Small Business CRM Comparison

The results of using CRM (marketing automation) are compelling:

80% of marketing automation users saw their number of leads increase, and 77% saw the number of conversions increase.

More Effective = More Time

You would be surprised at how much of your process we can automate. It can be truly life changing! You need a tool to capture leads, nurture them until they become a client or patient and then find ways to continue to keep in touch in between visits or appointments so that you are always top of mind for referrals and additional services.

  • Do you have a stack of business cards at your desk that you haven’t followed up on, or if you have, you perhaps reached out once and then got sidetracked?
  • Do you regularly overestimate what you can get done in a week and then find yourself working nights and weekends to catch up?
  • Do you wish you could grow your business and get your life back?

We Know CRM!

  • We have been advising on and implementing CRM solutions since 1996
  • Our Executive Director Diane Moura has provided CRM consulting services since the term was first coined by Peppers and Rogers.
  • We use the keys to success of Fortune 500 companies when creating your CRM solution

CRM 101

CRM stands for Customer (or client) relationship management, a term coined by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers back in 1993. Credited with transforming the marketing industry from mass advertising to a one-to-one focus from business to individual prospect or client, the concept essentially reflects the way in which you would build and sustain relationships with all of your contacts and clients, if only you had the time.

In a small town a doctor would know all of her patients by name, the names of their family members and what each of them like. She would remember their birthdays and anniversaries with a special message. If she knew that one of them enjoyed long distance running she would cut out a newspaper article she saw about the New York marathon and save it for them. Her appreciative patients would refer their friends and she would remember to thank them. If she met someone new in town she would have a nice conversation to learn more about them and come out of her office to chat if she saw them pass by. She would stop to share some town news with them when she saw them out working in their garden. She would forge a relationship with them that would practically assure her of their business when they needed healthcare services.

CRM is essentially the process of taking your business down to a grass roots level, automating emails, letters, phone calls and follow ups to make it realistic for you to have that same level of relationship with each and every client and prospect. It automates what you would do naturally if only you could clone yourself.

Forrester defines marketing automation as, “tooling and process that help generate new business opportunities, improve potential buyers’ propensity to purchase, manage customer loyalty and increase alignment between marketing activity and revenue.”

Why is this relevant to the average small business owner?

  • Savvy buyers do more research on their own and before engaging you or your sales force they are often quite well informed about their options. This requires business owners to provide automation that monitors which messages are likely to generate the greatest response and provide information at the time when the buyer is making an evaluation.
  • Fewer people within your database are likely making active purchase decisions at any given time. You need to be responsive and capitalize upon every sales opportunity.
  • Buying is more social. Buyers are influenced by peers and what they see online. Business owners need to be prepared by making it easy to connect and respond to inquiries and searches across channels.

Customer Value, or Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is a measure of the profitability of a client over their entire relationship with your business. It is an important measure because it helps us to make decisions about how much to spend on acquiring a new client (acquisition cost) and retaining an existing client (retention cost). In many businesses, it is far more profitable to nurture and grow current clients than to acquire new ones. Not to say we shouldn’t keep the top of our sales funnel full, but retention and lifetime value are crucial metrics to our business.

In some cases both sets of functionality are wrapped up in the same tool, but typically a CRM tool will include:

  • a contact database (for prospects and clients)
    a built in newsletter function
  • detailed reporting and segmentation
  • varying degrees of workflow automation – industry specific CRM tools often come with out-of-the-box interfaces to common data sources
  • sales funnel management

A Marketing Automation may include the above functionality, to one degree or another, plus:

  • the ability to create custom automated email drip sequences as a follow up to prospect inquires via a website or landing page or manual entry such as a business card scan
  • automated task management and escalation
  • sophisticated reporting that will allow you to see the profitability of each of your marketing strategies
  • custom landing pages
  • sales funnel management (depends on the tool)
  • shopping cart (depends on the tool)
  • a variety of out-of-the-box integrations to data sources

There are so many CRM tools on the market that making a choice can be overwhelming. Since the tool will automate several areas of your business it is important to select something that you will be comfortable with and will serve you well. There are CRM tools that are generic across industries and may be customized, and there are CRM tools that are specific to an industry. Sometimes the industry-specific CRM tools can be fairly easy to implement but aren’t always as robust.

In the early days, CRM tools were huge pieces of software like Siebel that needed to be customized for each business as part of an enormous project with an army of consultants and technologists. Salesforce was the first cloud-based tool that brought CRM to the masses. As its name implies, it’s niche was salesforce automation and was well suited to sales funnel management for large sales teams. Implementation of Salesforce is still not the easiest project to take on, although you can look for partners who have already implemented a version specific to your industry.

The good news is that CRM and Marketing Automation have now reached a level of affordability for small business. A basic CRM tool can be purchased for less than $100/user/month and a more robust CRM/Marketing Automation tool for around $200/month.

Here’s What We Do

  • Create a drip campaign to ask clients for reviews. This works really well together with our review management system.
  • Deliver your monthly newsletter and not only track opens but assess interest areas based on what people click on.
  • Send very personalized emails to individual contacts with a specific interest. For example you may want to send a “thought you might find this interesting” note including a link to an article on fishing to your clients who have that particular interest tagged on their profile.
  • Capture contact information from business cards gathered at an event and your prospect receives an email expressing how nice it was to meet them and potentially including an offer of a meeting, consultation or further information with just a click of a button!
  • Create industry or area of interest specific drip campaigns to deliver regular valuable content that funnels prospects into leads.
  • Automatically remind yourself or your sales team of next steps to take on opportunities so they don’t grow cold.
  • Automate your client on-boarding process, delivering documents, requesting information and checking in with your new client for feedback.

Small Business CRM Comparison

CRM software applications vary from those that are contact management and workflow oriented, to those that are more focused on automating leads to your sales funnel and nurturing them into clients once they enter. Some industry specific tools are best at workflow management once someone is already a patient or client. Some do perform lead generation functions and their effectiveness varies. Here then are our picks by industry.

There are 3 top workflow tools for attorney firms that are all good choices, MyCase, Amicus and Rocket Matter. Our recommendation is MyCase. Click on the link below for a detailed comparison.
Legal Workflow Software Comparison

Note that none of these solutions handle marketing automation effectively and so you would also need a Marketing Automation tool to increase your top line and nurture prospects and clients. We recommend ActiveCampaign as it is easy to use and very affordable. Here are some of the things that attorneys can configure ActiveCampaign to do:

  • Monthly formatted newsletter to be used in social media campaigns.
  • Website “more information” form and a series of timed follow up emails.
  • Website “free white paper” or “free ebook” offer in response to capturing someone’s contact info. We can also link to this from social media.
  • Capture contact information from an event and the prospect receives an email expressing how nice it was to meet them and potentially including an offer of a meeting, consultation or further information with the click of a button.
  • Welcome to our practice emails with timed follow up including client satisfaction surveys.
  • Note that online campaigns have the option of being directed to an ActiveCampaign hosted landing page rather than your web page if you prefer to funnel traffic that way to capture contact information.

Redtail Technology is a great option for Financial Services Professionals as it integrates seamlessly with key tools like Morningstar, Riskalyze, LaserApp, Allbridge and MoneyGuidePro. It’s cloud based so you don’t need to worry about backups and you can tag contacts for specific campaigns. It tracks your activities and alerts you to important dates like birthdays, anniversaries and financial reviews. It includes event planning and broadcast emails. $99/month but you’ll likely want to opt to add imaging at $49/month to tie important document images to your contact records for efficiency. Add another $8/month for secure, SEC/FINRA compliant email. We still find clients like to add a marketing automation tool like ActiveCampaign to easily run drip campaigns.

For CPAs the industry leading workflow tool is XCM. This is strictly a workflow solution and you would need to add on a marketing automation tool. The benefit of XCM is that it integrates key tax and accounting dates, automatically flagging key resources with due dates. However it doesn’t do a great job of tracking time as there is no compliance enforcement or project cost accounting. Also it is VERY complex to implement so don’t skimp on the consulting at the beginning. Once implemented it will give you an eagle eye view of where all of your client work stands, what you need to do next and where to dive in to manage the details. If you’re looking for a lower cost, easier solution we have CPA clients who have been successful with Microsoft Flow and PowerApps.

If implementing XCM be sure to select eFileCabinet as your integrated document management solution.

However, as these tools are workflow and not marketing focused, you’ll need to add a tool like ActiveCampaign for marketing automation and sales funnel management.

There are several CRM tools on the market geared to realtors. We evaluated several and came down to Top Producer and Agile CRM. Possibly the best feature of Top Producer is that it handles lead consolidation from®, Trulia®, Zillow®, Boomtown®, and many more. It also integrates with MLS® to import contact and property data. It isn’t quite as robust in terms of campaign management as Agile CRM which explains why many realtors do use that tool to manage their business. However for a very basic CRM it works. Do be aware that integration with Mailchimp is one-way which means that it will send lists but not update opt-outs or contact information changes and this must be done manually. It doesn’t integrate with any other popular mail tool but you can create templates within Top Producer. It integrates Market Snapshot® so you can easily send neighborhood reports.

We do find that Agile CRM is less expensive and edges out Top Producer for its flexibility, integrated newsletters, email drip campaigns and nurture programs. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Send someone an email, and if they click on the property, call them to follow up.
  • Ask open house visitors to sign in on an ActiveCampaign landing page form from an iPad, capture their information and put them into a drip campaign to follow up.
  • Monthly formatted newsletter to be used in social media campaigns.
  • Website “more information” form and a series of timed follow up emails.
  • Website “free white paper” or “free ebook” offer in response to capturing someone’s contact info. We can also link to this from social media.
  • Capture business card information at an event and the prospect receives an email expressing how nice it was to meet them and potentially including an offer of a meeting, consultation or further information with the click of a button.
  • General listing campaign to build confidence in potential sellers so that they will understand the traps, pitfalls and options in the home selling process.
  • FSBO campaign to show owners the value of listing with your company
  • General buyer campaign providing prospects with helpful guidance and consistent interaction in a 24-month nurture campaign
  • Past client campaign to connect with and qualify clients with whom you have worked with in the past
  • Expired listing campaign to give sellers insight and warnings about effectively selling their homes
  • A basic landing page using ActiveCampaign or your website that you may use as a campaign funnel page for social media or paid advertising. This landing page may include information about the business but with a focus on capturing contact information via a web form.

For healthcare professionals who take insurance, systems and forms are often dictated by the insurance companies and there are several good workflow management tools available on the market. However what is missing in most of them is the functionality that a marketing automation tool like ActiveCampaign can provide, including:

  • Patient reactivation if too much time has passed since the last visit
  • Encourage contacts to sign up for promotional events, remind them to come and follow up with a satisfaction survey when they do.
  • Monthly formatted newsletter.
  • Welcome to our practice email with timed follow up including patient satisfaction surveys.
  • Website “more information” form and a series of timed follow up emails.
  • Website “free white paper” or “free ebook” offer in response to capturing someone’s contact info.
  • Capture business card information at an event and the prospect receives an email expressing how nice it was to meet them and potentially including an offer of a meeting, consultation or further information with the click of a button. ActiveCampaign can also be used to create internal process automation such as first patient visit call follow ups.

CRM Greater Visibility Into Your Sales Funnel For Follow Up

Why We Choose ActiveCampaign CRM For CRM Marketing Automation

We’re tool junkies here at ZenChange. We love learning new technology and we have tried a lot of tools ourselves and implemented them for our own firm and for our clients. Regardless of the tool you use we can consult with you on strategy and process. We know Infusionsoft really well, used to use it for our own practice, and can work with you to build your campaigns. We know Zoho really well, but no longer recommend it due to issues with email deliverability that we have seen with several clients. Currently, we believe the best CRM Marketing Automation tool on the market in terms of greatest bang for the small business buck is ActiveCampaign. In fact, we migrated our own practice to it we were so impressed. Here’s why:

  • Social CRM – sync your Linked In prospect info right from the contact panel. Connect and send messages.
  • See if your prospects are checking out your website.
  • Monitor when prospects open your emails and what they click on.
  • Really easy campaign creation with drag and drop components like emails, tweets, wait days, tasks etc.
  • Integrate lead capture and contact forms into your website.
  • Lots of integrations with your other tools including accounting, payments, and project management.
  • Easily create estimates and contracts to be e-signed from within the tool. Maintain your price list for your team.
  • Share your calendar online so prospects and clients can make appointments.
  • Create beautiful newsletters.
  • Send SMS messages or include in campaigns.
  • Built in help desk with ticketing and knowledge base.
  • Integrates with your email to easily add contacts to ActiveCampaign, and within ActiveCampaign see all of the emails between you and that contact.

CRM Marketing Automation Implementation & Support

CRM Initial Implementation

$575 / one time

- Create newsletter template in your CRM

- Upload up to 3 contact lists

- Setup sales funnel (does not include
entering your specific deals/opportunities but
we will send you a video with instructions on
how to do that)

- Integrate with Facebook campaigns if

- Integrate chat with your website

- Assumes 1 hour of list cleaning and
formatting for import. Additional time billed
at $75/hour.

CRM Campaign Automation Build

$450 / one time

- 1-time Includes templates & copy for up to 3 drip emails. Recommended monthly
so we may continue to add new campaigns but may also be a 1-time service.

CRM Campaign
Weekly Monitoring &

$75 / month

- 1 campaign

- Sales campaign monitoring. Includes checking the campaign performance,
and making adjustments to improve performance as needed.

Hourly CRM

$75 / hour

(as requested)

- List Maintenance

- List Segmentation + Filtering

- Deal + Lead Funnel Setup and Management

- Additional Email Copy + Design

- Additional Campaign Monitoring

- General CRM Support

Cost of CRM is based on email list size. Plans start at $29 monthly.

Curious about how small business CRM can help your business?