This video was produced yesterday and is a recording of my webinar about my experience with Act Premium Cloud.
ACT! premium cloud as a subscription service in which you can pay monthly or annually. The annual rate is less expensive than the monthly rate. My experience has been that people don’t fully understand all that is offered when you subscribe to ACT! premium cloud. This video outlines what you can expect when subscribing to ACT! premium cloud.
If you are considering subscribing to act premium cloud this video will give you an overview of what to expect. If you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me and call me at 781-728-9777. Tony Holowitz
If you have decided to take advantage of act’s new subscription service (Act Premium Cloud) this article will outline how this works. First a little bit of advice for existing act user’s: think backwards.
In the past, when you purchased act you either received a disk or received a download that you would use to install act on your desktop computer. With Act Premium Cloud, you start by uploading your existing act database to act’s servers. After you have uploaded your data, you will have to wait until you receive an email from act that contains a link to your hosted database. That database is hosted in the cloud and you can view it from any web browser, smart phone or tablet.
This is where it gets a little bit confusing.
Your act data is now in the cloud. However, to get an identical database that you can install on your desktop computer, you have to request what is called a remote database directly from act and this remote database will be prepared and sent to you. Upon receiving that remote database, which will have a .rdb file extension , you
have to restore that database on your desktop computer. Now your data is in two places: your computer and in the cloud and your two act databases identical at this point in time.
Now that you have your remote database setup, the last step is to prepare synchronization between the remote database and the one sitting on your desktop computer. After synchronization is configured, you can schedule specific time increments that best suit the way you work.
At the end of the day what does is all accomplish for you?
Regardless of how you work with your act data it will always be up-to-date. If you spend the day working on act via your web browser and make all kinds of changes, that data will be the same as the data on your desktop computer. If you make changes via your smart phone or tablet, that data and any changes that you make will be updated on your desktop computer.
Allow me to review those steps for your convenience:
Subscribe to Act Premium Cloud
Upload your existing act database to Act’s servers
Wait for an email from act with a link to your hosted database
Request a remote database
Install the remote database on your desktop computer
If you have an older version of act, it will have to be uninstalled from your computer. Please make back-ups of your data before proceeding.
Configure synchronization between your desktop act database and your hosted database
When you enroll in act’s new subscription model Act Premium Cloud service you get the best of both act worlds. The Cloud and on act your Desktop (just like you are used to using)!
I have received a number of phone calls from long time act users that are confused by the way the sales staff at Swiftpage Act are explaining act’s new premium cloud subscription service. It seems as if act is pushing people to the new web-based cloud service. What I’m finding is that dedicated act users find the web-based version of the software just different enough to question whether or not they want to subscribe to act. They are left feeling like it might be time to look for another piece of software.
That is a shame, let me explain why.
Let me be clear, when you subscribe to act premium cloud you also have access to the traditional act for desktop software. My experience has been that they don’t do a good job of making this point clear. You do not have to compare apples and oranges. If you like chocolate, you don’t have to settle for vanilla. If you like the desktop version of act better, no problem. People are coming away from the conversation thinking their only option is the act premium cloud web-based version of act. Trust me, it is not.
Let me explain how Act Premium Cloud works.
You will take your existing act data and you will upload it to the cloud. This will give you the ability to access all of your act data on any device that has Internet access. If you would like to have act on your desktop, you can download and install the act desktop version as well. Next, you can create a remote database for the desktop version of act. The remote database is simply a database that can be synchronized with the web version of act.
Let me create a few scenarios to explain this concept.
You have your act database in the cloud and on your desktop. You can then schedule act on your desktop to synchronize automatically once a day with act in the cloud. All the changes you make working in your office today will synchronize to the cloud version of act daily. If you don’t leave your office for 30 days, or 60 or 90 days for that matter, no problem.
Next, you go on vacation and the only computer you have access to is someone else’s and you need to access your act data. No problem. Simply open a web browser and navigate to the web-based version of act that has been set up for you. Work like you were sitting in your office. When you get back to your office and synchronize your desktop version of act everything will be in perfect order. In other words, regardless of where you work, on the web or on the desktop, everything is just as you need it.
It really is just that simple. So don’t be confused. If you are confused or have questions give me a call.
There are two types of people that will watch this video. The first type currently uses act software that has been installed directly on their computer and their experience with act has made them curious to see how act works on the web. The second type of person has never used act on their computer (and has possibly never used act at all) and is experiencing act for the first time via the web in a web browser or some other mobile device.
Either way, this video is a great overview of all of the different aspects of what act can do for you in your life and business.
Even experienced act users will find that this video offers a refreshing overview of all the tools built into this rather inexpensive software. After watching this video, long time act users will mostly come away from this video thinking about different parts of the software they barely or never use. In addition, there are probably certain aspects of the software that you either forgot about or don’t use it all and you’ve just reminded yourself to review it at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Vanilla and Chocolate
If you are a long time act user and have experienced it installed on your computer (Vanilla) this should be an interesting overview of act on the web. All of the sudden, you can experience act in a different manner. Having access to all of your data via a web browser can be an exciting proposition for long time act users. The web version of act has subtle differences that you will find awkward in the short term as it relates to act installed on your computer. Are these deal breakers? Absolutely not.
Act on the web is Chocolate
The most important thing I want you to take away is the fact that you do not have to decide which you like best: chocolate or vanilla. The real beauty of act premium cloud is the simple fact that some days you might want vanilla and you can use act on your computer. Other days you might want chocolate and you can use act via a web browser or mobile device. You do not have to decide on a favorite, you can have both vanilla and chocolate.
When you subscribe to act premium cloud your data will be on the web and via a specialized database (called a remote database or RDB for short) that will talk to your data in the cloud. In technical terms, it is called synchronization.
Act premium cloud gives act users the best of all computing worlds.
When you first start using act for the web it is like driving on the other side of the road. It is a familiar experience but your senses are thrown off slightly.
If you are a long time act user and only have experience with act’s desktop version you will find that using the web-based version is different. Having said that, I think you will find that it is very interesting to work with and has some unique potential. In the past, if an individual act user asked me about putting act on multiple devices it was a financial challenge for many of my clients. Quite often I would suggest GoToMyPC or LogMeIn as an inexpensive alternative for accessing your act database. If you were at a computer that had an Internet connection you could log in to your office computer remotely. This is a great alternative for many people and rather inexpensive.
But what about mobile phones and tablets? The more devices you have the more complicated this becomes. Act’s new subscription service for $35 a month or $350 for the year is an inexpensive way for individual and small business users to connect to act in multiple ways. It is also technically much simpler than having to set up act for web by yourself. Below is a tutorial directly from act on what act for web looks like on a mobile device such as an iPhone or an iPad. As you can see it is different and it takes some time to learn how to use it, but it’s really not that bad.
I urge you to take a look at this new option because I think it can open up a lot of potential for the average typical act user.
In late May Act by Swiftpage changed the way they offer act software when they introduced a new subscription model. If you were to visit Act’s website today you would have two act options: Act Premium & Act Cloud Essentials.
Trust me when I tell you this: Forget about Act Cloud Essentials. Please. At least for the duration of this article. I promise I will create another article that describes what Act Cloud Essentials is in greater detail. Think of it as Act Lite for young people with smart phones.
How has Act by Swiftpage Changed?
In the past Act had two versions of their software: Act Pro and Act Premium. Act Pro was designed for individuals and companies with 10 or less people. Act Premium was designed for larger companies with 10 or more act software users. Act Premium could also be published to a web server and utilized via a web browser. This allowed users to use act on their desktop or via a web browser. Keep in mind, that this gave you access to act on tablets and smart phones as well. Because act serves so many small business users Act Pro was a staple for many small business owners. Today, Act Pro is no longer offered to new users directly from act; instead, they are offered act’s new subscription service plan which features Act Premium. If you would like to buy a new copy of Act Pro, you can buy it directly from an Act Certified Consultant (ACC).
How is act software sold today? Act Premium is the New Act in Town.
Act Pro is no longer available directly from the good people at Act (Swiftpage). When you buy act you will get Act Premium automatically and you will not see act’s website reference Act Pro. Act Premium can be purchased for $499 or as a subscription for $35 per month. A subscription gives you a range of great services that are outlined below.
When you purchase Act Premium for $499, you can also publish it to your own web server or work with an act hosting partner to get act in the cloud. Typically, there is a monthly hosting charge of approximately $40 per month and some associated setup fees. The $35 per month Act Premium price includes act being hosted in the cloud so you can access it from any device. In addition, you can request a remote database so you can also have act on your desktop; as many of us are accustomed to today with act by Swiftpage. If you do not want act in the cloud, Act Premium is only $25 per month. Act also offers an annual payment plan that will reduce the monthly cost to about $29.00 per month. When you buy act for $499 you own it and you never have to buy another copy again.
There are discounts for annual subscriptions and for multiple subscribers as well.
A Common Question
People have been asking me if they also have to buy act software when they opt for the subscription service. The answer is no. Act software subscriptions include the software. Act software subscriptions can quickly be added and deleted as needed. If you hire a new salesperson for example, you would have to buy that individual his or her own copy of act. If that person leaves your company you want an extra copy of act. With the subscription service, you simply cancel the month-to-month subscription that you have subscribed to.
Upgrading Act by Swiftpage
What I have neglected to mention to this point is the cost of act if you are upgrading. If you upgrade to a subscription there is a loyalty discount if you have act version 15, 16 or 17. Act Premium will be discounted from $25 per month to $19 per month. There is no discount if you upgrade to Act Premium Cloud On the surface that might sound harsh, but in the long run you will always have the most recent version of Act Premium and never have to upgrade again. Getting used to a subscription model will be hard for some, but not others as they come to recognize the potential.
Long time Act Pro users might have a difficult time wrapping their heads around paying $35 a month for act software. When they purchased Act Pro it cost $269. If they upgraded to a newer version the cost was approximately $199. A typical act user would hang on to their software for approximately three years making the annual cost about $70 per year. So why in the world would you want to spend $35 a month for act software? To answer that question I’d like you to look at the smart phone that you own and come to terms with the fact that it isn’t just the phone but it is truly a computer. Doesn’t it make sense to have act on your smart phone computer? Times have changed. We have iPhone’s, iPads, tablets, android devices and multiple computers. Doesn’t it make sense to have access to act everywhere you go? Act is everywhere. That is the main reason why you would consider using a subscription with act.
What are the other benefits of Act Premium Cloud (act’s $35 hosted service)? What does it include?
Windows®, Web, & Mobile
Email marketing (500 contacts)
Expert technical support
New features and compatibility updates
Instant online access to Act!
Secure cloud hosting service
Allow me to simplify your options. As of today, June 11, 2015, this is how you can purchase act today:
Act Premium perpetual license for $499
Act Premium Monthly Subscription for $25 per month (resides on your PC)
Act Premium Cloud for $35 per month (available via the web)
Act Pro can be purchased from an act certified consultant for $269
It is my opinion that act’s new subscription service is going to open up a world of possibilities for the average everyday act user. Many act users never took full advantage of all of its features because of the associated IT costs of working with software. Act’s subscription service has completely changed all of that and has made it much easier for the small business owner to embrace all of the technology that surrounds us and act today.
Call me if you have any questions about any of the information that I’ve outlined here today. I’d be more than happy to help you. Tony Holowitz: 781-728-9777
Act API and Zapier: communicating with other software
In the past, one of the shortcomings of act software is that it could not easily communicate with other software programs. That is changing. Rapidly. I want to stay right up front that I am not a software programmer.
Having stated that, my impression is that it is easier to work with a tool that is web-based, such as Act Premium Cloud, in regards to helping it communicate with other software programs. You might not think of websites as being software programs, but many of them are. Using an API, which is short for application program interface, and a tool called Zapier, Act Premium Cloud can be programmed to communicate with other software.
Confused? Yeah, me too.
Many of you have websites for your business, and many of those websites are built with a tool called WordPress. What if some of the tools that are built into your website could communicate with act? Let me give you an example: when someone fills out a web form on your website with their contact information, wouldn’t it be great if that information could be imported directly into act? Now it can be done. Act Premium Cloud can synchronize with act on your desktop. Therefore, when that information is imported into act via the web, it can then be synchronized directly into act on your desktop. If you prefer to work with act purely on the web, that is fine as well.
I spoke to Greg Knapp this morning and asked him if I could use a video that his son Marshall produced about this matter. He obliged. Greg and Marshall are Act Certified Consultants in Michigan. Their company is Aspen Tech Consulting Group, Inc. If you have questions, you can reach out to me or Greg at 866–880–4228.
Make it easy to access your act premium cloud website.
If you are Act Premium Cloud subscriber and you want to access your act database in the cloud you have to remember an obscure, or often very confusing domain name to access your site. For example, it might be something similar to https://www.acthostedaccount.host35.com/fredsmith. How in the world are you going to remember that long website address?
Simple. Spend less than $15 and register a domain name that is easy to remember and forward it to that long and hard to remember web address.
For years I’ve used Go Daddy and this is a very simple step. Visit www.GoDaddy.com and register an easy to remember domain name such as www.FredsActDatabase.com and have it forward to that act for web hosted website. Obviously, that is a lot easier to remember for you and your employees.