CRM Website Review: PipelineDeals

by Diana Ecker on September 2, 2014

This post is the first of the Keepers + Sleepers series, where you can see two aspects of a company’s website up close: Keepers (innovative, inspiring, or just plain great) — and Sleepers (untapped potential waiting to be awakened).

PipelineDeals is a beautifully designed CRM (customer relationship management system). I’ve tried it out, and it’s sleek and powerful, with a wealth of genuinely useful features and accompanying tutorials.

But does the PipelineDeals website show potential customers how great their product is? Check out these Keepers and Sleepers — and decide for yourself.

Straightforward pricing in a sea of chaos

A little bit of background on the process of choosing a CRM: it’s exhausting. There are a ton of options, and it’s easy to hit decision fatigue very quickly.

So coming across a pricing page like this feels like a relief. No tricks, no upsells. Just one price per user per month:
Reaching this page tells a visitor that from here on out, it’s going to be easy. No more decisions to make — and nothing to worry about.

If I were going to recommend one change to the text on this page, it would be to just remove the first part of the first sentence: “Unlike competitors whose pricing pages have more tiers than a wedding cake.”

It’s a cute analogy, but it’s also distracting. And anyone who is researching multiple options for CRMs already knows this. Just let them feel the relief!

Low pressure, high touch: an appealing offer

pipelinedeals-tourAnother area where the PipelineDeals website really excels is with their offer of a tour to get oriented.

On the Features page, this invitation includes a friendly, smiling fellow with a headset, and promises the ultimate in ease: LET us GIVE you a tour. A personalized tour. That says, “Hey, potential customer: this is for you and about you.”

The clickable link — “Learn more” — is the opposite of a high-pressure sell itself. “Learn more” is not necessarily the phrase that would drive the highest number of clicks, but that may not be the goal here, especially since each tour is going to take up a portion of a team member’s day.

It may be that the goal is specifically to drive tricks from people who are already intrigued and have a higher-than-normal likelihood of becoming customers.

Everything about this invitation is low-key and engaging, especially notable because it’s functioning in a high-pressure ecosystem of competing products.

Click on “Learn more,” and you’ll be taken to an equally low-key page:pipelinedeals-tour-email

The testimonials are a nice touch. But my very favorite part of this is the button copy: Send Me An Invite. Normally you’d expect to see “Sign up now!” or another phrase conveying urgency and buy-in.

“Send Me An Invite” is extremely clever — and I suspect that it reflects a disciplined approach to sales and building rapport and anticipation. It’s really quite inspired. It also telegraphs the next step in the process, which makes a visitor feel comfortable about what to expect.

Should the button be a contrasting color? I’d like to see it that way. On the one hand, you don’t want to compete with the sign-up button at the bottom of the page.

On the other hand, someone who has made it to this page is part of a process — I’d sooner see them continue to move as smoothly as possible through this process than to divert them to the sign-up button at this stage, so a non-gray button would help.

Home page challenges

Not everything on the site is a keeper, though. The home page, for example, has an number of areas with the potential to be strengthened.

In fact, there are four specific areas of the home page that could potentially be stronger: Headline, image, signup, and video.

First off, the headline text doesn’t seem to say much. To some degree, isn’t every successful competitor also providing useful CRM software in the cloud? Some are probably simpler than others, but simplicity isn’t carrying a lot of heft here as a selling point.

However — the the search for a genuinely simple, useful, cloud-based CRM in this crowded market is wearying and can feel infinite. So the first kind of headline I’d recommend to test out here would be a testimonial, accompanied by a photograph of a real person from an industry that PipelineDeals is targeting.

At the simplest level, something along the lines of “We tried out 6 CRMs, and Pipeline Deals was everyone’s favorite by a long shot” would be a place to start.

Customer research could help pin down specific differentiators, which could be great fodder for the headline as well. Sure, people might say that want “simple,” “useful,” and “cloud,” but they want other things too.

Beautiful design and easy to customize (some of these systems are surprisingly rigid) might be two possibilities to throw into the mix.

In this image, we have a woman looking above and beyond the headline, while perspective has rendered her mug oversize and distracting.

So right now, essentially the image is sending the visitor’s eye both above and below the headline, call to action, and button.

For a replacement image, my first choice would be a great photograph — beautifully lit, but not so slick it looks like a stock photo — of the person providing the testimonial, maybe with their team behind them.

I’d also pay special attention to how their line of sight interacts with the new text.

The signup demands quite a bit of a casual visitor. This is not a gentle on-ramp! Before any trust at all has been established, a visitor to the site is being asked to do a lot of mental work.

“Wait, what should I use for a password? And what’s all that fine print underneath about the privacy policy and terms and conditions?”

There’s nothing persuasive on the page as it stands now, so a potential customer is really being asked to suspend skepticism and jump in…but for what?

Going headfirst into a CRM for a free trial is actually a lot of work. Setting it up to be useful is going to take time, even in a very well-designed system.

So getting a free trial isn’t “free” in terms of time and effort. And “Get started” is really just an invitation to get started on that time-consuming process.

Did you see the video placement on the screenshot? I almost missed it too.

It’s tucked away, almost as if it’s a sticker on the laptop. Its placement there may be deliberate, as a sort of little Easter egg to be discovered.

Placement aside, I’d remove this video altogether. The music is loud and it’s hard to make out some the dialogue. The shots of the product feel rushed and a strange robotic (ironic?) voice ends the video by emphasizing affordability, which does not seem like the key take-home message here. Overall, the video has a quirky feel — not always a bad choice, but in this case I’d go in a more straightforward direction.

PipelineDeals is a product that’s about reducing chaos and increasing sales success. These themes could translate beautifully in a video.

For artistic inspiration, I’d check out the “blue sky” mandate that characterized a number of shows on the USA network — a clean, clear feeling with big blue skies in the background and an aspirational undercurrent.

Keeping the product’s beauty under wraps

As you’ve read several times in this post, PipelineDeals is an attractive product. In fact, just about every aspect of the product is beautifully designed.

It’s very clean and pleasing to look at — except for the graphs, which have more of a dated look. So of all the product shots to feature, it seems like an unusual choice to select this one to represent the product:

For shoppers who are sorting through a handful or more of similar sites and making decisions about products informed heavily by a single screenshot, you’d want to lead with the most stunning screenshot you have.

The headline here — “Build stronger relationships with customers” — also doesn’t really relates to the content of the screenshot. With that headline, I’d rather see a shot featuring customer photos within the CRM, which a user can upload to give it a more personal feel.

But are stronger relationships really the #1 reason why people invest in a CRM? This is an area where testing headlines and screenshots would be relatively easy to do and could pay off significantly.

This image and headline are currently the first of a 9-element carousel. I’d suggest reducing that number significantly. On the plus side, at least the carousel is visitor-controlled.

Last — but not least — the language in the screenshot may be nearly as important as the language in the headline above it.

The text in this screenshot appears to have been together with an assumption that visitors were not going to read it — but that’s never a guarantee, especially when the image is shown this large.

Inside, we’ve got dummy text (one task is called “jhhb”) and a lot of repetition. Going in and sharpening up the screenshot text makes a lot of sense.

To summarize…

PipelineDeals has unique insight into the emotional experience of its customers. That’s clear from their product, as well as the decisions around pricing and the product tour.

It would be exciting to see them apply that same deep insight to the home page experience and product tour. And with a lot of happy customers and a beautiful product to feature, there’s no shortage of material to draw on to bring those insights to life.

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