Can you rely on your email marketing platform to do the job of a CRM?
Email marketing software offers users a basic way to manage their database of contacts, which makes it extremely valuable to new businesses. But in order to grow your business, you’ll eventually need sales tools that help you turn those contacts and subscribers into actual paying customers.
We’ve previously discussed how the top CRMs compare in terms of their email capabilities, but so far we haven’t analyzed the top email marketing platforms by their CRM features. Today, we’ll uncover how five of the leading email marketing providers stack up when it comes to contact management.
Which email marketing platform has the best CRM features?
Mailchimp has been one of the most popular email marketing providers for years thanks to its freemium model. Once a small and nimble company focused on email marketing, the company recently decided to launch a marketing CRM within its marketing automation platform.
Mailchimp’s best CRM features
Known for its usability and friendly branding, Mailchimp’s CRM provides a user experience perfect for small business owners with a clear navigation and a clean interface.
Mailchimp leverages machine learning technology to create segments automatically based on the likelihood a customer will shop with a company and their potential spending. Their segments are also dynamic, which means that Mailchimp adds—or removes—subscribers whenever they meet the segment’s criteria.
CRM features Mailchimp misses
While powerful, Mailchimp’s automations aren’t intuitive to use or easy to set up. Lacking a workflow editor, new users will face a steep learning curve until they figure out how to set each automation properly. Some users have complained that their interface isn’t intuitive, despite its modern design.
Their segmentation is limited depending on the plan used. Even though the company offers advanced segmentation in their highest “Premium” plan, their standard segmentation capabilities are limited.
Mailchimp continues to offer a free plan up to 2,000 contacts that include its CRM features as well as forms, landing pages, and their latest website builder.
Its lowest-priced plan starts at $9.99 for 500 contacts, but lacks their advanced CRM and segmentation features. The “Standard” and “Premium” plans, which include the customer journey builder, behavioral targeting, and advanced segmentation features, start at $14.99 and $299 per month for 500 and 10,000 contacts, respectively.
2. Constant Contact
Founded in 1995, Constant Contact is one of the most popular email marketing software providers in the market, with more than 600,000 customers.
Does Constant Contact have a CRM?
Constant Contact does not offer a CRM, although their email marketing tool includes basic list segmentation capabilities which allow you to create segments of contacts using demographic or behavioral data like opens rates and CTR.
Some customers have indicated they appreciate the ability to create and send targeted email marketing campaigns directly from their contact list. Additionally, users have praised the UI design, which makes their product easy to navigate, learn, and use, compared to other competitors like Mailchimp.
CRM features Constant Contact misses
Constant Contact’s CRM features are unfit for companies with robust sales teams that require pipeline management, sales automation, lead scoring, and other features that help teams actually close sales. Its segmentation is confined to basic field values—e.g., name, company—and behavioral data—e.g., opens, clicks. You can export or email the segments, and little else.
Constant Contact’s plans start at $20 per month for up to 500 subscribers and include their standard email marketing product, landing pages, marketing calendar, website creation, and more.
The company offers a second plan that starts at $45 per month and includes automated email campaigns, surveys, and polls.
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Founded by Jason VandeBoom in 2003, ActiveCampaign helps 120,000 customers with its “customer experience automation platform.” The platform acts like an all-in-one marketing platform that includes email marketing, marketing automation, CRM, and account management features for companies of all sizes and industries.
ActiveCampaign’s best CRM features
ActiveCampaign’s sales CRM stands out for its automation, allowing teams to reduce manual tasks. From automatically updating deals and creating tasks to sending automated one-on-one sales sequences, Active Campaign offers robust automation capabilities to its customers.
Their CRM uses kanban boards—a popular agile project management system—which forces sales teams to break their sales cycles in steps. You can organize each “deal”—i.e., account—with multiple leads through a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface.
The company also offers unlimited pipelines, which allows your sales and marketing teams to use separate workflows that best suit their needs. You can assign deals to different sales reps based on different attributes, such as deal value, win probability, and more. You can even automate the process to notify and assign your sales team as you generate new deals.
CRM features ActiveCampaign misses
ActiveCampaign is a complex platform with multiple features that can even overwhelm experienced marketers. Mastering ActiveCampaign’s large array of features will require extensive training and patience.
If you need a simple CRM and email marketing tool, ActiveCampaign might exceed what you are looking for.
ActiveCampaign’s pricing starts at $9 per month for 500 contacts—paid yearly—and goes up to $400 for 10,000 contacts in its Enterprise plan. (ActiveCampaign offers custom pricing for accounts with more than 10,000 contacts.)
All of its plans include their marketing automation capabilities, email marketing, and integrations. Their higher-tier plans also include landing pages, SMS marketing, and lead scoring.
For further reading, check out Moosend’s list of the best ActiveCampaign alternatives.
As one of the foremost players in the digital marketing industry, Hubspot has been a prominent CRM software provider for many years. The company offers its free CRM as a part of a more extensive suite of tools that includes a CMS, marketing automation, and sales software.
Hubspot best CRM features
One aspect that distinguishes Hubspot’s CRM from its competitors is that the company has stated they will keep their product free forever, regardless of whether you are a customer or not. They also offer unlimited users and up to one million contacts and companies of data storage.
Hubspot has extensive customization capabilities, allowing you to add branded elements to your CRM—e.g., your logo—and create unique sales pipelines that adapt to your needs.
If you are a Hubspot user, their CRM integrates with their other products seamlessly. Some users have also indicated their mobile app is useful, especially for sales reps who regularly travel.
CRM features Hubspot misses
Hubspot has focused its CRM product on small and medium-sized businesses. As a consequence, companies with large teams and complex processes may find Hubspot’s CRM too simple. Despite their customization options, their CRM is also quite inflexible for companies that need to adapt their CRM for intricate sales processes.
Users have also complained about their reporting feature, which makes it hard to understand their opportunity deal flow.
As noted earlier, the company offers a free CRM tool to all of its users. Their basic sales hub, which includes the full set of CRM features, live chat, analytics, and playbooks, starts at $45 per month, paid annually, up to two users. Their “Growth Suite,” which includes their marketing and customer service features, starts at $50 per month, up to two users as well. But if you’re a growing company with a lot of sales and marketing contacts, HubSpot can get very, very expensive.
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Sendinblue is an email marketing platform aimed at small, medium-sized, and enterprise-level companies. The company offers email, SMS, and chat marketing tools as well as a CRM, landing pages, and retargeting features to over 175,000 customers worldwide.
Sendinblue best CRM features
Similar to Hubspot, Sendinblue has a free CRM for all of its members with unlimited contacts. You can segment your contact list using basic filtres—e.g., opens, purchase history—from which you can create an email campaign. Also, you can set up automated workflows that create new segments dynamically based on demographics, behavioral, and lead scoring data.
Sendinblue CRM’s users can create tasks like sending an email, making a phone call, scheduling a meeting, or creating a deadline, which you can even delegate to other team members. You can create notes from previous conversations or upload documents directly to the contact profile.
CRM features Sendinblue misses
As most of the email marketing platforms mentioned here, Sendinblue offers decent CRM capabilities for companies with simple sales processes. If your company uses advanced sales processes or highly customized sales pipelines, Sendinblue won’t meet your expectations.
The company has a free plan that includes limited email marketing capabilities—e.g., it allows up to 300 emails per day—but unlimited contacts, advanced segmentation, sales CRM, and a workflow editor. The other plans offered remove the sending limits but continue to provide the same CRM features. These plans start at $25 per month, and also include A/B testing, custom branding, advanced marketing automations, and more.
Why your email marketing platform can’t satisfy your CRM needs
All of the platforms analyzed offer robust email marketing features to communicate with your leads, but they leave a lot to be desired when it comes to their CRM capabilities. In particular, most of them lack features that actually help you close the sale.
It’s important that your email marketing software works hand in hand with your CRM, just as your sellers and marketers should work collaboratively to grow your business. So instead of buying an email marketing tool and a CRM and trying to wire them together, we recommend using a growth software suite that unites sales and marketing features into one platform.
Such software combines the traditional features of an email marketing platform (i.e., newsletters and broadcasts, campaign automation, segmentation) with one of a sales tool (i.e., pipeline automation, sales reporting, lead scoring).
Using a growth platform leads to better alignment between your sales and marketing teams, which, in turn, will drive greater business growth.
When you’re shopping around for a new email marketing software tool, you need to think about how it will integrate with the rest of your marketing and sales tools, like your CRM.
With the release of Nutshell’s email marketing platform in early 2021, you’ll be able to run your sales and marketing operations out of the same tool and engage with your leads without wasting any time. As we’ve written before, an integrated growth software platform encourages sales and marketing alignment, which is “the largest opportunity for improving business performance today,” according to a recent LinkedIn survey.
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