I’ve noticed something interesting lately with regard to SPAM complaints. First, let me set up the situation: A customer buys a product online. The customer fills out a web form with their contact information to complete the transaction. This customer even checks the box on the form indicating that they want to receive future marketing communications from the seller. An opt-in email confirmation is sent out and the customer promptly confirms their email address and opt-in status. [Read more…]Infusionsoft records everything including the opt-in confirmation with the original web form, IP address and time stamp data.
Infusion users send a lot of email. By “a lot” I mean over 250,000,000 messages in 2007! We’ve worked hard here at infusion to build the technological infrastructure and to establish the relationships in the email deliverability industry to get our user’s email delivered. However, much of the success of getting email delivered rests solely with the sender using best practices. The following are a few tips to help:
Focus special attention on the beginning of the email relationship
The most significant decline in email performance comes a couple months after recipients opt in. Engage your new subscribers immediately with an orchestrated campaign that includes a welcome message that is sent out upon confirmation, followed by something of value like the current newsletter or promotion, or emails offering a set of best-of newsletter articles or an email-exclusive offer just for newcomers.
Clearly establish expectations
Make sure you manage subscribers’ expectations from the start by adequately explaining the email program’s value proposition, frequency, type of content and privacy policies. Be sure to mix-up sales pitches with valuable content targeted at your subscriber. Don’t be a “blastard”. ;-)
Test, Test, and Retest
What worked for you just a few months ago might not work today. Companies need to test variables continuously, including format, design, copy style and calls to action, subject line approach and offers, personalization, content types or product categories. Start with simple A/B split tests, and repeat the test at least a few times to verify results.
Use Content Best Practices
Don’t try to be tricky with subject lines or introductions. Proof your work and use a content checker. Use a rendering tool to make sure your email formatting appears correctly in a number of different email clients. Use targeted, relevant content that provides valuable information to your subscribers.
It might seem obvious, but without doubt the number 1 way to get your email delivered is to get and confirm permission from your subscriber. Capturing an opt-in and confirming it with a follow-up email is the best practice to ensure you only add recipients that want your email.
The email deliverability landscape is always changing as ISPs try to keep ahead of the SPAMers. The thoughts above are just a few of the many best practices used to get email delivered. Post your ideas on what works and share your success tips and trick a little effort, everyone should be able to have successful and profitable email marketing campaigns.
A few weeks ago we had the 2008 Infusion User’s Conference held in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was AWESOME! This is the third year we have held the conference and it was great to reconnect with old friends/customers and meet so many new members of the Infusion family. Small business and entrepreneur uber-guru Michael Gerber was the keynote speaker on the second day. It was great to be inspired by Michael again. He was a keynote speaker last year too. I have also had the great personal benefit and pleasure of having attended an In the Dreaming Room session with Michael early last year held in Napa Valley, California. Listening to Michael again at the conference reminded me of many of the things I learned in the Dreaming Room.
The experience literally changed my life.
I attended the Dreaming Room with Scott Martineau, the founder of Infusion and our Vice President of Product Management and David William Lee, our Vice President of Marketing. Michael introduced us to the concept of “intentional dreaming” and he startled me out of my state of relative sleep to see things completely diferently. I actually “woke up” from my day-to-day state of “waking sleep” to really, intentionally dream and discover the meaning of what I am doing personally, and what we are doing at Infusion.
Michael’s Dreaming Room changed Infusion also. Scott, Dave and I came back from the Dreaming Room with our minds blown. We felt like we were in a different universe with regard to thinking bigger and with more meaning than we ever had before. We returned to the office with a new sense of purpose. A few months after the three of us went to the Dreaming Room, our President Clate Mask and Sam Blackham our Director of Finance attended an In the Dreaming Room session with Michael. Same result!
As the leaders of Infusion we all put our heads together and re-tooled our company, particurally with regard to the meaning of why were building Infusion to serve small businesses. Clate later created our Dream, Vision, Purpose and Mission as follows:
Revolutionize the way small businesses drive and manage their growth.
Infusion will be THE sales and marketing software program small businesses use to grow their companies quickly and profitably.
Liberate and empower small businesses and their employees so they can enjoy doing business, wow their customers and better serve their families and communities
To create the leading sales and marketing software program for small business that is easy to use and powerful enough to turn small businesses into big businesses.
It is not hard to see our focus and commitment to small business. We sometimes say that we are “stubbornly small business.” Michael taught us how to intentionally dream and it has made a tremendous difference, both for me personally and for Infusion. I can’t recommend the Dreaming Room highly enough. Thanks, Michael.
Consider the following concept: feature suggestions, defects and change requests are really just like sales leads.
Right now I’m sitting-in on the inaugural Infusion ICC (Infusion Certified Consultant) training course. It is the charter class for ICCs and every seat is full (over 50 in all)! It is a 5 day course and it is going great! Tons of great CRM and contact manager information being exchanged by the group. After all, almost everyone doing the ICC course is a CRM or contact manager expert.
Anyway, as the ICC course is proceeding everyone is encouraged to put feature suggestions and change requests on post-it notes. We put them into a basket and we later enter them into our ticketing system. We are getting some FANTASTIC suggestions listed on the post-it notes that we put in the basket!
Well, during one of the breaks a few of the course attendees and I were chatting and I was asked if I was cringing at all the post-it notes in the basket. To their surprise, I answered ABSOULTLY NOT! Fact is I LOVE all the suggestions on how to make the software better. I explained that all the post-it notes are just like sales leads to me. I consider all of the suggestions to be written on gold! Make no mistake, I’m very proud of our product and all the functionality it offers our customers.’ Nevertheless, we have a great opportunity to get feedback from all the ICCs to make us even better and stronger. I’m going to take every “lead” and chase it down and close it.
A few months ago our VP of Marketing David William Lee suggested the concept of bugs = leads, and I thank him for the idea. We are working every day here at Infusion to make the product better and I want to thank all the ICCs for giving me such great “leads” to work with.
Over Christmas I got a Mac Mini to use with my home theater system as a media center computer. I have been using my D-Link DSM-520 with mixed results as my media center device/extender to listen to mp3s, watch video (limited) and view my photos on my main home theater system. The DSM-520 is an okay product. The latest firmware update makes it noticeably faster. Nevertheless, it is a little difficult to use. I have been planning on replacing it with a true media center PC for a while and as it turns out the Mac Mini is the perfect platform, well, almost – more on this in a bit.
Here is my Mac Mini setup:
- 2 GHz Intel Core-2 Duo CPU
- 4GB RAM
- Microsoft Media Center Remote Control
I installed the 4GB of RAM aftermarket. The Apple website does not specifically state that the Mac Mini will support 4GB RAM, but it works perfectly and shows up as 4GB in the Mac operating system. One word of caution, when I upgraded the RAM, I forgot to replace the tiny cable harness that connects the thermal sensor that is used to determine the unit’s fan speed. As a result, when I put it all back together the unit’s fan ran at full speed and was kind of loud. I took it apart again and reconnected the cable and now the variable speed fan works perfectly, and quietly.
I first used Apple Front Row as my media center platform. I both liked it and hated it at the same time. Front Row looks beautiful on my Samsung 61″ 1080P DLP screen. I guess you would expect nothing less than visual beauty from Apple. It connected with my local iTunes libraries and streamed any type of media, as long as the media type works in iTunes. This was one of the biggest problems – I can’t configure Front Row to connect with my networked non-iTunes folders and media to monitor for content. Front Row is also very limited in what types of media formats it supports. Essentially, if a media type works in iTunes it will work in Front Row. The problem is I have a lot of media content that won’t work in iTunes, and therefore does not work in Front Row. This is why I say the Mac Mini is the perfect media center platform – almost.
My solution was to use Boot Camp and I installed Windows Vista Ultimate which includes Windows Media Center. Windows Media Center also looks great on my DLP screen. However, one problem with the Windows approach is that the Windows OS only recognizes about 3.2GB of the 4GB of installed RAM. This is a known limitation of the 32bit version of Windows. Anyway, I also use the Windows Media Center remote control that comes with a USB infrared receiver base unit. It works great! With Windows Vista Ultimate I can easily connect to other media sources on my home network; like my home PC and my D-Link DSN-323 that has 1.5 Terabytes of storage space. (I’m always surprised how space much 1080P content takes up!)
Even if Windows Media Center didn’t support a lot more media formats than Front Row, the Media Center Remote is so much better than the little Front Row Remote Control that it makes the choice a no brainer.
Now I stream my mp3s, photos and HD video to my home theater system over speedy GB Ethernet using Windows Media Center. Oh, another great feature of the Mac Mini is the built-in S/PDIF digital output and input that I use to connect with my Denon AVR receiver for true digital multi-channel audio reproduction.
One small gripe with the Mac Mini is that it only comes with DVI video output instead of a HDMI port. I know I can get a DVI-to-HDMI converter, but it would be nice to have native HDMI support.
I’ve been using the Mac Mini with Windows Media Center for about a week now and I love it! My wife, Deanna loves it too. That’s always nice! ;-) I named it “Marc-Mini” on my home network which I know is kinda nerdy, but hey, It’s my network. The Mac Mini is an awesome small form factor computer that works perfectly as a media center computer with Windows Media Center and looks great in any home theater equipment rack.
Great job, again, Apple!
The development team is growing! This last quarter we expanded our office space and the development department moved into our new development room. The team is loving it! To give you an example of what we were up against before, we worked in a back office that had little air-conditioning with a constant beeping noises from the alarm system. Our only window looked into the server room here at our office. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great view of our servers, but the new room has many large windows to the outside. Also, our team shared multiple offices and some cubicles so we were all spread out.
Our new room is awesome! It is one large open room with an extra office that we use as a conference room. We bought new furniture and decided not to use cubicles. Why, you may ask? Because we’re a team delivering an awesome product, so we wanted to make sure communication and team atmosphere screamed from our office. The team was excited to finally get all together in the office. In addition, the QA and Systems teams now join with the Software Engineers to allow for a quicker process for getting things done. Instead of just sending emails, we yell out at other to get things done. Talk about line-of-sight reporting. :)
Not only is the atmosphere great, it looks great. We purchased some couches for the presentation area, a HD projector and drop-down screen and some other chairs for team training. We have whiteboards everywhere to facilitate innovation, creativity and communication.
When others in the company walk into our room they don’t want to leave. In fact, we’re considering charging for people hanging out in our department. As we bring others in our new office space, like business partners, recruiting candidates and our customers visiting our office they all remark what a great development room we have.
We love our office and take pride in it! It is already clear that with this new space the efforts between the several teams within my department are more synchronized. Our team is stronger and our moral is great.
Infusion Software rocks and it is the best place to work. We look forward to telling more about the dev room adventures.
I wrote about some things that I like and also some gripes I have with Apple products a few months ago: http://infusionblog.com/technology/i-love-apple%e2%80%a6-almost/. Since then I have purchased an iPod Touch and a Mac Mini and I love them both! I will write about the Mac Mini in a follow up blog.
A lot of the guys in my department got the iPhone when it first came out. I really liked the iPhone, even with the some of the deficiencies I mentioned in my previous blog. My biggest barrier to getting an iPhone is that I already have T-Mobile service and I like my Samsung Trace handset. So I didn’t want to jump to the iPhone since Apple is locked-in with AT&T service. So the iPod Touch gave me everything I liked about the iPhone, but without the phone service.
I really like the My iPod Touch! I got the 16 GB Model. It has twice the memory of the best iPhone and it has the great touch screen interface that is a pleasure to use. It is also much thinner than the iPhone. The wireless Internet browsing with Safari is surprisingly easy and – dare I say – fun to use. Interestingly, instead of using my home PC or the laptop at my kitchen desk, I find myself sitting on my couch at home in the evenings browsing my daily blogs, news and RSS feeds on my iPod Touch.
The video is probably my favorite feature of the iPod Touch. A few weeks ago I watched Transformers on a flight to Chicago. Everyone sitting around me was straining their necks to check out the device. Battery life was very respectable. At the end of the flight of almost constant video use I had about 60% battery left. Not bad!
The entire time I was on the plane watching the video I kept wishing I had a little stand or cradle that would hold the iPod Touch in landscape format so I could watch the movie without having to hold it. As it turns out Apple includes a little plastic stand with the iPod Touch and I just didn’t know what it was for when I opened the box. Click the following link to see some good pictures of the iPod Touch and the little plastic stand that comes with it at the following review site – here.
It would be nice to have a camera in the iPod Touch like the iPhone has, but the bottom line is the iPod Touch is a great little device that I love!
Well done, Apple.
I recently blogged about “Elegant Simplicity” and dumped a bunch of ideas related to simplicity in a stream-of-consciousness brainstorming format. I wanted to revisit some of the ideas that I listed, particularly the software design concept of “wizards”. I’ve built software for many years now and the first wizards I can remember came in the format of installation routines that paused to required user intervention. Like “Please insert next disk”. Yikes, now I’m feeling old because I remember floppy disks. Anyway, these early installation routines were not really what we think of when we think of wizards, but they were wizards nonetheless. Wizards are really just user interface elements that lead the user through a sequence of dialogues. It is typically helpful to use a wizard for any task consisting of many steps, which must be completed in a specific order.
In my experience, wizards are best suited to tasks that are unfamiliar to the user. Hence, wizards are used heavily during the implementation phase of the software lifecycle; when everything is unfamiliar to the user. The interview process in Quickbooks comes to mind as a good implementation wizard. Intuit hides much of the technical accounting decision making process behind relatively easy to understand questions presented to the user. TurboTax also uses extensive question & answer wizards to assist non-accountants with tax preparation. I can’t imagine using a tax preparation application without some type of wizard functionality. However, with these types of wizards the tasks are usually only done once. Most companies do not go through the company setup implementation wizard in Quickbooks more than once. Likewise, most tax preparation software is only used once before the annual April 15th deadline. ;-)
Microsoft also uses wizards so assist with setup and configuration of routine tasks. This is different than the use of wizards discussed above. I have set up many Windows servers, starting with NT through NT 4.0, then 2000 and now 2003. These platforms use wizards (much more effectively in the newer offerings) with differing levels of success. The best thing I like about the typical Microsoft approach to wizards is the ability to turn them off. Once I know how to accomplish a task, it is almost always faster to do it directly, rather than go through a wizard sequence. This is the easy vs. fast conundrum. Wizards make a multi-step task easier by sequentially walking the user through the specific steps. However, once a user knows how to accomplish the task without the wizard, it is faster to just do it directly, and therefore becomes easier than using a wizard. Brad Martineau, our Director of Product Management pointed this out in a recent conversation we were having about making our software more simple to use.
I’m excited to build wizards both to facilitate implementation and to accomplish multi-step tasks that users will perform many times. The later type of wizards will be built such that a user can turn them off. Wizards will definitely help users with our software.
Stay tuned for more postings related to making Infusion CRM elegantly simple and even more fun for our customers to use.
A while back Eric Martineau, our Director of Software Architecture forwarded me the following article saying that the new generation of Internet users will probably not look to email as their medium of choice for messaging: http://www.news.com/Kids-say-e-mail-is,-like,-soooo-dead/
This article made me think of another PC Magazine article from about a year ago regarding how the rest of the world interfaces with the Internet. In North America we use a PC to access our information, especially the internet. The rest of the world primarily accesses the Internet through their cell phone. This is especially true in Eastern Europe, Asia. This article that Eric forwarded basically says that teens even in North America are trending away from using a PC and using their cell phone for data access. I wonder how hand-helds, like the iPhone, Treo and BlackBerries with better computing power and graphic interfaces will impact this technology shift.
The articles points out that email will still be used for business and transactions. Given that our CRM is a business application, I’m curious what everyone thinks as to what, if any, impact this technology/messaging shift will have.
Another cool article.
China Heads Toward 500M Mobile Phone Subscribers: http://www.cio.com/article/113353/?source=nlt_cionewswatch
In time we will have an entire development initiative for mobile users. Design, graphics, development platforms, device specific features, et cetera. Most of the world, outside of the U.S. accesses the Internet through their handheld device, not through their PC. We are starting to make forays into this space, especially since a bunch of our software and systems engineers have acquired iPhones. Stay tuned!
The members of the Infusion Development Department are true geeks, me included. I say that as a compliment! We love gadgets and the latest technologies. Well, the latest “toy” that has my team enamored is the Apple iPhone. It really is a thing of beauty. The iPhone interface is genuinely enjoyable to use as you navigate the device. When was the last time you thought a user interface was “enjoyable”? Yeah, made ya think, huh? While using the iPhone the idea of “Elegant Simplicity” comes to mind; the nirvana of user experience that we are striving for with Infusion CRM (more on this topic in another blog posting). Anyway, the iPhone is a great device and I applaud Apple for their design and innovation. Heck, even our resident Linux disciple, Jeremy Gurr wants one! Jeremy and Ryan Peterson (Ryan is our true all-things-Apple devotee) have even made a systems monitoring and alerting web application dashboard that runs on the iPhone. Also, Eric Martineau, our Chief Software Architect is working on a framework to allow Infusion CRM to be accessed via the iPhone! Cool stuff for sure.
So, my guys ask me when I’m going to get an iPhone??? Answer: I probably won’t. WHAT? The iPhone is missing some key functionality in my opinion. Actually this is my beef with most of Apple’s products, that they are missing a few key things that keep them from pushing over the tipping point for me. This is especially true given the premium price Apple can demand for their gear.
Okay, as cool as the iPhone is, there are a few things it lacks that to me are no-brainers. For starters, the Bluetooth functionality is limited to a mono earpiece. That’s it. Why not allow Bluetooth stereo headsets? This is especially annoying when one considers that the iPhone headphone jack is completely jacked-up (no pun intended). But the biggest Bluetooth vacancy is the lack of keyboard support. With a little more RAM, the ability to load third party applications and Bluetooth keyboard support I envision the iPhone possibly becoming a viable productivity platform. (Remember that cool fold-up keyboard for the Palm Pilot? Imagine that type of keyboard with Bluetooth support and the perfect iPhone!) Then there is file and calendar synching that is not possible via iPhone Bluetooth. I don’t get it. You can’t even upload music files via Bluetooth…you have to be plugged in.
There are a few other little things that I wish were different. Like having a landscape oriented docking cradle. The ability to use T-Mobile SIM cards. The difficulty of adding third party applications without hacking the device. So, while I love the iPhone I’m waiting for version 2.0.
The Apple TV is in the same boat as the iPhone. I was very excited when I learned that Apple was building a “media center” device. I have been struggling with my D-Link DSM 520 media extender for a while and I wanted something with more “Elegant Simplicity”. To put it another way, my wife can’t get the DSM 520 to work so she can listen to our catalogue of mp3s on my home server. And believe me when I tell you it is the DSM 520 that has the problems, not my wife’s technical prowess. So I took a trip over to the local Apple store and checked out the Apple TV only to find out it doesn’t do 1080P. I was shocked, really. The full, true HD resolution of 1920×1080 progressive scan was not supported. Why make such a beautiful and simple media device, including HDMI support, that does not support 1080P resolutions? I know that iTunes does not typically encode content greater than 720P and true HD 1080P content would take too long to download, according to Apple’s defenders. But to put a HDMI port on a device touting that it will only work on a 16×9 aspect ratio screen, and then to not support 1080P resolutions ¬ gheesh! So, while I love the Apple TV I’m waiting for version 2.0.
The Mac Mini just recently upgraded the Intel processor from a Core Duo to a Core 2 Duo. This should have been the way it was built from the beginning. Also, where is the HDMI port on the Mac Mini? Now THAT would be a cool media extender, but it only had DVI support. I know, I know, I could get a DVI to HDMI converter, but why not just make it with HDMI support to start with?
The MacBook Pro needs more USB ports and gaming support is weak. You have to dual boot to a Widows environment to game-it-up. By the way, where is the docking station support?
Sort of on a different subject now, but still related to Apple is their ability to dodge the anti-trust bullets. On September 17th, 2007 Microsoft lost their appeal with the EU on their anti-trust case with Window and Media Player. Get the full story here. Does anyone else see the parallels with Microsoft and the Windows Media Player, and Apple and iTunes? I’m not sure how, but Apple seems to be off the radar.
Anyway, I do love Apple products. I really do. I’m just waiting for version 2.0 of a few of their offerings before I take a bite. ;-)