Customer relationship management (CRM) is core to how businesses of all sizes succeed in gaining, growing, and engaging an active customer base. Infusionsoft (which begins at $199 per month) is straightforward and easy-to-use automated sales and email marketing software that’s geared squarely at small businesses with 25 employees or less. The company caters to business users who aren’t too sales and marketing-savvy. It even encourages small businesses to grow with them (up to 100 or so employees) and then move to a heftier solution that’s better suited to small to midsize businesses (SMBs) and enterprise organizations.
As such, Infusionsoft can’t quite match the depth of CRM features you’ll find in platforms such as Editors’ Choices Apptivo CRM, Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional, and Zoho CRM. Ditto for the email marketing side, where Editors’ Choices Campaigner and MailChimp have Infusionsoft beat in template selection, more comprehensive reporting metrics, and overall functionality. But, if you’re a newly started small business without much sales and marketing experience, a business making the switch to digital sales and marketing, or you’re looking to move off of a bigger platform like Salesforce, then Infusionsoft hits that automated sweet spot in the middle for small businesses.
Infusionsoft begins at $199 per month for its Essentials plan, which includes the platform’s base CRM and email marketing automation features and quotas of 2,500 contacts and 12,500 emails per month, for a maximum of three users. The Deluxe $299-per-month tier ups that to four users, 5,000 contacts, and 25,000 emails per month and comes in two flavors: you can either add the company’s sales automation pipeline features or e-commerce capabilities depending on your business needs. The Complete package, priced at $379 per month, doubles the capacity again to 10,000 contacts and 50,000 emails per month, for five users and all four core feature sets (CRM, e-commerce, marketing automation, and sales automation). Finally, there’s the $599-per-month Team plan (20,000 contacts and 100,000 emails per month for 10 users) and all plans are billed monthly according to an annual contract.
As the software is geared toward small businesses, all plans also come with a mandatory one-time setup fee called a Kickstart package; this comes with a few different tiers depending on the level of consulting and implementation help your business needs. The $999 Kickstart Basic package comes with a dedicated “Coach” to help your business devise a sales and marketing strategy, and plan and launch an automation campaign. In the $1,999 Kickstart Plus package, the Infusionsoft consultant will plan and launch three campaigns. The $2,999 Kickstart Pro package fully offloads Inufsionsoft setup and implementation.
All setup plans come with access your permanent application instance. Even at its basic tier, Infusionsoft carries an expensive price tag, but that’s because it delivers CRM and marketing automation alonside your email marketing tool, as opposed to our Editors’ Choice CRM tools or other mid-tier platforms such as Pipedrive CRM or Bitrix24 CRM, which are primarily standalone CRM tools.
Users, Contacts, and Lead Management
The Infusionsoft user experience (UX) begins with a basic training panel that you can explore to view a guided tour of the platform’s navigation and tutorials on managing contacts, sending emails, building campaigns, managing automated tasks and processes, or setting up your e-commerce module (if you’re subscribed to an appropriate tier or have it as an add-on). From there, the navigation takes you to the main dashboard. Organized into drag-and-drop widgets, the layout is customizable and lets you add widgets to the dashboard, including one for contacts, quick email reports, usage stats, campaign reporting, tasks, custom statistics, or a real-time widget showing leads in various stages of the sales pipeline.
Creating and managing contacts in Infusionsoft is extremely intuitive. You can quickly add a contact by using the “Plus” button on the top right-hand side of the dashboard, next to the Search bar. In the main Contacts page (accessible from the top navigation bar), hovering over a contact entry pops up a Quick Action bar and gives you the ability to do things like adding a task or appointment, sending the contact an email, viewing recent quotes and sales opportunities (leads), or checking their Lead Score, without having to click into the contact entry. The entry itself includes more detailed contact information and sales fields, including associated sales campaigns and the ability to manage the contact’s invoices.
The contact and lead management capabilities are far more basic than dealing with contacts in a platform such as Salesforce, but for inexperienced business users, it’s all easy and straightforward. All entries include inline editing capabilities that can be done by pressing the small Pencil icon in any element to open a pop-up box. We had no issues with the no-frills contact management in Infusionsoft, which is on par with the functionality you’ll find in similar offerings such as Base CRM and Insightly CRM.
The Lead Scores are a helpful lead management metric that businesses can customize by going into the Settings menu and selecting “Edit Score.” From here, you can create various rules and assign point values to them to determine the criteria on which you judge a desirable lead. The score is based on a scale of 1-5 “flames” and point values can be associated with tags from a contact’s bio (such as budget, interests, new lead, new customer, subscribers, and whether they’re associated with any campaigns or opportunities). Depending on the score, you can also set automated actions and tasks. So, if a lead has three flames, in the visual automation builder you can set triggers to automatically send a message and generate a task when a contact reaches that lead score.
A marketing business can use this handy feature to automate basic qualifications of which leads are worth the time and resources to pursue. Setting up the granular rules and triggers associated with lead scores and automated actions can be a bit of a pain—especially for businesses that haven’t thought out how they’d like to measure scores beforehand. But that kind of setup task is also covered in Infusionsoft’s Kickstart setup packages.
Another useful feature of the Infusionsoft platform is called “My Day,” which is a separate dashboard view that’s more centralized and task-oriented. Accessible from the Home icon drop-down menu, My Day is another drag-and-drop widget view that acts more like a project management (PM) dashboard, organizing tasks, appointments, notes, and opportunities in a left-hand widget column (with a large sandbox area on the right-hand side to allow you to quickly pull up a sales task from the list and work on it). Infusionsoft sees My Day as a small business sales or marketing employee’s first stop to organize his or her priorities and log contact and lead updates. We think it’s one of the best features of the platform. If anything, Infusionsoft should do away with the main dashboard view and put My Day front-and-center, with a greater list of widget customizability because, at the moment, the view’s only fault is a mild feeling of redundancy.
Creating a Subscriber List
Infusionsoft is geared towards small business owners who are new to digital marketing. Its average company is a Mom-and-Pop type shop with between two and 25 employees. When you log in for the first time, you’re prompted to set up an email signature (or more than one) and connect to Facebook and Twitter and add users.
You can import contacts from third-party services including 1ShoppingCart, AWeber, Constant Contact, iContact, and Microsoft Outlook, or by uploading a CSV file. During the process, you can watch a video tutorial and download a sample file. Then you have to map the fields. Infusionsoft figured out email and birthday but, oddly, not name or surname. It also didn’t recognize gender. You can add custom fields in several categories including drop-down menu, text, numbers, and dates. This process was very straightforward. For every list you upload, you’re asked whether you plan on sending email marketing to these contacts, and if so, how they joined your list, how often you plan to send emails, and other information to prevent spam. One nitpick: it’s not noted that all fields are required, even in the blank form at the end. We couldn’t get past it until we did so. We appreciate their spam compliance but it would have been helpful to label as such. Once you’re done, you can preview some or all of your contact entries to make sure everything looks good. (Ours looked great.) And you can save import settings for future use, which is nice.
Accounts come with unlimited hosted web forms. You can choose the fields you want to collect and drag and drop any additional elements you want to add to the form (such as an HTML block, image, social button, or video). As with an email broadcast, you can customize the font, layout, and styling. Next, you can set up a landing page, where signups go after they submit the form. Once you publish the form, you can grab the code to post it on your website.
Setting Up and Tracking Email Broadcasts
You can send out several different types of “broadcasts” as Infusionsoft calls them, including email, fax, letter, and voice broadcasts. For email broadcasts, you can either create an email from scratch or use their email builder. The first option gives you more flexibility and includes an HTML code builder if you have that expertise.
The email builder includes over a dozen predesigned templates from which to choose; you can customize them with your own images, links, and text. Compared with Emma (which has more than 100), that’s not a lot; however, Infusionsoft’s options are more versatile than those offered by Zoho Campaigns. You can drag and drop elements such as images, spacers, text, video, and social buttons, and customize the colors and styles of each. We like that you can also easily delete an unwanted element by clicking it, which reveals a trash icon. We weren’t able to remove elements when using SendinBlue. You can adjust font styles, sizes, and colors in Infusionsoft, too. You can also preview your email on both desktop and mobile so you can get a sense of how it’ll look on different platforms and devices. Once you’re satisfied, you can send out your email right away or schedule it for later delivery. Before you’re able to send it, though, Infusionsoft puts it through a checklist, and flags anything that’s missing (such as a subject line or contact list). You can save customized templates with your company logo for easy reuse.
To create auto-responders, you use the campaign builder tool, with which you create a simple process map. There, you choose triggers (clicked an email link, made a purchase, etc.) or segments (contacts in a geographic region or demographic). Infusionsoft’s marketplace includes predesigned campaigns that you can use, many of which are free, such as networking campaigns and appointment follow-ups. You can set these up for internal staff, too, such as an onboarding series.
On the email Stats page, you can see all of the information about a particular broadcast, including when it was sent, the template used, subject, and how many contacts received it. Beneath that, you can see a pie chart showing what percentage of recipients opened the email. Next to the chart, you can see a tabulation of opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and bounces. Finally, there’s a social reach section that shows you how your campaign performed on Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter.
If you’ve sent a campaign with a series of emails, you can see how each one performed and where engagement drops off so you can make improvements as necessary.On your dashboard, you can view how well an email broadcast has performed as compared to your average performance.
Reporting and Third-Party Integration
CRM and email marketing reporting in Infusionsoft is fairly extensive for small businesses across sales and referral data. In the Reports menu, the Sales section includes pipeline-specific reporting such as stage-to-stage progression of various leads, call history summaries by representative, sales rep conversion percentages, opportunity (lead) reports on forecasts, and actual revenue generated from a lead. The Referral reports cover partner activity, payments, ledgers, and per-contact success of any referral program the business is running. Infusionsoft also gives you the ability to save a report and run it again. The reports themselves are fairly basic in aesthetic and execution—straightforward charts and graphs without many added metrics—and don’t compare to the more robust reporting of a platform such as Zoho CRM. But for small businesses, the reporting features give you the measurable you need without inundating you with data you don’t need.
On the integration front, Infusionsoft has a marketplace that’s accessible from the top navigation bar in the dashboard. The marketplace includes apps, services, and add-ons built by largely Infusionsoft’s third-party ecosystem.
The other category of items in the marketplace is called “Campaigns,” where Infusionsoft users upload successful email marketing campaigns for download by other businesses. The marketplace is still relatively small, with only a few hundred apps, services, and campaigns available. But it includes integrations for specific business types such as real estate, fitness and wellness, accounting and bookkeeping, medical, retail or restaurants, and legal services. The marketplace is another example of Infusionsoft gearing its product toward specialized small business use cases.
Marketing Automation for the Little Guy
Although Infusionsoft is designed primarily for small businesses, its marketing automation features are robust and easy to use. Its gorgeous drag-and-drop user interface (UI) is ideal for pulling together lengthy and complex marketing workflows that would otherwise be done via long drop-down menus and tabs. You can personalize your own navigation via drag-and-drop functionality to create any look and feel you need in order to speed up navigation.
Infusionsoft’s campaign workflows are presented in graphical form so that you can easily see each step and branch of a campaign. Actions and communication methods are depicted via icons (i.e., email is an envelope and click-to-call is a phone) that can be dragged and dropped into position along the marketing funnel. To connect one step of the chain to another, simply draw a line with your mouse from one icon to the next. This tells the system that the previous step’s completion triggers the following action. You can double-click any icon to investigate or edit the stage of the campaign should you need to make on-the-fly changes.
For example, if you click the Nurturing Email icon, you can edit and adjust the email message or you can send a new message. The same goes with web forms, Facebook landing pages, and any other sequence that appears on your workflow. The beauty of Infusionsoft’s workflow tool is that it can automatically remove a tag from a contact if he or she completes a certain part of the workflow process. This lets you pull someone from a campaign once he or she makes a purchase or if he or she clicks to contact a salesperson. This level of automation isn’t found in tools such as SendinBlue or Zoho. To keep track of your workflows, you can create an unlimited number of campaign categories, such as Welcome, Birthday, Consultation, or Nurture. Within each of those categories, you can see the different types of campaigns you’ve created (as opposed to a list of thousands of campaigns).
Another of the tool’s more innovative elements is its real-time alert dashboard, which lets you see the moment people take action on a campaign. For example, if an email you sent to Thomas Smith three weeks ago was just opened, then a notification will appear alongside other recent contact actions. This lets you take immediate action on a white whale contact without having to actively search his or her record.
Infusionsoft lets you create customized sales pipelines, customized reporting, and unlimited custom tagging. It also includes dozens of pre-built reports, any of which can be built according to specifications to narrow down on specific fields. You can also run searches on the custom fields you created. Each contact record can include up to 100 custom fields. You can then monitor contact and campaign performance based on multiple different criteria, such as purchases, opens, or basically any other interaction type a contact can have with your email. You can then take one of dozens of actions to better move each specific user through the funnel or you can dump them entirely. Infusionsoft puts no limit on the number of stages of a campaign and no limit on the number of branches for each step. If you want to quickly start blasting out emails, then the tool comes with 67 pre-built campaigns. Each of these campaigns can be edited and customized if you decide to use one as a starting point rather than as a final template.
Unfortunately, Infusionsoft doesn’t allow for any social media marketing automation, so you’re beholden to your contact’s email inbox to spread your messaging. However, it does have an open application programming interface (API) and it integrates with Zapier, so you can connect the tool to many social marketing products in order to hit your contacts from multiple channels. Infusionsoft’s native integration with its e-commerce and CRM platform lets you track contacts from the beginning stages of the browsing cycle via e-commerce, into the registration process via your email tool, and into upsells and cross-sells via CRM. This level of tight integration is extremely valuable, especially as your employee rosters and contact lists grow.
But the biggest issue with Infusionsoft is its stature. Infusionsoft recommends that companies with no more than 100 employees use the tool, and it’s at optimal performance with no more than 20 people using the tool at once. This is no big deal for small companies that plan to stay small but, if your company is planning to scale, you’re probably best served with an enterprise-focused tool such as HubSpot or Pardot.
Easy-to-Use CRM and Email Marketing for Small Businesses
If you’re a new small business or one without much experience in sales, marketing, and email campaigns, then Infusionsoft will hold your hand throughout the process and leave you with a CRM platform in which it’s difficult to get lost or confused. That handholding comes at a premium price—particularly since the offering is geared toward small businesses with 25 employees or less.
If you’re a more established or growing business that wants a lower monthly price without the setup fees, then you should go for Editors’ Choices Apptivo CRM, Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional, or Zoho CRM; this is especially true if you’re looking for a full-featured CRM solution. Or you should go for Campaigner or MailChimp for a top-notch email marketing solution. But, if you want all of your CRM and email marketing capabilities in one easy-to-use platform (and don’t mind paying a little more for dedicated consultants as a safety net when you have issues or questions), then Infusionsoft could be the right CRM and email marketing platform for your business.