Things that work well in Zoho CRM: Email Campaigns

Posted by Posted on by

Email campaigns. Check. Every CRM has this as a checkbox on their feature list. Whether it is integrated as part of the system, as is the case with NetSuite & Oasis, or acheived through a partner integration, ala Salesforce and Campaigner, no CRM system is complete without it. Doing it well and making it easy, however is another story. Having been a marketer for longer than I care to admit, suffice it to say I have had plenty of experience with email campaigns…(not to date myself, but can you say mailmerge & Eudora?)

Ah but I digress. After struggling in this area with our previous CRM system, I was psyched to be able to quickly and easily generate targeted, personalized email campaigns. (and better yet, teach my team to do this as well!)

Zoho works like other CRM systems in terms of splitting up leads, accounts, and contacts. It is very easy to create email templates in either plain text or HTML, and use these templates for emailing out to leads or contacts. The text editor is simple and straightforward, and to add your own HTML creative you simply cut and paste. Adding wild cards for personalization is suprisingly easy, and acheived by simply choosing fields (in plain english!) from a drop down list and copying and pasting into your template.

By making the templates available to everyone who uses the system my team can personalize their messages and add wild cards for their signatures – leveraging content that is available for everyone to use yet giving the messages their own personal flair. Again, not a new concept but deceptively simple in Zoho.

Once the template is created you then go to either the Leads or Contacts database (depending on your desired targets) and select the Mass Email feature (this is easily located at the bottom of the main page of the Leads and Contacts databases.

This takes you to the Mass Email page, and is the area where you will select your email template and records to send it to. To select your template just choose one from the drop down menu. Then click on the “Select Records” tab to choose your recipients.

This is the area where Zoho really shines. While this is undoubtably the most important aspect of any direct response effort (selecting the actual targets for communication) – many systems fall short when it comes to being able to quickly get to the right target list. In fact, this basic ability was completely lacking in our last system without having to directly create a SQL database query. Not impossible, but for a marketing team not the most practical approach.

In Zoho there are a few basic ways to search for and select your email recipients. The first way is to use the “Custom Views Criteria.” This will use any of Zoho’s standard or user-created Custom Views to select the recipients. You can create custom views into your data based upon certain criteria (such as geography, timeframe, etc.) or you can choose your recipients based on Zoho’s out-of-the-box views such as “My Leads” or “Today’s Leads.”

From this view you can choose to send to all or manually select which contacts you want to receive the email. This feature alone is extremely valuable, especially in the case of not having a complete up-to-date, clean list, which can often happen right after a trade show, webinar, or some other event. This basically gives you a quick and easy way to opt out people that you do not want to receive the email, or weed out duplicates without having to clean the entire database. This is a great feature that has alowed us to continue to communicate effectively without having to go through an arduous database cleanup exercise.

The other method to select your recipients is to utilize the “Manual Criteria” feature. This allows you to select criteria from a number of fields to get to the right list. Say uou wanted to send a thank you note to all prospective customers who visited you at a recent regional trade show. You could search for all records with the lead source “trade show” and narrow it down to the specific show, account owner, territory, etc.

Again, not rocket science, it just works. And not only does it work, it’s simple enough that my entire team is now empowered to be more effective in their outbound communications. Once the target list is specified they can quickly choose from that list who should receive the email and who should not.

Overall for us it has never been easier to generate targeted, personalized, and effective email communications. While we will always continue to send out general HTML-based messages that highlight news and offers for a mass audience, we are now able to more effectively communicate with our customers, partners, and prospects. There are many more features in Zoho that my team is utilizing and in future posts will discuss more about how our entire process is improving the more that we continue to use the system.

This post was originally written by D-Tools VP marketing, Tim Bigones

Why we cooperate with Google

Posted by Posted on by

I explained earlier our rationale for why we compete with Google. From our forums today, here is a request for Google Apps integration with Zoho:

… I would like to have an app which will sync docs, spreadsheets, etc. with Google Apps and/or other providers. It will help convince users that they can move their data to the cloud and have a peace of mind …

Here is another request on GMail integration with Zoho CRM:

I will sound like an heresy to suggest. but we have become hooked on Gmail.

Salesforce and Gmail willl very shortly work together.

Is there a remote chance that Zoho and Gmail will work together ? of course the decision is more strategic in nature for Zoho than purely technical.

I wish that this post gets addressed from the Zoho developer team.

Let me state this very clearly: our goal is to fully support Google Apps across Zoho, so we do not consider these requests unreasonable at all. We are working very hard at these kinds of integration. Why haven’t we done it already? I will put it down to the practical reality of software project management. Integration projects are inherently complex, and integration of any two products (even if they are from within Zoho!) is quite involved. A lot of scenarios need to be tested, and that just takes time. We have already embraced Google Gears for offline support and provide sign-in support for Google/Yahoo users. We are working on a lot more of these types of integrations, but it just takes time, so please bear with us.

Our commitment to support the Google suite is not merely tactical. We fully recognize that we live in a Google era, as I outlined in my post IBM, Microsoft and Google Eras of Computing. We believe the best opportunity for Zoho is to align ourselves with the dominant platform, which is now Google, and innovate on the applications. That is how we best serve our customers, and that is how we ensure our own long term prosperity.

By embracing the Google suite, do we risk getting marginalized? If we fail to innovate and provide extra value to customers, we will be marginalized regardless of whether we support the Google suite or not. That explains in a nutshell why we choose to cooperate with Google. It is a huge win for customers, and it keeps us focused on what we need to do to provide extra value.

I have always believed sports analogies get taken too far in business. Google Apps doesn’t have to lose if we have to win. That summarizes our philosophy and world-view.

10 Reasons Why Zoho Wiki should be your Help Authoring Tool

Posted by Posted on by

At AdventNet, our parent company, we offer a host of tools for the enterprise ranging from network management to help desk to log analyzers. We also offer frameworks for OEMs to build their own customized solutions. All these products have quite a lot of technical documentation associated with them.

I joined AdventNet in March 2001 and remember the days when our tech writers used RoboHelp for building the documentation package for our various products. RoboHelp’s a nice tool as it allowed easy arrangement of pages based on the Table of Contents, there was an automatic tree view generated in the left hand side panel, there were the Next, Previous arrows in each page for easier navigation, it had a spellchecker and it offered index, content searches. Once the documentation package for a product was done, it was made as a zip file and uploaded to our site. The zip file was then downloaded by our users and extracted to a local directory for consumption.

But the above method of doing help documentation had a good many disadvantages. We will see below how we have overcome these disadvantages by adopting Zoho Wiki and the top reasons for why you should choose Zoho Wiki as your help authoring tool-cum-hosting solution.

1. Accessible from anywhere
A help authoring tool is pricey and needs to be installed in each of the user machines. And you are tied to your PC or laptop for accessing your work. Since Zoho Wiki is available on the web, you can access your help contents for editing from anywhere. When you sign-up for Zoho, you have for free, two wikis with unlimited number of pages.

2. Collaboration
With the conventional help authoring tool, our team of tech documentation writers always found it difficult to collaborate. Each member had to work on a different page, topic or section and finally it was all brought together. Not so with Zoho Wiki. The wiki administrator can set page-level permissions allowing for fine-grained access control to who sees what. For example, when a product’s help pages are being created, the Read/Write Access is set to Group, meaning no one from the outside world can view it. Once the documentation gets done, the Wiki permission is set to Public and everyone is able to access those pages. The same’s true for new documentation pages getting added all the time to a Wiki.

3. WYSIWYG Editor
Most wikis need the wiki syntax to be followed. For example you have to write **Zoho** in order to make Zoho appear as bold. This is one reason why wikis haven’t proliferated as much. But we want Zoho Wiki to be a wiki for all. It has a powerful WYSIWYG editor which allows you to format text as you like, insert URLs & tables, play with pictures / images etc.

4. Page Organization
The sitemap provided by Zoho Wiki allows creation of sub-pages and lists them as a hierarchical index (folder view) of the wiki pages. Pages could be created and re-arranged easily by drag-and-drop.

5. Version Control
Zoho Wiki saves all versions of a web page. And the evolution of the documentation can be tracked as any two versions of a page can be compared. A page can be reverted back to an older version, if need be.

6. Search Engine Optimization
The zip file we had for our help documentation didn’t help when it came to search engine optimization. There were lots of valuable info in those pages which the search engines didn’t have access to. But all wikis made public in Zoho Wiki are crawlable by search engines. And the tags you add for wiki pages automatically make up the keywords meta tag. The name of the page is taken as the title tag. Also, Zoho Wiki has a good PR in Google. Since all the wikis you create are sub-domains of the Zoho Wiki URL, you have a nice chance of getting a good page rank, resulting in your pages turning up tops for related search queries.

Searches for Olympics 2008 stats, entrepreneurial marketing, CRM online help in Google all have Zoho wikis within the first 3 places.

7. No Expertise needed
There is typically a learning curve involved with any help authoring tool. It takes some time to know all the functions and master them. But with Zoho Wiki, you can hit the road running. Sign up for free with a username / password, get invited to the appropriate wiki and start working on the content right-away.

8. Searchable
The pages of a Zoho Wiki are regularly indexed and hence are easily searchable. There is a search box available in evey page where you can type page names, tags, words or text phrases within a page and search for them within a wiki.

9. Customization Options
With help authoring tools, you should have a thorough knowledge of HTML in order to make your web pages appear the way you want. With Zoho Wiki, there are a lot many customization options available. Like having the side panel to the right or left, including your organization logo, customizing the header/footer panes, choosing a skin color etc. There is CSS support too. If you know how to work with style sheets, you can easily make your wiki look unique (like this one, for example).

10. Easy maintenance
Before, we had to upload zip files to our site and it required webmaster’s help. Whenever there was a small change/addition to any of the documents, a whole set of steps had to be followed. The tech writer updates the specific page, a new build (a zip file) is made to reflect the changes, the zipped file is mailed to the webmaster team, the webmaster team uploads the build to a test site and mails back to the product team asking for approval, the product team downloads the zip from the test site and sees whether everything’s OK, gives approval to the webmaster for uploading to the site and finally the webmaster uploaded it onto the site. Now with Zoho Wiki, it is an one-click process. Make the necessary changes in the appropriate wiki page, save it and you are done. The latest changes get reflected on the site.

Some of the tech documentation that we have on Zoho Wiki : Zoho Invoice, Zoho CRM, Zoho Wiki‘s itself, Zoho Show, ToonDoo and more. Going forward, we plan to host almost, if not all, of AdventNet’s / Zoho’s web pages on Zoho Wiki in a phased manner.

Switch to Zoho Wiki now for all your help documentation needs.

Zoho Party

Posted by Posted on by

To celebrate our Million User milestone (and to make an announcement – or two), we are hosting a party at the Office 2.0 Conference in San Francisco next week. We’d like to invite all Zoho Users and all attendees from the Office 2.0 Conference to this event.


Vitrine @ St. Regis (4th Floor)

125 3rd St

San Francisco CA

The party starts @ 6PM on Sep 4th. Our Millionth user Dean Detton from Prestige Home Automation will be joining us as well.

If you are attending the party, please take a few seconds to drop us a line. This will help us plan the event.

Do mark your calendar for Sep 4th from 6PM to 9PM. Looking forward to seeing you in person.

Here are some photos from our last year’s party.

Zoho Notebook for your Stock Research

Posted by Posted on by

Some users like managing their portfolio using a simple spreadsheet like this one (it uses our recently launched VB Macros, BTW).

While a spreadsheet is good one for such use, research is a different story. Apps like Zoho Notebook comes in handy in such cases. Good news about Zoho Notebook is, you can even include such spreadsheets inside your notebook.

Mike Hogan from Barron’s talks about using Zoho Notebook (and Google Notebook) for your Stock Research.

BOTH NOTEBOOK SYSTEMS make it easy to sort out the HTML-bound text, pictures and videos you want to keep from those you want to lose. Yes, popular desktop applications accept hyperlinks, graphics and other HTML gingerbread, but not with anything approaching predictability. Web elements can change a receiving file’s formatting; and, if your mouse stumbles over an embedded link, you can find yourself transported to an image or video application or some other Web page.

Google Notebook is better at selectively stripping out Web links and other formatting, or turning a big note into plain text with the click of an icon. Zoho Notebook is more oriented toward page-building than text conversion. It has standing menu options that let you create multimedia notebooks by mixing images, RSS feeds, spreadsheets, presentations and other non-text elements, or even record audio and video directly to a notebook. In addition to text- editing tools, it has a drawing toolbar for page layout and object manipulation — and a truly impressive ability to deal with disparate Web-page elements.

Google Notebook’s strength is in on-the-fly research, where the fewer mouse clicks, the better. But Zoho’s multimedia elements make for greater comprehension, and facilitate sharing. In this age of social media, being able to bounce your research and ideas off other market speculators is an important part of investing.

Both services let you create public folders online — including password-protected ones accessible only to approved collaborators. But Zoho Notebook has more version-control and collaborative features for group projects, as well as chat access via Skype’s ( instant-messaging and phone service. Both can be included as toolbars in Mozilla’s Firefox browser ( With a right mouse click, you have the option to capture a Web page’s URL to Google Notebook or the entire Web page to Zoho Notebook.

Full article here.

Research is obviously the core usage of Zoho Notebook. We have been making some good progress towards it for the next version to further simplify the research process with a better plug-in etc. More on that later.

India retains World Youth Chess Olympiad title

Posted by Posted on by

I know the Olympics just ended. But I am not going to talk about it, because India was, like 50th in the medal tally. Did you know no Indian had ever won an individual gold medal before, until this Olympics. If you said “Indians suck at sports”, I would say you are being too polite.

So we prefer to celebrate the wins we do get, like this one from The Hindu:

India, which crushed Russia 3.5-0.5 in the second round but almost lost its way in the second half of the 10-round competition, caught up with the top seed at 28.5 points and took the honours due to superior tie-break score.

What is particularly thrilling to us is we at AdventNet had a small hand in it. About a year ago, the Hindu carried an article that said a gifted chess player in our state was looking for help acquiring a laptop, so he could polish his game. We gifted him one. He is one of the players in the team that won the World Youth Chess Olympiad.  Congratulations, Priyadarshan, you make us proud!

I want to emphasize that our role in this is small and incidental, but we are really happy it made a difference. There is plenty of talent where he comes from. One of the most satisfying things we do at AdventNet is to help surface such talent – in the field of software. But there is a lot more than software talent in India, that is waiting to be discovered.

Zoho Projects : Create Project templates, Bulk upload documents and more

Posted by Posted on by

Today’s Zoho Projects update brings in a few more goodies.

Project Templates : Zoho Projects has had Tasklist Templates for quite some time now. This has now been enhanced to include defining whole projects as templates. In addtion to defining tasklists, you can now have Milestones (consisting of various tasklists), documents, forum posts & users added to a template. And whenever a new project is created, you needn’t start from scratch but make a copy of a suitable project template (whereever applicable).

Bulk Upload Documents : Typically, when a new project gets started, you upload various documents like requirement docs, drawings, design plans, test procedures etc related to that project. What better way than to choose once and upload all of them in one go? Zoho Projects now offers multiple file uploads.

Log time : Logging time has now been made easier. A clock icon comes on moving your mouse over the days in the calendar view. You can click on it and log the time for your tasks in that project.

You can also log time, edit the logged time in the List View under the Timesheet tab now.

Do try the latest features in Zoho Projects.

Page 220 of 333« First...102030...218219220221222...230240250...Last »