Re: Questions about Airtable as a CRM- Advanced import, Gmail integrations

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6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

Hi Airtable users!

I run a small recruiting shop with a very distinct use case.
It’s just me and one other person with a very small market. Maybe half a dozen clients at a time.

Most of our CRM is used for organizing small email campaigns, keeping track of conversations and “warmth” of relationships, writing detailed notes on interactions, and keeping up to date contact info.

My mentor started me out using ACT about 8 years ago. It’s definitely gotten the job done if you don’t hate using Windows as a platform with Outlook as your primary email client for the purpose of consistent automatic email integrations.
One of the more unique and useful features of ACT was the ability to create “lookups” where you’d be able to manually remove contacts from a lookup, and also create groups in another table.

I recently paid a bunch of money to have a company transfer all of my data over to Hubspot. It’s been great at the free tier, but there’s a single feature behind a FOUR HUNDRED DOLLAR monthly paywall called lists that’s very similar to what we’d use as “groups” in ACT. It constitutes roughly 5% of the product offering behind the paywall and is literally all I need. Their corporate sales has very little flexibility on a-la-carte offerings.

This has been a problem with CRMs in the past… It’s a Relational Database with a Web interface, guys. I get that you’re selling to non technical people, but the markup for the product features you’re offering is just maddening. In the case of Bullhorn, they wanted me to pay an absurd markup in order to be able to create and name custom fields. I digresss :slightly_smiling_face: Given that alone, I’ve been really intrigued by AirTable.

I originally looked to Airtable as an advanced spreadsheet option for cleaning my data before the migration. The more I look at the Sales CRM template, the more I think this could work as an ideal solution that doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg.

The Biggest, most important thing in a CRM is the ability for me to transfer over each contact along with very crucial notes (attached to about 1300 of my 13,000 entries) that have formatting such as line breaks and bold headings. If I understand correctly, I’d enter these into their own table in Airtable as interactions. I’d imagine if a Ukranian dev shop was able to pry them out of my proprietary ACT backup and batch import them, fully mapped into Hubspot, it’s possible to do the same here with Airtable.

My first question is- Does anyone have experience working with this type of situation, and has anyone had success or helped someone pull this off?

My second question is- Can anyone tell me about the reliability of automatic Gmail tracking and associating each with email with corresponding contacts? (also retroactively importing of a large number of old gmail emails) If I understand correctly, I’d be relying on Zapier and I’m not really well versed on how their paywall kicks in or how steep it is.

Thanks in advance for any insights, or opinions.


4 Replies 4

I don’t have experience with your type of situation, but reading through your description, I see a pretty clear red flag (emphasis added):

Line breaks? No problem. Bold headings? Sorry, but Airtable text fields (both long and short) store plain text only. No styled text.

If losing the styling on your notes isn’t a deal breaker, then Airtable may work for you.

At this point I must defer to those with much deeper data-transfer experience, but I wanted to at least point out that potential problem.

6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

Thanks Justin! I was actually able to get the notes in really easily thanks to an engineer friend who’s great with APIs and data cleaning. I appreciate you making that part clear, as it helped me a lot in my data transfer. So many unknown unknowns with this stuff.

Hey Spencer,

I know it’s been a while since you started building your CRM in Airtable. If you’ve reached the point where you’d like to begin logging your email communication in your tables, take a look at hopefully it will be a useful tool for you!

Thanks for the info Samson! This is very interesting… My firm finally settled on Hubspot (as flawed as it is) for the sheer amount of data they collect and store on emails direct from G-Suite.

This does look amazing, but my biggest concern with Airtable ended up being that price point once you hit the record limit on premium. My eyes just about fell out of my head. Your pricing does look amazing though. One thing I hate about Hubspot is the lack of customizability… We eventually opted to adapt and save on our overhead.