marketing choices for Act! users - Swiftpage and MailChimp. Below is the summary of our analysis, you can download the full comparison document here.


If we were to evaluate Swiftpage and MailChimp based on email marketing features only then MailChimp would be the clear winner. It has an extremely intuitive user interface, flexible pricing with a generous free plan, as well as lots of well-built features and integrations. MailChimp also provide proactive, targeted education to help users improve campaign results and are continuously introducing new useful features and addons to enhance the user experience.

However, when we also consider integration to Act! most businesses will choose Swiftpage.

Swiftpage’s integration to Act! from a list & campaign management perspective is excellent. The fact that users don’t have to manage multiple contact lists, and can send emails from within Act! is a huge time saver. Integration with Smart Tasks is also a useful feature and has a positive impact on overall workflow.

Unfortunately choosing Swiftpage means that businesses will be faced with an interface that leaves you guessing where to find things, an outdated template editor and shallow features. Unless you have experience with HTML and CSS the Swiftpage template editor will be a challenge to use and you might benefit from investing in a web developer or using a 3rd party template editor such as Dreamweaver.

Overall Swiftpage is a dated platform; this is reinforced by the fact that Swiftpage is not compatible with Chrome or recent versions of Firefox.

If you have a reasonably static list and that did not use the autoresponder feature could use the MailChimp integration successfully. In doing so you would not only benefit from MailChimp’s advanced features but also benefit from improved analytics available in Act! through the integration. As the analytics are stored in a custom table in Act! they can easily be reported on using a third party addons such as Smart Dash by Xact Software.

Both e-marketing solutions discussed here will result in a compromise and at the end of the day the right e-marketing solution will depend on whether you value integration to Act! or an easy to use, fully featured e-marketing tool.

Monday, July 1, 2013

How Safe is your CRM Data?

In the light of increase in natural disasters, changes to technology and human error we thought it would be useful to open up a discussion about data loss (with specific emphasis on CRM data) and how to prevent it.

Why Preventing Data Loss is Important

For many businesses, the information in their CRM is priceless because it stores all of the key information about their customers. Without it, sales people would have to rely on other data sources such as accounting and email systems to piece together key information about their clients. This would result in a significant loss in productivity and can negatively impact customer service and sales.

Data loss can occur as a result of a variety of factors including:
  • Natural Disasters & other sources of physical damage (e.g. earthquakes, hurricanes, theft & fire)
  • Viruses & IT System Failures (e.g. server crash)
  • Other Software (e.g. updates & integrations not installing correctly or corrupting your data)
  • Human Error (e.g. bulk updating or deleting contacts)

Ways to keep your CRM data safe

  1. Regularly back up your database: How often you do this may vary depending on how extensively you use your CRM with most businesses choosing to backup daily (you should be able to continue using your CRM while you are running your backup).
  2. Test your backups: How confident are you that your backups will run as they should, first time? The only way you can be sure is to test after each backup, and also if there have been changes to your machines (e.g. after installing addons, service packs, updates to your CRM or other software that affects it such as firewalls and major windows updates, or updates to your hardware)
  3. Store your backups in a safe place: There are many alternatives for storing your backups, the important thing to ensure is that the backup is not stored in the same location as your current database and that it is protected. If you are considering using a cloud storage provider have a read of their security policy first.
  4. Backup your backups: For some businesses having multiple backups is essential, simply follow the same rules as above for protecting your backups.
  5. Perform regular maintenance: To ensure that your database continues to run smoothly and efficiently it is advisable that you regularly run database maintenance tools such as re-indexing and deleting obsolete data.

Backing up your ACT! database

For information on how to backup and restore your database read this knowledgebase article. Please note that different procedures apply depending on your version of ACT! and your setup so be sure to read the article carefully.

If you would like to set ACT! to automatically backup your database you can do this using the ACT! Scheduler, details on how to set this up can be found here.

ACT! preventative maintenance

As described above there are a few ways you can maintain your database...
  • Check & Repair: This process checks for any errors in your database and repairs them, and also re-organizes the database storage area to increase access speed.
  • Remove Old Data: You can use the ACT! Database maintenance tools to selectively remove data older than “x” days from your database.

For more information on ACT! preventative maintenance including instructions on running the ACT! Diagnostic utility read this knowledgebase article.

Always ensure you have read and understood all the instructions before running any backup process or diagnostic utility. If you are unsure about performing these tasks yourself contact your ACT! Consultant.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Google Apps integration to Act!

As more and more businesses move to the cloud for email, document storage and other key business functions there is an increasing desire to improve the way that Act! talks to online applications.

At Xact Software we have long been aware that integration to Act! needs to be simpler; this was one of the motivations for building the XData API which was released back in June 2011.

One of the key functions of XData is to enable Act! to connect to third party, cloud-based applications, and today we want to show you that it is possible using a few snippets of code to integrate Google Apps with Act! using Google Scripts and XData. Google scripts is a development platform that enables you to utilize Google services (Docs, Gmail, Calendar etc) and access data stored in Google. By simply creating a Google Script and adding some intelligence we are able to trigger XData functions.

At the end of the day the more complex the function, the more complex the code. Given this, we mocked up three simple integrations to give you an idea of what can be done. The code is all real, just not refined for end-user consumption.

Our three examples are as follows:
  1. Create a new contact in Act! using data collected from a Google Form in real time 
  2. Import your Act! contact list to a Google Spreadsheet in real time 
  3. Attach an email, sent from Gmail, to Act! History in real time 

Take a look at our Tech Demo to see the integration in action!

As we've mentioned these are just to give you a taste of what can be done. In addition to this we know that there is much more functionality that you can add including:
  • Attach an inbound email from Gmail to Act! History - plus have options for creating new records if the email address cannot be found, or updating existing records for example if someone has emailed you from a new email address 
  • Attach an email from Gmail including all of its attachments to Act! History 
Google scripts work with most of the common Google services and new functionality is being added (from Google’s end) all the time so watch this space!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Microsoft Office & Act!

There has been a lot of discussion recently about ACT!’s compatibility with some of the latest Microsoft Office applications, specifically Office 2013 (refer this Act! Community post), so we thought we'd provide some clarification based on what we know.

Let's start with the facts:
  • Microsoft offers Office 365 and Office 2013
  • Office 365 is available as a web only or a web + desktop solution (aka "Office 365 Small Business Premium")
  • Office 2013 is desktop only but is available as a full download or as a click-to-run (CTR) application
  • Office 365 on the desktop is not the same as Office 2013 (full download or CTR)
  • According to the Act! 2013 system requirements neither Office 365 or Office 2013 is supported

Now let's look at the issues:
  • Based on feedback from the ACT! Community groups most people are not able to satisfactorily run Office 2013 (full download or CTR) with ACT! 2013
  • The issues and environments that people are reporting are varied and the ACT! Support Team are having difficulty replicating the issues - making it difficult to pinpoint the problem (funny enough they seem to have Office 2013 working with ACT! 2013)
  • From what we understand no one seems to have successfully run Office 365 (desktop install) with ACT! 2013

What next
Our advice is that it is best to avoid upgrading to Office 365 or Office 2013 at this stage as neither of these will be supported in the next release of Act! (2014). Swiftpage (the owners of Act!) is aware that there is a problem and is working to resolve it. 

Always check your system requirements before upgrading any software/application.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Email Marketing in ACT! - The Basics

We've recently experienced an increase in the number of people inquiring about e-marketing from ACT!

E-marketing differs from standard "mail merge" in that it provides a feedback loop, enabling you to measure the performance of your emails by looking at open rates and engagement. In this blog we walk through the basics of e-marketing.

Send what to who and when

The first thing you need to think about is what kind of e-marketing you want to do and how often your emails will be sent. For example do you want to send a regular newsletter, announce product/service updates, advertise events/promotions etc?

The next thing you will need to do is decide who will get your emails and whether the message needs to change depending on factors such as location, product interest etc. - this process is called segmentation.

Setting up your database

Before you can segment your database you need to ensure your database is set up to store relevant contact data and organise your contacts for easy reference. For example you may wish to:
  • Set up a check box field that identifies whether a contact is to receive your emails
  • Set up an unsubscribe field so you can track which contacts no longer want to hear from you
  • Ensure that there are fields available for storing any other information that will be used as segmentation criteria (e.g. location, product interest)
  • Set dynamic groups for each of your segments - the criteria for your groups would include "where the subscriber field is checked" and "where the unsubscribe field is not checked" plus any other relevant criteria

Integrating E-marketing with ACT!

There are a number of e-marketing solutions that can integrate with ACT! Listed below are two that we think are worth considering. Each of these have different features, pricing and levels of integration to ACT!
  • Swiftpage: Swiftpage is the most highly integrated solution to ACT! It's plans start at $14.95 USD per month however most businesses will benefit from the Pro plan at $44.95 USD per month.
  • Mailchimp: Mailchimp is easy to use and has a huge range of flexibility and integrates with a range of other web services such as Wufoo and SurveyMonkey. It is also competitively priced with most businesses benefiting from the "forever free" plan, and other businesses normally fitting within the $30 or $50 USD per month plans. The integration with ACT! is sold by a third-party developer for $99.95 USD (one off cost) and is not as complex as Swiftpage but is suitable for most businesses requirements.

E-Marketing best practices

Now that your database and e-marketing service is set up it's time to run your first campaign. Below are some tips'n'tricks for sending effective emails:
  • Comply with the law: clearly state how people got onto your mailing list, how they can remove themselves from the list (i.e. unsubscribe) and your physical address on EVERY email you send.
  • Watch out for spam filters: certain text, icons and phrases in your emails can fast-track your emails to your recipients spam box - read this article to learn how to avoid spam filters.
  • Design for readability: make sure your emails look good regardless of the recipient's screen size and whether images are turned on or off. If available you can also run an inbox inspection before sending to see how your emails appear in different email clients and devices.
  • Include a call to action: Tell people what you want them to do once they have read your email. For example "get a free trial today!" or "visit our website for more info". If you want to get fancy you can use tracking software to see how many recipients respond to your call to action.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Using CRM for Effective Lead Management

A recent article by CRM Solutions highlighted 8 factors to consider when evaluating CRM for effective lead management. Using this article we have presented below 4 ways that businesses can use ACT! to improve lead management.

Effective Lead management in ACT!

  1. Capture all the information you need, including the sources of your leads
    Most leads are not ready to purchase on the day they are first contacted. Capturing all the information you require to help your leads will ensure you are better prepared when it comes time to contact them again. Understanding where your leads are coming from is also important to help identify where to look for new leads.

    How to achieve this in ACT!:
    • Make sure all of the data you want to capture can be placed in appropriate fields – if required, create your own fields and place them strategically in your layout.
    • Make key fields compulsory, doing this means data has to be entered in the field before a contact record can be saved.
    • Always ask your leads how they heard about you and record this in a “Lead source” field.

  2. Determine which leads are most worthwhile to your business
    All leads are not created equal. Evaluating leads using criteria defined and understood by the entire business can help sales people focus on the leads with the highest potential for success.

    How to achieve this in ACT!:
    • Score leads according to their level of motivation & committment to purchase. For example an “A” lead would be highly motivated whereas a “D” lead would not be.
    • Use the ACT! Opportunities area to determine what stage of the sales pipeline your lead is in and the potential value of the sale. When prioritising sales efforts use the Stage and Weighted Value fields to determine which leads are worth pursuing.

  3. Nurture leads by keeping regular contact and providing useful information
    Leads that have high potential but are not yet ready to purchase must be nurtured. To do this businesses must understand where they are in their decision making process and provide the right information at the right time.

    How to achieve this in ACT!:
    • Sign leads up to your newsletter and/or use drip-marketing - where you send a series of emails containing small, useful pieces of information to help them with their decision.
    • Use Smart Tasks to ensure leads are contacted regularly. You may wish to use the lead score as a criteria. For example, follow up all "A" leads if last reach is more than 1 month, and follow up all "D" leads if last reach is more than 6 months.
    • Continually evaluate your leads motivation to buy and modify their score accordingly.

  4. Report on key business metrics & use this to improve your processes
    All businesses use past information to make decisions about the future. You can use ACT! Reporting tools and addons to identify patterns and set benchmarks for lead conversion and sales. For example use reports to:
    • Identify which lead source is the most effective (# of leads, value of sales)
    • Determine how long it takes a typical lead to convert to a customer and see if this is influenced by the product/service or lead source
    • See which sales people are converting the most leads and generating the most sales
    • Identify seasonal buying patterns to find out which months are best for sales

    How to achieve this in ACT!:
    Some of the reports detailed above can be generated using the native ACT! Dashboard and Report writer however some of the more advanced reports might require a reporting addon such as Smart Dash.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How useful is your CRM data?

According to an article from at least 25% of most companies data is probably inaccurate and 50% of companies are not satisfied with their current CRM programmes for just this reason - lack of data integrity.

Ensuring that the data in your CRM is accurate is important for many reasons - most importantly because having inaccurate data can undermine your sales & marketing activities and can also be a major cause of frustration for your staff and your customers.

In particular having unreliable data in your CRM can cause staff to lose confidence in the product and become a contributor to the problem by not taking the effort to enter/update new data.

Ways to ensure data accuracy in ACT!

Before you are able to overcome data integrity issues it is important to identify the source (or sources) of the problem. For example, are staff too busy to update contact records? Is there enough fields to store all the data you want to collect? Once you have done this you can come up with a solution to improve data integrity and can train your staff accordingly.

Below is a few ways data inaccuracy can be overcome in ACT!

1. Establishing good data entry habits
  • Search to see if a contact exists in your database before creating it by performing a lookup of the contacts name, company and/or email. Be sure to try different search criteria just in case the existing data is not correct or spelled differently.
  • Use identifiers when bulk importing new data. For example create a column in your CSV file called "source" and enter the data source in each row, then map this column to an empty field in ACT! such as "User 1". Once the data is imported you will be able to re-create the imported list in ACT! and can compare it to existing data.
  • Spend 1 minute after each activity entering relevant information into ACT! and cleaning up records with inaccurate data. Entering new data at the time you are presented with it is faster and easier than trying to remember it later on.

2. Utilize ACT!'s Tools
  • Make sure there is a place to store all the information you want to collect about your customers by creating the right fields and organizing them in your layout. For example, we use a custom tab to store all of the relevant information about our customer's IT environment.
  • Create compulsory fields to ensure that vital information is captured when a new contact is created. Make sure that the number of compulsory fields is manageable and that allowances are made for data that is unknown. At Xact we have compulsory fields for "Name", "ID/Status" and "City".
  • Format fields to make data entry easier. For example, set a default country in your country field, set phone number fields to display in the correct format and set important fields to write to ACT! history when changes/updates are made.

3. Regular check-ups
  • Run the duplicate checker from the Tools menu. Be sure to mix and match your criteria as ACT! will only match exact phrases. For example, Xact Software Ltd would NOT match to Xact Software Limited.
  • Use dynamic groups to identify missing or incorrect data. For example, we use groups to identify contacts with no email address and company names that contain Ltd rather than Limited. 
  • Backup your database. A recent backup of your database is useful just in case someone accidentally overrides or deletes a large portion of your data (or in case of damage, viruses, natural disasters etc.). Just remember to test your backups and store them in a different location (and preferably on a different media such as an external hard drive).

What data accuracy issues does your organisation face or has experienced in the past? What ways have you used ACT! to maintain data accuracy? Post your comments below!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Social Media Management in ACT!

So far we have explored 4 free online tools that you can implement to ACT! using the Web Info tab. In our fourth and final post for this series we will explore different ways for implementing and managing social media in ACT!

Social Media Management with Hootsuite

Hootsuite is an online dashboard tool that collaborates all of your social networks in one place. Within Hootsuite you can monitor your social feeds, schedule posts to your social media accounts and report on social media performance.

Learn more about Hootsuite and sign up for a free account on their website

How to implement it to ACT!
  1. Simply create a new Web Info link that looks like this: “” 
  2. The first time you click on the Web Info link you will be asked to log in to Hootsuite – once you’ve done this you can use Hootsuite as you normally would from within ACT! The result will look something like this: 

Viewing Social Media Profiles in ACT!

In the latest hotfix release for ACT! 2013 the Social Updates tab was introduced. This tab is a great way for businesses to view and interact with their contacts’ social media profiles from within ACT!

The key feature of this new tool is the “Remember this page” button. Users simply search for the right profile within each platform and click this button to save the profile.

At the moment the Social Updates tab only supports Facebook and LinkedIn – so if you want to view your ACT! contacts social media profiles from other platforms (such as Twitter) or if you’re not ready to update to ACT! 2013 there is a workaround available.

How to implement it to ACT!
  1. Create new fields in ACT! called “LinkedIn Profile”, “Twitter Profile” etc. 
  2. Create new links in the Web Info tab using the URL Snippet plus Merge Tag method*. For example: “{LinkedIn Profile}”, “{Twitter Profile}” etc. 
  3. Find your contacts’ social media profiles and copy/paste the relevant URL snippet into the corresponding fields in ACT! The result would look like this:

*Alternatively you could just use the merge tags for the Web Info links and copy/paste the entire URL to these fields rather than the snippets. Just be careful that the URL’s don’t exceed the character limits on your ACT! fields.

That’s it for this blog series – we’d love to know if you have implemented any of our ideas and how successful they have been. Post your comments below.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cloud Storage and E-Marketing in ACT!

In our last blog post we introduced the idea of using free online tools from within ACT! via the Web Info tab, and showed you how to set up your database to implement these ideas.

 In this post we will cover how you can access documents and files stored on the web, and view your contacts e-marketing profiles all from within ACT!

Part 4: Cloud Storage with Google Docs

Cloud storage is becoming a new way for businesses to host all of their data and many people view this as a great way to promote collaboration, support remote workers and keep their documents and files safely backed up.

There are numerous cloud storage providers our there (such as Dropbox,, and Google Docs) – all of these providers offer a free plan and have quite competitive pricing.

In this example we’re going to show you how you can display folders and files from Google Drive in ACT! This strategy should also work with the other cloud storage providers.

How to implement it to ACT!
  1. Create a field in ACT! called “Online Folder”
  2. Create a new link in the Web Info tab so that it looks like this: “ {Online Folder}”
  3. Go to the folder/file that you want to link to the ACT! Record, click on the checkbox to the left (rather than opening it) and go to “More > Share > Share”. You will then be presented with a screen that displays all your sharing and privacy options for that folder/file including a URL link.
  4. Copy and paste the appropriate URL segment into the “Online Folder” field.
  5. Next time you navigate to this contact and click on the relevant Web Info link you will be able to see the folder/file from within ACT! Depending on the level of access that has been applied to the folder/file you may also be able to edit it. The result will look something like this:

Part 5: E-Marketing

Most e-marketing services store profiles of your contacts that include basic contact details and activity history including which emails they have been sent and how they have interacted with them (e.g. opens and clicks). If your e-marketing system isn’t integrated to ACT! and you would like to see your contacts e-marketing activity from within ACT! you can do this using the Web Info tab.

In our example we are using MailChimp.

How to implement it to ACT!
  1. Create a field in ACT! called “MailChimp Profile”
  2. Create a new link in the Web Info tab so that it looks like this: “{MailChimp Profile}”
  3. For each contact in ACT! that is also in MailChimp copy/paste the URL snippet to the “MailChimp Profile” field.
  4. Now each time you’re on a contacts profile who is also on your send list, you can see what MailChimp campaigns they have been sent and whether they have opened/clicked those emails. The result will look something like this:

Stay tuned for our next blog where we show you how you can manage your social media strategy from within ACT! In the meantime if you have implemented any of the tools above or any other free online tool to the Web Info tab let us know – we’d love to hear how having these tools available in ACT! have helped your business.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Project Management & Customer Service in ACT!

In our last blog post we introduced the idea of using free online tools from within ACT! via the Web Info tab, and showed you how to set up your database to implement these ideas.

 In this post we will cover how you can use the Web Info tab to manage projects and offer great customer service.

Part 2: Project Management with Trello

If you’re business deals in projects you will have situations where you've needed to track progress and communicate with everyone involved including staff, customers and other service providers.

Trello is a free online collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards; boards contain multiple lists each referring to a specific stage in the workflow purpose, and each list has cards which detail specific tasks/features or other relevant information.

When a board is created you can add members and share it and as the project progresses you can see cards being moved across the lists and view a complete history of all members’ activity on the board.

By implementing it to ACT! you can instantly see the progress of the project that the current ACT! contact is involved with and can interact with the project board from within ACT!.

Learn more about Trello and sign up for a free account on their website

How to implement it to ACT!
  1. Create a new URL field in ACT! called “Project Management” and add it to your layout
  2. Create a Web Info URL that looks like this: “{Project Board}”
  3. Choose the ACT! Contact(s) and corresponding Trello board. Copy the URL snippet of the board and paste it to the “Project Management” field of all the related contacts.
  4. When you navigate to these contacts’ records and click on the Web Info link you will see the Project Board. The result will look something like this:

Part 3: Customer Service with Your Own Website

That's right, if your business has FAQ's and help files on your website implementing this to the Web Info tab can help you find the information you need to serve your customers, fast.

How to implement it to ACT!
We implemented our website in two ways to ACT! The first was simply creating a new Web Info URL and entering our website – no custom fields or merge tags required. The second way was to define which specific web page we wanted to see when viewing each contact.
  1. Create a new URL field in ACT! called “Web Help”
  2. Create a Web Info URL that looks like this: “{Web Help}”
  3. For every ACT! Contact copy the appropriate URL snippet from your website and paste it into the “Web Help” field
  4. Now if your customers ring up with questions about your products/services you can easily be directed to helpful resources from your website that are relevant to your customer.
Note: this strategy can be applied to your website or any other website that you turn to for information.

Stay tuned for our next blog where we show you how you can access documents and files from the cloud and view e-marketing contact stats (for people who aren't using Swiftpage) all from within ACT!

In the meantime if you have implemented any of the tools above or any other free online tool to the Web Info tab let us know – we’d love to hear how having these tools available in ACT! have helped your business.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

5 Free Online Tools You Can Access From Within ACT!... Right Now!

We’re always interested in learning about new apps and tools that can improve the way we do business. In this blog series we take 5 key business tasks and, using free online services, show you how they can be implemented to work with ACT! using the Web Info tab.
  • Project Management
  • Customer Service
  • Cloud Storage
  • E-Marketing
  • Social Media Management

Part 1: Setting up your ACT! Database

Before getting into too much detail about the online tools listed above we will first cover how to set up your ACT! database to work with the online tools.

For most of the solutions we are going to show you, you will be required to create a new field in ACT!, add it to your layout and copy/paste the url (or parts of it) to that field. This is required in to ensure that the links in the Web Info tab are customized for each contact.

Once the fields are created the URL links in the Web Info tab will need to be customized. To get to the URL editor go to the Web Info tab and click the "Edit Links" button.

There are two different ways that you can set up the URL links with respect to linking them with ACT! fields.
  1. Merge Tag Only
    Using this method the entire URL is pasted into the ACT! field and this is referenced in the Web Info URL. For example:
    • ACT! Field = http://www.
    • Web Info URL = {Name of ACT! field here}
  2. URL Snippet plus Merge Tag
    Using this method you only paste the end portion of the URL in the ACT! field and the Web Info tab includes the first part of the URL and the merge tag. For example:
    • ACT! Field = abcd
    • Web Info URL ={Name of ACT! field here}”

There are many considerations to make when deciding which method to use:
  • Merge Tag
    • It is usually easier to copy/paste the entire URL than URL snippets
    • If the entire URL is too long it may exceed the character limit for the ACT! field and the link will not work – to overcome this you could shorten each URL using a service like or before pasting it into ACT!
  • URL Snippet plus Merge Tag
    • The first part of the URL must be the same for all contacts
    • You must remember which part of the URL to copy/paste

Now that we have explained how to set up your database, join us in our next blog when we show you how you can use Project Management and Customer Service tools from within ACT!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Automating Key Business Tasks with ACT!

For sales people and small business owners remembering to schedule tasks, make phone calls and send follow-up emails for every contact is not easy, and often potential sales will fall through the cracks as a result. This is where automation can be useful.

Automating key business tasks is a great way to ensure that repetitive tasks are eliminated and no contact is missed out. When implemented correctly automation can improve efficiency and help you build better relationships with your customers and prospects.

ACT! Smart Tasks Feature

Smart Tasks were introduced to ACT! 2011 and enables users to automate a series of activities/tasks to be carried out based on a set of criteria. For example, you may want ACT! to automatically schedule a follow up call if a customers "last reach" date was more than 3 months ago.

There are a number of pre-built Smart Tasks available for you to use, modify or duplicate and some of these are integrated with the ACT! E-Marketing service, Swiftpage.

Smart Tasks can be as simple or as complex as you require; you can include many steps and set criteria to target very specific contacts in your database, and can choose a variety of triggers.

Tips for using Smart Tasks

Deciding what to automate
In many cases identifying tasks to automate is easy and in general, any task that needs to be done more than twice is a candidate. However, what can be difficult is deciding whether these tasks should be automated. Here are some considerations that you might want to make before you decide:
  • What level of human intelligence is required? Consider how easy or difficult it will be to build the automation rules into your CRM. Will there be "exceptions to the rule" and if yes, how will your CRM handle this? For example, in ACT! if you schedule a follow up call for customers that you haven't communicated with in the past 3 months using the "last reach" field as the trigger, your automation would exclude customers that received your e-newsletter last week and therefore may not give you a complete list.
  • What degree of modification is required? If your automated task will involve sending an email consider if the messaging needs to change for each contact and if this intelligence can be built in using merge tags. If a large degree of modification is required then you may need to create multiple smart tasks or consider setting an activity reminder instead.
Deciding on the process
Once you have decided which business processes should be automated it is a good idea to draw a map of how the process will work. For this you will need to identify:
  1. How the process will be triggered (e.g. when a new contact is added to the database).
  2. How your CRM will identify the trigger (e.g. when the create date is older than 1 day).
  3. What the steps in the process are and when they will occur (e.g. send a welcome email 1 day after the create date then schedule a follow up 1 week later).

New Smart Task features in ACT! 2013

  • Smart Tasks now run offline which means they will run even if ACT! is closed (note: in ACT! 2011 and 2012 users need to be logged into ACT! for smart tasks to run).
  • Users can now set data/field triggers to automatically update record fields once the selected criteria is met. For example, when an opportunity reaches it's fulfillment stage it's status can automatically be converted to "Closed-Won" and a reminder can be set to send a customer welcome kit.
If you require assistance or more information regarding ACT! Smart Tasks contact us at or phone +64 9 377 6516.