Just a lil’ ol’ Seamless CRM

I’m going to admit right from the start that I don’t have any industry or business to share. What I am going to share, however, is my 20 years of trying to configure CRMs from databases and using CRMs myself during that time.

I’m fairly new here at Soffront – I’m the marketing manager, so you know where I’m coming from and there’s no mistakes that I’m a bit partial. My first initiation to the early rudiments of CRM, although no one knew that acronym at the time, was circa ’92 or ’93 when I had to self-configure FileMaker Pro into a contact management and invoicing tool.

It took a long time to set up but it was good experience when CRMs did arrive on the market. Heck, I’ve been around long enough to use PageMaker when it was thought to be an innovative graphic design program. It wasn’t.

As a marketing guy who’s been around the block a couple times, I’ve used a lot of CRMs, old and new. I’ve used Goldmine, ACT, SalesForce and a couple others during the years. With ACT, I was able to send out mass emails, but the directions were like asking someone for directions at a small general store out in the country - turn left at the red barn, hang a right after a couple miles at Murphy’s pond and you know you’re getting close when you see the tire swing hanging from the maple tree on the right. Not the easiest thing in the world, but when you’ve been around long enough to remember DOS commands, it was doable.

And then you have your email programs – I’ve used Lyris (where our IT guy had to help us set up mass emails), SilverPop (very hit or miss) and Constant Contact (good for what it is, I guess). The problem was/is that the CRMs didn’t talk very well with Email programs which didn’t talk very well with the data. In Greek mythology there’s a tale about a hero who meets three sisters who share one eye amongst them – sometimes it felt like those sisters trying to get the CRM, the Email program and the data to handshake. I felt like I could’ve been a UN diplomat translating for international statesmen with that experience.

I admittedly didn’t know how competitive the CRM market was when I joined Soffront a few months ago. But the reason I joined the company because the product was such a revelation compared to what I’d had to make or use in the past. Here it was: CRM + Email Marketing + Service in one package. And the other great thing was the amount of email templates, the image library and scheduling options for all the different kinds of emails you can do – one-time blasts and sustained periodic campaigns. I’m not lying when I tell you I almost cried. I didn’t.

I showed a sales manager I worked with and he was floored too. He had worked with me at a previous company using ACT and Lyris and knew the “misery loves company” feeling very well also.

As I stated above, however, the CRM market is very crowded and as marketing people are wont to do, exaggerate claims about their product. You’re shocked, I know. If you’ve followed me this for this confessional or self-reflection of my own struggles through the land of CRM and Email marketing programs, I hope you’ve been able to relate a bit.

As the marketing guy for Soffront, I’d admittedly love for you to try and buy the product. Some of you may be able to remember Victor Kiam, the owner of Remington shavers, who’s tagline for the TV commercials he appeared in was, “I liked it (the Remington electric shaver) so much, I bought the company.” Now, I can’t buy a company but the reason I joined was because I was so impressed with the product and thought, as a marketer, I could get other people to try it and like it too. If one of you reads this blog and decides to give it a try, I’ve done my job. If a hundred read this and try it, I’ll definitely write more blogs.

Next blog I promise to share some third party industry or business news which I think will be valuable to you or at least hold your interest during your morning cup of coffee. But for now, this is it.

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It’s good when Sales and Marketing Talk

I’ve been doing marketing communications for over 20 years now. Typically, sales will use a CRM to manage leads and marketing communications will use an email program to send out an email blast or part of a regular interval campaign, often called a “drip” or something similar. While the goal is that marketing support sales and sales knows how marketing does that, because they are working with different programs, sometimes they don’t communicate as well as they could.

I saw this article in marketingprofs.com the other day and it speaks to that isolation that occurs on both sides feel sometimes.

I haven’t been with Soffront for very long, but as a long-time marketing person who’s had to navigate between CRMs and email programs, I found it a revelation to discover a CRM that did both and wondered why it hadn’t done before. Some programs say they do both, but if you ever had to struggle with making a CRM into a mass email program, let me tell you it’s not very fun.

Anyway, I hope this article is helpful and makes just one more marketing person think of sales and vice versa. We’re in this together!

 

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Soffront – Top 10 CRM Companies to Work for in 2014

Today, a blog on GetVOIP listed Soffront as one of the top CRM companies to work for in 2014 , according to jobsite, GlassDoor.com.

In this list, Soffront joined other CRM companies, such as SalesForce, Infusionsoft, Zoho and NetSuite as a premier workplace in the estimated $146 billion CRM market by 2017, according to Gartner.

The great thing about this article is it accurately featured all the reasons we love working here at Soffront. Those include factors like the ability to do a good job in a fairly autonomous environment and be appreciated for it.  The other thing we enjoyed seeing was how the article pointed out the niche we inhabit in the crowded CRM field, combining sales and marketing in one CRM package.

I think everyone here would agree that our CEO, Manu, is an inspirational leader who only expects what he expects of himself and is also driving us to do our best. He also bears in mind that we have families too and there’s only so many hours in a day. A sense of realistic perspective is a nice thing in Silicon Valley.

It reminds me of Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, who leaves each night at 5:30 so she can have dinner with her husband and children. While everyone loves working here at Soffront, Manu realizes we have important other jobs being with our families.

I even think that the somewhat negative comment that lateral mobility sometimes supersedes vertical growth could also be seen as a sign of strength.

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How Do I Get Started with a Blog?

Blogs can be an inexpensive yet effective way to reach, not only your current customers, but potential ones as well. More than 57 million American adults read blogs on a regular basis and, as a result, 52 percent of those readers make purchases online. Can you imagine what a blog could mean for your business?

shutterstock_104931812Benefits of Having a Blog

Creating and maintaining a blog for your company’s website has many advantages. Writing knowledgeable thought-provoking blog articles, or “posts”, will essentially establish your business as a leader within your industry. A successful blog will help drive traffic to your website and convert that traffic into leads.

Although beginning a blog isn’t difficult, it isn’t enough to simply begin writing and publishing. There are a few particular steps that you must follow in order to set yourself, and your business, up for success. The main goal of your blog is to generate revenue by promoting your company’s product or service, while also building credibility as the go-to source within your field.

Blogging: Steps to Getting Started

1) Research

2) Write Engaging Content

3) Be Consistent

4) Pick a Platform

Research: Get Familiar with Your Product or Service

Knowing your product inside and out is the only way you’re going to effectively communicate its benefits to your audience. Test your product and use it as if you were one of your customers. This is a fool-proof way to gain knowledge and write from a perspective that your customers can relate to.

Write Engaging Content

The quality of your blog’s content will determine whether or not your readers will come back. Therefore, it’s important to stay up-to-date on current trends within your industry, while also maintaining a personable and friendly approach. If you have passion for what you do, then conveying your knowledge in an entertaining way will be easy.

Be Consistent

Consistency is vital when it comes to blogging. Whether it’s consistency of publishing, post length, or content quality, it will play an important role in building trust with your readers. An easy way to accomplish this step is to decide how many posts you are going to publish per week or month and plan to write your posts ahead of time.

Pick a Platform

If your company has a website, then you will most likely have access to a developer that can help you with the technical aspects of setting up a blog. If you don’t happen to have a developer that can help you, you can turn to the many readily available, and often free, blogging platforms including WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger.

Take the time to follow these simple steps, and you’ll build a blog that will be informative and fun to read, as well as build credibility with your readers and encourage them to come back time and time again.

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What is a Web Form?

A web form is an HTML form on a web page that lets visitors enter their information. A visitor may, for instance, want to subscribe to your company’s newsletter by entering their email address and any other data you wish to collect. This information is, then, sent to a server for processing.

Characteristics of a Web Form

Web forms are rather basic when you break them down in their simplest form. Essentially, shutterstock_151668353they are made up of different elements, and these elements are expressed graphically within the form. For instance, a web form like the one above includes two text boxes asking for a username and password. The form also contains a submit button, which is labeled “Login,” that tells the browser to send the form to the server.

Other elements of a web form can include radio buttons, checkboxes, a reset button, a drop-down list, and a file select control that allows for the uploading of files.

With the aid of a web designer, you can also choose a variety of different designs for your web form. You can customize the form’s text, images, and colors.

Uses of Web Forms

A web form is similar to paper or database forms because your customers fill out the forms using text fields, checkboxes, or radio buttons. Examples of where web forms can be used is in the “checkout process” during online shopping where the customer enters his credit card information or when he types a phrase into a search engine’s search field box.

How to Use Web Forms for Your Business

Depending on your goals, the way you use a web form will have a particular purpose for specific situations. You can use contact forms as an effective contact method or a way to capture leads. Or perhaps you are an e-commerce company that wants to include a sales order form on your website as a convenience to your customers. Another type of form that may be useful to your business is including a customer feedback form so that you can gain better knowledge of what is working in your business, and what is not.

However you decide to use web forms on your website, they are an indispensable component to your business. From gathering information from leads to better understanding your customers’ needs, utilizing web forms effectively can be a great benefit to your company’s growth.

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What is SEO?

SEO is the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is a process that involves a highly detailed internet marketing action plan to help increase your company’s website rankings within a search engine. These rankings are referred to as “natural” or “organic” because the results are not paid for by your company. For instance, when you search for a certain phrase such as “Best pretzels in Boston,” the highest ranked links listed on the search results page are backed by a good SEO plan and will attract more visitors.

seo

SEO Optimization Techniques

There are many different methods you can use and implement on your website. When considering SEO implementation, many companies start optimizing on-page factors. Some on-page items you can optimize include:

  • Adding specific keywords or search terms you think your customers would search for pertaining to your industry;
  • Coding of HTML links, image tags, h1, h2, h3 tags, etc.;
  • Editing content to make it readable by humans, as well as search engines;
  • Adding specific company information such as your name, address, and telephone (NAP).

Another SEO tactic is to promote a website in order to increase the number of backlinks, which are links that lead to your site.

Search Engine Algorithms

While there are different techniques out there, you also have to take into account that every search engine is different and will process your website’s information differently. This is a result of each search engine’s algorithm.

Those who work in the industry employ a wide variety of different strategies that may actually change from time to time according to each search engine’s algorithm updates. Algorithms may favor one strategy over another. The rules of each algorithm update can change quickly, so it’s best to leave SEO to the professional SEOs (“search engine optimizers”).

There’s More to Search Engines Than Google

Google isn’t the only search engine. There’s also Bing, Yahoo and other directories that factor into how well your company has planned its SEO. Social media has also quickly grown and is factored into SEO these days. As technology becomes smarter, modern-day SEO has put more emphasis on trust and credibility within a website. Your website, for instance, will be more trustworthy if you have:

  • Unique, readable, original content;
  • Many backlinks from trusted sources;
  • Social media mentions from credible accounts.

The methods and techniques of SEO can be very daunting and complicated. This is merely a modest outline of what SEO is and what it can achieve. But we believe this basic information can help you take a more proactive approach in implementing your next internet marketing strategy and get your company’s website to rank higher in search engines.

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What Makes Good Advertising?

Advertising can often seem like a hit or miss proposition. Even among the advertising attractiveexperts, success can be difficult to predict. You see, there’s no established formula that guarantees consistent results. If the professionals have trouble creating effective ads, how can you, the business person, recognize the difference between good and bad advertising? Fortunately, with a little common sense and some simple observation you can be your own expert.

Essentially, advertising is a simple process. It’s merely a form of communication, and as interestingsuch, must communicate something—usually a message the advertiser intends you to receive. And that message is usually simple as well: Buy the product.

Of course, a good ad has to attract your attention and get your interest before a message can be delivered. But it’s the message that is the purpose towards which everything else leads. So ask yourself, “What is the message I want to communicate?” That’s what your ad should be all about.

Most successful advertisers try to stay away from “gimmicks” and “come ons,” that can understandsometimes be more deceptive than convincing. With social media and near limitless sources of online information, today’s consumers have become extremely savvy shoppers. A straightforward approach can go a long way towards credibility and gaining trust.

Once you find the right message, remember that you still need to deliver effectivethat message. A good ad takes a basic message and makes it interesting, gives it impact, while keeping it easy to understand. If you have a message worth communicating, and you can deliver it in an appealing manner, you’re on your way to producing effective advertising and promotion.

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