How Smooth Messenger for Zoho CRM, a partner-built extension, became the first Marketplace extension to earn $100,000 annually

The Company

Smooth Messenger's Jeremy Nagel started his journey with Zoho as a consulting partner in 2011. Based in Sydney, Australia, his company, Nuanced IT, specialized in custom application development using the Zoho suite. When he launched his first Marketplace extension in 2017, he was only able to attract about 200 customers—but that didn't stop Nagel from building more extensions to address customers' emerging needs. In 2021, Nagel's efforts paid off when he earned $100,000 in a year from just one extension. That extension was Smooth Messenger for Zoho CRM.

How it all began

One of Nagel's early initiatives was the launch of Nuanced IT, a blogsite dedicated to helping users make the most of Zoho CRM and other Zoho products. He launched his first extension, Advanced Round Robin, on Zoho Marketplace in 2017. In 2020, he launched the Twilio SMS Extension for Zoho CRM (which evolved into Smooth Messenger), and with help from Zoho Marketplace, he was able to secure 74 customers in the first six months. This growth convinced him to double down on the SMS extension. Although he has launched five extensions in total, the success of Smooth Messenger has far surpassed the others. Since the extension's inception, Nagel has continuously listened to customer feedback to develop new and better versions—and customers have rewarded his hard work.

Growth over the years

Nagel started Smooth Messenger with just one other developer on his team. Now, three and a half years later, his team includes eight developers, one customer support agent, and a marketer. Smooth Messenger currently has about 466 active users. It is the first Marketplace extension to earn $100,000 in a calendar year, and the first partner-built extension to have been acquired by another company.

What can other partners learn from the success of Smooth Messanger?

Focus on customer support

During his consulting phase, Nagel learned that a lot of businesses were looking to use messaging to communicate with their end customers. He also discovered that having customer support in place was a huge driver of product adoption. Good and timely customer support was directly proportional to product growth and correlated with 5-star reviews, driving more Zoho customer confidence and adoption.

Improve the extension

By the time Smooth Messenger was published on Zoho Marketplace, Nagel had developed 19 prior versions. Now, his team is on version 1,756. Nagel says his customers have been quite vocal about what they want the integration to do. He continually makes notes of their suggestions and feedback during support calls, and aims to incorporate them in his next upgrade. Over time, each iteration has substantially improved the quality of the extension.

"When we launched the extension (Smooth Messenger) on Marketplace, we published version 20 and in under two years we are at version 1,756. A lot of iteration has gone into it and I've got a whole team working on it. All this development translated to a product that the customers liked and I'm excited about taking it to the next level with MessageMedia. Overnight, we've got a much bigger support team, more features, and heaps more ideas based on the integrations MessageMedia has with other CRMs."

Leverage customer reviews

According to Nagel, the time to request a review is after you have been able to fix an issue or add a new feature for someone. Positive customer experiences lead to better reviews, which encourage more prospective customers to trust and try the extension.

Nagel's advice for budding Zoho Partners

"Partnering with Zoho Marketplace has been super exciting for us," Nagel says.

"We have rapidly increased the reach of our products to customers across the globe, and gained revenue we could have only dreamt of when we started. I recommend any Zoho consultant or partner to build a Marketplace extension simply because it's much more scalable. It opens up a lot of opportunities. Purpose-built extensions enhance your clients' Zoho experience, and you can help more people this way, as opposed to trying to balance multiple consulting projects and then feeling like you are doing the same thing for all of them."

Key advice:

  • Listen to what your customers are asking for and try to turn their requests into a product on Zoho Marketplace.
  • Focus on making the user interface highly intuitive for your customers.
  • Develop an amazing customer support process—that's the key to success.

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