Who better to relay software usability needs than the actual user? With that in mind, Gilbert, Ariz.–based software company Infusionsoft reached out to its users for help while updating its small-business marketing automation product, according to chief executive officer Clate Mask. Infusionsoft put its customers to work testing the company's latest release, its Automated Follow-Up Marketing Solution. The result yielded what Mask characterizes as a simple-yet-intuitive interface with more customizable options for users. "People want options," Mask says. "But not in their faces."
Instead of an overwhelming and cluttered display, Infusionsoft developers cut down on what users see when initially logging onto the Infusionsoft landing page. "The new interface is in line with what else is out there in terms of Web 2.0 interfaces," says Brent Leary, cofounder and partner of small-enterprise CRM consulting and advisory firm CRM Essentials.
Infusionsoft, which targets small companies of between two and 25 employees, focuses on a very simple mission, Mask says: "Providing value in a day." The software automates lead conversions and marketing efforts, and one of the home-page features that Infusionsoft retained is a progress meter that shows users how far they've come in terms of a campaign. Users are provided with wizards and templates to "give customers a vision of what they want to accomplish -- when they don't have a vision [of their own]," Mask says.
Mask also emphasizes the software company's commitment -- and passion -- toward the truly small business. He says Infusionsoft has no intention to move upstream and that what he loves about the true small business is the intimacy Infusionsoft can have with its customers. "We don't push them to lose that personalization," he says. Instead, Infusionsoft offers help through automation for businesses experiencing pains or struggles with marketing. "We're teaching them to think through processes when they don't know how to think about it." He adds, "A lot of small businesses don't get [that] there's a process behind what [they're] doing everyday." Infusionsoft claims to have signed more than 1,600 companies to date and to have more than 8,000 users running on its software.
Leary says he has been impressed by Infusionsoft's offerings for the small-business CRM segment, adding that there's not a lot out there in terms of software for companies with fewer than 25 employees. On that note, Mask points out the title "small-to-midsize business" (SMB) is deceiving -- it includes firms with as many as 500 employees. Software providers catering to deployments of that scale don't have a whole lot specifically designed for the five-man shop, he says: "A lot of vendors are great at sounding like they have offerings for the small business."
In terms of functionality, it often doesn't matter how many bells and whistles a product has -- if the software is difficult to use, it might as well be broken, Leary says. And while many software offerings include great functionality, what customers really need from vendors, he says, "is help in understanding, 'Why should I do this?' and 'Why do I need this?' "
Leary says that Infusionsoft, through its design and toolset, does a solid job in answering those questions for its users. He does point out that, however, that to continue to strengthen its offerings, a close integration with Microsoft Outlook would prove valuable for Infusionsoft's user base.
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