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3/22/2011
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Infusionsoft Upgrades SMB Marketing Automation Tool

The developer focuses on simplifying lead generation and campaign creation with the latest release of its cloud-based software.

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Infusionsoft on Tuesday announced updates to its Web-based marketing automation platform for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), streamlining campaign creation and form building.

The new release marks an early notch on the belt of Richard Tripp, VP of product development. Tripp spent five years heading up business analysis for Intuit's popular QuickBooks software before joining Infusionsoft seven months ago.

"The first thing I had to do was pivot the culture around product development," Tripp said in an interview. "The company was very technology-driven, and I wanted to get them into a place where they were very customer-driven with their innovation."

Tripp's team has conducted more than 170 customer interviews during the last three months, including "follow me home" research based on Intuit's use of similar methods. Infusionsoft currently has 6,500 customers. Feature enhancements in the new release include drag-and-drop development of customized Web forms for generating and capturing leads. Forms can be published to a company's own site or hosted by Infusionsoft. Another option allows for the code to be sent to a Web master or other client user via email.

Infusionsoft also streamlined its campaign creation tool. Launching a turnkey, automated email follow-up program now takes a matter of minutes, if not seconds. Tripp said that his team had heard from partners that the previous process for setting up a campaign was too labor-intensive, taking upwards of six hours in some cases. "Now, it's a push-button function," Tripp said. Users can also create custom campaigns, tailoring the number of follow-ups or length of time between contacts, for example.

Infusionsoft targets firms with between five and 25 employees, but doesn't take a catch-all sales approach. "There are millions of businesses out there that have just started and are kind of looking for ways to stabilize their business model, still trying to figure things out," Tripp said. "Not really a good fit for us."

Instead, Infusionsoft focuses on what it calls the "successful small business user." Those prospective clients have hit certain benchmarks, such as three years in business and more than $200,000 in annual revenue. Perhaps most important to Infusionsoft is that its ideal customers have not only started to build a marketing list, but actually think of it as such -- and they're growing concerned with how best to message those leads and customers. Infusionsoft's current clients have on average between 4,000 and 5,000 people in their lists, according to Tripp.

"They're already using email marketing, already using auto-responder, already using some basic [customer relationship management, or] CRM. They have a Web site up and are driving traffic to that Web site," Tripp said of the Infusionsoft's target profile, adding that his company's primary prospects are ready to spend money on marketing. "They are feeling pain around multiple-system chaos."

Spam scoring is another new feature -- the new release integrates SpamAssassin to help SMBs avoid delivery and compliance issues. According to Tripp, some smaller businesses are ill-prepared for spam compliance: "They're kind of breaking rules, getting themselves into trouble with their ISPs, and getting marked as spammers just because they don't understand."

Tripp said that Infusionsoft's cloud delivery model is crucial. It enables a more frequent release schedule for software -- three to four a year, in this case -- and also enables a vendor like Infusionsoft to access the "small" in SMB, which often operates without full-time IT support.

"For me, it is all Web," Tripp said. "We're a [software as a service] company. We think the only companies that are going to be successful with small business going forward are SaaS companies."

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