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What is a contact list?

What is a contact list?

min read

First, there were telegraphs. Then, we had landlines. And now, cell phones are all the rage. 

Important documents were once sent by fax, but now we can scan them (even on our phone’s camera) and send them off as email attachments. As technology evolves, the way we approach communication should, too. Contact information that was once stored in a hand-written address book or Rolodex is now saved digitally through apps and software. 

Let’s answer “What is a contact list?” once and for all and explore ways you can make the most of having a robust list of contacts and their information.

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What is a contact list?

A contact list is a collection of names, contact details, and other relevant information about individuals or groups you are regularly in communication with. 

What information is typically included?

a screenshot of contact information for a contact in Streak

The information you add to your contacts will vary depending on the purpose of the list, but the basics include:

  • First and last name of the contact
  • Photo of the contact
  • Contact information, including phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses
  • The organization or business the contact is associated with
  • The position or title the person holds within their organization
  • Relationship information may be included to provide greater context about an individual
  • Social media account information
  • Tags that help you categorize the contact by industry, geographic location, or customer status
  • Additional information, like tidbits you’ve gathered over time that might help you personalize communication and build a relationship, such as their birthday, special preferences, family members’ names, etc.

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Types of contacts

Contact lists are created and used for a myriad of reasons, and many people have different contact lists to meet their different needs.

Business contact lists contain contact information for individuals and organizations relevant to your company’s operations, networking, and outreach efforts. They help you establish and maintain relationships with key stakeholders including customers, colleagues, suppliers, partners, and industry professionals. 

Phone contacts are typically stored within an iOS or Android smartphone using the built-in Contacts or People app. These apps offer features for adding editing, and organizing contacts, and most people use phone contact lists to store the names of personal connections primarily, with a handful of professional contacts sprinkled in if they regularly text or call each other.

App contact lists are specific to an app or piece of software, such as Skype or WhatsApp. Typically, they’re only useful within the specific app.

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Why do people make contact lists?

The short answer is this: Contact lists make communication more efficient and remove the hassle of having to remember the personal details or phone numbers of dozens or even hundreds of people.

Contact lists provide people with a centralized place for storing and retrieving contact information easily, so they can enjoy seamless digital communication with everyone in their lives without the hassle of flipping through a Rolodex or racking their brains for phone numbers and emails.

Here are seven popular reasons people and businesses use contact lists:

1. To make personal communication easier

Personal contact lists help people stay in touch with people in their personal lives, such as family, friends, neighbors, fellow club members, etc. 

These lists may also include frequently contacted medical professionals, including healthcare providers, specialists, and therapists, and educational contacts like teachers, tutors, and administrators. Personal contact lists are the perfect tool to lean on if you’re planning an event and need to keep guests up-to-date on any changes or need-to-know information.

2. To enhance sales relationships and account management workflows

A sales contact list is a collection of potential customers or clients that sales representatives target with their sales activities. These lists are crucial for outbound-focused sales teams who want to efficiently identify, prioritize, and reach out to prospects who may be interested in their products or services. 

People on a sales contact list are typically qualified and sorted based on intent. The leads on a sales list are often gathered thanks to inbound marketing, outbound marketing, referrals, networking events, and social media engagement. 

3. To email opted-in subscribers with promotional emails

Email marketing was built on the back of contact lists, or as they often call them, subscriber lists. These lists include people who’ve opted-in, or said “yes,” to receive communication from a specific company or organization for marketing purposes. 

Marketing lists are often email-based, and email addresses are collected through a combination of acquisition tactics, including website sign-up forms, landing pages, lead magnets, social media campaigns, and online purchases. To ensure compliance with data privacy regulations, these contact lists should only include contact information from people who have voluntarily provided it. 

4. To provide better customer support

A database of client and customer contact information includes details about the people who purchase products or services from a business. Many organizations choose to house this data in a CRM so they’re also able to track interactions and sync information across multiple teams and departments. Naturally, this equips them to provide a more tailored, personalized customer experience. 

5. To connect with donors or volunteers

Fundraising contact lists are used by people or organizations who want to stay in touch with donors or volunteers. These contact list users are often non-profit personnel, event planners, charity organization liaisons, and political candidates. 

Using these lists, fundraising professionals can connect with supporters to solicit donations or organize events. To be used most efficiently, these lists often include information about previous donations and volunteer history, so fundraisers have a better idea of what kind of involvement they can hope for in the future. 

6. To align internal teammates 

Anyone who owns a business or works as a manager needs the contact information of their employees and staff to communicate about anything work-related. (Think changes in scheduling, upcoming time-off notices, or company-wide announcements.) Some businesses may choose to keep staff contact information housed in a phone or email app, while larger businesses may opt for a software or service that makes mass communication simple and straightforward. 

7. To contact vendors

For businesses that sell physical goods, almost every department works with vendors. 

  • The purchasing department maintains relationships with established vendors.
  • Accounts payable manages invoice processing and payments to vendors. 
  • Logistics coordinates shipping and deliveries with each vendor. 

And that’s just scratching the surface of everyone internally at a company who’s responsible for vendor relations. Having a vendor contact list allows all the departments to communicate with the appropriate people seamlessly to ensure products are paid for and delivered on time.  

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How can you use contact lists?

Gathering contact information from current and potential clients or customers is key to growing your business — but only if you put the contact information to use. A few contact lists are especially useful in this endeavor.  

Cold outreach campaigns typically target sales contact lists. Sales representatives systematically contact people or businesses to introduce themselves, pitch their offerings, and attempt to generate interest. For years, this method has been known as “cold calling,” and it only happened via phone. But these days, communication often takes place via email or even LinkedIn DMs.

A marketing list leverages opt-ins by sending relevant information like newsletters, promotional offers, and product updates to subscribers. You may choose to segment your lists to send personalized email campaigns that help engage subscribers and drive conversions. 

Pro tip: If you want to take advantage of your marketing list to send personalized, tracked mass emails and follow-up sequences in Gmail, Streak Mail Merge can help. Mail Merge uses smart fields so you can send personalized emails without writing each message one at a time, and you can schedule your merge (and subsequent follow-up emails) to arrive in your recipient’s inbox at the perfect time. 

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Manage your contacts like a pro with Streak

So, what is a contact list? It’s your ticket to staying digitally connected to the people you work and do life with. 

Housing a list(s) of contacts on your phone or in an app is helpful because they’re accessible and organized, but just because you have a contact list doesn’t mean you’re automatically taking full advantage of the line of communication you’ve formed with each contact.

Streak changes that for the better. When you import your contacts into Streak, you can:

  • Track their behavior in Gmail, including their opens and clicks on your emails
  • Share contacts and past email threads with others in your organization with a simple link
  • Leave notes and details so nothing is forgotten
  • Monitor the interactions everyone on your team has with each contacts
  • Reach out to opted-in subscribers with customized mail merges

You’ve worked hard to grow your contact list to its current state — it’s time to make the most of it. 

Try Streak today to streamline your client communication. Plus, it only takes 30 seconds to set up for free!

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