Tag Archives for " crm "

January 30, 2019

My take on Infusionsoft’s name change

I’ve been asked a few times in the last 24 hours about Infusionsoft’s name change. Infusionsoft is changing from ‘Infusionsoft’ to ‘Keap’. Which to my eyes seems to be a miss-spelled or made up word. According to CEO Clate Mask, it’s a nod to the tenacity of entrepreneurs to ‘keep at it’.

Which to put it mildly, is tenuous.

I’ve been repressing a number of frustrations about Infusionsoft for a long time. Perhaps the biggest is the number of add-ons you end up using. Bafflingly, neither web forms or order forms are mobile responsive out of the box.

Sure, you can use third party add-ons like PlusThis to fix the web forms, and Spiffy to fix the order forms. But shouldn’t that be a core part of the software, not an add-on?

I love the Infusionsoft campaign builder. I love the potential of what you can do with it. But for a long time I’ve been asking: why not just make the core software really great?

Instead, they’ve introduced a new landing page builder. I suspect a lot of customers were asking for it, because they don’t know how to Google ‘LeadPages’, but it doesn’t solve any core issues with the software. ‘WHY COULDN’T YOU JUST FIX THE ORDER FORMS’, I’ve been shouting in my head.

I’m not asking for much. Web forms that work, and an ecommerce refresh would be nice.

Infusionsoft’s solution to all their problems has been to develop ‘new Infusionsoft’, effectively a completely new product built on a new code base. I know enough about software development to know that sometimes you’re better off starting again. But for an existing user it’s deeply frustrating, because almost all core product development of ‘old Infusionsoft’ has been put on hold.

Yesterday, Infusionsoft announced the next wave of cosmetic change – a new name change. From now on, Infusionsoft will be known as ‘Keap’. I’ve received a fanfare of emails announcing the change.

I can barely convey how underwhelmed I am. They didn’t need a new name – the name was the least confusing thing about the whole thing. An anchor in increasingly choppy waters.

All I’ve wanted them to do all along is fix the order forms, fix the web forms, and ideally add multi-currency. That’s just my personal wish list – others will have their own. But to do the really cool stuff Infusionsoft is capable of you have to sew together a bunch of paid add-on services.

I’m not against add-ons, incidentally. No CRM software is going to cater to all use cases. But add-ons shouldn’t paper over cracks in the software.

I don’t recommend buying ‘new’ Infusionsoft, or Keap, or whatever it’s now called, because in development terms it’s still in nappies. And I don’t recommend buying ‘old’ Infusionsoft, or ‘Infusionsoft by Keap’, or whatever that’s now called, because there will be no major development put into the product.

Fundamentally there’s also a huge issue of confusion. When you mention ‘Infusionsoft’, do you mean the old or new version? What are those versions even called now? As somebody who regularly changes his corporate identity, I definitely don’t recommend changing if at all possible. And certainly not if the existing name is fine.

I might be wrong about all of this. On some level I hope so at least.

But I really wish they had just knuckled down and made the existing version of Infusionsoft really great.

Time will tell.

June 27, 2017

Are you a ‘whiteboard person’?

If you use Infusionsoft, Drip, or some similar marketing automation system, mapping out your customer journey is a serious business. It’s easy to lose entire days in meeting rooms, covering multiple whiteboards with scrawl.

I’ve come to realise there are two types of people in the world: those who thrive on whiteboards (and in fact, cannot think unless one is present), and those who do not.

Put me in front of a whiteboard with a pen, and I’ll drown in the available whiteness. I’m more comfortable writing out a plan than I am drawing arbitrary boxes on the wall.

I’m happy to contribute and refine. But I’m rarely the first person in the room to grab the whiteboard marker.

For an optimal marketing plan, you need both types of people. You need systems people, who wake up in the night dreaming of empty whiteboads. And you need grumpy cynics like me, who come in afterwards and mop up the resulting mess.

I talk more about these roles in my first book, The Marketing Nurture System.

(Feature image credit)

November 15, 2016

Missing stage = Engage

When I first did my Infusionsoft certification, the Infusionsoft team spent a lot of time talking about a model they call attract, sell, wow.


The model is meant to illustrate that most businesses focus almost exclusively on attracting prospects and selling products. There’s a whole stage after that – the wow stage – where you’re supposed to deliver an experience, ask for referrals and upsell further products.

I was chronically bored of this at the time. In my head I was like “yawwwwn. I already know that, Infusionsoft.”

Over time I have slowly realised that infographics like this are important if you want to simplify and communicate a complex concept. Most people reading this hopefully understand the importance of long-term customer relationships and back-end sales. Most business owners, it seems, do not.

I spent yesterday at an Infusionsoft partner meeting, and noticed the attract, sell, wow model had been altered.


Suddenly, there’s an extra stage. Attract, engage, sell, wow.

‘Engage’ accommodates for the fact that not everyone who opts-in is ready to buy right away. I’ve been talking about the engage stage for two years, and it seems Infusionsoft are now finally catching up. 🙂

The bottlenecks in your business can usually be mapped on the attract, engage, sell, wow spectrum. Either you’re not finding enough potential customers to begin with, or potential customers are getting stuck along the way.

Commonly, a lot of them will get stuck in ‘engage’.

Building out your long-term follow-up systems isn’t a ‘nice to have’. It’s an essential business system.

For me, effective ‘engagement’ is about telling your story. Yes, the people in your database need information about your products and services. But they also need to understand you. They need to hear how you have been in their shoes, and understand the problems they face. They need to hear how you truly understand their situation, perhaps better than they understand it themselves.

Most businesses do a terrible job of engagement because they don’t know how to tell their story. If you would like to learn how to use storytelling to make your follow-up emails more engaging, enter your first name and email address below.

September 12, 2016

The final word on CRM

The final word on CRM looks like this:

Soft systems approach

Your CRM requirements are the real world problem situation, on the left. Despite our desire to simplify our problems, the true nature of your CRM requirements is murky and somewhat open to interpretation.

The CRM systems available to you are the square models of purposeful activity, on the right. The task is to select or customise the most appropriate system based on your understanding of your requirements.

You compare the situation before and after implementation, also considering social and political analysis. A CRM system is an information system, meaning it involves people. Are the people who are supposed to be working in the system using it as intended? Or are they working around it, complaining about it behind your back?

The bigger your company the more real this problem becomes.

Eventually we are left with a new real world problem situation, and the cycle begins again. With cloud-based systems the cycle can begin again fairly quickly, as it is easier to add or remove system functionality.

September 8, 2016

CRM Integration: Why It Matters

Recap: we’re talking about CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems this week. Yesterday’s post looked at hosted vs on premise systems.

We’re watching the Great British Bake Off on Wednesday evenings. The GBBO is an amateur baking competition, judged by cookery writer Mary Berry and baker Paul Hollywood.

So far this series there has been a lot of messing up and starting again. Gingerbread towers have fallen over. Botched cakes have been discarded into the bin.

Which is okay, because other than time the bakers have an unlimited supply of ingredients. There seems to be no limit to the availability of eggs, flour and sugar.

The competition would be very different if Mel and Sue announced, “on your marks, get set, BAKE…” and all the bakers ran out of the tent to go to Tesco.

When your internal systems don’t link up properly it feels like trying to bake a cake with none of the ingredients to hand.

Rather than eggs, flour and sugar, the ingredient your CRM system needs is data. So where are all the places that customer data can be found?

The main ones for me are:

  • In the heads of your customer-facing staff (especially the people who answer your phones)
  • Your accounting system
  • Your wesite or ecommerce store
  • Social media

There are other specific examples.

If you run events and use Eventbrite to manage bookings, then Eventbrite becomes another source of customer data.

If you put an SMS-response number on a direct mail ad (which might say ‘text HELLO to 07894561232), then your SMS system becomes another source of customer data.

Many companies are so used to re-keying data between systems they actually pay full time members of staff to maintain data quality.

I remember going to see a company years ago where orders placed in the CRM system would be manually re-entered into the accounting system by a lady in admin. The solution we were proposing would link up the client’s CRM and accounting system, eliminating hours of re-keying.

The client hesitated for a long time on the deal. It turned out much later on that he didn’t want to make his admin lady redundant.

The goal of a CRM system is to build a complete picture of a customer’s activity. I want to look at a customer’s contact record and see:

  • What they have bought, and how recently
  • How much they have spent with me in total
  • What communications they have been sent
  • Which emails they opened
  • Which emails they clicked on
  • What they are interested in (in my case, whether or not they consider themselves to be a writer)
  • What web pages that have looked at
  • Their social media activity on my pages

The parts of the customer picture that are important to me will not necessarily be the parts that are important to you.

I make heavy use of email, but don’t answer random inbound phone calls. So data from inbound calls isn’t something I need to get into Infusionsoft.

Quite often you will have a dominant system that contains the bulk of your customer data. My dominant system is Infusionsoft, so anything I buy now has to integrate with Infusinsoft or I won’t consider it.

For larger offline businesses the accouting system is often the dominant system, so the challenge becomes finding a CRM system that will integrate to your accounting system.

If you have multiple dominant systems, all hell breaks loose.

The dominant system is usually the one you cannot live without. The dominant system should usually be an ‘all-in-one’ package doing as much of what you need as possible, with specific applications linking in to it.

If the integration you’re looking for doesn’t exist it is sometimes possible to scope out a custom integration. Unless you are a developer, developing custom integrations will make you feel like a canary disappearing down a mine shaft.

Custom integration is always more complicated than you think it will be. This is the last option, not the first option.

September 7, 2016

Hosted vs On-Premise CRM Solutions

Recap: we’re talking about CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems this week. Yesterday’s post looked at how to determine your requirements.

Hi Rob,

I spent four years working in the marketing department for a CRM company. On very special occasions I was allowed out on sales meetings. Normally I would only be allowed out when the sales team wanted someone in the meeting who knew about Google.

Between myself and the sales team we used to call these meetings ‘Jolly Boys Outings’.

A ‘Jolly Boys Outing’ would start with us attending the meeting, and saying ‘yes’ to any questions we were asked. Will the system manage sales leads? Yes. Will it integrate to Google Shopping? Yes. Will it boil the kettle for me? Yes. Will it run my entire business while I sit on the beach? Yes.

After the meeting we would take an extended detour on the way home, stopping somewhere posh to expense the biggest meal we could find on the menu. Under no circumstances would we make it back to the office in time to do any work.

Sometimes, on exceptionally special Jolly Boys Outings, we would find bizarre things to photograph on the way home.

Dogpoo Lane

This was in 2010, and the CRM market was slightly different in those days. With fewer cloud-based solutions there was more of a focus on the solution sale, where a two or three meeting process would lead to a monstrous system being installed on your in-house server. If, indeed, you had a server at all.

These days the trend seems to be free trials and cloud-based solutions. A cloud-based solution simply means that the CRM software and your customer data is hosted on the vendor’s servers. You then log in through a web portal to access the application. Infusionsoft, Ontraport and SharpSpring all operate in this way.

Rather than paying an installation cost and annual licence fee, you now pay a smaller set-up cost, and a relatively low monthly fee for access to the application.

In many cases you get to kick the tyres and checkout the interface before making any real investment in a solution. You also won’t receive a visit from the Jolly Boys, although they’ll still call you to say yes to any questions you have.

On the whole I think the move to a cloud-based arrangement is a good thing. Unless you have a full-time I.T department, I imagine you have better things to do with your time than manage your own servers. I personally wouldn’t recognise a server if I tripped over one. In my mind a server is a giant temperamental computer that lives in a dark cupboard, with thousands of wires protruding from the sides.

The benefit of the cloud arrangement is the vendor is now responsible for all the technical headaches and software updates. Unless you have strong reasons to host your customer data on your own servers I like the cloud-based approach, because it removes the technical headaches.

Sometimes it can work out cheaper to install a system on your own servers because you eliminate the monthly costs, but the monthly costs isn’t the real issue.

The real issue is identifying the closest CRM system to your true requirements.

Another issue is spotting the Jolly Boys when they come calling, and knowing what questions to ask them.

The correct questions to ask to the Jolly Boys mostly come down to integration; getting the right information into and out of the system. All the cool functionality the Jolly Boys want to talk to you about is only cool when the right data is in the system to begin with.

We’ll talk about integration tomorrow.

September 6, 2016

CRM Basics #1: What is a CRM system

I remember creating my first Microsoft Access database at school, when I was perhaps ten. The task was to create a database to store the football allegiances of kids at school.

I remember setting contact number as the ‘unique key’, and not understanding why that mattered. I also remember populating my fledgling database with a few records, all of whom supported Tranmere Rovers.

I had an over-active imagination, even then.

When you peel away all the features, bells and whistles, all modern CRM systems all have at their core something similar to my football-fan database. Most use a set-up of relational database tables to store data.

When you strip away all the shiny bells and whistles that’s the plain, unglamorous reality.

Your business swims in data, all the time. A CRM system will attempt to store all the relevant prospect and customer data you need to make decisions. This could include contact information, contact interests, engagement metrics, purchases made, referrals made, relationships to other contacts.

If you don’t capture the data as is appears it quickly evaporates into the atmosphere, never to be seen again. The job of your CRM system is to capture the data you need before it evaporates, and convert it into usable, actionable information.

Data itself has no meaning; you could think of data as one’s and zero’s on a spreadsheet. Data only becomes information when you apply meaning to the data.

Your CRM system might look at the one’s and zero’s, and identify a high value customer who hasn’t clicked on any of your emails in four months. That’s information, because you can do something with it.

The input of a CRM system is the raw data of all the relevant customer interactions happening around you.

A CRM system converts raw unusable customer data into usable, actionable customer information. This information should be at the centre of your customer-facing operations, available to your customer facing staff at the right time and in a usable format.

The output of a CRM system is action based on this information. Actions could include emails going out, mailers going out, to-do notifications. You can even push a contact into a remarketing audience based on information from your CRM system.

Inputs and outputs are equally important. The outputs are the things you want to happen. The input is the data you need to make those things happen.

Different CRM systems cater out of the box to different inputs and outputs. Most businesses never take the time to identify their inputs and outputs, which leads to shoddy CRM decision making.

Take the time to identify your inputs and outputs before you start looking at bells and whistles.

September 5, 2016

CRM Recommendations

I am asked every few weeks what CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system I recommend people use. The question is often phrased in a simplistic, throw-away manner, like I am being asked about my favourite ice cream.

I am particularly cagey about giving specific recommendations.

A ‘CRM’ system is a customer or contact database. Every business should have some sort of customer database. In my view it’s an essential and often complicated bit of kit.

The trouble with selecting a CRM system is it is very hard to get objective advice. Most people who know a little about CRM will advise you to look at their own personal favourite. Many independent software consultants are financially compensated for selling a particular system.

If you go direct to the vendors they simply say ‘yes’ to everything, because the people who sell the systems are not the same people who implement and operate the systems. They do not share your pain when the thing implodes.

Getting objective advice usually means taking responsibility for your own research and gathering information from multiple sources.

If you don’t take the time to educate yourself there are people everywhere who will happily sell you a system that doesn’t necessarily do what you need.

Over the next week or so I’m going to write up everything I know about CRM in these daily emails. There won’t be much prescriptive advice, because prescriptions can only come after requirements.

My goal instead is to get you to think about CRM in a more sophisticated way, and draw your attention to what I think are the key issues.

Continued tomorrow.

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