Zoho's cloud-based CRM platform is branching out into markets pioneered by MailChimp and Constant Contact. The company this week unveiled Zoho Campaigns, an email and social media marketing module that offers tight integration with Zoho CRM.
Rather than a new set of menus and checkboxes that launch bulk emails or Facebook page updates, Zoho campaigns opens the floodgates to targeted messaging the likes of which are only possible with deep hooks into the platform, says Zoho evangelist Raju Vegesna.
Email Marketing for Everyone
Zoho Campaigns is "really integrated" into Zoho CRM, says Vegesna, "that's when the power of these apps kick in."
That power takes the form of features that help marketers target, craft (in both plain text and HTML) and send mass emails via familiar tools like Zoho Sites, the company's WYSIWYG, template-driven website publishing service. "Someone who is not technical can edit this," says Vegesna, highlighting Zoho's aim to bring non-coders into the realm of email and social marketing.
Zoho Campaigns options allow users to create campaigns that can target entire lists of contacts or subsets of contacts. Users can also opt to synch contact sources so that, for example, organizations can synch their sales leads and not their general contacts, explains Vegesna.
Email Safety Net
Zoho also offers a safety net, of sorts, via a human-powered approvals process that is manned 24/7. "Because sending out mass mailings is a sensitive thing," says Vegesna, "we provided an option where users can submit a campaign for approval." On average, campaigns are approved within 15 minutes.
Why add eyeballs to the process? To prevent abuse, says Vegesna. It's an effort to keep organizations from suffering damage to their brands and getting slapped with the dreaded spammer label that can result if disgruntled – or just clueless -- workers unleash a torrent of unwanted emails.
To help answer the question of whether campaigns are proving effective, the product offers reports and real-time analytics "to help you understand customers better," Vegesna says. Users can expect a Google Analytics-style dashboard that offers statistics such as in-progress mailings, delivered, bounces, unique opens, forwarded emails, unsubscribes and "marked as spam" emails.
On the social front, users can promote campaigns via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. According to Vegesna, Google+ integration is also in the works.
Not on Zoho CRM? No worries, according to this company blog post, "you can, of course also use Zoho Campaigns with your current CRM providers. We have open APIs that will allow you to get your data in and out of our service."
Zoho Campaigns will offer two types of payment plans: an unlimited email plan based on the number of subscribers and contacts or a pay-as-you-go version based on the number of emails sent.