HubShout SEM System Help

Lead Tracking and CRM? Not Quite.

  • Benjamin Reply

    While researching CRM solutions for a client, a colleague and I were exploring whether using the HS marketing dashboard could be a viable solution. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem quite ready for this purpose, but it is tantalizingly close! Just a few more features could make it work.

    The biggest problem for running a business is having all the important information in one place. In its current form, the dashboard does a pretty amazing job. Being able to see traffic, ranking, and conversions in one place is huge. The ability to collect both phone calls and web leads together is huge. And the ability to convert phone calls to leads (with the original phone call recording preserved in the notes to boot) is also huge.

    But a critical piece of effective CRM is being able to search and perform bulk actions on those leads. For example, being able to search for just the warm-stage leads and then send all of them a targeted email. Or finding all the won leads in the last 30 days and sending them all a thank you / next purchase discount offer email. Or finding all the phone call leads that don't have email addresses. Or being able to check boxes for several leads and changing their stage at once. Or exporting leads to a standard .csv file.

    Unfortunately, these features are just not there yet.

    Most companies we work with struggle with managing information flows in several disparate systems. For example, they may use a WordPress panel to manage their blog, some type of email list manager like MailChimp or Constant Contact, a separate CRM like salesforce.com or HighRise, etc. On top of this, they have Google Analytics, and an accounting system like Xero or Quickbooks. Such a challenge making all of these systems work together!

    Naturally, I'm not suggesting HS should attempt to be everything to everyone, but given the rudimentary structure already built, it would not take much for it to provide users a decent synthesis of Analytics, CRM, and Email List Marketing.

    Polishing these features would give more reason for end-clients to use their dashboard - not just to see data but actually manage their business. That is something end-clients could get excited about having (and resellers could get excited about selling). And of course the more value and use end-clients get from our service, the lower attrition which is win all around.

    06/06 at 06:34 PM (14463)
  • Chris Reply

    Benjamin -Thanks and thanks. Thanks for the compliments on where our dashboard is now. And thanks for taking the time to articulate your suggestions in a useful way. This is exactly the feedback we love to hear. Here at HubShout we are all really busy, constantly. The pace of our work environment sometimes causes us to miss the big picture. Your advice hits the nail on the head. I am sure that our executive and dev teams will absorb some, if not all of your feature requests.

    06/07 at 12:16 AM (14464)
  • Jonathan Reply

    (sorry this post is so long, but there are many steps to walk through the feature I’m discussing - bear with me :)

    Great post Benjamin! I agree on all points - It's so awesome that the Dashboard brings everything into one place, but the Sales and Email functionality is such a tease right now because its ‘so close, yet so far away’ from being something we can actually feel good about asking the end client to use in any significant capacity.

    I was going to start a similar post, but figure I’ll spare everyone the redundancy and simply add to your thread here, one additional missing feature and its scenario that I believe almost completely renders the Sales and Email tools unusable. And that is this:

    All leads go into one ‘bucket’

    We can create an unlimited number of email lists, and when we generate web-to-lead forms we can associate them with any of our lists, yet although the email contacts are being added into the specified separate email lists, all the leads just go into the one ‘Leads’ list. What’s the point of allowing lead forms to go to different lists if all the leads just go into the same bucket? I’d be really surprised if, after all the time the Sales and Email tools have been available in the Dashboard, I’m the first person point out how difficult that makes even the most common of scenarios such as this:

    Imagine a client has a business that does gutters and sprinkler systems (or pool maintenance and lawn care, or like most of us resellers, web design, graphic design and SEO). He wants to have a form on the lawn care page of his site to the effect of ‘Get a free estimate on your lawn!’ and he also wants a form on the pool maintenance page to the same effect.

    But currently, when a lead comes in, he has no way of knowing what service the person inquired about, without going into the Sales tab, noting the name of the new lead, then clicking over to the Email tab, then clicking on an email list and searching by first name or last name to see if the contact is in that list (and that only works if he used both ‘first name’ and ‘last name’ fields on the form AND made them required fields)…

    If the contact is not in that list, he has to do the same thing again with his other list(s) until he finds it…. THEN he knows which service they inquired about based on which list they were added to.

    FINALLY (since the email tool only collects name and email, regardless of what other fields are on the form (unlike MailChimp or any other email marketing application), he has to go BACK over to the Leads tab to get that contact’s phone number so that he can finally call them.

    Moreover, from what I can tell, the Recipient ID assigned to email contacts, and the Lead ID assigned to leads don’t even correspond. If they did, maybe a general dashboard-wide search tool might help this process a little (although still not ideal)?

    Now imagine the scenario with more than just a couple of different forms…. Do you other Resellers out there feel this as serious a need as I do? HS team, is this something you have any plans to work out?

    Thanks for hanging in there and reading this whole post everybody :)

    06/27 at 02:07 PM (14640)
    • Benjamin Reply

      Jonathan, thanks for articulating the important problem of not being able to match leads to web forms. I completely agree it makes email marketing to leads essentially impossible from a practical standpoint.

      We have successful clients who rave about solutions like InfusionSoft, Ontraport, and Agile CRM, all of which offer vastly superior lead tracking and email marketing capabilities.

      What HS has that these powerful tools don't is the content marketing piece. Particularly, the systematized application of real creative human intelligence doing active analysis, content creation, syndication and PR. This can't be replicated with software alone.

      But what a game changer it would be if the HS software could approach parity with those big players in terms of CRM and email marketing automation features! The combination of active content marketing with that quality of software would give customers an unprecedented level of integration.

      On the other hand, maybe HS should stick to the content marketing and offer API connectivity by allowing customers to push leads to one of these 3rd party services via API connections. This strategy seems to be working well for LeadPages as an example.

      I guess it boils down to the question of whether HS wants to be primarily a marketing services reseller, a software company, or both.

      In any event, I hope they find a way to either address these limitations and give us features and UX comparable to "grown-up" CRM / Marketing Automation tools, or allow API connectivity so customers can easily workaround the limitations with 3rd party services.

      07/03 at 09:40 PM (14709)
  • Jonathan Reply

    Benjamin,

    Sorry for the slooooow response - 4th of July weekend and then life etc. etc... thanks for your response, and I totally agree that the real 'secret sauce' behind HS lies in what they started doing to begin with: content marketing and 'accessible' outsourced SEO. They do it quite well and, even more importantly, they stay on top of the industry and constantly evolve to keep providing value in that arena...

    I'm loving the new 'journalistic' move toward infographics, business quotes, video and featured news (Chad and Adam clearly understand where the Web is going). I know of no better place (or format) to source this service.

    The HS Dashboard does wonders in terms of managing and monitoring those campaigns, and it's really exciting to think that we can have web leads and phone leads, plus our efforts from email campaigns show up in the same dashboard alongside the data from an SEO campaign....

    But, at the risk of beating a dead horse (and using too many euphemisms), 'close but no cigar' just doesn't get it... I want to put all my clients on the Dashboard, even if it's just for email marketing, leads, Google Analytics and the Research tab, so that I have a foundation from which to sell them the HS SEO, PPC and other services... but if the email marketing and leads features look like Pac Man and Donkey Kong compared to the Mailchimps and Infusionsofts of the world, then I look like an a**hole to my clients by insisting that they use it.

    HS, please chime in on this, because a few 'search' and 'merge' functions would solve a lot of this frustration - all the info is already in the database, you just need to make manipulating it a bit easier....

    07/12 at 02:50 AM (14788)