The 7 Best CRMs for Marketers
Have you ever seen the American television sitcom Cheers?
There's a line in the Cheers theme song that says, "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name." That line really encapsulates modern marketing. Your target audience wants to associate with and buy from companies that get them.
That's where customer relationship management software, aka CRM software, comes in.
With this kind of tool, your brand's marketing department can store customer information and use it to create personalized experiences that guide prospects through the customer journey. With a CRM, your company will close a lot more deals.
But here's the thing: Most CRMs were created for sales teams. As a marketing professional, you have different needs, and you need to make sure your CRM can satisfy them. So, in this article, I’ll share seven CRM systems you can use to level up your marketing efforts.
What Features Should Your Marketing CRM Have?
There are different types of CRMs.
Some were made for sales teams, others cater to customer support teams. And still others were designed for marketing teams. Since you're a pro marketer, you should invest in one of the latter options. The question is, how do you choose?
It's pretty simple: Look for CRM features that will help you implement your company's marketing strategy. Here are a few suggestions:
Your marketing team is busy, which means productivity is always a concern. One of the best ways to get more done in less time? Invest in a CRM with marketing automation tools. Look for a platform that eliminates data entry tasks for your team, sends emails and texts at predetermined intervals, and generates reports on autopilot.
If you want to achieve growth, discover the revenue-driving benefits of CRM software.
All CRM software stores customer data. The best CRM software will help you segment it. Now you can personalize a customer's brand experience based on their unique behavior, which will (almost always) lead to more sales. Note that segmentation features are especially important for marketing departments that work with multiple demographics.
Email marketing generates insane ROI, which is why every marketer should know how to craft effective email campaigns. The CRM solution you choose should have built-in email functionality. If it does, you'll be able to access all of your mission-critical email metrics in the same platform where you store customer data and generate marketing reports. Convenient!
Data and Analytics
How many potential customers do you have, and where are they in the customer journey? The CRM you select should make it super easy to answer these questions. Invest in a software that collects and displays data in real time, via easy-to-understand dashboards. This will make your life a lot simpler.
Finally, make sure your CRM connects to the marketing software you already use. You might be an Unbounce power user. Or love the way Mailchimp operates. Or get crazy detailed insights from Marketo. Whatever the case may be, you shouldn't have to upend your current processes to accommodate a CRM. Just integrate your marketing tech stack instead.
7 Best CRM Platforms for Your Marketing Team
So, what's the best CRM software for your marketing team? That depends on your marketing department—and your unique needs.
Here, we’ll review multiple options and make it easy for you to decide between them. Keep reading to discover the top marketing CRMs in 2023.
Best for: Aligning marketing and sales teams
I'll be honest with you, Close is a sales CRM—but that doesn't mean it can't help you implement your marketing campaigns! Close is equipped with multiple features that marketers can use to streamline their workflows. It's also super affordable, which is a definite plus. Most importantly, Close integrates seamlessly with a variety of marketing tools. By adding Close to your tech stack, you'll finally break through the wall that separates your marketing and sales departments. The result? Greater success for your entire organization.
The Pros of Close:
- Close is super user-friendly. It won't take you days, weeks, or months to get familiar with this CRM. You can be up and running in an hour or two.
- Close is equipped with powerful email marketing features. Easily access proven email templates, personalize your messages, and build automated sequences that follow up with leads at specific times. Then, view detailed analytics to measure results.
- Every prospect is unique, which is why lead scoring is so important. Close will help you pinpoint your ideal customers, then rate new leads using these criteria. The result? Your marketing team will generate hotter prospects that sales reps can convert.
- Every CRM worth its salt has an analytics dashboard. Close will give you access to a variety of KPIs and metrics, which you can use to create custom reports. Armed with this data, you'll be able to adjust your marketing strategy as necessary.
- Close integrates with landing page creators like Unbounce, email marketing platforms like Mailchimp and Drip, social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, and analytics tools like Marketo. Connect Close to all of your favorite marketing platforms.
The Cons of Close:
- Close wasn't specifically designed for marketers. As such, it doesn't have all of the features that marketers usually want and/or need. If you're looking for an all-in-one marketing platform, rather than a solid tool to add to your current software suite, you should probably consider a different CRM solution.
Pricing: Close costs between $25 and $129 a month, billed annually. The amount you pay depends on the number of features you need access to. This makes Close a great option for most startups and small businesses.
Sign up for a free 14-day trial of Close to see if it's the right fit for your marketing department.
Best for: Smaller marketing teams
Looking for one platform to manage your entire marketing department? EngageBay is a strong candidate, offering a truck-load of features for a surprisingly affordable price. This makes it an excellent bang-for-your-buck CRM that can help small marketing teams scale to new heights.
The Pros of EngageBay:
- EngageBay's CRM can build lead and customer databases that empower marketing departments and strengthen sales processes simultaneously, thanks to simple contact management, task automation, and analytics features.
- EngageBay includes powerful email marketing tools. Use the drag-and-drop builder to craft messages, then automate them to send at specific times. Users can also segment their lists to deliver personalized experiences to their subscribers.
- Who does your marketing team send emails to? Build up your leads list with customizable web forms. Or go further and craft SEO optimized landing pages to really supercharge your lead gen efforts. Either way, tap into EngageBay's analytics dashboards to monitor important metrics and ensure growth.
- Want to connect with prospects in real time? Use the EngageBay live chat app to engage website visitors in conversations and turn them into potential customers. Past chats can be transcribed and studied for training purposes.
The Cons of EngageBay:
- EngageBay isn't difficult to use, but it's not super user-friendly, either. This is partly because the platform includes so many features, which take time to learn. And also, because the company's support materials are underwhelming.
- While you can appreciate that EngageBay includes a full-featured email marketing suite, its email templates are basic and boring, which is a definite bummer.
Pricing: EngageBay is surprisingly affordable. If your company has less than 250 contacts, you can use it for free. Once you progress beyond this point, expect to pay between $14.99 and $99.99 a month, depending on required features.
Best for: E-commerce businesses
How about a history lesson? ActiveCampaign was founded in 2003 as a consulting firm. The company then began building software to help marketers automate their processes. These days, ActiveCampaign offers a legitimate CRM and email marketing platform to thousands of customers in a variety of industries. However, it's best known as an e-commerce tool.
The Pros of ActiveCampaign:
- Email marketing is where ActiveCampaign really shines. Distribute traditional broadcast emails, program triggered messages to send based on specific criteria, and build complex autoresponder sequences that nurture leads on autopilot. But don't worry about usability. The platform includes a drag-and-drop email designer that allows users to craft beautiful campaigns, then A/B test to see which perform best.
- Active Campaign enables customers to create landing pages and web forms, too. Each can be customized to match your unique brand, and used to generate red-hot leads that can be passed to your company's salespeople.
- With ActiveCampaign's site tracking feature, users can view visitor behavior on their websites. Then, they can use this information to create better customer experiences that strengthen their company's sales pipeline.
The Cons of ActiveCampaign:
- ActiveCampaign isn't the fastest app in town. This can be really frustrating when you're racing against the clock, trying to push out emails by a pre-appointed time.
- ActiveCampaign's CRM functionality is fine for small teams. However, those managing larger, more complex operations will quickly notice its limitations.
Pricing: ActiveCampaign costs between $29 and $386 a month, depending on which features you need. This makes it a moderately-priced CRM tool.
4. Zoho CRM
Source: PC Mag
Best for: Marketing automation tools
ZohoCRM is another cloud-based tool that your marketing department can use to connect with prospects and guide them through the customer journey. While many of its features pack a punch, the automation capabilities are what really push this app over the edge to glory.
The Pros of Zoho CRM:
- Manage all of your company's contacts in one place. With Zoho CRM, you'll be able to see all customer data, communication histories, and pending support tickets. You'll also receive real-time notifications when leads email you, tag you on Twitter, etc.
- Your marketing team's job is to attract leads and guide them through the customer journey. Zoho CRM's Journey Builder tool will help with this. Design personalized, cross-channel journeys for each of your prospects using drag-and-drop functionality. Then, automate them to reduce the workload of your marketing associates.
- Zoho CRM makes prospect and customer communication easy. Manage your company's social media profiles, and automate email and text message campaigns. You can even host webinars with this software. Talk to your audience how and when you want.
- If you want your marketing team to act like, ya know, a team, you need to give them ways to collaborate. Zoho CRM connects team members with joint feeds, chat features, and more. This helps streamline internal communication.
- Zoho CRM includes dozens of pre-built reports you can use to monitor your marketing department. Need more flexibility? Create custom reports, using the metrics you care about. Then, make them visual with graphs, and more.
The Cons of Zoho CRM:
- The free version of Zoho CRM is underwhelming. It's not the end of the world—Zoho won't charge you to use it, after all. But don't expect to access all of the above features without paying. Most marketing teams will need to upgrade—quickly.
- Many users agree, Zoho CRM isn't the prettiest CRM they've ever seen. This may not seem like a major issue at first, but a subpar interface gets tiresome. It also makes Zoho CRM less user-friendly.
- The Zoho CRM support team has mixed reviews. Some users claim that Zoho never returns their calls and emails. When responses are given, they aren't always helpful. Again, this lowers Zoho CRM's usability.
Pricing: To access all of the marketing automation features above, you'll need to spring for the "CRM Plus" package which costs between $57 and $69 a month.
Best for: Inexperienced marketers
Next up, Pipedrive. This platform is well-known for its beautiful and easy-to-use interface, which makes it a great option for newbie and/or tech-challenged marketers. It also has many powerful features, including lead management and email marketing tools.
The Pros of Pipedrive:
- Pipedrive is easy to use. This is largely because of the app's visual nature. Quickly view where prospects are in your pipeline, and what you need to do to move them to the next stage of the buying process.
- Pipedrive includes a sales CRM, which can be used for lead management purposes and/or to track existing customer interactions from a centralized location.
- Pipedrive also excels in the email marketing department. Use this CRM solution to segment subscribers, build eye-catching messages, track your results, and otherwise create winning email campaigns for your company.
- If you want extra power, Pipedrive provides add-ons. Access lead generation, website analytics, e-signature, and project management features for an additional fee.
The Cons of Pipedrive:
- Pipedrive was designed with sales teams in mind. It can be used for marketing purposes, but you may find that it lacks some of the key features you need.
- Pipedrive's integration capabilities aren't stellar. It can probably connect to most apps you use daily, but building said connections is cumbersome.
- Pipedrive is more expensive than you would expect—at least, if you want to access all of the platform's features. This is largely due to the add-ons, which are nice to have, but really jack up the price. Check total cost before purchasing.
Pricing: To use Pipedrive, you'll need to pay $19.90 to $119.00 a month. If you want access to Pipedrive's add-ons, plan to spend an additional $8 to $49 a month. These fees put Pipedrive in the middle of the typical CRM pricing spectrum.
Best for: Free CRM functionality
If you're a professional marketer, you've heard of HubSpot. You've probably spent a significant amount of time on the company's website, too, reading that avalanche of content they produce on a regular basis. But have you ever tried the free HubSpot CRM? How about the not-so-free marketing suite? Both are worth a quick look.
The Pros of HubSpot:
- HubSpot's CRM offering is completely free. It's not terribly powerful, though, and most marketing teams will grow out of it. But for exactly $0 a month, who’s complaining.
- Use HubSpot to supercharge your company's website, too. Build landing pages, drive traffic via SEO optimized blog posts, engage visitors in chat conversations, collect contact details with web forms, and access deep analytical insights that you can use to improve marketing campaigns.
- Your website isn't the only place you connect with your target audience. You use social media networks, too, right? HubSpot makes it easy to schedule future posts and monitor performance—without having to log into each individual platform.
- HubSpot includes email marketing features as well. Segment subscribers to create personalized experiences. Then, use the visual editor to distribute drip campaigns and automate follow-up messages to send at predetermined intervals.
- HubSpot also gives users access to marketing analytics, which can be used to generate reports and propel your company forward.
The Cons of HubSpot:
- HubSpot is actually pretty user-friendly, but it's still a tricky platform to master. Confused? Let me explain: HubSpot does a lot, which means new users often feel overwhelmed when they get started. To complicate matters, HubSpot allows every user to see every feature, including the ones in higher-tiered plans—even if they can't access them. This muddies the water and lowers HubSpot's usability score.
- HubSpot is expensive. Like, most small marketing teams won't be able to afford it, kind of expensive. HubSpot offers an array of features—but it's hard to justify the price tag, when other all-in-one solutions cost much less.
Pricing: How much does HubSpot actually cost? To access the "Marketing Hub," expect to pay between $890 and $3,600 a month. Ouch! HubSpot does offer a "Starter" plan for $45+ a month, but it's inadequate for most teams. (Oh, and just the CRM is free—but you won’t get far.)
Best for: Enterprise-level organizations
Sales reps around the world know about Salesforce. It's one of the most popular sales-oriented tools on the planet. Now marketing teams are starting to join the party, thanks to the platform's extensive list of top-level features. Let's explore a few of the most useful ones.
The Pros of Salesforce:
- Contact management is at the heart of the Salesforce platform. Store new prospect and existing customer information in an organized and easily-accessible manner.
- Salesforce can help with the lead generation process, too. Use it to build custom web forms and landing pages—no HTML necessary. Then, automatically assign new leads to specific sales reps and let them know via automated notifications.
- The Salesforce email builder makes it easy to craft relevant and engaging emails using dynamic content. You can even A/B test different email variations to see which perform better. This will boost your open and click-through rates.
- Salesforce is also equipped with powerful analytics and reporting tools. Use the attribution tools to learn which marketing channels get the best results for your company. Then, track other metrics to optimize your results.
The Cons of Salesforce:
- If you thought HubSpot was expensive … you ain't seen nothin' yet. The Salesforce Marketing Cloud can cost up to $45,000 a month.
- Salesforce was designed to help enterprise-level organizations—and these organizations need access to a ton of quality features. Salesforce gives the features, but it takes (a lot of) time to learn how to wield them. As such, Salesforce has a mega-steep learning curve.
Pricing: Salesforce pricing is hard to pinpoint—the company offers many products and services. Basic CRM functionality starts at $25 a month. Advanced loyalty management software will run $45k a month. Generally speaking, Salesforce is pricey.
Salesforce is a powerful CRM platform, but it's not the only option out there. Discover other top-performing Salesforce alternatives that may better suit your business needs in this article.
Select Your CRM + Supercharge Your Marketing Efforts
Where do you need help?
Lead generation? Contact management?
Email marketing? Relevant analytics?
The right CRM will help you crush all of these—and more.
Now, you have to decide which one you want. It's not easy. Every tool has its pros and cons. I suggest this selection process: Set a budget, identify must-have features, then select the solution that fits these criteria.
Still can't decide? Then just try out Close. Sign up for your 14-day free trial to see if it's right for your marketing team. No credit card required.