InfusionSoft ICON: Continued Focus on Helping Small Business


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Seth Godin gives speaks at so many conferences that I’m beginning to suspect there are several Seth Godin impersonators sharing the load. Be that as it may, Godin or someone looking like him gave a keynote at the InfusionSoft ICON conference this week, and he observed you only see videos of bicycle crashes on YouTube, not videos of people riding along smoothly. The point was well taken and crystallized my feeling about InfusionSoft itself: the company is expanding successfully at a breakneck pace – better 50 percent per year -- but has remained so consistently focused on its goal of helping small business that it looks like little is happening. The ICON conference itself illustrated the paradox: it has grown so much that it now needs the space of Phoenix’s main conference center, but the huge size of new location seemed to dissipate the intensity of previous years.

But this is a marketing technology blog, not a theater review. InfusionSoft managers’ relentless repetition of the corporate slogans is part of a very conscious strategy to build a culture that will help the company grow successfully. The more concrete expressions of that strategy are the company’s product, service, and partner offerings.

The actual product news at the conference was fairly modest. There is an improved PayPal integration, several dashboard widgets for business insights, some subtle performance improvements, and full support for the Chrome browser. This limited scope is intentional: the company is moving towards more frequent, smaller releases to reduce the impact of change on existing users and to field new features sooner. It is also reacting to research showing that its customers wanted “better not more” solutions, a mantra that translates into prioritizing effective use over new capabilities.

What this means in practice is that InfusionSoft development is aimed at making small businesspeople more effective marketers. This goes beyond making the system easy to use.  It includes comparing client results with industry benchmarks, recommending types of programs to run, offering a library of prebuilt programs, and making it easier for partners to share programs of their own. These product changes blend imperceptibly with service and partner issues, such as a customer life cycle simplified from seven stages to three, streamlined customer on-boarding process, and better APIs for partner system integration. This mutual support among product, service, and partner programs may be the best evidence of how well InfusionSoft is executing its core strategies.

The one spot where product, service, and partner offerings converge directly is InfusionSoft’s definition of itself as a platform. As you might expect, the company uses the term in the broadest possible sense, to encompass not just the technical features that enable access to its functions and data, but the help it provides to customers’ businesses and how partners can extend its reach. Still, technology is the core of a platform strategy and APIs are the core of that. InfusionSoft’s existing APIs are fairly limited, but the company is engaged in a long-term project to expand them and to write its own applications so they work through the published APIs. I consider using your own APIs as the One True Measure of a platform architecture, so it’s good news that InfusionSoft is moving in that direction. Even better, the company says its new mobile apps are already API-based, so there’s more going on than just talk.

Passion, clear strategy and focused execution may improve the odds but they can’t guarantee success. InfusionSoft could be wrong that there’s a mass market of small businesses willing to invest in better marketing and operational processes.  They may also be more open to competition than it seems. But at the moment, the road ahead looks clear and they’re smoothly cycling along.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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