The Secret of the New Keap CRM is Out!
It was hardly the best-kept secret! Online articles surfaced about Infusionsoft purchasing dozens of URL’s with the word “Keap” way before the official announcement. All this while Infusionsoft Partners were asked to keep the rebrand a secret until the official PR launch. Still, exciting to observe what the pains of transformation may look like – from the outside looking in. It’s all so exciting!
A Bit About Our History with Infusionsoft
We’ve been in the Infusionsoft “community” for more than 6 years, first as “Trusted Advisors” who earned commissions for putting people in a room. An Infusionsoft speaker would present to our audiences and sell applications from the stage. This is where our love affair with Infusionsoft began, and we soon saw the opportunity to fully embrace the Infusionsoft culture.
We became Infusionsoft Certified Partners (ICP’s) and for a while becoming Canada’s leading re-seller of Infusionsoft. Our dedication earned us an Infusionsoft award and a trip to Hawaii. We traveled the country recruiting new ICP’s preaching the gospel of Infusionsoft. Our company was a flag waving, loyal champion.
We were firm believers in the Infusionsoft CRM, now Keap CRM. After all, we’ve completed hundreds of implementations helping some of clients grow by millions. A 20% uptick from 6 to 8 million in some cases can be considered significant. From distributors, to gym owners, to doctors to fishing gear suppliers, we had a healthy portfolio of clients perform extremely well with Infusionsoft. Sure, there was churn…some did abandon the app. The number #1 reason why a few clients cancelled the app was either due to lack of commitment to fully adopt into their sales ecosystem or due to cost. Others simply grew out of it and migrated to Salesforce or another larger CRM product.
Infusionsoft was founded in 2001 by brothers Scott and Eric Martineau and Clate Mask. By January 2013, Infusionsoft had raised $71 million in venture capital with $54 million invested by Goldman Sachs. Later that month, Infusionsoft purchased GroSocial, a social media marketing software company. – source Wikipedia
We’ve been witness to many Infusionsoft benchmarks. Some big wins. Some big fails like Infusionsoft’s GroSocial which turned out to be a complete dud. We witnessed the company grow to well over 700 employees. What was truly impressive, is that each employee could recite the Infusionsoft Core Values by heart. Operationally, people like us (small business owners) could easily admire how they rocked their mission, vision, purpose and core values. We too could recite their core values by heart – which probably qualifies us as super-fans…or sponges. We inhaled all the knowledge we could. As they scaled up, it was a thrill to be part of the ride. And to be transparent, over the years, we made millions by including Infusionsoft in our client’s tech stack.
Change Was Forthcoming
But by January 2018, the Infusionsoft community could feel that something was afoot. There were changes happening, and the lack of communication from the top down was deafening. Some of the partners began whispering of heartaches within Infusionsoft. Things like major changes in their HR line up with early employees leaving the floor. You could hear the gasp when Infusionsoft canceled their long-held event ICON and delayed their Partnercon events. The Business Hero Groups were abruptly dropped (we loved those) without explanation. Big change was in the air, but from the top down, there was silence.
ICP’s openly complained about the company’s “seemingly” lack of commitment to fix the “classic Infusionsoft”, and their pleas began filling the social media airwaves. Shock and confusion continued around the “unexpected” launch of the “new Infusionsoft” which some dubbed affectionately as “purplesoft”. While changing the logo from “green to purple” seemed like a significant effort from Infusionsoft executive to “refresh” the brand, it left the ICP community scratching their heads. What is going on?
We now had to deal with the original “classic or pro” Infusionsoft as well as the new “child” Infusionsoft app. Perhaps it was a “soft launch”, intended to capture key data for the launch of the Keap brand, but the flag-wavers were not told. So this added a layer of confusion, for both our clients and the agencies selling the service and/or one of the apps.
Has the Keap CRM Target Market Changed?
There was ample confusion about pricing. Giving away apps for $49/month seems counter-intuitive for such a great product. And more concerning, partners kept having to maneuver around questionable decisions made at Infusionsoft HQ. For example, it used to cost $2000 USD to take partner training and the exams were tough. We recall many failing their tests and having to give it another go. When you passed, you felt like you were a genius.
We witnessed Infusionsoft selling Certified Partnerships for $80 USD, and the training program seemed much weaker then what the veterans had experienced to earn their Certification. Partners who had just paid $2,000 for the privilege of becoming a partner, we’re now seeing it cost others $80. And veterans were paying $1,500 to renew their certifications. Perhaps Infusionsoft didn’t see it, but this was diluting brand and trust for some partners who used to wear the ICP badge proudly. We don’t think you can get Certified for $80 dollars anymore. In fact, we don’t know what it costs at the moment.
Moreover, when we took our certified partner training, it included training on how to focus on our target customer. The classic Infusionsoft asked us to focus on stage 3 and 4 customers. The new application “Keap” was now targeting stage 1 and 2 customers. At the new low cost of $99 (often on sale for 50% off for 3 months), really left their base confused.
After all, stage 1 customers are entrepreneurs and not always financially prepared to make investments in third-party service providers like us. The cost of hiring an ICP is a hard sell for many to absorb – on solo-preneur budgets. In truth, it seemed to us that new KEAP CRM was designed not to “need” an agency or third-party service provider to help with implementation. Infusionsoft did what it had to do, we guess. It took the “confusion” out of its application and streamlined it to make it more accessible to small business. This would hopefully earn them a bigger market share of small businesses in the CRM vertical. And with every big decision comes a sacrifice. In this case, it would mean that they lose some of their champions on the ground.
The whispers in the Infusionsoft community prevailed, some expressing doubt, disappointment, concern and some jumping ship. Both the Open Infusionsoft User Group (now Open Keap User Group) and the closed (Keap) Partner Group on Facebook were buzzing. The chatter was passionate and at times dramatic. This finally seemed to get the Infusionsoft executive’s ear, and they came out of what may have been a self-imposed hyper-focus on the Keap CRM to start talking to the partner group. The founder and new COO organized a time to speak to their tribe via Facebook. They hinted at big changes while trying to create enthusiasm about the changes. However, it would take time to do the big reveal on the new name or direction of the company.
A series of webinars would ensue in an effort to better communicate with the core supporters often leaving us with more questions than answers.
- Was this refreshing the product and company to get ready for IPO?
- Will they retire the “classic” Infusionsoft and how soon?
- Is all investor money committed to the new product Keap CRM?
- How much budget is there left-over to support the classic Infusionsoft during the phase-out?
- What happens to the partner community if the KEAP product no longer requires partner support? Does it or doesn’t it?
- Why the name Keap? What is the meaning of Keap?
The “coming out” Facebook livestream was not a disingenuous effort. Far from it. But there was too much time between the last ICON event and this message from the top. And for an entire year, very few partners were feeling the love back; the love that Infusionsoft had so generously showered on its partner community in the past had been absent in 2018. They simply didn’t focus on nurturing their base as the community had gotten used to.
A handful were messaging us that they had lost brand loyalty, and well, truth be told, we felt a little guilty about it. The champions we built up were no longer drinking the Infusionsoft “kool-aid”. Is the rebrand of Infusionsoft too little too late?
But what if…?
…what if its a spectacular move? At the end of the day, should it matter to Infusionsoft that they bled a little “Infusionsoft” brand with their base? This is a company that grew and grew despite having a complex yet great product. Onlookers thought that “confusionsoft” was part of the online brand reputation problem, true. The brand was often dubbed “Confusionsoft” due to level of tech knowledge one needed to implement. Perhaps they felt the brand was too tarnished to save? But now, they seem to have their eye on the ball…the KEAP meaning is being defined as we speak. Infused with new heart and soul and a solid mission, we have to imagine, that 500+ souls in a building can make something PHENOMENAL happen!
Besides, Infusionsoft does not have to worry about the more seasoned partners. That base of “super-users” are far too codependent to rock the boat at the moment. Like remoras, many of us latched on to the great Infusionsoft shark for survival and profit. Infusionsoft provided many partners and developers opportunities to create businesses, jobs, and entire revenue streams. Many of us invested significant amounts of money in developing our agencies and building our client portfolio around the classic Infusionsoft. We may need to find a new ride in the ocean or get out of the ocean, but what is clear, no one agency should tie their well being to one creature in the sea.
How Did All of This Affect Our Business & the Business of Other Marketing Agencies?
Changing the brand at the top will have a trickle effect on all the partners. For example, we recently paid $3,000 for our front office window display to include our Infusionsoft Partner badge. Our marketing banners and print material now need to be redesigned. We had tons of hours invested in SEO (we rank # 1 for Infusionsoft Toronto and #2 for Infusionsoft Canada (second to Infusionsoft of course). Many agencies will have to revamp for 2019. I guess it’s simply the cost of doing business.
Also, as software developers, we invested a significant amount of time and dollars in programming a plug-in for the Classic Infusionsoft called Formlift.net. Formlift wasn’t a big revenue generator for us. It was a passion project that evolved into recurring revenue, and surprisingly it’s very healthy. When the classic Infusionsoft gets retired, Formlift.net will see the end of its day. There is a time stamp on that product, and that’s okay, I guess. New products mean new opportunities. Developers that made revenue from the Infusionsoft platform have to figure out the weaknesses in the new “Keap” application and turn those into new opportunities.
The veteran champions of Infusionsoft who have made significant revenue from selling Infusionsoft applications and servicing Infusionsoft clients we’ll likely stay on board…for a while at least. A divorce now would be expensive, and perhaps, even premature. And not renewing their ICP status would cause ICP’s to lose commissions on commissionable sales, so that wouldn’t make financial sense either. Right now, their core base of loyalists will stay on course whether they agreed with the direction or not.
Still, to be absolutely clear, many partners are expressing authentic enthusiasm about the changes and continue to be wholeheartedly “champions” for the company. A testament to their ability to create a loyal base in the first place.
What is the Meaning of Keap?
The Meaning of Keap is best displayed in their new commercial (view on Keap.com). It’s both inspiring and bold. And so it is: at 17 years of age, Infusionsoft rebrands to Keap CRM. It takes courage, self-discipline and a willingness to change in the face of its growing competitors and ever-changing tech landscape. And perhaps this proves, that Infusionsoft still feels it can be one of the legacy companies that go from “Good to Great”. And maybe, the IPO is on the horizon.
Leaders know they will lose some remoras in the process of a big change. With that said, Keap CRM has a big Ocean to swim in. There will always be new remoras. Keap has big plans to change the lives of millions of small businesses around the world…and if they can reach them, this pivot will be documented in the business book of EPIC transformations.