Maximum business automation, minimum effort!
When a powerful CRM meets an intelligent autoresponder, you get Ontraport. It’s an all-in-one marketing automation tool that offers great features such as powerful CRM, email marketing, membership sites, one-click WordPress integration, payment processing, affiliate management and more.
on February 8, 2016
We reviewed Oontraport almost two years ago, but since then, the software has evolved considerably, and they’ve added some amazing new features. So, it’s time to update our review. At first glance they’ve added several important new features, but also haven’t really fine-tuned some older ones. Let’s explore it in more depth.
About the company
Ontraport founder and CEO Landon Ray created Ontraport while running another small business, when he couldn’t find a CRM that would allow him to run his business on one platform. Conceptualized in 2006 and launched in 2008, Ontraport has grown tremendously during the last few years and now they have more than 100 team members who run the show. They’ve won several awards including #2 nationally for CareerBuilder’s ‘Big Strides in Small Business’, #102 on the Inc 500 list of fastest growing companies in the nation, a spot on the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces list, a Red Herring Top 100, and a Forbes Most Promising Companies listing.
Who is it for?
If you sell info products, offer coaching services, online training or education, or run any sort of paid membership site, you’ll totally love Ontraport. It makes your life easy by automating almost everything other CRMs will force you to do manually.
Just like any other software, Ontraport has its pros and cons. It’s not perfect, and there are things that its competitors can do exponentially better. However, it’s one of the best – if not the best – marketing automation software solutions available for small businesses, especially if they sell their products or services online.
Who is it not for?
It’s not ideal for large or even mid-sized companies. And if you have hundreds of thousands of clients, and send out a lot of emails every month, Ontraport could prove to be rather costly. Companies that run traditional sales models and don’t really need autoresponder and marketing automation, can find cheaper alternatives.
How popular is it?
Short answer is we’re not sure. They weren’t exactly forthcoming about their client base, other than it extends to over 63 countries around the world.
- Best value for money – you get a CRM, an autoresponder, a shopping cart, WordPress membership sites, affiliate management and task automation for only a few hundred dollars. On the contrary, one of their main rivals Infusionsoft charges $1,999 kickstart fee.
- Fantastic rule-based email marketing / business processes
- Highly scalable and customizable CRM
- On-demand postcards and voicemails
- Extremely affordable two-way SMS text messaging
- Powerful stats, analytics and tracking
- Split testing capability
- Full WordPress integration, membership sites, self-hosted order forms and landing pages
- You don’t even need your own site because Ontraport can also host your site as their sub-domain
- Great customer service
- Lacks some traditional sales modules like opportunity management
- No social media integration
- Weak mobile app, not regularly updated
- With all the e-commerce and membership site features, Ontraport should have a customer care module where customers can raise a ticket
- No visual sales funnel
- Their two packages allow 25,000 contacts with 100K emails and 100K contacts with 100k emails. That means if you hit the upper limit for your contacts, you can only send four or one email per contact per month respectively, and buying email bundles can be expensive
- The learning curve could be a little steep, especially when you want to use the advanced features
Putting Ontraport through its paces
Getting started with Ontraport is not quite as complicated as it was two years ago. It doesn’t offer a trial version like most other CRMs, but does offer a 90-day money back guarantee. If you think the product isn’t right for you or you are not ready for it yet, you’ll get full refund, no cancellation fee, no questions asked.
Importing contacts is very simple
Signing up for Ontraport is a little complicated and you can only import contacts in CSV format. Several CRMs allow you to import contacts in different formats, or even directly from third party sources such as Gmail, social media channels, Yahoo, Highrise etc. However, the import process is pretty streamlined and simple, you can even add new fields instantly, to match the data you’re importing, from the same page.
You can add new custom fields instantly while importing contacts
Also, there is no setup fee and you get 2 hours free setup and implementation. You can also get a free demo if you want to take a look at the system before purchasing it.
Workspace and user experience
The software seems somewhat less responsive than Infusionsoft, and their main dashboard – though customizable – isn’t very intuitive. The dashboard shows a bunch of boxes that display the metrics you choose, but it can be a little confusing.
The dashboard shows a bunch of metrics you choose, but it’s a little overwhelming
Several CRMs such as Salesforce, Groove, Nimble, Sprout offer powerful social media integration to give you a better understanding of your clients, Ontraport is missing this feature. Likewise, when we reviewed Ontraport last time, they neither had an app nor a mobile-friendly website. Although, they have an app for both iOS and Android now, none of these is updated. We tested the latter and encountered too many issues to list here.
Ontraport has a mobile app, but it hasn’t been updated for some some while.
The Android app is slow, got stuck, and crashed nine out of ten times
Apart from the above mentioned qualms, we really liked several things about the workspace: the interface is customizable, the menus are strategically laid out, sensible and standard naming conventions have been used, and there are quick add/manage buttons for every different module. You can add custom columns and up to 150 custom fields to customize the work area according to your business needs.
Ontraport allows up to 150 custom fields
Probably the most impressive and unique feature in the entire workspace is a quick menu that appears at the top of the page when you click on the little button in the top right-hand corner. This quick menu features your workflows, any unedited items, and pinned items. You can easily pin any item by clicking the pin button highlighted in the screenshot below, so that you can instantly access your favorite forms, contacts, landing pages or any other menus.
We loved the way Ontraport makes it easy for you to access your favorite contacts and data
The work area really excels when you want to go beyond simply managing and contacting your customers. For example, you can create landing pages, sales cart, web forms and a lot more by just dragging and dropping items.
When we compare the work area of Ontraport and Infusionsoft, it turns out that despite InfusionSoft having a few additional features and bells and whistles, what one can do, the other can also do. A notable difference is Infusionsoft’s campaign builder, which is more intuitive than its counterpart in Ontraport.
Probably the only thing that’s missing in Ontraport is Infusionsoft’s graphical campaign builder
Besides integration with several third party apps such as WordPress, Facebook, WISTIA, Twilio, KAJABI, EVERGREEN, GoToWebinar, Authorize.Net, Elavon, eWay, UltraCART, 1ShoppingCart, and ClickBank, Ontraport has an API that lets you integrate it with virtually any software.
$79/month, 1,000 contacts, unlimited emails, 1 account user (ONTRApages web pages, email templates, and SMS marketing automation are included in each plan).
$147/month, 2,500 contacts, unlimited emails, 2 account users, free account setup.
$297/month, 10,000 contacts, unlimited emails, 3 account users, free account setup, free email consultation.
$497/month, 20,000+ contacts, 200,000 emails/month, 5 account users, free account setup, free email consultation, personal account rep
$597/month, 100,000 contacts, 100,000 emails/month, 10 users, 2 hours free implementation
Features of Ontraport
Before we delve into the features of Ontraport, let’s first talk about the three newly added features: Ontraforms, Ontraport marketplace, and Ontraport projects, during the yearly event called ONTRApalooza, in 2015.
You can choose to create order or opt-in forms using Ontraport and then host on your webpage. Since there are a lot of professionally designed templates available, all you have to do is add your photos and texts, and publish. By using the click-to-select editor, customizing the built-in blocks and using them over and over again is a matter of a few mouse clicks.
You can instantly use professionally designed Ontraform templates on your website
You can publish your forms as static forms, click-to-pop-up image or link, or even a lightbox pop-up. The most interesting and intelligent option is probably the lightbox pop-up, which you can choose to be triggered when a person spends a specified amount of time on your site, scrolls past certain percentage of the page or intends to exit. A decent pop-up tool on its own is quite pricey.
Pretty much like an app store, the Ontraport marketplace allows you to share Ontrapages, Ontramail and Ontraform templates with the Ontraport community. You can use templates created by other users or share the ones you created with others.
You can share for free, sell or purchase templates on Ontraport marketplace
When sharing your templates, you can choose them to share for free, free for specific clients or you can even charge for your designs as well as content either a one-time fee or recurring subscription fee. The intelligent software system takes care of everything, and you get 90% of the fee. This is of a higher value than many will realise.
Another interesting and powerful newly introduced feature is Ontraport projects. Basically, it’s an in-app training program that lets you have your business up and running instantly. The CRM collects some data about your business and suggests different projects according to your business needs. When you choose a project, the training module walks you through the rest of the process, one step at a time. You can pause your project in the middle, and resume it from the same point later, or even keep using other features of the CRM.
In-app training program lets you have your business running, even if you’ve never used a computer before
Let’s say you want to sell a product for a monthly subscription, and you’re using Ontraport for the very first time, you’ll most probably have no idea what to do and where to start. This is where Projects menu comes to your rescue; it’ll guide you to take care of everything from defining a product to choosing subscription fee to referrals and so on.
Ontraport allows you to store a variety of important details about your clients as well as prospects in one, highly customizable screen. While viewing a contact, you can send them an email or a text message, log a phone call, manage their credit card, add a task… and the list goes on and on.
The way contact’s information is displayed is simply impressive
To update any field, just click the value in the particular field, enter the new value and hit save button that appears right next to the field. Adding sequences and tags is also a matter of a couple of clicks. In short, the contact menu is simple yet comprehensive.
This is a highly customizable menu that lets you create a series of follow up actions i.e. email, SMS, tasks, rules as well as fulfillments. These sequences can be triggered by customers through your blog, email or any other source, and the customer’s request will be processed by Ontraport as per the rules you defined, even while you’re sleeping.
Another highly customizable menu that lets you trigger sequences or actions based on if, then conditions. For example, you can create a rule to recharge all declined transactions, remove the contact from sequence, send email notification to any of your teammates, add a tag and so on.
Ontraport allows you to send normal emails, text messages, full color postcards, and last but not least, professionally designed, totally customizable email templates called Ontramail. Depending on the pricing plan you choose, you can send a certain number of emails per month, and if you have a very large clientele, you may end up having to buy costly additional messages. For text messages, you need to pay 2 cents per message – which Ontraport claims is the cheapest in the industry. Likewise, Ontraport charges a little under $1 per postcard.
Send normal emails, text messages, full color postcards or customizable Ontramail with a few clicks
The best thing about messages is that they are two-way messages i.e. the reply from your customer can trigger a sequence. Also, you can automatically insert merge fields to emails as well as text messages i.e. first name/last name or any other info of the contact.
Event management is yet another unique feature of Ontraport that lets you to conduct and manage online events such as webinars, teleseminars or live events. You can monitor people who attended and those who could not, and tell the CRM to automatically follow up with each group accordingly.
It’s a little menu that allows you add/edit/delete custom fields, import contacts, manage lead routing and scoring, manage scheduled broadcasts, and change the default value of the merge fields.
The task management automates most of the processes and saves a lot of time. You can assign prospects to your relevant teammate, route leads based on several indicators (zip code, job title, website visits etc.). You can even make decisions of routing leads on a percentage or round-robin basis.
It’s surprising you can’t add new tasks from the Tasks menu
It’s disappointing that you can’t add a new task when you’re viewing your tasks; rather you need to go to Messages or Contacts to add a new task. Also, there is no integrated calendar where you can see your tasks and appointments.
If you run an online ecommerce business, you’ll totally love the sales module of Ontraport. Here you can see all the purchases made by your customers, products that you sell, generate different reports such as sales report, subscriber retention report, transaction log, open orders and more.
When it comes to e-commerce, while Ontraport does the basics right, Infusionsoft beats it to the punch. Firstly, Ontraport doesn’t have a fully functional shopping cart as found in Infusionsoft. To get similar functionality, you’ll have to integrate Ontraport with 1 Shopping Cart, a well-known, independent shopping cart product. Handling payments as well as managing payment plans is relatively easier in Infusionsoft: Infusionsoft has a built-in merchant account known as Infusionsoft Payments, a feature missing in Ontraport.
Partner & Affiliate Program Management
This feature lets you manage your affiliate program. Create a branded partner center on your own website in minutes and offer them the desired tools to promote your business. You can create multiple affiliate programs for different products or partner types. You can also automate commissions or manually sanction them after viewing.
This module lets you integrate WordPress sites as well as create amazing landing pages simply by dragging and dropping. Last time we reviewed Ontraport, this module didn’t work on Google Chrome, but we were able to create a nice landing page this time.
Sites is a great feature for selling info products and online coaching services
It’s a great feature for selling info products or online coaching services. You can host videos and other media for your customers, create unlimited membership levels, and upgrade members over time, when they pay for access.
This menu tells who is engaging with your content. Unlike most other analytic programs, Ontraport tracking not just shows you how many users are viewing your website, but it also tells you who they are, exactly what pages they have viewed, when they viewed it and a lot more.
A powerful, in-depth tracking system makes sure you never drop the ball
You can track users either by campaign, by lead source, by medium, by content, or by term and get alerts to follow up when someone downloads your product; a hot prospect visits a particular landing page or anything else.
Ontraport as a CRM impresses, and as a company Ontraport impresses, too. Their progressiveness is reflected in their product. Like most CRM vendors out there, it is a constant game of leapfrog with the competition, and they play it well, continuously enhancing their product. Their CRM is particularly suited to companies that do sophisticated email marketing, and if you run an affiliate reseller program (which is an ideal way to run a little-cost independent sales team), ONTRAPORT is an excellent tool to manage that for you, too.
September 8th, 2014