Zoho  today announced two new products, a slew of product enhancements, and an integrated 8-product suite called Zoho CRM Plus.
“It’s our largest product release to date,” Raju Vegesna, Chief Evangelist of Zoho, told Small Business Trends.
It’s also the latest release since 2013 for Zoho.
Highlights of today’s product release are:
Sales IQ is a new product that provides real-time sales intelligence to convert website visitors into customers. It’s also a real-time lead scoring system.
Depending on the time a person spends on your website, or other criteria, you can prioritize interactions with the person. For example, if someone is from the United States, and spends more than 15 minutes on the pricing page, then you might want to have a chat window pop up asking if he or she wants more help. Or you can get an email alert, Vegesna told us.
And you can prioritize and score that lead, through a concentric circles visualization (see image).
The Social module is a new product that helps you integrate social signals into your sales, marketing and customer management efforts. It helps you schedule social media such as tweets, by telling you which days and times are the best to update specific channels to get maximum interaction and exposure, said Vegesna.
While many social analytics tools are available today, Zoho Social goes further. It connects social activity with individual contacts in the Zoho CRM system. “You can look at the record for a person in your CRM system, and see their social activity right there,” adds Vegesna.
The biggest news in this packed product release is CRM Plus . It integrates eight Zoho applications (6 existing products plus the new Sales IQ and Social products) with CRM at the center. CRM Plus is priced at $50 per user per month. The CRM Plus suite includes Zoho CRM, Sales IQ, Support, Social, Campaigns, Survey, Projects, and Reports. (See image at top.)
If every piece were bought separately, they’d cost 10 times as much, Vegesna said. But, he added, CRM Plus is more than just a bundled price. The different products are integrated into the core CRM and also with each other, resulting in the “seamless flow of information across the marketing, sales, support and report systems.” Each also integrates with third party applications.
While competitors may offer some similar features, it’s the combination of all the features, the cross-integration, and the modest price point that makes CRM Plus notable, observes CRM analyst Brent Leary.
“I’m impressed with the value Zoho has put together, considering how much they are offering at the $50 per user price. What’s notable about CRM Plus is that the eight integrated modules are not just unrelated pieces and parts. They’re cross-integrated,” said Leary, Managing Partner with CRM Essentials .
“That integration makes the CRM system a more efficient and effective way to manage customer interactions. You don’t have to cobble together connecting software to different products, transfer data back and forth with spreadsheets, or jump out of one product into another,” he added.
Companies using Zoho CRM Plus also get access to deeper and more insightful customer intelligence because of the integration, Leary points out.
Creating a Customer Engagement Platform
“Zoho has made CRM a central platform for managing core activities in a business. By doing so it puts customers at the center. It’s become a customer engagement platform,” says Leary.
Project Management and CRM Integration
One example of how it’s become a customer engagement platform is the news that Zoho has integrated its project management module with CRM. “Now you’re able to manage customer-related projects right from within CRM. That extends the impact of a CRM system well beyond its typical boundaries. It’s now a customer engagement platform,” he adds.
Survey and CRM Integration
Another example Leary points to is the way Zoho has integrated its survey application with CRM in this new release. A company can send a customer feedback survey out in an email. The information comes back in aggregated report form, as is typical with a survey product. But the difference with Zoho is that now you also can see what an individual customer answered on a given survey question right in CRM. This makes the information more actionable.
“You know the sentiment of that particular customer. You can deal with it if it’s less than positive,” Leary said.
Google AdWords and CRM Integration
Zoho also announced the integration of CRM with Google Adwords. “Today, no other CRM vendor tightly integrates with Google AdWords,” said Vegesna. There are more than 80,000 current Zoho CRM users running Google AdWords campaigns, said Zoho’s Vegesna. They will have more complete insight into the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.
When a user clicks on a Google AdWords ad, and fills out a form, Zoho identifies it as coming from a Google AdWords ad. The Zoho system collects data such as the ad campaign, the actual ad clicked on, and the ad group name for each lead form filled out. And when a deal is closed within Zoho CRM, information can be passed back into AdWords to close the conversion loop for those managing the campaign.
The very size of today’s release has a flip side, though, according to Leary. “Users may be challenged to absorb everything that Zoho is giving them — including when to use it, and how to use it. Zoho is following a traditional approach by releasing one large annual product update. In the future, I think Zoho and its customers would benefit from having smaller, quicker releases throughout the year, with a focus on helping users get the most out of their Zoho investment.”
Still, today’s enhancements are “impressive for businesses from small to large,” concludes Leary.
Zoho has 2,500 employees worldwide and is headquartered in Pleasanton, California. It offers 30+ products, and has over 12 million users worldwide.
The size of the customers using Zoho CRM has grown as the product has become more feature-rich. According to Vegesna, the average size of the business using its CRM product “used to be 15 employees — now it’s 250 employees.”