Customer Spotlight: SEO Entrepreneur Switches to Zoho and Thrives


“I was bored out of my mind. I didn’t know what to do.”

It was 2010 and Peter Bowen had just retired from owning and operating an advertising agency in Toronto. However, retirement did not prove to be all he had hoped for.

“I thought I was going to retire but I got bored and I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I thought that this would be a great opportunity to do something I enjoy doing, have some fun, and keep myself occupied.”

Peter decided to start his company, First One On, and knew from prior experience that he needed a CRM to keep his sales pipeline organized. Having recently used Sugar CRM at his previous company, he thought this would suffice, however he was soon disappointed and left searching for a new CRM solution – until he found Zoho.

The Business: SEO with a Passion

First One On is a small company that provides a broad range of search marketing strategies, website marketing strategies, and mobile application development.  The company consists of founder Peter Bowen, and a group of contractors.

As Bowen puts it, “I was so passionate about SEO, internet search marketing, and website marketing, I decided that rather than retire, I should start a company that I’m actually excited about.  That is how First One On began.”

The Challenge:  Finding a CRM that Can Log Emails Against Clients

Peter Bowan – Founder

Over the years, Bowen had previously used Sales Force, Gold Mine, and Sugar CRM.  When he started First One On, he initially thought he would forge ahead with Sugar CRM because that was the most recent CRM he had used.

“When I first began, I started using sugar because I thought that would be a good way to manage and organize contacts. One of the very first things that I was frustrated with was the inability of most CRM systems to be able to log emails against clients. That was one of the things, which frustrated me the most.

I used a computer-based system, and I suppose Sugar was okay it was but way too clunky and it wasn’t mobile so I simply couldn’t stick with it. A friend of mine had Infusion soft and he said that it was the greatest thing but when I looked into it, it was just too overpriced for a little company like me.

Selection Criteria & Competitive Analysis

“From my previous business experience, I knew that if you are to be successful as a small business, you need to manage lots and lots of data, contacts, names, leads, phone numbers, emails etc in an efficient way.

For me, it was vital that the CRM be web-based.  I wanted to be able to access my client information anywhere, without having to download any software.  It was also important that the CRM be easy-to-use and ‘lite.’  Having previously used several other CRMs, I knew exactly how complicated and confusing CRMs can be, and I wanted something full-featured, but that I could quickly get up and running with.

Lastly, as a small business, price was very important.”

Competitive Analysis of CRM Solutions

Diving into Sugar CRM first, Bowen immediately noticed it did not meet his selection criteria.

“I previously used Sugar because it was web-based, free, and I thought it would be a good start but to be honest and it was over-complicated, difficult to use, and didn’t do what I wanted it to do which was to be able to log emails and contacts and notes related to clients. “

Continuing his search, Bowen found Zoho.

“When I just couldn’t get Sugar to work the way I wanted it to work. I had to look at Zoho.  I wasn’t’ sure what to expect but once I started to use it, I realized how powerful it was.”

Not only did Zoho meet all of his selection criteria, but Bowen continues to discover new features.

“Every week I learn something new about Zoho that I didn’t know before. I constantly use features that I didn’t use last week or 2 weeks ago. I’m starting to rely on it for everything!. I have the app version on my mobile phone and every time an email comes in, I see it on my iPhone, I can go straight to the application and I can answer it.

Clients like the fact that you respond to them immediately.”

Life After Implementing Zoho CRM

“Now I’m developing a business where I’m actually using Zoho now to log every single phone call because I can’t remember today what happened yesterday, let alone what happened last week or 2 weeks ago. My clients can recall minute details that happened months ago, because to them it is important, but to me, I’m dealing with so many people that, unless I write it down in Zoho, I’ll never remember it. So Zoho essentially has become the only tool I use for email and keeping track of every single contact, every single conversation, every single note…everything!

I have leads, prospects and I have clients who are contacts and accounts. To be able to manage all of the leads separately from clients is very important. Being able to log emails against leads and clients is also important because somebody will send you an email and then weeks or months later they will reference that email and it’s very easy to quickly go to that account or record and find that email or note about them as opposed to trolling through Outlook and trying to find a single email. So the ability to be able to recall information about a contact quickly is a huge aspect as far as improving my efficiency.”

Bowen also makes use of Zoho CRM resources and support.

“There are a lot of questions that I have and I must say every time I’ve used the online help, when I put a question in, within hours I get answers. I never have to wait more than a couple of hours to get an answer and that is absolutely fantastic to be able to offer that level of customer support. That’s a huge credit to Zoho.”

Bowen’s pleasant experience with Zoho has also led him to begin integrating other Zoho apps.

“I’m now starting to integrate Zoho Campaigns, and the business card scanner app for my smart phone.  Both are going to be essential tools for me.

My entire business process has become vastly more efficient.”

What Would You Like to Say to Other Customers about CRM Solutions?

“I was visiting with a client about a year ago and this client was trying to manage contacts using Outlook and I said “don’t you have a CRM?” and he said to me ‘What is that?’ I showed him Zoho on my laptop and he said “Blimey, that looks easy!” and then and there he signed up for the trial and within half an hour he registered for the full version on the spot.

Each time I meet somebody new and they give me their business card, the very first thing I do is I scan it with my phone and capture their details directly into Zoho. They inevitably ask what I’m doing and are extremely impressed when I show them the scanner app.

I’m always championing the use of Zoho with people I meet. I am totally sold on it. It’s absolutely wonderful!“

To learn more about First One On, CLICK HERE


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