BatchBlue Software was kind enough to give me a big sized account to try out managing my contacts with their BatchBook product. They let me do five things, if I’m so inclined: manage contacts, keep track of my communications, slice my contacts into lists (remember this one), manage to-do lists, and use their SuperTags to build small custom databases of meta information around my contacts. All of that is relatively neato, and something that lots of us aren’t especially doing well today (how many of you use a spreadsheet somewhere to track your important conversations?)
I should state that I know Michelle Riggen-Ransom (marketing goddess) and Adam Darowski (UX prince) through meetings at various social events, like SXSW, the occasional Tweet-up, etc. When you know the people who make the things you’re using, there’s a whole sense that everything could be customized or something. When I talk to Mario Sundar at LinkedIn, I feel the same kind of thing: like they care about their user base. Well, with BatchBlue, they are passionate about their customer base.
Things I Like
In the fun category, I like the little touches they’ve thrown in. I went to upload my latest LinkedIn database into BatchBook and combine it with my Gmail accounts. That ends up being around 6,200 contacts (boiled back down with dupes to 4760). When I uploaded the CSV file, here’s what I got:
Yep, the little touches like that are great.
Because I can tag things lots of ways, it means I can sort them lots of ways:
I further like that I can upload pictures for contacts, should I want a visual reminder of who they are:
But what’s coolest is the list feature.
Messaging Distinct Sets of People
Here’s where BatchBlue does something that most of my contact systems do not. Plaxo shares a lot of features with BatchBook, and it has one over on BatchBook insofar as user data on there updates when the other contacts change their information. Meaning, if you’re connected to someone on Plaxo, and that someone changes jobs, phone numbers, email addresses, your files are updated right away. Okay, cool.
Try messaging more than one person on Plaxo. Ditto LinkedIn. Ditto Facebook.
BatchBook has lists. For every one of the tags you assign a contact, you can sort those tags into lists, then download those lists into distinct addressable groups. So, for instance, if I want to email all the people I know who are related to PodCamp, I can. If I want to message everyone in the Boston area, I can. If I want to message people I’ve labeled as “mediamakers,” I can.
That’s the clever bit.
A Quick Note About SuperTags
They also have this feature called Super Tags. Basically, you can add all kinds of other fields and metadata around certain tags, such that you collect even more useful, sortable data on different kinds of contacts. I haven’t dug into that yet, but judging by the way Michelle and Adam talk about it all the time, I suspect that’s a cool feature and that I’m missing out.
In the End
I recommend BatchBook for the list sorting ability, for the tagging and slicing ability, for the Super Tags (though I’m not 100% clever on them yet), and if you have no other form of client relationship management software, this would be a great lightweight tool. I’m not using their todos or several other parts of the software, but that’s okay. I think it’s worth it for what I’m getting. Hey, I’m not a DBA, and this is a whole lot better for me to manage than a spreadsheet.
If you check it out, I’d be interested to know your take.