A CRM is customer relationship management system. It helps you track your customer details in one location and is essential for any business. A CRM means no lost customer details, not losing customers by forgetting to follow up with them, and no bashing your head against a desk while you try to figure which location certain details are stored.
For a small e-commerce company it might seem like you can’t afford a CRM. Don’t worry there is a plethora of free CRM software out there and we’ll take you through your best options.
There are two types of free CRMs
The freemium type CRMs offer a limited range of useful features with limits on number of users, contacts, storage and other features. Payment unlocks more features and much higher caps for users, storage and so on. The open source CRMs offer a fully functional CRM, but they require installation and configuration. You will need to get that done on your own. In addition, they can also be customized. Thankfully, many CRM companies offer preconfigured versions with support and installation provided for a fee.
Capsule is free for 2 users and 250 contacts with 10 MB of storage. Upgrading costs just $12 per user per month and provides 2GB of storage, 50,000 contacts as well as integration with MailChimp and Freshbooks. This CRM scores great reviews with its best feature being the ability to integrate with 133 other software programs including Gmail, Xero (accounting system) and Google Calendar and Contacts to name a few.
Interestingly they do not provide any phone support for customer support, but they do have helpful blog articles and an online section for troubleshooting. Capsule does provide email support and customers can contact them through email, an online help form, and twitter @CapsuleCRM. But if you have a problem over the weekend, you might not get a response until normal business work hours.
Insightly offers a free version that supports 2 users, 2500 records, 200 MB of storage and 2 custom fields. This freemium version includes 10 emails per day and some advanced reporting. If you need more features, the Basic level costs $12 per user per month and provides 1GB of storage with 25,000 records allowed.
The standout feature of this software is the in-built email marketing system. The freemium version has limited access to this system. But if you upgrade, it can save money as your business grows because you will not have to spend more on another system for your emails. Described on their homepage and by reviews as great for small businesses, Insightly has problems when it comes to the demands of larger businesses. Another factor for consideration is that Insightly provides support only via an online community.
Claiming to be the best CRM for small businesses, Really Simply Systems offers a free version of their software. This version allows a 2 user system with 100 accounts for businesses that you deal with, unlimited contacts inside those accounts and 100 MB of storage. All this along with free customer support. Sounds pretty good right? If you need to upgrade, it provides three different paid plans for businesses that are growing. True to its name, it does keep things simple and provides fantastic customer support. Version 5 which was launched in March 2017 has an improved interface and a new dashboard.
FreeCRM has a free version that allows 100 users, 10,000 contacts and basic features. Upgrading to CRM Pro costs $29.95 per user per month to get access to more features, support and storage. Unfortunately, the free version is only free for one year with no customer support.
Why should you consider FreeCRM? Their upgraded system is a very affordable option for medium to large businesses. The fact that it is web-based means you are saved the trouble of creating an expensive infrastructure to host it. In other words, it’s very easy to get it up and running.
The free version of Bitrix gives you 12 users, 5GB of storage and you can do what you please with the storage. Bitrix stands apart from other CRMs because of its highly flexible price options.
The upgrade for unlimited users and 50 GB of storage is $99, but if you need something different, Bitrix has multiple options. You can choose an extra 12 users for $39 per user per month. If you feel like you need more storage, there is an unlimited plan for $199 per month. So you have a lot of flexibility to choose what suits you.
But wait, there’s more. For a one-time payment of $2990, you can get the installed CRM for small businesses which is suitable for 50 to 500 users.
Aside from pricing, most reviewers find it very easy to use. Its integrated document management feature is quite useful and well-integrated. In addition, it is very feature-rich. The free version includes project management features, sales automation, invoicing, reporting, in-built email marketing, telephony features (call-recording and dial-out), and sales team management.
On the flipside, all reviewers mention that Bitrix does not have the greatest look and feel. One particular review mentioned a clock that flashed in the corner as a reminder to timestamp activities.
Hubspot’s CRM is very lightweight making it a good option for small to medium businesses that are CRM rookies. It is completely free, although there are a few features like click-to-call that require payment for use. Having been designed by automation specialists (Hubspot), this CRM has phenomenal data gathering capabilities. While CRMs usually require data entry from a salesperson, this software can pull data about people from their internet activities and email engagement rates among other things. Hubspot clearly intends their CRM to be a gateway to their primary source of revenue, their marketing automation software.
Raynet is the easy-to-use CRM that does it all. At least that’s how its marketing describes it. The free version permits 2 users and 150 accounts with 50MB of storage and complete customer support. For just $19 per user per month, you can upgrade to 20,000 accounts with 1 TB storage.
Raynet has an aesthetically pleasing system that reviewers describe as intuitive. It has an account card which displays most of the pertinent information about a customer on an easy-to-read single screen. The information displayed includes their worth to your company. The fact that Raynet is a relatively new company with its headquarters in the Czech Republic could make support for US companies difficult.
SuiteCRM was born from SugarCRM which is no longer supported. It is the open source alternative of this software. Described by a reviewer as the best of all worlds, it offers free forum support. Alternatively, there is paid dedicated support that is categorized based on response time and duration of support. This paid support starts at $2000 a year.
vTiger is an open source CRM that was originally based on Sugar. You can download and install the free open source version if that suits you. It offers a preconfigured version at $30 per user per month. It also offers more support in the form of installation, hardware, support and administration if required, at a price starting at $700. A handy feature of the paid version is that it integrates with MailChimp, Intuit and Paypal to name a few. It provides a wide range of features for cheap including inventory tracking, billing and project management. These are unusual as they are not found in most CRM systems. However, a significant drawback is that vTiger has compatibility issues with PHP 5.6 and above.
The CRM Zoho offers is free for 10 users and 25,000 records. It includes a mobile app and social CRM. Although it is easy to use with well-developed importing features, it is not as feature-rich as the other CRMs listed and has certain peculiarities. For example, when exporting from Zoho you must make sure there are no commas. If there are commas, it will split up the records when exporting them to Excel. If you want to upgrade it is $12 per user per month. This allows more users and records and also provides more features.
Zurmo is an interesting CRM. It is open source and gamified. The idea was to offer users incentives to make them better employees. It sets missions with badges for goal completion. An interesting feature is that co-workers can challenge each other to missions with set rewards. At the moment it lacks social CRM, but as this is a relatively new offering, it will probably be updated down the road.
The preconfigured version of Zurmo, called CRM.me, is cloud-based and also gamified. Upgrading costs $35 per user per month.
Instream is relatively new, but it is a good choice for small businesses. It is free for a single user and 100 contacts including unlimited social integrations, basic integrations and unlimited lists. Its suggestion features provide in-app tips on how to continue work on a certain project. This is a handy feature for a novice sales team. This makes Instream ideal for small businesses. In addition, it is a very lightweight CRM. This makes it a good choice for a small business, but harder to use for bigger businesses. The upgrade price for the basic plan is $10 per user per month.
Their website blog describes Agile CRM as the choice for small businesses. The free versions of this software can handle 10 users and 1000 contacts with unlimited tasks, documents and deals. It includes rich features such as lead scoring, email tracking and custom data fields. It describes itself as an all-in-one CRM. Growing your business might require upgrading to the paid plan which is $8.99 per user per month. The advanced features that are available include gamification, social media integration, telephony and more.
Although this is not a comprehensive list of all the freemium or open source CRMs out there, it is a good place to start and should have something that fits your needs.