Infusionsoft vs Salesforce: The Real Deal

This is the new age David vs Goliath. Salesforce has been around longer (since 1999) and as such has attracted the lions share of businesses. Infusionsoft came onto the scene a little while later (in 2004), but with a different and inspiring new look and feel. Salesforce is considered by many to be the established old powerhouse in the world of marketing automation for enterprises, and Infusionsoft is likened to the new kid on the block who is hungry and ready to fill his insatiable appetite. Although, this is a very simplistic categorization of the two, the purpose of this analysis is to reveal the “underneath the hood” workings of both these CRM systems and contrast the break horse power of their marketing automation potential.

Now, while I might be comparing these two platforms, I want to make sure from the get go, that you do not think of Infusionsoft vs Salesforce as the same type of animal. In fact, let alone putting them in the same basket, it is misinformed to think that they are interchangeable. Now, I don’t blame you for thinking that, that’s probably why you’re even here reading this! A major reason, why I am even taking time to compare these systems, is to put to rest the misguided notion people have picked from reading false information regarding Infusionsoft and Salesforce being the same kind of system or catering to the same business or marketing need/goal. Not true guys!

So, let’s break this down, part by part…once you’re at the bottom of this article you will surely know the inner workings of both systems at a fundamental level and you will be well equipped to make the best choice for your particular business need/goal.

Who should use what?

Infusionsoft and Salesforce are two very different platforms, that possess powerful CRM capabilities. Before we get down to the specifics regarding the internal functioning of each platform and look at their differences, it is important to understand when to use these platforms and which kinds of businesses stand to benefit the most from using either Infusionsoft vs Salesforce. During my long and exciting career in marketing, having used these platforms extensively in the various companies I worked in, the following is my professional opinion on which company should use what and why…

INFUSIONSOFT

You should use Infusionsoft, if you have a small or mid-cap offline business that you are looking to take online. You’re business could be plain and simple traditional and old school (eg. Gym, Health Care, Consultancy, advertising agency, a legal outfit etc), or an e-commerce venture (you use a shopping cart extensively), or a company with a big sales team (B2B business). In all the above cases, Infusionsoft makes for a great fit for your business. Oh, and even though I don’t need to spell this out (any serious business would be right on track on with this) it really helps if you’re achieving the following:

  • Producing effective inbound marketing content
  • Generating a constant flow of new organic leads
  • You’re sales team is overwhelmed with the volume of quality leads you’re passing to them
  • You’re tracking your leads’ journey across every touch point and marketing channel (not just email) and,
  • You have a lead nurturing strategy that you want to scale

If you have checked all the above then you can be assured that Infusionsoft is for you and will be extremely effective for you business and will give you a great ROI.

SALESFORCE

Salesforce engages in all the aspects of customer relationships, ranging from marketing to services. It really is a powerful CRM system; more powerful than Infusiososft’s CRM  in more ways than one. But, unless you add all the various bolt-on’s to kinda shape the fundamental platform into something more robust, it remains just that: a powerful CRM.

Also, Salesforce is really targeted for the big players, and when I say big, I literally mean huge; as in fortune 500 mega industry big! Companies that have major sales departments that need a way of sorting, organizing and connecting all their information about all their thousands of clients’ accounts, so that their sales teams can stay on top of the game always.

If you are such a company with such a need then it makes good business sense to opt-in for Salesforce, especially when you consider their pricing and the different models they offer. Not cheap folks. More on this in the next section.

PRICING AND MODELS

INFUSIONSOFT

  •  Kickstarter cost: $2000-$3000 (Kickstarter package. This is the one time mandatory coaching that they insist so you can learn the system and really explore its full potential.
  • Although, the coaching is great, they could re-consider the price tag. However, for its worth, the package is crucial and most people would be at a loss without it.
  • Monthly cost: $199-$379. They have 4 different models, with the Sales Automation and E-commerce in between your basic and the complete editions. (See complete Pricing details).
  • No money back guarantee
  • Email caps at 500k emails each month

SALESFORCE

  • The cheapest edition for the Sales Cloud (which is Salesforce automation and CRM) is the Professional edition at $65.
  • Salesforce has a limit of 5 users for the Group edition.
  • The most popular Salesfroce edition is the Enterprise edition, which clock in at $125 per user per month. So, well if you have 10 users; you do the math. That is pretty expensive. (See the complete pricing structure here)
  • The Perfomance edition at $300 p/user p/month offers complete Sales and Services integration with access to unlimited features.
  • Salesforce doesn’t really provide much with the basic editions and even with the higher editions, there are many “loop holes” they fill in with “hidden costs”. For example, off-line access is extra with the professional edition, and visual workflow is extra with all editions.
  • Apart from the high cost, the thing that really bothers me is the annual billing. Unlike with Infuisonsoft where you’re billed monthly, Salesforce locks you in for the whole year. To me that just kinda feels a little forced.
  • They offer a free 30 day trial for the Professional edition and you have complete access to all their features. You are not even required to fill in any credit card details and you can trust them when they say there are no hidden charges. Now, that’s the confidence of a true market giant talking!

CRM

Customer relationship management is the cornerstone of any successful marketing campaign.Many different software’s claim to provide CRM, when the reality is that most of these systems end up being simple repositories for client data. Infusionsoft does have a strong CRM, but Salesforce takes CRM to a whole different level of capability. Salesforce is the boss here.

INFUSIONSOFT

  • Manage contacts, opportunities, and referral partners. There is a lot more room to play apart from adding/ managing contacts and companies.
  • Dive down into a contact to access marketing history, contact history and  web history as well as order history to see everything in a singe snap shot.
  • Tag a contact is at a certain phase of your marketing campaign and then run email marketing accordingly to meet their specific desires.
  • Assign a value to a lead, like star or two or three, depending on how close they are to a sale with awesome lead scoring functionality.
  • The CRM hugely simplifies sales management and analytics which gathers and sorts crucial client data that covers the entire customer-life cycle. This really helps with segmentation and target marketing.
  • However, along with no social media integration, Infusionsoft does not have a built –in CMS, which can be a problem if you’re not a techie and it does complicate things a little bit.
  • Overall, an incredibly powerful tool that gives you all the necessary data to optimize your communication and develop a loyal customer base over time.

SALESFORCE

  • The CRM application works fundamentally by managing and fostering relationships between the ‘standard objest/feartures’ that are built into the application. These include Account, Contact, Product, Lead, Opportunity, Case, Solution, Forecast, Report, Dashboard, Activity and Campaign.
  • It’s ability to organize and connect information is astounding.
  • With the help of ‘Reports’ you can order all your information through various customizable formats, which are awesome.
  • The Dashboard showcases all you information in a neatly visual and user friendly way. This includes, charts, graphs and the works. Also the fact that you can have all the different metrics laid out on the same page neatly helps you communicate that information very effectively.
  • Talk about an awesome in built-in social capability: Chatter. With ‘Chatter’ you get Twitter/Facebook type of updates on the projects you’re working on from the people you’re working with. You receive messages instantaneously on the feed, so there is no need to waste time sending email.
  • Once you create a lead, the different social connections allow you to learn as much about the person in question from all these separate social platform before you’re actually meeting.
  • When you go ahead and convert your lead into contact, you create an account, a contact and an opportunity simultaneously!
  • You can send an email to your prospect from within Salesforce using the HTML option and you can also track that email to find out whether or not the person concerned actually opened it or not, when  they opened it and the number of times they opened it!
  • Beautiful CRM.

EMAIL CAPABILITIES AND MARKETING

This is where Infusionsoft really starts to get ahead in terms of automation and really integrating across the platform. With Infusionsoft, you can really just hit auto pilot, once you’re done setting up and watch as the automation works its magic. Email, as you can imagine is really crucial to any sort of marketing strategy. Salesforce doesn’t even come close in this department.

AUTOMATION

INFUSIONSOFT

  • A combination of smart and automatic email marketing that is driven by a powerful CRM. Infusionsoft was one of the first companies to do this.
  • The system tracks behavior and responds accordingly in real time, creating new opportunities to increase sales.
  • Smart automation, governed by efficient tracking technology, fueled by tangible and relevant customer data that helps tailor unique and customizable marketing communications which have huge benefits towards increasing business. That is a mouthful, but what a fool proof process!

SALESFORCE

  •  Although this might sound harsh, the truth is that Salesforce is nothing more than a fancy, digital process for organizing information with some added frills.
  • There is no automation here and it does not posses an in-built ESP.
  • Follow-up sequences are another bolt-on, but it is nothing like Infusionsoft’s built-in, multi-step, multimedia, nurturing follow-up automation. This is truly where Infusionsoft excels.
  •  You will have to integrate with an emailing platform, like a constant contact, or exact target.
  • Infusionsoft wins hands down!

EMAIL CREATION, SCHEDULING AND DELIVERABILITY

INFUSIONSOFT

  • Sending Broadcast email (eg. newsletters) is the best way to reach your entire list of clients at the same time. You can schedule  according to a specific date or time. Creating broadcast emails is quick and easy with the amazing drag and drop email builder.
  • With Infusionsoft, the automation links you add to your broadcast emails, can track a customer’s click through responses and fire a series of actions to automatically update tags and follow-ups. There is also an option to create image and text automation links.
  • Creating HTML email is also easy enough with the drag and drop email builder. Learning how to use the builder and create email using HTML code is relatively simple and there are quite a lot of room to play around with the code builder.
  • Great email-deliverability. They maintain an email deliverability of over 98%.
  • Infusionsoft also monitors your ISP SPAM complaints and internal complaints such as when someone opts out of your mailing lists. When this happens Infusiosoft, automatically sends that person an email asking them if they received an email that was SPAM.
  • In all my years using Infusionsoft, there have been certain deliverability issues, but nothing that wasn’t quick to be resolved. They operate tirelessly, monitoring their servers 24/7 to ensure the highest delivery rates for all their clients.

SALESFORCE

  • With Salesforce you are limited to 1,000 emails in a mass emailing blast. The basic Professional Edition of Salesforce sets the cap at 250 emails per blast per day and with the Enterprise Edition, the limit is set at 500 emails.
  • Only the Unlimited Edition allows you to send 1,000 emails in a single blast. So, if you’re using the Professional Edition, and you’re looking to send 2000 emails, you’ll have to segment your strategy into 8 blasts of 250 emails each, and schedule for 4 blasts of 250 emails a day over 2 whole days. Kinda lame right?
  • With Salesforce, although, you can view email open rates, there is no way to tell what a client did after opening the email, whether or not they clicked the link inside etc…
  • You can send email via Outlook by simply clicking the Outlook button. However, the email will not get saved in Salesforce, rather it will be saved in the Outlook Sent folder. In order, to add to Salesforce, you have to click on the ‘send and add’ button, which will create a matching record of the email in Salesforce.
  • Creating HTML email with Salesforce is also pretty simple and straight forward. If you choose to, adding email letterheads in your HTML email that can be applied for different communications is also pretty easy.

AUTOREPSONDERS

INFUSIONSOFT

  • It is extremely easy to establish and maintain an autoresponder sequence with Infusionsoft’s campaign builder. With the drag and drop visual interface, creation and planning becomes a breeze. By far the best in the business!
  • With Infusionsoft you can create and send personalized responses, which are far from cold and detached while also cancelling out the automated feel that most autoresponders possess.
  • The autoresponder capability is extremely flexible. You can create and automate sequences according to date, events and tag based sequences, which are great for various bi-monthly reports, anniversaries, festivals or birthdays.

SALESFORCE

  • There is no autoresponder functionality built into the system. You have to carry out all tasks manually.
  • Salesforce is limited in its capacity to carry out effective emailing campaigns that can provide responsive and relevant feedback regarding campaign effectiveness.
  • There is no easy way to tailor communications and follow-ups for target audiences and so no real marketing ability. So, most people choose to integrate with an effective ESP (Email Service Provider)to better their marketing efforts. ESP’s that integrate great with Salesforce are MailChimp, Constant Contact and Native Apps.

E-COMMERCE

INFUSIONSOFT

  • With the Deluxe E-commerce edition, everything from ‘customization’ of your shopping cart, to ‘checkout’, to ‘payments’, to ‘promotions’, and to ‘shipping options’ can up and running without much worry.
  • There are a variety of payment options that you can add. You can collect payments via credit through Paypal (it is built into the shopping cart) or through a merchant account or even allow customers to mail you a check, pretty nifty!
  • There are a couple road blocks and dead ends with the shopping cart, which I will be talking about in my Infusionsoft review, but on the whole it is a strong platfrom.

 

SALESFORCE

  •  No E-commerce platform built-in.
  • There are a number of paid applications like CloudCraze, Nexternal and many more at the app store, that can be bolted onto the Salesforce platform.

CUSTOMER SUPPORT

INFUSIONSOFT

  • They are aware that the software has an in-built complexity, so they are willing to help out as and when their customers require it.
  • The tech support is absolutely free and unlimited. They are available on the phone and online pretty frequently.
  • Although online chat can be slow, they have people available 24/7.
  • One of their great strengths is the coaching that they offer, especially with the kick starter package. I just wish they would reconsider their price tag.

SALESFORCE

  • They provide a great quality of service and have a very dedicated and professional team of customer representatives, who truly know their product, But there is a catch…
  • They offer 24/7 customer support only on the Unlimited edition, which is priced at $250 per user per month.
  • To even have access to customer support, over and above the Unlimited edition, you have to pay 15% extra per month. That really sucks!

ADD-ONS AND PLUGINS

INFUSIONSOFT

  • Infusionsoft’s marketplace currently showcases about 80 applications for their users. Some are free, while others require a subscription payment.
  • Currently they offer applications under several categories including Business management, e-commerce, accounting, analytics, and Lead generation.
  • LeadPages is one such great application for creating awesome and attractive lead pages to boost conversions.

SALESFORCE

  • AppExchange is the Salesforce go to for applications. The store is replete with various applications under numerous categories.
  • A great place to shop for bolt-ons.

AFFILIATE MARKETING

INFUSIONSOFT

  • They provide a fully hosted affiliate program which is flexible, and very easy to use. It is also absolutely free and everything is already set up and ready, including a separate log in.
  • Tracking is robust and tells you exactly through which link a purchase was made and who to reward.

SALESFORCE

  • Again, this is another bolt-on that you have to pay for. It does not come with higher editions of the platform.

SOME TECHNICALITIES

INFUSIONSOFT

  • Data And File Limits: There are no limits as is not the case with Salesforce.
  • Web Forms: Create unlimited web forms. You can edit them, add cool features and design any way you wish. Finally, you can embed the javascript/HTML and insert the form anywhere on the net to capture leads.
  • Mobile Applications: They have one now, check it out here.
  • Handling Documents: Mail merge allows you to segment contacts into group to achieve for effective communication. You can also combine various stats such as purchasing history with demographic info to get a better perpective.   

SALESFORCE

  • Data And File Limits: There is a limit. If you’re uploading documents,contracts, images and the like, you will reach a limit and have to pay extra.
  • Web Forms: A huge let down.
  • Mobile Applications: Any valuable mobile integration comes at a cost of $50 p/month, p/user for both Professional and the Enterprise editions.
  • Handling Documents: This is not as straight froward as Infusionsoft. It is possible, however, once you complete the following four steps:

    • Create a CSV file.
    • Export it from Salesforce.com
    • Execute the merge in Word
    • Finally, import the document back to Salesforce.com