Infusionsoft , which offers marketing automation software (including email marketing software) to 8,000+ small businesses, recently announced that it has added social features to its offering. According to the company, the new features will let its customers capture leads from social media, measure social-opt-ins, and give email recipients the ability to share newsletters and content on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
According to Marc Chesley, Infusionsoft Vice President of Development and Technology, the tracking and analytics are unique features in the industry:
“Infusionsoft has a full-featured CRM that tracks all the social media activity, so our customers can segment and target their sales and marketing efforts to their lists of prospects and customers much more effectively. Compare this with the typical social media integration where you may get an activity feed of social information, but no place to store the data, or more importantly, no system to centralize, organize and take action on the leads that bubble-up from the social media activity.”
A challenge that many businesses have with social media is that all too often your customer and prospect databases are disconnected from your followers and fans on social media — and disconnected from the conversations taking place on social media. So it’s no surprise that companies that provide CRM (customer relationship management) capabilities and marketing platforms and services such as email marketing, have been looking to add social media tools and monitoring/tracking capabilities. It’s a significant trend .
Companies providing social media tracking services and tools are sought-after acquisition targets. In the email marketing space, Vertical Response bought social media tool Roost . Constant Contact acquired Bantam Live  and Nutshell Mail. ExactTarget bought Co-Tweet. Giant CRM provider Salesforce.com snapped up  social-media monitoring company Radian6 last year.
We’ve even seen some acquisitions go the other way. For instance, LinkedIn, itself a social media company, acquired Connected , a CRM provider, late last year.
And those examples just scratch the surface of the acquisition activity that’s going on to integrate marketing and social media capabilities.
Infusionsoft Decides to Build
In a space where the buzzword seems to be “acquire,” Infusionsoft decided to buck the trend and build its own social media capabilities in-house, instead of acquiring them. This was a deliberate decision by Infusionsoft management, says the company, to provide exactly the right mix of capabilities that small businesses need. “We conducted a full cycle of disciplined target user research to get clear on what benefits small businesses want from social media,” explains Chesley. “Overwhelmingly, small businesses told us that they want to use social media channels to generate hot leads for their business.”
The lines between software categories such as CRM, email marketing, social media monitoring/marketing are becoming blurrier with each day, as companies add capabilities. For instance, Infusionsoft calls its product “marketing automation software.”
The new social features provided by Infusionsoft are part of its “winter release,” which also includes added CRM and e-commerce capabilities. The new features are in the process of being rolled out at no additional charge to existing customers of Infusionsoft.