January 11, 2020// Category: Digital Marketing
If you have a business, you’ve definitely at least heard of a CRM (though you’ve probably also looked into purchasing one). That’s because a CRM, or customer relationship management system, is a super useful tool for a growing business that can help you manage and optimize relationships with customers and potential customers.
But CRMs can be expensive and complicated, and it can be hard to weed through all the options to figure out which tool (if any) will really work for your business (your bandwidth, your technological know-how, your budget … all of it).
That’s why we’ve put in the legwork and found the best CRMs, along with the pros and cons of each platform.
Here’s everything you need to know:
At its most basic, a CRM is a tool that can be used to manage all of your relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. It can also help streamline your processes and improve your profitability by putting all of your customer interaction information in one centralized location.
And this isn’t a “nice-to-have.” Today, it can be absolutely necessary. You have data coming in from sales, customer service, marketing, social media, and tons of other places. If you’re going to use it to your benefit (and not just wrestle with it until the end of time), you need to understand that data and be able to translate it into useful business insight that you can act upon. And it also needs to be comprehensive and accurate.
A CRM does that, giving you all that information in a centralized, easy-to-understand dashboard. This allows you to see your basic information accurately and manage tasks like storing customer and prospect contact info, identifying sales opportunities, recording service issues, and managing marketing campaigns. It can also help you see more nuanced insight like outstanding service issues or your customers’ social media interactions.
It’s a good idea, and there are lots of pros:
That said, there can also be some major cons, especially if you choose a CRM that isn’t appropriate for your business:
With all that in mind, we recommend that you come up with a list of questions and have-to-haves for your business’ perfect CRM. You need to understand the cost, how complicated it is to use, what existing systems it integrates with, which of your KPIs and insights you want to use it to reach, and more.
Once you understand what you need, here are some of the top CRMs out there, and their pros and cons:
Constant Contact offers one month free on each plan.
Like Mailchimp , Constant Contact is all about email outreach. Pros of this tool include:
The fee structure is based on the number of contacts, which means if you’re cost-conscious you can find yourself deleting lists to keep your monthly cost down.
Plus, there is no free version for extended use, which would be helpful for smaller businesses.
Constant Contact is absolutely an email marketing tool for small businesses. They cover the basics, and they offer some unique tools that may be helpful for specific businesses like event planners.
Free. HubSpot CRM lets you store as many as 1 million contacts and companies – but this doesn’t include access to HubSpot’s sales, marketing, or service hubs.
This is the perfect CRM for businesses that want to dip their toes into the CRM world without altering their existing structure or going all-out.
It’s super user-friendly to start adding contacts and growing your network. You can use HubSpot’s website forms and Meeting calendar booking tool to quickly add to contacts and accept new ones. Plus, the tool automatically helps you sort those contacts into the right company based on the email domain.
On its own, the HubSpot CRM doesn’t have a full set of analytics tools built-in. You need to use the marketing tools to get that insight.
That’s why HubSpot can get expensive as you grow. Their sales, marketing, and service hubs are super powerful tools that you’ll probably want to access at some point, and they cost $50/month per user for the Starter plans alone.
Plus, HubSpot is super sales-focused, meaning that it’s not ideal if you have a B2B or offline business.
If you are a super small business or a freelancer, this could be super useful. Plus, if you want to grow, it definitely allows scalability (you just have to be willing to pay more).
Infusionsoft Essentials starts at $199/month, though the tool can cost as much as $379/month on the Complete plan, which includes sales automation and eCommerce capabilities.
Infusionsoft is a comprehensive marketing tool for small businesses. Its greatest assets are its user-friendly user interface and its campaign builder, which makes building sequences feel pretty intuitive for users.
Here’s a complete list of pros:
This tool is great for small businesses that already have a strong customer base and a slightly bigger CRM budget.
Mailchimp is a leading marketing automation solution that is most famous for its email marketing capabilities. More than anything else, it helps businesses create, send and analyze email campaigns.
It offers free membership for new businesses, along with many third-party integrations. Its designs and templates are modern and mobile-friendly, and you can get started right away. Plus, it offers lots of automation and follow-up, A/B testing, and reporting capabilities.
More often than not, Mailchimp is combined with another CRM tool because it does focus more on email than anything else.
It’s definitely a good tool to use, especially if you want to get started with a tool that will help your customer interactions easily and quickly. That said, it’s not a fully comprehensive CRM platform, which you have to keep in mind.
$9 per user/month (paid annually) or $12 per user/month paid monthly for Nimble’s Contact plan. They also offer a 14-day free trial.
If you’re looking to really utilize social media and email, Nimble can be really useful. It has its own social listening tool that pulls in social data from a prospect’s Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
It also integrates well with existing email systems, helping you see social info for whoever you’re emailing, along with any previous interactions or associated deals.
This is more for relationship-based businesses (like consultants) than it is for those selling something. If you fall into the latter category, some of their tools may not be as relevant.
If you’re a smaller business using social media to build relationships, this is a great choice.
The most basic form of Salesforce – Salesforce Essentials – is $25 user/month (billed annually, otherwise $30 monthly) for up to 10 users. Keep in mind, though, that this is the most bare-bones version out there with basic functionality. We recommend you check out their 14-day free trial and take it from there.
Salesforce is built with scalability and customization in mind. You can also use it to completely automate processes and take contacts all the way from leads to upsold return customers without even touching it. It connects to social media platforms and provides:
That said, many of these features and automation tools are not available with Salesforce Essentials. You also don’t get access to Einstein (it’s built-in AI) unless you pay an extra $75/user/month (billed annually).
If you have the money, though, these tools are really amazing.
As you may have already guessed, Salesforce can be too much for smaller businesses, especially those that aren’t looking to grow massively.
The perfect CRM for companies ready to scale and take on a higher degree of CRM complexity.
When it comes to finding the right CRM for your business, the reality is that there are tons of great choices out there that will work and deliver some pretty cool features. The key is to understand what you need and what you have to prioritize – then to find the tool that works best for your individual goals.
If you’d like some additional guidance, let us know and we’d be happy to help.
We have a great network of vetted local talent that we use for white label work, and we would love to talk shop over coffee.