How to get submission form fields from email to database and more!
January 30, 2008 2:20 PM   Subscribe

How can a new company track leads submitted via its website through the sales and post-sales process, simply, automatically, and online?

(Caution- IDon'tReallyKnowWhatIWantFilter:)

I'm helping to start a small company (well, it's really a division of a larger consulting firm) that is selling a one-off product/service to non-profits.

Through AdWords, I have managed to attract nearly 30 leads a day (which I'm quite pleased with, considering the cost of our product). Problem is, each lead comes into my inbox - as well as my partners' - as emails. (I believe the site is an site, with form submissions. I'm pretty clueless, though).

Is there a way that each of these emails, which is a filled out form, could automagically be imported, fields intact, into some sort of database (ideally, online, but not necessarily).

Even better, would be if we could add notes to each lead ("Joe called Org on 30/1/08 and was asked to call back in a week") and automated reminders ("2/7/08: Joe- Call Org back"), and results ("2/12/08: Product Sold for $999,999.95") and more followups (8/12/08: "Call Org to find out how product was used; interested in more?")

This all would have to be (1) not crazy-expensive (2) easy to use (3) ideally, usable by people in different continents (ie, online?).

I suppose, all else fails, a Google Spreadsheet could take care of some of this, but I'm looking for a frictionless solution that would import our leads, fire off reminders, integrate with our address books and calendars, etc.

I've seen this question, but it didn't seem exactly right and didn't get the types of responses I'm hoping for. Honestly, I'm not quite sure even what I'm looking for or if it exists in our price range...

I'm not scared of a little bit of mucking around, as long as that's only for the setup. It would have to be foolproof for the other end users.
posted by prophetsearcher to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: They have form capture and a lot of opportunity tracking facilities.

Or use one of their many competitors.
posted by GuyZero at 2:27 PM on January 30, 2008
posted by moxyberry at 2:28 PM on January 30, 2008

Best answer: has a function called web to lead that does this. The most basic edition is also integrated directly with google adwords. I work there - so I'm a bit biased - but that doesn't change the fact that it does exactly what you need it to do. It's what it is designed to do.
posted by Wolfie at 2:32 PM on January 30, 2008

Response by poster: Sounds like a resounding "salesforce". So is "customer relations management" the keyword I want to be googling to find more?

Any other experiences, recommendations, anecdotes and jokes are welcome. (Though you may want to mefimail the jokes...)
posted by prophetsearcher at 2:39 PM on January 30, 2008

Best answer: CRM is the umbrella for what you're looking for. The leads to database piece is called Lead Management or Marketing Automation specifically.
If I were you I would talk to the folks in your parent organization about how they are handling this - it might be easy enough to piggyback on what ever they are doing. Salesforce or any of it's competitors require some amount of configuration and management. If someone where you are is already doing it - seems silly to duplicate effort.
posted by Wolfie at 2:47 PM on January 30, 2008

Best answer: Salesforce's major competitors are Netsuite, RightNow, Siebel On-Demand, Microsoft Dynamics and various other CRM apps. But going on-demand is definitely the way to go for smaller companies. And Salesforce is the leader by far in this space. Everyone these days uses it or has used it. Group edition starts at $600 a year for 5 users, which is pretty cheap.

I don't work there, but I worked for a partner and have used it lots. It's a really fantastic product. Wait until you have lots of data and get into doing reports.
posted by GuyZero at 2:49 PM on January 30, 2008

We used until we got so many leads we switched to an in-house application we spent lots of money on. It was great.
posted by Pants! at 2:59 PM on January 30, 2008

Best answer: CRM is indeed the keyword that you are looking for.

I found Salesforce to be bloated and expensive for my company's needs, so after doing a bit of our own CRM via Excel and Outlook to understand the most critical pieces of the process, and then a bit of shopping for an alternative, we landed on Highrise, a browser-based CRM from the 37 Signals kids. It worked exactly for what we needed -- and didn't need. I also liked that it's available on a monthly plan, and didn't come with an aggressive account manager trying to upsell me (or, in fact, any salesperson at all).

The email-generated Task option at Highrise sounds like it would meet your lead-to-action needs.

I agree with Wolfie though, that you might see what the parent company is already doing. It's possible they're either already using a CRM that you could jump onto, or that they can get you an additional license at a reduced cost, that sort of thing.
posted by pineapple at 3:26 PM on January 30, 2008

Yup, your best bet (probably) is to drink the Salesforce Kool-Aid.

Don't worry, it tastes good.

(Also exceedingly easy to set up and administer. I administer SFDC at my company for about 35 users.)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:02 PM on January 30, 2008

Can I just nth the SalesForce utility? I've grown our company's lead from a few a week to over 300 a week and SalesForce has been there every step of the way. Love it!
posted by Detuned Radio at 9:15 PM on January 30, 2008

Nthing SalesForce. The big-ass web company I work for uses them in some areas, and I rank them the single best third party I've ever worked with in trying to integrate their services with a site I was building. Nice folks, great user interface on their product.
posted by davejay at 10:17 PM on January 30, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Looks great. Now to convince my partners to lay down the dough...
posted by prophetsearcher at 5:38 AM on January 31, 2008

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