As of November 2014, I am certified in HubSpot, Ontraport and Infusionsoft. What that means for you, the consumer, is that as long as you order through me, I get paid (and the commissions are nearly identical), which means I will give you the most straightforward answer possible and make the best recommendation for your situation, which is all you really want, right?
With both platforms doing many of the same features—contact management, email marketing, ecommerce—and both priced nearly the same—in the $300/mo ballpark—the real differences can be hard to discern.
So with that in mind, let's dive in and see if I can shed some light on the situation for you.
Table of Contents
- Membership Sites
- Multi-Media Marketing
- Mobile App
- GUI / User Interface
- Social Media Integration
- How To Decide
Culture / Personality:
What follows is a compilation of what I created:
- Originally in 2013
- Update following my Nov 2014 certification in Ontraport
- March 2016 after speaking at Ontrapalooza 2015 and attending ICON 2016 .
Culture / Personality
This may sound like a weird place to start but when you are choosing an all-in-one platform to automate your entire business you better like the people you are about to give hundreds of dollars a month to for many years to come.
While Infusionsoft has gone the venture funding route and has raised over $109 million to grow, Ontraport is totally boot-strapped. There are pros and cons to both.
With the VC approach you can grow faster, but fast growth is not synonymous with quality. Sure, Infusionsoft has nearly 800 employees now (as of 03/22/16) and their sales are through the roof, but they slowed down their pace of innovation and has let the competition catch up.
At ICON16 Infusionsoft mentioned their next generation platform, but admitted it wouldn't be released until sometime in 2017. While it looks promising, it's still a long ways off.
Ontraport, on the other hand, has around 105 employees and must be more cautious about their growth since they fund it from their revenue.
Having now met the CEO and founder of Ontraport, Landon Ray, I can say he has a lot in common with Clate Mask, the CEO of Infusionsoft. Both appear to be the same age (early 40s) and have a strong entrepreneurial drive. One big difference, though, is that while Clate Mask has been with Infusionsoft for a while, he is not a founder of the company. He was brought in early on by co-founder and Senior VP of Product Strategy, Scott Martineau, to help them grow, whereas Landon Ray is the one that started piecing together the components that became Ontraport.
While it's not a huge difference, it is a difference. Ontraport is Landon Ray's baby and he is steering that company. Infusionsoft is much bigger and is more heavily influenced by boards and investors.
Back in 2014 I rated Ontraport vs Infusionsoft as a tie on Culture & Personality. However, after hanging out with the Ontraport peeps at Traffic & Conversion 2016 in San Diego and getting a bit of a weird vibe at ICON16 (and seeing an alarming number of longtime / key personnel leave Infusionsoft over the last six months) I think Ontraport now gets the nod on Culture & Personality.
Ontraport has that energetic, underdog eye of the tiger whereas Infusionsoft seems a bit punch drunk as of late, and I get it. While they are still a big company with a good story and software that helps entrepreneurs, they're no longer the high-flying darling they once were. They're more of the incumbent that got complacent and now they're reorganizing and trying to rediscover the passion and energy they once had.
Since 2009 I have attended Infusionsoft's annual conference, now known as ICON (formerly Infusioncon), as well all of their Partner conferences held for their certified partners since November 2012. I've also participated in most of the Infusionsoft Implementation Accelerations they've invited me to participate in, their Customer Success Tours and more.
Now that I'm certified in Ontraport and have attended their annual Ontrapalooza and am working more closely with them on similar client launches I can say that Ontraport is an offering entrepreneurs, speakers, and coaches must look at for their sales and marketing automation platform.
Platform Stability / Bugs
Choosing the self-funded path I think initially created a "rougher" platform for Ontraport that had more bugs (Oct 2014 when I got certified). However, as of March 23, 2016 "fewer than 5% of customers reports are actually system bugs," according to my friends in high places at Ontraport, and I can attest to the fact that the software is more stable as an end user.
Bugs will come with the territory when your goal is to automate so many aspects of your sales and marketing but both Infusionsoft and Ontraport have come a long way in this department.
That is why—IMHO—Infusionsoft moved away from big releases every quarter starting in 2013. They made it a priority to stabilize the platform before rolling out fancy new features. But in my humble opinion, they need to bring to market some new features in 2015 or run the risk of getting lapped by some able-bodied competition rising up in the marketplace today.
Let's now jump into another (maybe) weird feature/functionality of this Ontraport vs Infusionsoft review, the CRM.
There are great misnomers out there in the entrepreneurial world (am I the only one that has a hard time spelling that word?) that Infusionsoft is just
- an online marketer platform.
- for internet marketers.
- for people selling digital products or membership sites or virtual content.
Fact: Somewhere just north of 50% of new Infusionsoft clients for more than a year are traditional brick and mortar companies that are looking for/needing and/or leaving a traditional CRM tool.
You read that right. Despite the proliferation of the internet and smartphones and social media, people still like to speak with and actually meet with a sales person before they spend their hard-earned, highly-taxed money.
From an avid Ontraport user/reseller back in 2014:
"One more thing… if your organization is very salesperson heavy, Ontraport lacks traditional sales features such as Opportunities and Pipelines. You’ll need something like Salesforce.com for that sort of thing..."
This whole selling-online-in-your-pajamas-while-working-four-hours-a-week-while-virtual-assistants-in-far-away-lands-toil-for-seven-cents-an-hour-developing-killer-products-that-sell-out-faster-than-iPhone-releases-and-deposit-funds-in-offshore-bank-accounts story may sell some books and e-courses and make those authors rich, but it's not reality for the vast majority of entrepreneurs in the world today.
When you sell products or services that cost a few bucks, you are usually involved in what's known as a "complex sale," which means it requires multiple conversations and/or meetings with more than one person. When that happens you need to...
- track Opportunities,
- coordinate with internal staff and external partners or contractors,
- assign resources,
- update quotes,
- respond to RFPs and RFQs
- and generally keep an eye on these big deals that take more than a cute 5-minute Jing video posted on YouTube to close.
Infusionsoft's CRM is fully-integrated with every other component so you can add a New Contact or Company or Referral Partner, track Visitors, create and track Opportunity Stages, set Triggers to automate your follow-up as Prospects move to different Opportunity Stages, generate quotes and invoices, send "Buy Now" links right from the Opportunity, collect payment, show communication history, Notes and more all from inside your Infusionsoft application.
You can then run Reports on all of the above, including Custom Fields you created to personalize your workflow.
Both Ontraport and Infusionsoft allow you to track Tasks and they provide Lead Scoring, which are great tools that are found in good CRMs.
After using—and still consulting on—Salesforce.com since 2004, I have to say Infusionsoft has some room to improve the GUI and workflow and Reports of the CRM piece compared to Salesforce. But being a static CRM, a.k.a. "Rolodex in the sky" is ALL Salesforce does, so they better be good at it. (If Salesforce only did email marketing, ecommerce, affiliate marketing, sales and marketing automation, web forms, landing pages, list segmentation and unlimited free support and let me pay monthly instead of one, honking-big annual lump sum I would DEFINITELY SWITCH to them.)
However, since Salesforce does nothing else and since Ontraport doesn't offer a "traditional" CRM I'll give Infusionsoft a "relative A" and give Ontraport an "A-."
I say "relative" for Infusionsoft because anything compared to nothing is infinitely better. However, in absolute terms, if you ONLY wanted a CRM with no automation, triggers, etc., Infusionsoft's CRM component would get a "B-" or even a "C."
The Infusionsoft CRM is solid, functional, searchable and actionable with room for
- Contact Info,
- Linked Contacts,
- Custom Fields—limited to 100—and more.
The Infusionsoft CRM is Contact-centric whereas most CRMs are Company-centric. It's not a huge deal, but it is a different approach that may take some getting used to if you are selling into big companies and need to track multiple contacts at the same company.
Along those same lines, adding Companies to the Infusionsoft CRM is "cludgy" (to use a technical term) and while you can add Contacts to a Company record to show who all works there, you cannot add a hierarchy or subsidiary companies like you can (in the much-more-expensive) Salesforce CRM.
Conversely, Ontraport does allow you to collect and store interaction history and customizable views for your contacts like a CRM and now they offer Custom Objects, which is both good and bad, which is why I give Ontraport an A- for now on their CRM. Allow me to explain.
Most entrepreneurs and sales people have some experience with a CRM before they look at Ontraport so they have some level of expectation about what a CRM is. (Yes, the experience and expectations may be incorrect, but you can't just tell a prospect "Hey, you're wrong, I'm right!" without massaging the message a bit.)
So the Custom Objects Ontraport provides is SUPER POWERFUL, which is the upside. It is flexible. Gives you the ability to create
- Proposals, and more.
Which are all great. The downside is there is a bit of a learning curve. Not a lot, but when you have the ability to tweak and adjust and iterate and modify...it's easy to "major in the minors" and never get anything big done.
That being said, as long as you are focused, begin with the end in mind, leverage the free support of Ontraport, and even retain pros like I have here at The Sales Whisperer®, you can leverage that power of Ontraport's Custom Objects and do great things with this newer CRM functionality they offer.
[Tweet "Best #CRM: @Ontraport vs @Infusionsoft? "]
Ontraport vs Infusionsoft Ecommerce
While Infusionsoft does offer a shopping cart / storefront, it is somewhat basic and can only be configured for one storefront. While that doesn't sound like a big deal, if you are a typical entrepreneur and have your fingers in multiple pies and are selling multiple products and programs under various entities/brands, you would have to buy separate installations of Infusionsoft at $299 to $379/mo or just offer custom Order Forms with limited functionality to your customers.
That being said, after using Infusionsoft since 2008, I've rarely sent people to my store front. 99% of the time I direct people to a Buy Now link that takes them right to the checkout page or a custom order form. (I did over half a million in gross revenue in 2014 while working from home with no full time employees so I guess this model can work. 2015 was a "rebuilding" year due to some big issues a little beyond my control and 2016 is setting up to be a huge year.)
And Infusionsoft readily admits that they are not providing you with an "Amazon-type" shopping cart. It's built for small businesses with limited products and categories and it is more than adequate for those types of businesses.
So if you have a simple, online-only business where you sell a handful of standalone products as either a one-time sale and/or adding a subscription to it, Ontraport is a solid choice. However, if you are running any other type of business where you take orders over the phone and/or want to offer your customers more online buying options, you need to see if Infusionsoft's shopping cart will meet your needs, which it may or may not.
That's why both Ontraport and Infusionsoft integrate with other shopping cart options such as WooCommerce, UltraCart, 1ShoppingCart, Magento, etc.
We have done integrations with all of those shopping carts so please contact me to discuss which is best for you if you.
For apples-to-apples Ecommerce abilities I'll give Infusionsoft an "A-" and give Ontraport a "B+" since Infusionsoft has a shopping cart and Ontraport does not.
However, if you only sell a handful of products and aren't trying to become the next Amazon, Ontraports order forms and Ecommerce is easy to setup, easy to use, is mobile responsive and for those reasons I'll give them an A+.
Also, Infusionsoft has put little effort or energy into their Ecommerce platform in years and have expressely stated it will not be a focus of theirs for the foreseeable future.
That is why I work with other developers to bring you the best recommendations for connectors, plugins, and API integrations to help you get the exact configuration you need to grow your business without growing staff.
Multi-step, multi-media, targeted, relevant communication is the name of the game in today's crowded, electronic, mobile world. Email is no long enough. Social media is no longer enough. To win the hearts and minds of your prospects and customers today, you need to reach out and touch them in more ways than one.
While Infusionsoft offers both fax and voice broadcasts (along with email, of course) from within their application, I think the voice broadcasts are a little too expensive (especially since their tagline is "We love small business) and I've never seen anyone do a fax broadcast. Sure, they offer direct mail integration, but what you do is create a letter inside the application and save it, then assign a Task to a staff member or 3rd party fulfillment house to print and mail them. Not exactly seamless.
Ontraport, on the other hand, has built-in SMS and postcard delivery from within their software (along with email, of course), and both the SMS and postcard delivery are priced quite attractively.
With Infusionsoft, you need to partner with a 3rd party SMS provided—at an additional charge for the connection and per text—and if you want to send direct mail more seamlessly requires another connection fee and the cost of the provider.
That being said, I'd give Ontraport an A for multi-media integration and Infusionsoft a B-.
Ontraport wins this hands down. Their app is much more capable (as of 03/22/16). Both Infusionsoft and Ontraport provide their mobile apps free of charge but with Infusionsoft you can do little more than look up Contacts to edit them or add new Contacts and save them to your phone and you can also look up and create Tasks.
With Ontraport's mobile app you can dang-near run your entire business.
I'll give Ontraport an "A+" and give Infusionsoft a "C+," which is up from a "C-" 18 months ago.
GUI / User Interface
While clicking around either platform is similar, the Infusionsoft Campaign Builder was a game-changer for them. In fact, if they had not deployed it back around 2012, they'd be a shadow of what they are today.
The drag and drop functionality of the Campaign Builder is just easy to use and it's where you'll spend the bulk of your time.
Ontraport, on the other hand, feels a lot like Infusionsoft's "Legacy" platform before the Campaign Builder was released. Sure, you'll learn your way around it and to this day many experienced Infusionsoft users prefer the Legacy platform, but I think that's a case of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks.
While Infusionsoft has some messy steps with adding payments, adding Companies, etc., the Campaign Builder is just the heart and soul of your sales and marketing automation so I have to give Infusionsoft an A+ in this area and Ontraport gets a B-.
- Monday thru Thursday - 6:00am – 12:00am PST (Infusionsoft, please take note of later phone support!)
- Friday - 6:00am – 9:00pm PST (Infusionsoft, please take note of later phone support!)
- Saturday & Sunday - 9:00am – 9:00pm PST. (Infusionsoft, please take note of weekend phone support!)
- Ontraport also offers chat support during the same hours as phone support.
Infusionsoft support offers:
- Phone: Monday thru Friday - 7:00am - 5:00 pm Arizona (I call as early as 6:00 AM and reach support so I think Infusionsoft is ramping up their support hours and will be officially expanding them soon.)
- Chat: Mostly 24/7 but they seem to get flooded from time to time and go offline.
I'll give Ontraport support an "A" because they have better phone support as well as chat. (I'd give them an A+ if they had 24/7 chat.) I'll give Infusionsoft support an "A" because they have 24/7 chat. (I'd give them an "A+" if they offered greater hours of phone support.
However, compared to fat cats like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics who charge extra for support, Infusionsoft and Ontraport are Rock Stars in the area of support.
Having chat support is a dream for me. I use it all the time. It sometimes takes a little longer during peak hours for Infusionsoft to answer the chat support but when I don't have a life-or-death question I can open the chat window, post my question, get the answer when they get to it and move on.
[Tweet "In the @Ontraport vs @Infusionsoft debate, Ontraport has weekend support but not 24 hr weekday chat."]
Social Media Integration
There are two ways to look at Social Media Integration with your sales and marketing automation tool:
- Social media publishing and monitoring.
- Advanced "hooks" or tools to grow with social media.
Neither Infusionsoft nor Ontraport provide any real tools for social media management like a Hootsuite or MeetEdgar.
Sure, both will let you share an email to a couple of social media profiles or embed a social share set of icons in landing page, but whoop-te-do. So when it comes to social media publishing and monitoring I'll give both Infusionsoft and Ontraport an N/A.
However, when it comes to tapping in and pulling out information from the likes of Twitter and Facebook, now we have something to discuss.
Ontraport is leading the way here with their Facebook custom audiences package. If you're looking for this type of functionality with Infusionsoft you need to buy my buddy, Justin Lofton's cool app, SyncSumo*, which has a free version, but it's an add-on tool and potential cost that you can avoid with Ontraport.
*Use promo code WES20 to save 20% off SyncSumo if you are in Infusionsoft user and/or if Infusionsoft is the best option for you.
Infusionsoft has/had? an offering with great potential called GroSocial that they let just wither on the vine as of March 2016 so I can't recommend it. (Thanks for letting me pay $500 for that certification, Infusionsoft!)
However, as you can see from the screen shot below, the GroSocial / Infusionsoft integration is seamless (if it's still working). Within the Infusionsoft Campaign Builder you can create and launch Facebook promotions as well as Twitter Cards to accelerate your lead generation from Facebook and Twitter, respectively.
Additionally, GroSocial, which is owned by Infusionsoft, enables you to create and schedule social media posts across many platforms, which is a good thing, however, it's still a separate platform with an additional cost, and since I'm still not sure how Infusionsoft is supporting GroSocial as of March 23, 2016, I still give Infusionsoft an "N/A" on Social Media publishing and monitoring.
Ontraport vs Infusionsoft Pricing
To compare avocados to avocados (apples are too simple) let's look at Infusionsoft's "Complete" package and Office Autopilot's "Pro."
- Contacts & Emails Per Month*
- *After a decade of looking at the numbers, the Contacts & Emails Infusionsoft offers meets the needs of the vast majority of new clients. You can add additional contacts and emails quite affordably, especially if you tell me up front, before you order. So if you have a big need for Contacts or more Emails just let me know.
- Ontraport "Pro" - $297/mo. Two users but a ton of Contacts - 25,000 - and Emails - 100,000 per month.
- Infusionsoft - $999 to $2,999 - My team of Infusionsoft Consultants and I spend more time helping new users create and/or document a sales and marketing process as we do showing them how to use the Infusionsoft software during the Kickstart. That type of marketing, sales, technology and business advice, support and assistance is not free and one does not develop it cheaply. (When you order Infusionsoft through me I add in a couple of extra hours of setup and support. You also get to participate in my weekly "Infusionsoft Mastermind" call at no extra charge so that's 4 hours of extra, live, free support and Infusionsoft training the very first month alone.)
- Ontraport - $0 Setup - Includes two hours of private setup and support at no charge and you can buy additional hours at $75 each.
- ^Churn (as of June 4, 2015)
- Among Ontraport users, 91% of users who successfully complete their 2-hour setup keep their application past the 90-day money back guarantee period (but not enough take advantage of that setup).
- Maybe it's because new users of Infusionsoft feel foolish walking away from a $1,999 Kickstart fee. But I know without a doubt, that getting expert, private assistance to learn and utilize the software to realize a fast ROI is why people stick with Infusionsoft over Ontraport. This whole "sales and marketing automation" is a big shift for most clients. There's no shame in admitting you need a little help to make the switch and you really do get what you pay for when it comes to sales and marketing assistance.
- By requiring an up-front investment and a commitment from you to dive in and automate your business, I feel like Infusionsoft is doing you a favor. We all focus on whatever we invest our hard-earned dollars into.
- My Take on the Setup: If you go with Infusionsoft or Ontraport, invest your money in getting professional setup service and assistance—preferably with me. And I'm not being solely self-serving here. The type of help you get from my team and me is the type of help only entrepreneurs "in the wild" can provide. When you want to learn self-defense, do you want to learn from an instructor who has only taught at his gym for 10 years or from an MMA fighter who has won many competitions and maybe even won the title? Nothing beats the insight and wisdom of real-world experience. When you order Infusionsoft from me here you can actually save a little money off of Infusionsoft's normal Kickstart. When you use this link to order Ontraport, leverage the two free hours they provide then invest in a half-day block of time with us. Sure, it'll be a little more than what Ontraport charges but you're paying for wisdom and experience, not just point-and-click instructions, and that's worth your money and time.
Who gets the nod on pricing?
- If money is tight and don't need a full-blown CRM or a more robust shopping cart, Ontraport is great.
- If you need to send a ton of emails and just need the email sequence automation, Ontraport is great.
- If you will use the direct mail, SMS, email, and Facebook custom audiences features that come standard with Ontraport, then you'll save money by going with Ontraport.
- If you need a membership site and need:
- To save money by running it on Wordpress on your own server, go with Ontraport.
- To have unlimited file storage, bandwidth, and members, spend more and go with Infusionsoft + CustomerHub.
- If you need a capable CRM right out of the box with limited customization and/or you need the features of a shopping cart, Infusionsoft is great.
On Pricing overall, it has to be Ontraport. Not only do they now have their Basic edition for smaller businesses or new entrepreneurs, they also have a non-profit pricing model as well as overall higher limits on emails, contacts and even users when you take into consideration that you can have multiple concurrent logins simultaneously in your Ontraport account.
How To Decide Ontraport vs Infusionsoft
I pay not-a-little-bit of money for continuing education, mastermind memberships and private consulting for myself. Motivated, dedicated entrepreneurs know the power of leveraging the brains, experience and motivation of experts.
That being said, not all Ontraport or Infusionsoft Consultants are created equally, so choose wisely how and from whom you purchase your application. My team consists of multiple Infusionsoft Certified Consultants, a former Infusionsoft Success Coach that now does the initial training and setup for new clients, two API developers for advanced integration and "supercharging" your Infusionsoft application, two copywriters, two Wordpress website developers, two graphics designers and an assistant.
When you order your Ontraport or Infusionsoft application through me you will have access to my entire team as needed. I cover strategy and mapping your best course of action, Phly does the initial training to help you accelerate down the path we created together, Daniel steps in for "Ninja tricks" and API coding if needed, Hugo will create new banner ads, logos and/or graphics as needed and I'll assist with scripts, website, landing page and/or email content creation as part of your normal $999 to $2,999 setup.
We can then support you on a retainer for as long as you desire to make sure you are growing as quickly as possible.
We have been using databases and CRMs since the mid-90's. I've used Salesforce since 2004 and was certified at Dell to help them deploy it to their 3,000 North American sales staff in 2007 to 2008. I've used marketing automation software since 2006.