CRM Idol: GreenRope review
Small businesses typically have few choices when configuring their systems. Either a small business takes out of the box functionality and learns to live with it or the company can invest its resources in customizing software to meet its needs. Larger companies have the same issues but their deeper pockets and greater resources make the customization route viable. Of course, any business can also fall back to using spreadsheet applications but that solution has its downside which has been well documented.
GreenRope tries to provide a third path. Founded in 2000 and located in Soland Beach, CA, the company offers something like a Swiss Army knife approach to business software for small businesses and consumer groups.
GreenRope may not match other CRM products feature for feature but given its audience, it doesn’t have to. It provides an eighty-percent solution that combines CRM, social media, email marketing, surveys, event and project management, website content management, ecommerce and a private wiki. There’s more than enough here to enable a small business to compete in the marketplace.
The big benefit for customers is that, as a platform for so many business applications, GreenRope can synchronize data and help coordinate various business activities thereby helping its customers to save money over point solutions and keep issues from falling through the cracks. Corraling business information helps the small business to keep more balls in the air and compete more effectively.
GreenRope has been around for more than a decade and as yet, has not taken any outside capital. The founders’ roots are in email marketing and the product set is built around the assumption that email is an important channel for small businesses. Homogeneous consumer groups — associations, alumni and similar organizations — that have affinity among their memberships will frequently see this email approach as good and productive where others might put up the spam filters.
The product is highly configurable enabling even a small business short of technical expertise to still be able to modify its behavior. For more technical audiences the company also offers code access. The product runs a LAMP stack (Linux (operating system), Apache HTTP Server, MySQL (database software) and Perl/PHP/Python using both Perl and JQuery for applications. GreenRope’s approach to the market also includes a VAR channel and private labeling so that associations can offer the product as a benefit of membership to members.
Historically small businesses first bought accounting software to manage their books and when business picked up a contact manager. Today multichannel customer access and a greater dependence on doing business online or through other indirect channels make it imperative for many small businesses that they find more efficient ways to bring their channels together to serve their customers cost effectively and efficiency. The GreenRope suite is a good step in that direction.
GreenRope has taken its organic growth approach about as far as it can. It is not the only CRM product attempting to address the small business market and that market could benefit from the richness and simplicity GreenRope offers. The company now needs to get better known and reach out to the market which may mean taking on outside capital and the structure and advice that comes with it.