SOON. I hope. At least that’s what I’m being told is going to happen. If you have been following any of our recent posts on this topic (such as my post on the new Zoho Campaign funtionality or Adam’s recent Big but post), then you have a sense that we’re getting very close to having a complete closed-loop marketing automation engine that will help us effectively communicate with our customers and prospects, measure the effectiveness of those email communications, and funnel the results back into our CRM system of choice – that being Zoho.

After Adam spent a few weeks dialing in an integration between Zoho and Constant Contact (CC) thanks to our friends at Cazoomi, I have been working on creating various campaigns to both our Leads and Accounts/Contacts (these are really two separate databases/entities in Zoho) to varying degrees of success. So in this post I am going to cover the Good, the Bad, and the Irony (I know it’s supposed to be Ugly, but you’ll see what I mean – read on).

Let’s start with the Good – Email Campaigns to Leads. OK – I have to admit, this totally works!

Some background first: Zoho CRM has fields that track information  such as industry, lead source, lead status, lead owner – pretty basic tracking for any CRM – but it also lets you add custom fields to track more specific information – and we use these fields to drill down to territory, sub-territory, sub-lead source, etc. This really gives our teams the ability to slice and dice the data and run custom reports for email campaigns, call lists, etc.

As I have mentioned before, this flexibility has been key and we have used it for a long time to send targeted communications to our leads. What we were missing was any kind of reporting (opens, clicks, opt outs) – which is why we have been so psyched about the Cazoomi integration with Constant Contact in the first place.

So through this Cazoomi integration I am able to sync our Zoho Leads database with CC. We have assigned specific fields to match between Zoho and CC so that once the Leads are pushed over to CC I can drill down and search for Leads that match specific criteria. For example, if I want to narrow down my list to AV Integrators in a specific territory I start with a basic search, starting from Zoho Leads and narrowing down to industry:

 

 

 

 

From there I can take the results and save as a new list “Zoho Leads – AV Industry” and I can narrow it down further by any number of fields, but in this case I want to narrow it to a specific sub territory:

 

 

 

 

From there I can take the selected contacts and create another list – and so on. The really cool thing is that once I have my lists created, I can then send an email to a single list or multiple lists – this is a huge time saver as while this same type of filtering is available in Zoho, you have to send the email to the filtered list, and then repeat the process for each filter – so essentially sending the email as many times as your filter – and through the Zoho to CC integration you send it only once to multiple lists.

Of course once it is sent through CC full reporting is available – which I can share with my team for follow up, measure effectiveness, etc. So this integration really works, is easy to use, sync opt-outs, etc. This is Good.

We were so excited by this integration that we wanted to extend it to Zoho Accounts/Contacts.

Some background on Accounts and Contacts in Zoho: There are really two main Zoho concepts that you need to understand first and foremost – there are “Leads” which are primarily single entities and exist in their own database, and there are “Accounts” and “Contacts” – which are primarily associated entities and exist in a combined database. When you convert a Lead to an Account in Zoho, it takes that single lead and creates an Account (the overall container), and an associated Contact (the actual person). You can add additional Contacts to an Account. One more critical piece to the puzzle is the concept of “Potentials”. When you have a sales opportunity within an Account, you create a Potential – which tracks the actual sales opportunity. Potentials contain information on the Account, the associated Contact, any sales Quotes, and is primarily used to track Pipeline. This is a very important part of the CRM process and we manage directly to this. There is of course more, but for our purposes that is enough info to set the stage: we want to be able to do the same type of email communication to Zoho Contacts that we can with Zoho Leads – and filter by criteria that we choose.

Communication to Contacts in Zoho requires searching across two modules: Accounts (which is the container or business entity), and Contacts (the actual contacts that are associated with a particular account or organization). Again, by using the “Mass Email Contacts” feature in Zoho, you can actually do a complex amount of filtering and narrowing down your list of Contacts to communicate with. You can filter by Account Type, Industry, and other custom fields (some reside in Accounts and some reside in Contacts) which very important as we want to be able to distinguish between Customers and Prospects. This works very well in Mass Email Contacts, however the same problem of new metrics exists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a CRITICAL piece of the picture and where we are having the most trouble with not just this integration, but this is also the heart of the problem with Zoho’s new Campaign functionality.

Alas, this is the Bad. The only way to be able to get to this level of filtering (across Accounts and Contacts) is through the Mass Email Contacts function. There is no current way to get to this level of filtering within Campaigns OR through the Zoho to CC integration because it is limited only to the “Contacts” data. This means that we can’t use CC to send a targeted message to any existing customer or prospect. This also of course means that we cannot target any communications only to those Accounts that have Potentials attached to them. In fact that ability doesn’t even exist within the Mass Email Contacts feature within Zoho, as “Potentials” are considered another module. So basically I’m really limited in my team’s ability to communicate effectively with those closest to becoming a Customer. Not good. In fact, pretty bad.

Now here’s the Irony – We have in fact figured out a workaround for this. It unfortunately involves the very thing we were wanting to move away from in the first place when we started down this road, but it works. This workaround applies to not just targeting Account Types (such as Customer or Prospect) but we can now target a list to communicate with those Accounts who have current Potentials attached to them.

By running a custom report in Zoho we were able to target Accounts that have current Potentials open and owned by a specific Sales rep.

 

 

 

 

 

Selecting the appropriate Columns to display results in a list of Contact names, email addresses, Potential Closing Date and Stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The resulting list is then exported into a .csv file and can now be imported directly in CC. This totally works, and for now that is what we will do, but it’s ironic because we had to go back to running a report, exporting out of our CRM system, and importing into our email system – the very thing we were looking to stop doing when we started this project.

So until the day when these last few things are remedied – and again I am clinging to SOON – I am still a bit shy of email Nirvana…as a matter of fact think I’ll put on “Nevermind” as my soundtrack as I run this next report…