Thursday, August 06, 2009

Infusionsoft Pushes the Right Buttons for Small Business Marketing

Summary: Infusionsoft knows exactly how to sell marketing automation to small business: promise more revenue, less work, strong support and a low price. The system is designed for entrepreneurs, not full-time marketers.

Since marketing automation for small business was on my mind last week, I checked in with the good folks at Infusionsoft, whose 15,000 customers make them leaders in the field. I ended up chatting with Scott Martineau, company founder and VP Product Management. It was a helpful conversation for a few reasons.

  • It solidified my understanding that Infusionsoft is aimed at REALLY small companies – typically four or five employees, and very rarely more than 25. Typical clients are selling business services such as training or consumer services such as landscaping, dry cleaning, legal help and niche publishing. Those companies have no dedicated marketing staff and often no specialized sales person. This makes them significantly smaller than buyers of most of the systems I write about – which is something to bear in mind when looking at how Infusionsoft does things.

  • It showed that Infusionsoft has mastered the art of a clear, simple value proposition: “Fix Your Follow-up, Double Your Sales. Guaranteed.” Um, any questions? That particular headline is inside their site, but the one on the main page (“One ‘Killer App’ to Grow Your Business Fast”) makes a similar promise about growth.

    (As to the guarantee itself, the company Web site says “When you use Infusionsoft to fix your follow-up with prospects and customers, you will double your sales. If after 12 months you have not doubled your sales and you’re not confident with the progress you’re making, you can cancel the software and we’ll refund half of your first year’s subscription fees.” Although there were originally some conditions on the guarantee, the company removed them all last month.)

  • As Infusionsoft’s main headline reinforces, small businesses want as few systems as possible. Martineau said that Infusionsoft typically replaces separate CRM, email, shopping cart and possibly affiliate tracking systems. But this is where it’s worth remembering that Infusionsoft is working with very small businesses: larger firms might have greater need for separate systems.

  • Even Infusionsoft doesn’t attempt to do everything. It doesn’t run the company Web site (which most small businesses have someone else do for them) or provide accounting (a market dominated by Intuit QuickBooks).

    Nor, more surprisingly, does Infusionsoft provide inbound marketing (search engine optimization, paid search tracking, Web analytics, detailed activity tracking, blogging, etc.) features to help generate initial Web leads. I can think of a few possible explanations: Infusionsoft clients don’t do much inbound marketing, or they let their Webmasters do it for them, or they are happy with free tools like Google Analytics. Marketers at larger companies may be more demanding. Martineau said his main priorities are elsewhere, in better email and general ease of use.

  • Small businesses need marketing support. Infusionsoft’s original solution was personal set-up assistance funded by a $2,500 to $5,000 implementation fee. But of course the fee itself was a barrier to sales. Infusionsoft has therefore invested heavily in making its system even easier to use and in providing extensive self-help features such as video tutorials. With those in place, it last month stopped charging the set-up fees.

    The capstone of Infusionsoft’s self-help is the Campaign Launchpad, which is worth a look no matter where you work. Launchpad leads users from general questions about their marketing goals to specific instructions and materials for predesigned Infusionsoft campaigns. It won't replace a real marketing consultant, since it can’t analyze whether you’ve made sound decisions. But it’s an excellent resource for people who need help in getting started. The Launchpad is open to everyone, not just Infusionsoft users.

  • Many small businesses will pay for help when the value is clear. For them, Infusionsoft has developed an array of small-ticket service options, such as a $299 “data transition service” to import existing customer lists. This lets business owners purchase exactly what they feel they need. Martineau said he expects about half of Infusionsoft’s new customers will eventually purchase some sort of paid service.
  • 3 comments:

    acrossaz said...

    The key to doubling sales is fixing your follow up failure. The definition of follow up failure is, when an entrepreneur is spending time, money and effort to drive prospects to their website, they then follow up with those leads once or twice due to lack of time, which then allows those leads to fall through the cracks. Most entrepreneurs know that it takes 7 different touches with a prospect where you are delivering pertinent, timely and educational information in order to get them to buy.

    Great article David, this problem occurs across all segments of the market, and in all industries.

    Adam Ross

    JM said...

    This is a great post. I'm glad that you brought up the point that Infusionsoft isn't trying to be everything to everyone. What's that well known phrase? - "jack of all trades, master of none."

    Infusionsoft has truly become the master of fixing follow-up failure. No other business in the industry has perfected the strategies, features and functionality of structured, sequential marketing.

    As for inbound marketing, things like a web presence, SEO, PPC, tracking analytics etc., they leave up to CMAC's (Certified Marketing Automation Coaches) like us.

    They have a list of these CMAC partners who provide services related to the additional moving parts of a business that are tied closely to the usage and overall success of the Infusionsoft application.

    If you or any of your readers need expert assistance with the Infusionsoft application or related inbound marketing services, you can reach us here:

    http://imarketingmavens.com

    Thanks again David for this excellent review of Infusionsoft.

    All the best,

    Jarrod Morris

    Marketing Mavens

    Dave said...

    In a recent Infusionsoft customer survey, we confirmed that nearly 40% of our customers have between 2-4 employees. So yes, we service what some call 'micro-businesses'. We like to call them entrepreneurs.

    It's clear there is significant demand for tools that are both marketing-centric and automation-rich. Tracking prospects and customers with Excel spreadsheets or a contact manager just doesn't cut it anymore for today's Internet savvy entrepreneur or small business.

    Furthermore, the vast majority of these businesses have significant problems when it comes to staying in touch with prospects and customers. We call it "Follow-up Failure". When a business fixes their follow-up problem (through automation), amazing things happen in terms of revenue growth, efficiency & time gains, etc. I've seen this happen hundreds of times with customers and it's one of the most satisfying aspects of my role at Infusionsoft.