Email, Email Marketing Advice

Marketing Automation for Everyone with Infusionsoft

We’ve known for more than a decade that relevancy drives email marketing results. Getting a message or offer that’s tailored to your needs and circumstances is much more likely to be effective than an unfocused, blanket email that’s sent to an entire database at the same time. This ability to customize email and send different versions to different subscribers is often called “dynamic content” and has been available for quite some time, although mostly within enterprise class email software like ExactTarget.

Beyond dynamic content lies the fertile ground of marketing automation, whereby email doesn’t just contain different information based on the characteristics of the recipient, the email itself is sent (or isn’t sent) based on behavioral criteria. For example, if a prospect in your database has visited your website three times in a week a “nudge” email is sent. This is marketing that approaches the “one to one” capability that professional communicators have dreamed about since the 1950s. Marketing automation of this type has been a reality for a few years, but has been contained in software like Marketo and Eloqua that is most appropriate for mid-sized and larger companies.

Marketing Automation for Small Business

Infusionsoft  Marketing Automation for Everyone with InfusionsoftBut now, Infusionsoft makes marketing automation a reality for small business – the very category of company that hyper-intelligent targeting can help the most. Small business doesn’t have the scale to paper over flabby communication campaigns with budget and frequency. They have to (or at least should) use every customer touch point as an opportunity to build meaningful relationships and drive transactions.

Infusionsoft is built with that philosophy at the forefront. A software as a service (SAAS) company based in Gilbert, Arizona (where I first became aware of them while living in the area), Infusionsoft has been on the Inc. Magazine list of America’s fastest-growing private companies for five years in a row. While the software itself is almost uniformly excellent, I believe Infusionsoft’s real advantage is their focus. They are the automation package for information marketers, professional services firms, and smallish retailers and e-tailers. Infusionsoft knows what their software does well and who can best take advantage of it, and they are very good at reaching out to that prospective customer base (including excellent use of social media and community management from my old pal Joe Manna).

Campaign Builder 1 e1323028790192 Marketing Automation for Everyone with Infusionsoft

Under the Hood of Infusionsoft

Of course you can use Infusionsoft to send email newsletters and other publications where everyone gets the same message, but that’s like swatting flies with a baseball bat. The real use case is automated email creation and delivery based on conditional logic and customer behavior. Essentially, you treat each customer and his/her circumstances as its very own marketing initiative.

Campaign Builder 2 Marketing Automation for Everyone with InfusionsoftWithin the software you create a campaign and define a starting behavior (such as filling out an online form). Then, you plot a series of follows ups to be automatically sent at pre-determined intervals (such as 3 different email offers sent 6 days apart). This follow up sequence can be as long and complex as you like, including layer upon layer of secondary sequences. You also define a stop point where the campaign ceases to operate, such as “purchased online”. Your prospects can automatically be set to jump between campaigns as well. If a prospect is in a regular campaign but then clicks a particular link on your site that indicates high intent to purchase, Infusionsoft can automatically move that prospect into a “hot lead” campaign, sending a different sequence of messages as a result.

Note that one of the elements of Infusionsoft I really like is their in-house “success coaches” who help you think through what types of campaigns and follow-up sequences you should build, and in what scenarios they should be deployed to build your business.

Incidentally, while email is the most likely ingredient in your follow-up mix, you can also use Infusionsoft to send voice mails, faxes, and snail mail.

Beyond Messaging

Part of the problem companies often face today is having multiple software packages to accomplish related tasks within their organization. One provider for email, one for customer data, one for website management, one for social media management, and the list goes on and on like Kim Kardashian’s matrimony excuses.

Infusionsoft is much closer to an all-in-one system. Certainly you can email/fax/voice mail from Infusionsoft. But the system also creates and hosts Web forms and links (for triggering campaigns and tracking ROI); serves as a rich and real-time customer database (excellent for salespeople); and includes e-commerce components like shopping carts and product pages, including dynamic discounts and coupon codes. You can even automatically insert links/icons for your social media presences across your Web assets, and more social media functionality is on the way.

Email Builder 1 e1323029802552 Marketing Automation for Everyone with InfusionsoftYou need to learn the Infusionsoft interface, and intuitive layout is the one area where the system could easily improve. But once you understand where and what to click within the system you’ll find that making emails and forms and pages within Infusionsoft is a snap. Even non-technical folks with the design and layout sensibility of a Hoarder can operate the software, and if you have professional graphics created by a pro you can store them in the database for instant retrieval and placement.

Reporting, ROI and Costs

Because Infusionsoft can power most aspects of your online marketing, the system can provide important, real-time reports on specific key metrics, and even actual ROI (either in an e-commerce setting or when you stipulate the value of other behaviors and transactions).

Because you really need to understand how your products/services are considered, purchased, and followed up on by your team, Infusionsoft is not a great choice for startups. To get the most out of the system, you need to have a clear picture of how your overall online marketing plans interact with sales and customer service.

Fees for Infusionsoft range from $199 to $999 per month. It’s not super cheap like an email-only provider such as Mail Chimp, but this software does a LOT more, and once you start poking around you’ll think of many more campaigns you want to set up, and sequences to launch.

And that’s ultimately the best aspect of Infusionsoft – it changes the way you think about online marketing and what’s possible and prudent within that realm.

horizontal Marketing Automation for Everyone with Infusionsoft

  • Ryan Malone

    Jay – usually love your articles, but I feel like InfusionSoft literally ghost-wrote this one. The hint: the only con was the complexity for a startup. Surely there are more than that :)

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @Ryan Malone Hi Ryan. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I can assure you that Infusionsoft wrote zero of those words. I do like the software quite a bit, and tried to point out the areas where it’s less than best-of-class. Certainly, usability is on top of that list. They are also behind on social media vs. competitors. And while it’s a positive that they offer success coaches, you kind of need them to maximize value. So it’s not really DIY. And it’s not cheap for truly small biz, but you get more than just an email system. I made all of those points in the post, but perhaps not as forcefully as I should have.

      • Ryan Malone

        @JayBaer@Ryan Malone Thanks for the clarification Jay and thanks for the always great material.

      • http://brianjambor.com/ brianjambor

        Just a heads up, we have a major release launching in January that will add a ton of social media features to the software. As you mentioned the coaching in your above post, with the coaching comes a customized marketing automation plan that each Infusionsoft client receives as part of the success coaching. Here is a sample: http://twitpic.com/7pekwk/full @JayBaer @Ryan Malone

  • http://www.digett.com figart

    I agree with Ryan on this one. I would like to know what you really feel to be true about InfusionSoft, and because it’s a paid endorsement I feel compelled to read it with a healthy amount of skepticism. On the bright side, I do appreciate the disclosure.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @figart See my comments to Ryan below. For the record, this is not a paid endorsement. As part of their sponsorship of this blog, I promised Infusionsoft I would write an honest review. And I did. They are a sponsor because I like them, not the other way around.

      You will NEVER see a sponsor on this blog that I don’t personally believe in. Also, you will rarely see a negative review on this site. I don’t feel like me slamming a product is valuable to readers, and it’s not my style to be negative on products. I am often negative on strategy and corporate execution, but to me that’s a more valuable use of my time, and my readers’ time. I only go truly negative when my belief is clearly counter to the majority opinion. The last occurrence of that was with the Seth Godin book “We Are All Weird” which I did not like, despite widespread praise elsewhere.

      Could I have been more explicit in the areas where Infusionsoft falls short? Probably.. And perhaps I should have. In this case, they happen to be a product I like, with the reservations described in the post, and illuminated to a greater degree in my comment to @Ryan Malone

      Sincere thanks for speaking up. The only currency I have is your trust, and I’ll never abuse it.

      • http://www.digett.com figart

        @JayBaer@Ryan Malone Appreciate the response, Jay. That helps immensely.

  • ericboggs

    We’re big believers in purpose-built B2B marketing automation software at Argyle. We’ve implemented Pardot over the past month. Also big fans of Marketo’s offering.

    • kathysacks

      @ericboggs Both companies you mentioned here are great tools as well and have wide adoption. They are more designed for mid-size and larger companies, or those smallish organizations that intend to grow their sales teams over time.

  • kathysacks

    Jay – thanks for the review here. I’m especially thankful for your audience of sharp marketers who ask the tough questions, like “Ryan Malone” and “figart”below. It means you have an engaged, intelligent tribe that has come to trust you… and in marketing that’s the best kind of community to build. We were happy to give you a demo and let you decide for yourself what you think of our software. Thrilled that you saw the magic that an all-in-one sales and marketing software can mean for small businesses. Getting the thumbs-up from someone like you, who’s seen just about every tool out there across the sales, marketing and social sphere, is big. And we’re pumped about it.

    I’m certain you’ll like our upcoming product release in January that incorporates social media into the mix, as well as some other enhancements in usability and functionality coming down the pike later in the next few months.

    Thanks for all you, and your readers, do in enlightening the world on ways to be a better brand marketer.

    @kathysacks

    VP Communications, Infusionsoft

  • JasonStoddard

    @JayBaer , thanks for covering Infusionsoft. Truth be known, a new client and I were on the fence about this solution until we came across this post–Search–>Social Proof, FTW. I thought I might be able to provide some insights about my Infusionsoft experience to date.

    Caveat: LiveFyre has a character limit so I’ve broken this down into three spearate posts

    Context: I am not new to CRM’s and marketing automation software. I’ve even built some of my own platforms. With this client, however, an out of the box solution was expedient. Infusionsoft affords six consulting sessions as a new customer. I’ve completed 2 of the 6 sessions, in addition to completing the homework assigned (and then some). I am literally in the bowels of the worst part of any new process–onboarding. However, I have launched a couple of campaigns and sequences.

    Here is what I have found (the “needs work” before the “good” (and evidence that one big reason “for” amounts to more than smaller reasons “against”):

  • JasonStoddard

    Post 2 of 3

    The “Needs Work” (gentle nod to @Ryan Malone who may find my experience useful.)

    Whereas there is much added value from the consulting sessions, asking a new customer to schedule 6 sessions over 6 weeks, is far too long a cycle. (Pro-tip: Highly advise against onboarding into a new CRM/automation solution around the holidays.)

    The initial MAP session and the corresponding MAP is boilerplate. I kinda felt like I was being shoe-horned into another model that was a close fit, but not “just right.” Whereas I know the MAP session is more educational in nature, given the fact that the education happens over six weeks, coupled with a client anxious to start moving the meter, things can get tense quickly. I am only as good as my partner. If my partner is absentee most of the time, it requires a copious amount fo note taking, if not calls/chats/emails to customer support.

    Whereas Infusionsoft recently released new social sharing widgets and buttons, the “social” in Social CRM is non-existent. I’m currently straddling between Infusionsoft (for sales and marketing automation) and Nimble (for social CRM integration and monitoring.)

    The market-facing look and feel of Infusionsoft is quite spartan. While this plays to the advantage of the client in question (because said client does business with an industrial market/audience,) it’s lacking.

    Linking contacts is complicated.

    Lacks the functionality to house videos within an email.

    More templates, please. Think: Mailchimp.

    More graphical/modular dashboard interface, please. (On this note, a marriage between batchblue and infusionsoft would create a royal bloodline. :-) )

    There is no such thing as auto-merging in Infusionsoft. EVERY ACTION IS A NEW EVENT. PAINFUL.

    Most Important: Give me the opportunity to meet a third-party Infusionsoft developer/coach by supporting the development of a community of Infusionsoft developers/coaches. Think: salesforce for SMB.

  • JasonStoddard

    The “Good”

    I cannot say enough good things about Infusionsoft’s marketing automation tools. On one hand, there are a number of functions and on the other, the workflow to set up an automation sequence/ action sequence, is very logical and easy. ANYONE ASSESSING MARKETING AUTOMATION FOR SMB SHOULD NOT TAKE THIS FOR GRANTED.

    The customer support is very good. From the outside looking in, Infusionsoft seems to value retention just as much, if not more, than new sales.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment and interject. Should you be interested, I’m happy to update this comment and others as I learn and experience more. Towards creative fidelity, jasonstoddard

  • Josh brown

    Hey Jay: how does infusionsoft compare to salesforce. From what I have read, infusionsoft has more to offer, but i am not sure. I am considering both….and really struggling with which one to go for

  • Kelly Reynolds

    I agree with a few below – because this is a paid endorsement, it’s hard to take seriously. I’ve recently moved into a position where I’ve gone from using Wordfly to Infusionsoft and have found that it has a lot of downfalls for true email marketing. I think it’s a great CRM and it’s triggered campaigns are wonderful, but simple things like viewing campaign metrics and having multiple single-send email drafts prove that it has some work to be done on it’s email marketing software. I’d be interested to see how true email marketers are feeling about this system without paid biases.