8 Best CRMs for Marketing Agencies and Consultants in 2023
There’s a huge demand for high-quality marketing services.
Want proof? Worldwide revenue from content marketing has hit $76 billion, while the value of global public relations is nearly $100 billion. Marketing as a whole is a $475 billion-dollar industry, while digital marketing accounts for $300 million—because we humans sure love our phones and computers.
While growth is great, it does place a burden on marketing agencies to get very, very organized. It can be difficult to keep track of everything happening.
How easy is it for you to:
- Find customer contact information exactly when you need it–and know when you talked to them last/
- Manage your sales pipeline and keep it full.
- Communicate within teams in different locations.
- Know when a hot lead visits your website or downloads a high-value.
While you’re busy working on the next great Mad Men-inspired ad, your sales pipeline may fall short and your so-called all-in-one spreadsheet leaking customer data faster than Don Draper can say, “Make it simple, but powerful.”
That’s where a customer resource management (CRM) system comes in. A truly customizable CRM solution coordinates all sales and marketing efforts in one, easy-to-navigate dashboard.
So, how does a CRM work? And more, what does a CRM for marketing agencies look like, and which one is right for your agency? That’s exactly what your good friends at Close (that’s us) are here to talk about.
What Is CRM Software, and How Does It Work?
A CRM is a central location to store client data and prospect contact information, run the sales pipeline, and offer each team member full access to all client conversation history. It should:
- Store all types of customer information in unique, robust files that you can pull up at the click of a button
- Provide scripts and sequences for calling, texting, emailing or otherwise reaching out to leads and customers
- Enable excellent communication and same-pageness (that’s a technical term) with all team members and management
- Be easy to update with new information on a manual or automatic basis, based on consumer activity
CRM software has one goal: create a seamless marketing, sales and customer service experience that takes your customers from cradle to grave. Or, more accurately (and less depressingly) from brand-new lead to deeply loyal customer.
Ideally, your CRM should serve as an automation tool that solves multiple challenges at once, including:
- Store multiple types of contact information without resorting to the time-worn and tired spreadsheet.
- Know which clients and prospects you should target with which marketing activities (never forgetting that post-purchase marketing is totally a thing)?
- Better understand the effectiveness of different marketing activities based on customer verticals.
- Give everyone, from junior associates to senior managers, the tools needed to succeed in marketing.
A CRM addresses each of these pain points because it’s an all-in-one application that tracks marketing and sales activities, as well as customer service endeavors, in the same place.
Or at least, it should be. And if you get an effective agency CRM, it will be.
Wondering which CRM is best suited for contractor professionals? Our article on the best contractor CRMs has the answers.
Top Benefits of an Effective Agency CRM
Digital marketing is no longer in its infancy, which means almost everyone is doing it—with varying degrees of success. Those who are using it successfully see tremendous growth, and more frequently than not, are upping their buy-in.
According to WordStream, “63 percent of businesses have increased their digital marketing budgets just this past year” while “Between 2020 and 2021, there was a 14-percent growth rate in digital marketing budget spending across businesses.”
If you want to stretch those ad dollars, you need to be organized. Your CRM can do just that, with benefits like:
- Enhanced Automation: Any digital marketing agency benefits from strong routines that don’t require a lot of (or ideally, any) thought on your part in order to run smoothly.
- Streamlined workflows: Good customer relationship management means combining marketing functionality with good forecasting, cloud-based integrations and other small business optimization tools. When you can integrate your CRM features and marketing campaigns with critical applications such as Gmail or the full G Suite, your sales team will have all the tools they need to succeed.
- Better Lead Management: It’s not enough to input contact information you’ve collected. You also need a way to go after new leads, which means tracking your outbound activities. If your CRM can’t handle outbound content management, you’re going to miss out.
- Single platform to streamline data: Analytics are necessary, but without the right systems, they’re hard to make sense of. When you keep all your data on a single platform, it's easier to see the impact of marketing campaigns.
Simply put, you absolutely need a good CRM if you want to succeed in today’s crowded and busy business world. So where should you turn?
8 Best CRM Software for Marketing Agencies
Do a quick Google search, and you’ll quickly find that there are tons of companies presenting themselves as the “best” option for marketing CRMs. However, they can’t all be the best, right?
Right. Which is why we’re here with a list of the top eight CRM software options, all pitted against each other. We’ll talk about features, base pricing, and more, so you can make the best possible choice for yourself and your team. Let’s dive in.
1. Close CRM
A good task management CRM is worth its weight in gold, helping you collate every marketing activity in one place for the ultimate business process. That’s where a cutting-edge marketing/sales CRM such as Close comes in, giving you powerful tools to address your email and SMS automation campaign needs.
If there’s one thing Close does to stay a cut above the rest, it’s the thorough emphasis on the full customer journey. Rather than focusing on one stage of the life cycle—just lead generation, say, or only customer support—it gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire process. That means you can both get and keep customers, day in and day out.
Want to try it for yourself? Close offers a 14-day free trial, so you can test out our features risk-free. What have you got to lose, other than disorganization and low conversion rates? Nothing, we submit, so go ahead and click that link now.
- Email marketing and email tracking, bulk email automation, and segmentation
- Integrations with apps such as Microsoft, Drip, or e-commerce platforms
- Web forms to help you generate sales leads, on desktop and mobile app
- Social media and SMS integrations to help manage campaigns and close deals
- Mobile app: Enjoy the convenience of our mobile app with seamless access to email marketing, lead generation through web forms, and all the key features available on desktop. Now, you can efficiently manage your sales leads and campaigns while on the move.
- 24/7/365 customer support for you and your customers
This is how outbound calling looks on the Close mobile app:
$99 per month, billed annually (includes 3 users)
2. HubSpot CRM
Another popular system in the marketing landscape, Hubspot offers a range of CRM tools to help you maximize your workflows while minimizing effort.
It combines multiple dashboards under a single system heading, so you can keep track of all your activities in one place. If your main goal is content marketing, this might fulfill your CRM for marketing agency needs.
- Form and email automation
- Landing pages
- Live chat and in-app support
- Email automation and integration
$45 per user, per month
Ready to embrace AI for exponential content marketing growth? Learn how here.
Pipedrive is a streamlined CRM that gives you the necessary tools to maintain a basic sales and marketing cycle.
Although it’s not always easy to maximize every sales activity, it does provide the bare-bones foundation for email, calling, and other forms of outreach.
If you pay for the advanced features, you will also get access to form signing and document management. This is often a nice feature for people in the legal or financial space, though it might prove more expensive than you’d like.
- Management of leads, deals, and pipeline
- Calendar management
- Easy data import and customization
- 24/7 support
$14 per user, per month
One of the first CRMs, Salesforce has proven a popular model for many companies, from small to large. Its marketing automation features are robust, and you can customize it almost infinitely.
However, users report that the system is often sluggish, and its designers don’t update it effectively or often enough. Also, while the customization is comprehensive, it can require a significant learning curve.
- Lead generation, management, and bucketing
- Email automation and workflows
- Project and deal management
- Customized functionality, though it will take patience to maximize your experience as well as customer experience
$25 per user, per month
Copper offers most of the standard tools of any other CRM. One of its top-selling points is that it integrates so easily with Google’s many features.
If you are a company that already relies heavily on Gmail, G Suite or Google Workspace, you might find Copper a good option for you.
While Copper has potential, especially for Google users, some users report its limited functionality hampered their marketing efforts. Be aware of this when signing up, and if you aren’t already heavily reliant on Google, maybe look elsewhere.
- Made to integrate with the entire Google oeuvre
- Powerful reporting and analytics
- A CRM customized entirely to Google Workspace
$23 per user, per month
Billing itself as a way to “supercharge your teamwork,” Monday creates a desktop environment where it’s easy to visualize projects and tasks. If your team is large, you’ll find this software beneficial for breaking down and streamlining otherwise daunting tasks.
However, it’s important to know that while Monday can work for sales and marketing, its main power is in workflow management for teams. If you want a CRM that focuses specifically on generating leads or managing campaigns, you should probably look to one specifically designed for that purpose.
- Project management and email tools
- iOS and Android apps
- A low-stakes introductory offer of $0 for two users
$0 per user, per month, capped at two users
One of the more modern, user-friendly CRMs, Insightly combines marketing, sales, service, and project tools all in one place. This allows you to follow the customer through their entire life cycle, from the moment they become a lead to the post-purchase period, where they need ongoing customer service.
Although Insightly may prove a great starter CRM for small businesses, be aware that some users have reported a lack of needed functionality and limited support.
- Web-to-lead capture and lead management
- Email templates, automation, segmentation, and scheduling
- Contact management
- Mobile app
$29 per user, per month
8. Funnel CRM
Funnel's main selling point is that it's a CRM for people just starting out. It doesn't require customization and is helpful right out of the box, so you shouldn't plan on a big learning curve.
However, the flip side of this is always limited functionality. Any time you don’t “have” to customize a CRM, that usually means you can’t customize it that easily. Again, just be aware.
- Unlimited deals and contracts
- Gmail integration
$10 per user, per month
How to Find the Best CRM Platform for Your Marketing Agency
As we wrap up this discussion, the main takeaway point is that you do indeed need a dedicated marketing CRM.
Pro tip: If you get one that also handles sales and customer support like Close does, then you won’t need to deal with transferring customer information and potentially dropping the ball during the handoff.
In addition to saying goodbye to spreadsheets forever—you should also ensure your CRM is specifically geared toward marketing. If it doesn’t include email templates, automated sequences, social media or other ad management services, you will have a harder time organizing all your marketing activities in one place.
Our recommendation? Give Close’s 14-day free trial a go and see how you feel.
It was designed to meet the specific needs of marketing companies in real time, allowing you to track leads, perform expert contact management and follow up at every stage of the process, all without missing a beat.