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How to Turn Gmail Into a CRM with Xobni


If your job requires you to send and receive a lot of email, chances are you often get your email recipients mixed up. It happens to the best of us, but if you’d like to minimize your chances of mix-ups and forgetfulness, you might want to try Xobni’s Smartr Inbox for Gmail.

Xobni’s Smartr Inbox is a service that takes all of your email contacts, Facebook friends, and people you follow on Twitter and creates profiles of each person within Gmail. These profiles show each of your emailer’s latest Twitter and Facebook posts, as well as all of your previous email and/or social messaging with said person, giving you a quick rundown of everyone each time you read or go to compose a new email. It's a simple, automatically generated CRM built from the contacts that email you already.

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to setup Xobni with your Gmail account and use it to learn more about your contacts and rediscover emails easier.

Adding Accounts To Xobni

Adding social and email accounts to Xobni via the Accounts page
Adding social and email accounts to Xobni.

To start, head over to Xobni’s website and create an account. Once you’ve confirmed your account, go to Xobni’s account page and look towards the center of the page where you will find buttons to add your Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as link Yahoo!, iCloud, and Gmail accounts.

When you add social and email accounts to your Xobni account, you grow your Xobni contact list as the service indexes every single person you’ve ever emailed on all accounts added. Additionally, you must add your Twitter and Facebook accounts to the service if you’d like to view your contact’s Twitter and Facebook feeds within Xobni’s Gmail and Outlook interfaces.

Once you’ve added your email accounts to Xobni, your accounts will begin to sync with the service. This will take a bit, and you can view the status of this sync via the bottom of the Accounts page. Whilst in the accounts page, look towards the bottom of the page at the section labeled “enable account."

Using Xobni With Gmail

Smartr Inboxs Homepage
A quick look at Xobni's Smartr Inbox home page.

Xobni interfaces with your Gmail account by way of a Google Chrome, FireFox, or Safari extension. To install said extension in Google Chrome, head over to the Xobni's Gmail page and click the large orange Get it For Gmail button to download and install the Gmail plugin.

Now, head over to your Gmail inbox and look towards the right-hand side of your inbox where you’ll find Xobni’s Smartr Inbox extension already open. First, log into your Smartr Inbox using the Xobni account you created in the beginning of this tutorial. Then, look towards the top of the Smartr Inbox, where you’ll see three tabs: contacts, Facebook, and Twitter.

The contacts tab is a general overview of what’s going on in your Smartr Inbox. On the top of this section, you’ll see photos of your recently contacted contacts. Below this are social updates pulled from your recent contacts from Facebook and Twitter.

If you’d like to single out Facebook and Twitter posts from your contact book, click into the Facebook or Twitter tabs on the top of the Smartr Inbox page. The Facebook tab will show the latest Facebook updates from your top contacts that you’re friends with on Facebook.

The Twitter tab will pull Twitter updates from all of your top contacts. However, with the Twitter tab, you do not need to be following said contacts on Twitter for their tweets to show up in your Smartr Inbox Twitter feed. If you find someone you’d like to follow on your Smartr Inbox Twitter feed, you can do so by clicking the Follow button located to the right of their name. If you’d like to only view tweets from people you follow on Twitter, click the Switch To Following button located towards the top of the Twitter portion of Smartr Inbox.

Using Xobni Within An Open Email

Though Xobni gives you great information when viewing your entire inbox in Gmail, the real use for the application shines through when viewing information about individuals within an email. To do this, simply open an email within Gmail and look at the Smartr Inbox that is located to the right of said email.

Towards the top of the Smartr Inbox, you will see four different buttons when in an individual contact view: Contact, Relationship History, Recent Communications, and Common Contacts.

When in the Contact tab, you can view social updates from said contact. Xobni will try to use your contacts email to automatically link it with a socials account, but in some instances you’ll need to add it manually by clicking the “Choose a profile…” button located to the right of the Facebook or Twitter icon within the contact tab.

Viewing your relationship history with a contact
Viewing your relationship history with a contact. 

The Relationship History tab will show three pieces of information: a graph showing the amount of emails you and your contact have sent, a text version of this information including the title of the first email exchanged by you and said contact, and finally, a list of Frequented Contacts. These contacts are people often included in the emails sent between you and your contact.

Viewing recently exchanged emails in Xobni
Viewing recently exchanged emails in Xobni.

The third tab from the left, the Recent Communications tab, shows a list of all the emails that you and your selected contact have exchanged, including emails from other contacts that your contact was either included in or copied on. You can double-click on any of these emails to open them within the Smartr Inbox without leaving your open email in Gmail.

Finally, the last tab, the Common Contacts tab, shows contacts that Xobni believes you and your contact have in common. For example, if a client often emails you and your coworker in an email, your coworker will appear in the Common Contacts area.

Expanding Your Social Following With Xobni

Adding contacts on Facebook and Twitter within Xobni
Adding contacts on Facebook and Twitter within Xobni.

If you’d like to add your top contacts as friends on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, Xobni makes it easy to find them with its Add Contacts function. To access said function, look towards the upper right-hand corner of the Smartr Inbox’s home page (accessed by clicking the Home button). This button is light red. Hover over this button and a drop-down menu will appear. Towards the center of the menu you should see two buttons:  Add Contacts to Twitter and Add Contacts to Facebook. Click on these buttons to see social profiles for their respective networks.

Never Get Your Contacts Mixed Up Again

That’s all there is to it; you’re now an Xobni master! Xobni makes it far easier to keep tabs on who's emailing you, and connect with them on the social networks you're already using. It's far better than the traditional address book, but no more difficult to use than any other part of your Gmail interface.

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