I wrote a post after ICON last year and it got long enough that I had to split it into a part one – where I talked about product updates, and part two, where I talked about the overall experience. I’m going to try and keep this post from getting too long by being as succinct as I can. As Bud Light says, Here Wego!
The theme at InfusionCon 2017 this year, as emphasized by Clate, by keynote speakers, and by ICON finalists, was to get back to the basics. There was a noticeable focus on the fundamentals of business, Lifecycle Marketing, and relationship building. During the opening keynote session I almost felt like Clate was my opening act for my session later that day on Nurture, as he discussed the value of building rapport with your audience, and the results that simple follow-up can create. If you missed my session and want to grab the nurture slide deck you can do that here.
Infusionsoft is a software company after all, and there were a handful of product related updates that I want to make sure everyone is up speed on.
- WordPress Plugin: This plugin was first announced at PartnerCon last fall, and was delayed a few times (due to some legal troubles, from what I hear), but was finally released last week. This is a lead capture plugin that allows you to create simple (and sexy) opt-ins for your WordPress site and ties back into Infusionsoft with a new WordPress goal in the campaign builder. Here’s a tutorial from my friend Daniel Bussius on how you can use this new plugin.
- Infusionsoft Propel: Infusionsoft announced they’ll be adding a new product to their line-up: Infusionsoft Propel. Propel will be designed to serve the needs of ultra-small businesses, ones that may not be ready for the flagship Infusionsoft product yet. It sounds like Propel is designed to be a gateway product for Infusionsoft, and will be competing with tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact.
My two cents: I may have been reading into things too much, but it sounds like Propel will be the first release of a larger vision Infusionsoft has for their product line.
- BigCommerce Integration: Infusionsoft’s shopping cart is…basic. And if that has caused you grief in the past you now have a new option. Infusionsoft has partnered with Washmo Media to introduce an official BigCommerce integration. Special shout out to Monkeypod Member and my friend, Jason from Washmo Media, for his work on this integration.
- Facebook Ads Service: Infusionsoft announced that they’ll be launching a new service to help small businesses launch Facebook ads. Basically you’ll meet with a Facebook Ads expert, discuss your goals, then they’ll create the copy and the ad, and you’ll launch. Everything I heard indicated that this service would be inexpensive (~$200) and that the turnaround time would be quick (~3 days).
My two cents: I have no doubt that many Infusionsoft users need help with Facebook Ads, but I also know that the reviews of the similar Google Adwords service were not all that positive. I honestly hope this one is better received, but if it isn’t, then I hope Infusionsoft learns their lesson and sticks to creating world class software, and lets the partner community help with services like this in the future.
- Vimeo Integration: Yup. Infusionsoft announced an integration that is good news if you’re using Vimeo for your video hosting. If you’ve seen the Wistia integration that has been around for years (yup, that’s a dig), it’ll be really similar to that. It will allow you to gate your content, and add turn-style lead capture forms to your videos. I can’t find any active documentation on this, but honestly I also didn’t try that hard.
- Internationalization: Infusionsoft is a global company, and for a long time they’ve failed to fully recognize and embrace that. It seems that with the latest round of international enhancements that they’re finally giving the user base outside the US a little love. Among the most exciting enhancements, there are now translations available in French, German, Spanish, and Brazillian Portuguese for Quotes, Invoices, Shopping Cart pages, and Order forms.
- New Landing Page Builder: Yesssss! Infusionsoft has formally announced that they will be integrating with a new landing page builder. I’ve played with the new landing page builder some, and it is definitely capable of producing landing pages that are far superior to what we have now. However, like most things Infusionsoft releases, it will likely need to be improved on over time. I’ll do a formal review of the new LP builder sometime, but for now, just recognize it for the progress it represents, and be patient if it doesn’t do everything you need from it right away. I have it on good authority that if you’ve worked with the landing page builder from Convrrt, then this will feel very familiar. I’ve also heard the release date isn’t far off.
Well, if I’m being 100% honest, I didn’t go to very many sessions this year, and I’m not sure why. I usually try and attend a handful, and pick up what I can for my own business. But this year my focus was on relationship building, meeting new people, and absolutely murdering my own sessions (Check, check, and check, btw). Infusionsoft asked me to deliver two sessions this year, one on Nurture, and the other on launching a referral partner program that scales. I have a handful of things I think I could have done differently/better in my presentations, but all in all, I’m pleased. Both were better attended than I expected, and the feedback I received was very positive.
So, outside of my own sessions, I went to the opening session each day, and I went to the ICON finalist stuff to support my friend Justin, and ALU (an organization I’ve been working with for the last twelve months); and that’s about it.
The Small Business ICON finalists were, by the way, outstanding. I came into the week feeling full-on competitive, and hoping ALU would take home the trophy (or whatever), but after watching all three finalists present, I genuinely felt that I could support any of the three finalists. Justin did an impeccable job representing ALU, and it gave me goosebumps to watch him share the story I’ve watched unfold over the last year. Dierks Farms, the winner, had a great story and you could just feel how proud they were to be included. And then the guys from Kickstagram held their own too – with contradictory humble swagger that both said “we’re just trying to figure things out” and “we’re only getting started”.
Update: The ALU project wound up being a pretty strong example of how marketing automation can be used in an end-to-end customer journey, so we produced an Infusionsoft case study showcasing exactly how we used automation on this project. Enjoy.
I can say this though: In the past I’ve felt that there were too many breakout sessions, and that there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to the way the breakouts were structured. I didn’t feel that way this year, and I didn’t get that sense from others. I felt like the content was well paced, and varied nicely. The feedback I heard from most people was that they were getting good value from the sessions they attended (with a few exceptions), and equal value from the conversations they had and the connections they made.
The people are the best. The Infusionsoft ecosystem is unlike any community I’ve ever known, and Infusionsoft deserves all the credit in the world for cultivating such an impressive tribe. Everywhere you turn at ICON you see people enjoying themselves, connecting over the small business experience, or sharing their strengths to try and creatively solve problems for one another; it’s powerful, and inspiring.
When I attended ICON in 2016 I had been a partner for less than a year. This year, Monkeypod was much more of my identity and I was absolutely humbled by the number of people who approached me just to say hello, or to share how one of my blog posts answered a question they had, or how a course of mine helped with how they use or think about Infusionsoft. I really enjoyed getting to meet OG members, reconnect with former co-workers, and catch up with current colleagues.
The overall event feel was excellent. I want to give the Infusionsoft events team a big shout out on this one. The check-in process seemed to run seamlessly, the expo area was arranged so that it was easy to navigate, and once again – there were puppies you could play with/adopt. I liked that they made an effort to have beverage stations at certain times of day where you could grab a pick-me-up, or a whisky neat. I thought the ICON mobile app made it easy to pick the sessions you wanted to see, and get notifications about contests, book signings, etc. I ate lunch off site each day, but I didn’t hear any major griping about what was served on location – in the past I’ve sensed frustration with both the quality and availability of meals. Once again I learned that emcee, Scott Harris, isn’t for me – but I also learned that there are plenty of people who seem to dig his style and energy, so maybe that’s more of a personal thing.
I should also mention a few other blog posts that I’ve seen summarizing ICON17, or InfusionCon 2017, through perspectives other than my own. Check out Jorge Diaz’s take here, Mandy Brasser’s here, and Jim Hacking’s experience here.