One base for all contacts?

Hi, we’re running a small business doing events such as festivals, conferences etc. So far, we’ve used Airtable to manage volunteers and customers for our latest project. Now, we’re considering how we can use Airtable more extensively - firstly as a CRM for customers, suppliers etc. and secondly (if possible) as a sales system.

As for the CRM - should be set up a base (“Contacts”) for both customers, suppliers and possibly also volunteers? Or should these be split into their separate bases. My initial thought is that it would be convenient to have them in one base to have one source of truth, and instead sync the data to a customers and suppliers base respectively if needed. Any thoughts on this?

As for the sales system, we really love Airtable, but it still seems to lack functionality/add-ons for email marketing. I’ve been using the Sendgrid extension, but this doesn’t enable us to keep track on our conversations and email history with our leads… I’ve been checking out the various templates, but these all seem to be based on emails being sent from our ordinary email channels and then manually updated in Airtable. Does anyone have any experience on this to share?

Thanks!

A single base of Contacts sounds like a good idea, but I wonder whether that might get a bit frustrating to deal with in practice? I’m imagining needing to modify existing contact data or create a new contact, and then having to leave the base I’m in to go do that, come back, sync it manually, etc.

Yeah…my two cents on this is: Just use a CRM instead. Don’t get me wrong, you’d probably be able to replicate most of the functionality that you want that already exists on an existing CRM with third party tools, but at that point you’re probably paying the same amount (if not more) to have built your own system that you now have to maintain as well

imo, the CRM will get you 90% there, and I would use Airtable for the last 10% to make everything perfect

Funny, my free Airtable training course covers this EXACT QUESTION in depth in the first few chapters, and the rest of the training course is all about creating an event tracking system with Airtable:

Airtable can not really be used as an effective email marketing tool, so you would typically need to use external apps for that (such as SendGrid or MailChimp).

But the great news is that you can typically sync everything that you’re talking about from external tools with Airtable, instead of manually updating those things in Airtable yourself. A low-code way of doing is by using an external automation tool such as Make.com:

p.s. I should note that learning Make.com for the first time is not easy nor intuitive, so if your company has a budget and you’d like to hire an expert Airtable/Make consultant to help you, please feel free to contact me through my website:

Airtable consulting — ScottWorld

Thanks for your suggestions and opinions. Very good point about going back and forth between the bases @Adam_TheTimeSavingCo, maybe a CRM and a sync to Airtable when needed would be better… Thanks for your comments as well @ScottWorld, hopefully Airtable will continue to develop and offer more marketing tools. It would be great to be able to move more to Airtable.