For those of you who currently use Impact Data's smart products for your email and sms marketing, this is a must-read. Since I'm an advanced user of this product I can give you a great insight into the great new features and some of the pitfalls of changing to the re-written product.
It's wonderful to get your hands on a totally rewritten product with new improvements on all the best features of the product you already know well, and to get the most out of it you really need to set aside some time to play with it.
First of all let's cover the installation itself.
If you're using Micropower Membership and using its very powerful integration benefits be careful to make sure all your fields are coming across. I had to specifically ask for my Company field to be added into Squawkbox. Also remember that your database may not only have Micropower Members in it. For example, we have databases that we've added manually from social groups, Facebook competitions and other enquiry sources. These need to be manually exported from Smart and re-imported into Squawkbox.
One of the best features on Squawkbox is that you can now save segments (i.e. a filtered list of contacts). When you have a complicated membership structure this is a huge time-saver and increases accuracy on these sends.
Creating a new email
Templates are a little restrictive because you can no longer select a template and then massage it with your own touch. For example, if you selected a template with 14 event items and you only wanted to promote 13, you can't do that. You're better off starting from scratch. On the plus side, they offer a lot of templates to choose from so you might be lucky to find just the right one.
There are a few little bugs they need to iron out, such as being able to add your own custom colours. This is pretty important if you're particular about branding like we are, however, this one should be fixed shortly.
At this point I'm not sure if the 'drag and drop editor' and the 'from scratch' option will be the most efficient way to go in terms of editing but it probably depends on how you like to work.
Sign Up Forms
The set up of forms is a lot easier than Smart but it is extremely limited in terms of design. You can't change alignment, spacing, text size, text colours etc. So yes, you can still get a form done, but there's no ability to brand it.
I was also really hoping that they'd introducing the ability to embed the form into a web page (that would solve the branding issue)…but no such luck as yet. I expect we'll see a lot of improvement coming soon in this area.
One feature I really like is that we can set up an automatic email to be sent to people who fill-in our online forms. You can choose a different email depending on whether your sign up came from an existing database member or a new one. This is a really cool feature that anyone can do themselves. Previously you needed a lot of help from Impact Data to get this going.
The interface is cleaner and easier to read. The statistics are all there in the one place (easier than Smart), but there's a few stats that I'm going to miss.
In particular, the invalid email addresses. It's highly valuable to know whether your bounced emails came from an auto-reply, a full mailbox or an invalid email address. In Smart you could do additional marketing to a filtered report list such as send an SMS to all invalid email addresses. This you will now have to do manually and you may be approaching a customer who was just on holidays.
What is totally awesome is that you can see some basic statistics on your social media if you used the integration when you posted it. This saves you the trouble of having to trawl through the insights on your social media platforms.
Social Media Integration
One of their key new features is the ability to automatically post to Facebook, Twitter, or your RSS feed in the one stroke. This is a great feature for people who are really pushed for marketing time.
The downside at the moment (and it's a biggie for a multiple page user like me), is that you have to install it with your personal account. This means that anyone with access to your Squawkbox account can also post to any other page you manage including your personal account. This is top of my list for features I'd like them to fix. So in the meantime, this means only having one user for Squawkbox if you want to use this automatic posting feature.
Should you wait?
Whilst we're in the migrating process people are asking me if they should push for the upgrade now or not. No matter when you do the migration you're going to go through a bit of pain. The advantage of going early is that you can weigh in on any changes you'd like to see. Typically, software companies will take a lot of positive feedback in the early stages of a new product. In fact, some of my requests have already been delivered!
However, it's worth taking note that you'll probably have to run both simultaneously for a while until you get your installation finalised and feel totally comfortable with Squawkbox.
This might also be a great time to introduce some new branding opportunities into your email marketing. A custom-branded html template is an especially upmarket way to go. Talk to us if you want some help there.
The support at Impact Data is great, so you'll be able to have your training needs addresses quickly. Good luck!