Permission Marketing gone astray – InfusionSoft


Couple of weeks back, I came across this company called InfusionSoft. I signed up to download something that looked interesting to me called “9 proven techniques to double sales”. To do this, I had to fill out the following form.

When you do this, they send you a link via an email to download the white paper. I was fine with it until this point.

Then the trouble started – there is nothing in the above dialog that gives them permission to send me anything other than the above white paper. Now I get daily emails from their CEO Clate Mask. Here are some of the titles of the emails and some of the content in the email.

Email 1: How one incredible number skyrockets your income

…… Just imagine being able to double your sales (even when businesses all around you are falling further and further into debt.) Think how great you’ll feel when customers are begging you to serve them AND you can stop wondering if you’ll be in business next month. ……

Email 2: 7 Magnetic Marketing Secrets To Explode Your Profits

……when you’re in harvesting mode, you’re working smart and scooping up sales left and right. You can spend your time at closings, on the phone with hot leads or out on the golf course because you know your prospects will call YOU when they’re ready to move forward. ….

Email 3: Double your sales with one powerful secret

and on and on it goes.

What? Customers coming begging to me to serve them? Go and play golf because prospects will call you? Am I living on the wrong planet or what?

Do you think I will ever buy anything from InfusionSoft? No, but I sure am writing about them so that I can save others from this experience.

The emails also say this – which I thought was even more hilarious

We value your privacy, we really hate spammers, and we’re not going to sell your info to spammers (or to anyone else). If you really want to read the boring details of the privacy policy, you can read them here.

We Product marketers should take note – Just because we allowed a customer/prospect to download something free from our website, it does NOT give us permission to send them stuff. If we want to engage with them, we need to do it using Permission Marketing, a term coined by Seth Godin. Ask for their permission and then send them useful stuff that will help them get better at what they do. We need to build a trusted relationship with them such that they will hopefully buy something from us in the future. It is not a guarantee, but if we help someone, they are bound to at least invite us to the “purchase” party if we indeed have what they want.

Permission marketing is NOT getting permission from the customer to spam them – this will absolutely kill any chance of getting any future business.

Yes, InfusionSoft does give me a way to unsubscribe from these emails, but it is work I have to do.

Clate, you will not be getting the phone call from me begging you to serve me while you are having a good time playing golf.

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20 thoughts on “Permission Marketing gone astray – InfusionSoft

  1. Gopal, thanks for the heads-up! It’s hard to believe that in today’s social media, web-focused culture a company would do what InfusionSoft is doing. The messages they sent you violate what they are trying to promote (e.g. ‘prospects will call you when they’re ready to move forward).

    Permission marketing is the way to go. Thanks for the reminder. -Michael

  2. This seems to be a universal situation. Especially when you go through a “publication” site. Download a “white paper” then all of a sudden your blasted with other opportunities.

    Permission based has slipped in recent months. Which begs the question why are they blocking “white papers” to sign-up

  3. Gopal–very fair point. We should have had the language on there that communicates we will send follow-up messages when you hit submit. My bad. We will change that.

    I complete agree with you about permission marketing. And I admit that sometimes we get going too fast and make mistakes that result in unwanted messages. But believe me: we do want to send value, build a relationship and become a trusted advisor to folks who want to know how to build their businesses more quickly and effectively.

    Thanks for your comment. It will cause me to examine things and see if we’ve been too heavy on promotion and light on valuable content to our prospects.

    BTW, I really appreciate your perspectives and am a little embarassed to be called out by you.

  4. Hi Gopal,
    I was searching for perspectives on Infusionsoft and came to your site keen to hear your message. They are valid, however when I visited your site I was greeted with this annoying popup called Snap Shots that appeared to promote other WordPress articles of yours. All I wanted was to read the article on Infusionsoft and yet was harassed by this piece of software. I could not work out quickly how to stop it and so it stole some of my time.

    Maybe some of Clate’s message could equally be applied to your attempts to promote your other articles.

  5. Hi Nick,

    Thanks for pointing this out. I had no idea that there was a setting to control this and that it is automatically turned on. I have turned it off and it should now not be a problem.

    Thank you for reading my blog and for taking the time to comment. I appreciate the feedback. Wanted to let you know that I have listened πŸ™‚ (Now, I just hope I don’t get an email – why the heck did you turn off that cool feature :-))

    Gopal

  6. If there is no control specfically capturing your permission, why did you think permission was involved. Anytime you give your email, you could be giving it to a spammer, unless they specifically request your permission. Even then, as a permission platform, you might get ads that you don’t want, but they should come from the company you gave the permission to. Revoke that permission.

    To keep this from happening again, create a temporary email address on a free service, get your content, and then never sign on to that email account again.

  7. Such a marketing ploy (enticing you to download a white paper then assuming its okay to keep sending you email) is the Venus Fly Trap approach. You have a fifty fifty chance that a customer will like your next contact email, then it drops as the third email message is sent out. As Clate himself says in his presentation, it may take seven or more contacts before a customer buys. But then again, like the ugly guy at the bar who keeps asking everyone and anyone if they would like to dance but keeps getting turned down, at some point it becomes pathetic. You simply can’t browbeat a customer into doing business with you by sending them message after message after message. At some point, you’d think silence or lack or response would convey the point. I wonder how many messages THAT point is achieved? I think I’ll keep count. πŸ™‚

  8. We currently use infusion and it’s been an incredible disappointment.

    They keep changing the interface, which was confusing (at best) to start with.. But now you can’t find anything useful. The only thing we use it for is sending email out, despite all the ‘other’ features they sell you on. GOOD LUCK figuring out how to actually DO them.

    Their support is clueless (at best) and usually always has the same response – “Huh, we don’t know, but we’ll create a ticket and get back to you” which rarely happens, or is resolved.

    They send out blank emails (erasing the content we WANTED to mail) and only including the Unsubscribe link… essentially appearing to the customer that we want them to unsubscribe… Unbelievable.. And they never figured that one out…

    “Hi expensive and costly to get subscriber, click here to unsubscribe from our list!

    In the end, this mickey mouse platform (as well as very slow and confusing) has cost us more money in lost sales / opportunity then I can imagine.. And we’ve paid them thousands for the privilege!

    Does anybody know of another good shopping cart that is EASY to use, and gets emails delivered?? (1Shop Cart is equally as unimpressive).

    – Frustrated

  9. I would like to add to the comments about Infusionsoft.

    I have been receiving emails from them for over a year. I am very suspicious of companies like this that promise big.

    Among their emails are stories about “waiting until the prospect is ready to buy”. Lots of daily marketing from them, and lost of soft sale.

    I finally relented on Jan. 13, 2009. Their salesperson, Cory Hodnett had been assuring me that their support team would hold my hand through the whole process of getting my business up and running and turning my prospects into customers.

    I gave Cory an “out” question, a question that he could “redeem” himself with and come clean. I asked him “Cory, is there anything I haven’t asked that I SHOULD have asked that would have an effect on my buying decision?”

    He answered “No.”

    He lied.

    What he should have answered was “Yes, there is a very finite and limited number of consulting meetings you can have with our company, whether you are understanding how the system works or not. After that, you have to either go to our website and try to figure out how to make an interface work, or call our on-demand support team and wait 15-25 minutes for your call to be taken.”

    If Cory Hodnett had told me THAT, I would NEVER have signed up with Infusionsoft.

    I had explained to Cory over and over that I was NOT raised in the internet age, that I was not computer nor internet savvy, and what most younger people take for granted, I have to struggle to learn.

    Infusionsoft has a good idea. But their focus is SALES, THEIR SALES, not YOURS! And if you do not fall into their customer model, you get swept to the side as they bring in MORE customers. I can only assume that they are busy cloning more Corys so as to dupe more people in buying from them.

    I am now in a fight with them for a refund of my initial “upfront” money of $1,218,77. I have called American Express and told them I have canceled with Infusionsoft and that if they honor any more charges, they can go to Infusionsoft for the money.

    Buyer beware! If you lack technology skills as I do, this is a company to AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!

    I have written to several people I have been in contact with at Infusionsoft for CEO Clate Masks’ email address, but I have been ignored.

    If they suffer a big enough backlash from customers like me, they will go out of business. My advice to you: decline to hire Cory Hodnett as he searches new employment, unless you are a company built on scammers.

    And if someone named Dee from Infusionsoft applies at your company for a customer service rep position, HIRE her at all costs, for she is the perfect consultant. She is neither sleazy nor a liar, and will go ALL OUT to keep your customers happy. It is only Infusionsoft, NOT HER, that makes it impossible to get enough hands-on instruction for me to implement their programs.

    And to repeat, had CORY HODNETT told me there was a definite limit to consulting calls if I was not “getting” how the program worked, I would never have signed up. Cory KNEW I was very CONCERNED about “getting it”.

    Again, if you understand software technology, this might be the company for you. Whether they can help you double sales is another matter. I know they have probably DOUBLED THEIR sales by pummeling people like me.

    I, for one, will never have anything good to say about this company. They owe me $1,281.77. In addition, I will alert my friends and business associates that they need a full time assistant to actually put together what Cory Hodnett and Clate Mask propose is “easy”. Fat chance.

    Tim Young

  10. Here’s what I do to protect myself from spam or UCE – or any other list based email I haven’t asked for. I’ve tried many different methods over the years but this one really works..

    Every time I am asked to provide an email address, software integrated with my browser (Firefox) does it for me. I use something called Sxipper , which has the ability to automatically fill forms and create and insert a temporary email address on the fly, like the one I used for this comment, for example.

    Sxipper records which site each temporary address was given to and puts a link to its own special page on their site on every email that is delivered to me via that address on their system. Then, if at any time I suspect the address has been passed on to others or misused in any way, I can just simply click on that link, go to their site and switch it off. No more mail is ever sent via that address, unless that is, I revisit that page and switch it back on.

    Why do I go to these lengths? Well, two reasons.

    (1) rather than bitch about the reality of 21st century Internet marketing techniques and the companies who abuse the good will of the folk in their address lists, I prefer to do something about it.

    And (2) because maybe 98% of the IM crowd simply want to get your money, have never read Seth Godin’s book, probably cannot even spell “Permission Marketing”, and will never even see the frustrated replies you send them.

    Whether you are business intent on contacting prospective customers ethically and in a mutually beneficial way or not, it doesn’t hurt for us “prospects” to maintain control over our in-box.

    Simple as that!

  11. Hello Gopal (and readers),

    We take Mr. Tim Young’s situation seriously and acknowledge his frustration. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach him to follow up after several attempts. With respect to Mr. Young, we’d like to clarify a few inaccuracies and be transparent about our processes as they relate to his experience.

    Our sales consultants take great pride in the ability to help aspiring small business owners and entrepreneurs. Prior to engaging with a new customer, they assess the needs of the individual, provide reasonable solutions and set the proper expectations. The assumption that our sales team was unethical is sorely misguided, as our business is built on core values of integrity, compassion, authenticity and entrepreneurship – we live these values in every interaction we have with customers.

    We intend our small business consulting services to be a collaborative approach where the client engages and participates throughout the initial setup. This process includes pointing a Web browser to a Web address, logging in, and following steps listed in the application. We also provide consulting for those who aren’t sure how to migrate their entrepreneurial ideas into a Web-based small business marketing application. In an effort to provide the best quality of service for all clients, we provide a limited number of consulting calls. However, based on our clients’ needs we’ll make necessary adjustments in favor of them being a more successful marketer for their business.

    Despite Mr. Young’s statement, we have provided the services for which he paid. Pre-requisite knowledge to use our software should include a basic level of comfort browsing the Web, basic understanding of email and the willingness to modify existing business processes for successful implementation. We’ve internalized this feedback and will ensure that any future clients are comfortable with those pre-requisites, as that’s all that’s necessary for getting on-boarded in a short period of time.

    I hope this provides your readers with better perspective on the matter. If anyone has questions, they’re welcome to reach out to me – my e-mail address is included below.

    Warm Regards,
    Scott Morrison, Customer Care Manager
    scottdm ~at~ infusionsoft.com

    1. Yes – I had a HORRIBLE experience with Infusionsoft.
      They started stealing monies from my bank account when my account with them was closed for months!

      And I found out that it was this Scott Morrison guy right above here that makes most of these damaging decisions and lies quite readily.

      Clate Mask never even responded to about 10 emails I sent as a client at the time or even afterward, he lets his trained salesforce take care of his dirty work.

      Now they have me in collections for over $4000 when I got ABSOLUTELY NOTHING from them – thieves!!

      **INFUSIONSOFT EQUALS PAIN AND LOSS**

      That sums it up.

  12. We signed up with Infusion last year and it has been nothing short of a nightmare. There system is terrible. Don’t believe any hype about this system, it is seriously bug-ridden.

    One day I hope to tell you the horror stories we have cone through with Infusionsoft, but at the moment we’re looking at taking serious legal action against them.

    If you value your business and your customers stay as far away from Infusionsoft as you can. They have the power to kill your business,. If you don’t believe me call them and ask about the tens of thousands of fraudulent transactions they processed through merchant accounts ‘in error’ this week.

    If you know anyone who is even remotely thinking about going with Infusionsoft make sure to let them know to stay well clear and not to believe the bullshit that they spread about how great their system is. It’s not. It’s a flakey piece of crap.

  13. I beg to differ with the previous poster. I just attended a two day Infusionsoft user event where 600 plus business owners and entrepreneurs raved about this software non-stop. I heard testimonial after testimonial about how using this software has completely revolutionized their business and doubled their sales. Small business owners’ lives are changing for the better by implementing genius marketing strategies into the software.

    Before you bash too hard, maybe you should talk to the likes of Sean Greeley, Darci Juarez, or Dan Bradbury, who have grown their businesses with Infusionsoft faster and bigger than they ever imagined. These 3 were finalists for Infusionsoft Marketer of the Year and blew us all away with the possibilities of what this software can do for your business.

    Is there the occassional bug? Yes, but I think that just comes with the territory of being a software company that continues to add new amazing features for FREE to all their users. I firmly believe that you reap what you sow. If you buy the software and just sit on it, no changes to your business will magically appear. But if you take some time to implement proven marketing and follow up techniques, then you’ll reap the rewards.

  14. Having spent some time following up with Infusionsoft support directly and reading SME customer rants and Enterprise customer praise, it seems to me that the everyone broadly falls into those two camps.

    This can be further generalized by saying they are the small businesses with owner/drivers on one hand, and larger concerns who have the necessary specialized support staff on the other.

    The first group easily get themselves into difficulties, for which the technical nature of the product is only partly to blame, but which the failure to quickly relate to, and the lack of ability to empathize with, by a highly technical support group at Infusionsoft has definitely exacerbated.

    More often than not, their relationship with Infusionsoft has not been a happy one, has cost them more than they can comfortably afford and despite the best efforts of Infusionsoft at fire fighting, one is left with the distinct feeling that the fire should have never been allowed to start in the first place.

    The other group, those with significant turnover and technical support staff or highly competent owners already, enjoy and get value from its complexity and can easily relate to the product and support level they receive – either because its someone else’s problem and they are paying them to take care of it, or they lead from the front and have the competence and time to invest themselves.

    Either way, I think it says this to us.

    First off, Infusionsoft should be taking more care, if they value their reputation that is, in who they sell it to in the first place. Clearly, some small businesses may want it but to sell it to them is going to end up at best in here, and at worst in Court.

    Second; business owners need to be more realistic about their own core competence and not just buy Infusionsoft because they see the big boys or their competitors using it. If they do, they almost definitely will wish they hadn’t..

    Either way, the buck definitely stops with Infusionsoft. They can devise and apply the necessary test and ratios before selling. Better for them if they do — and if you’re an SME, better for you too.

    For my part, I have postponed my decision to buy Infusionsoft for my small business until I am confident I can afford it and I have either the competence to handle it or Infusionsoft gets large enough to split its support, and maybe even its products and support group too, into those I can get value from and those better suited to an Enterprise customer.

    You, on the other hand, may invest/waste your money as you wish, but that’s how I see it.

  15. Stay Away from this RIPOFF company!!

    They stole my money without giving anything except their policy Bullshit.

    I’m working with my bank right now to get my money back! Once you give them your credit card info YOU ARE DOOMED!

    They just start charging and THEY WONT GIVE IT BACK NO MATTER WHAT!

    Look here http://www.ripoffreport.com/searchresults.asp?q5=infusionsoft&Search=Search&q1=ALL&q4=&q6=&q3=&q2=&q7=&searchtype=0&submit2=Search%21

    Myself and others are talking CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT!!

    Be warned!!

  16. there is a button (which is on the top right of most keyboards) marked “Delete”, it is pretty easy to use.
    If you do not wish to view the unwanted message you simply push this magic button and the unwanted message vanishes almost instantly, quite cool really.

  17. They are still at it! I have a complaint about InfusionSoft that falls into the same lines.

    I signed up excited, roaring to go…

    I was told I would get an on-boarding contact the next day (this was a Wednesday). After diving right in I was able to make some major progress and found a lot of the systems fairly easy to use and effective. I specifically was intending to implement InfusionSoft because of the eCommerce options available within it. I was impressed in the sales demo with ability to handle subscriptions and even set required product options for them. This was going to be a perfect fit.

    After spending Thursday and Friday waiting for contact, i still hadn’t heard anything. I then discovered their support department who was able to walk me through a problem that I noticed that first few days. When you add the subscription products to order forms you cannot set the Product Options. This was a big deal and made the service in-viable for my operations.

    It wasn’t until Tuesday of the following week that I got my first contact from my assigned on-boarding representative (5 days into active configuration of the service) but asnt able to get an appointment for 14 days.

    During these 14 days I went though iteration after iteration of different configurations with the help of InfusionSoft support and was finally able to determine the heart of the limitation was a feature deficiency or of infusionsofts eCommerce platform that prevented our ability to use the system effectively.

    I cancelled before we were able to meet for our onboarding trianings. When I called about my refund they said they do not do refunds.

    Seems like a mistaken policy that someone should be able to rectify. They are taking money ( a lot ) for services that were not rendered.

    I have requested a refund over 5 times now and in different ways and every time it gets filtered back to the same person with the same response that offers only a concession if I continue to use the system. At this point they want me to waste their time and my own in order for them to justify giving me only half of the amount that they may be stealing.

    I am working all angles of fairness to right this wrong! I was disheartened to see your post and the many other posts I have seen about InfusionSoft nefarious policies. It looks like there may be little hope for me to get this money back.

    Sadly it seems that its a buyer beware world, so let it be said!

    “Friends don’t let friends use InfusionSoft”.

    Thanks for your post and the forum to vent my personal frustration with InfusionSoft’s policies and practices.

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