CRM stands for customer relationship management and it’s an important tool for a solopreneur. Since you do not have a large sales force, you will have to keep close tabs on your potential customers so they don’t fall through the cracks.
If you are an agency, one missed phone number or email could cost you tens of thousands of dollars. So tracking every form, conversion, email and chat you have with visitors/clients will help free your mind from remembering all that information and just letting the CRM do most the work.
In fact, in any organization, a general rule of thumb that keeps businesses successful and keeps them going is knowing when to delegate certain aspects to an outside consultant. The same can be true when you are a solopreneur looking for some real bang for your buck with your marketing efforts. Traditionally, a company incorporates their marketing efforts (e.g., email marketing, customer relations, marketing campaigns, marketing budget, etc.) into their customer relations management software (CRM).
As a small, solo business owner, you can effectively delegate a large portion of your marketing efforts to an ‘electronic’ consultant via a good CRMS system. The following offers a look at six (6) of the best CRM software platforms for solo business owners.
Microsoft Dynamics 365
Of course, Microsoft is a name that you probably know very well and are probably very familiar with their various products.
However, one product that you might not know about from the Microsoft suite of software is their Dynamics platform. With Dynamics, Microsoft offers a full CRMS package that covers sales, marketing and service. If you have never worked with Dynamics, chances are you have still had some contact with it as a customer as it is used widely by many larger organizations. Dynamics used to require a multi-million dollar team of information technology (IT) staff and consultants. It was also based on-premises and very expensive to even install. Now, Microsoft offers it as part of their cloud-based services under Office365, as Dynamics 365, and it is a very affordable software as a service (SaaS) offering.
At a fraction of the on-premise cost, Dynamics 365 can be a powerful partner for any solo business owner’s marketing efforts. Plus, with it being a Microsoft product, you gain the additional fluidity of being able to easily integrate the Dynamics platform with all the other Microsoft products that you may already be using, like Word, Excel, etc. Also, with it being a Microsoft product, you have access to great support directly from Microsoft and many resources on the Internet to help you navigate your usage of this comprehensive CRM package.
Salesforce.com is a formidable player in the CRMS realm and a brand name that you probably already know. However, with Salesforce being such a large player already with CRMS software, as a solo entrepreneur, your initial thought might be that it is too large and expensive a package for your needs.
But Salesforce actively markets itself to businesses large and small(er) alike. By being a software package under the SaaS paradigm, it allows you to use as many or as few of the features as you want. Therefore, it can offer some powerful tools and features to help jumpstart, grow and maintain your sales with its platform.
Expect relevant dashboards, lead and contact management, sales opportunity management and reporting tools to make your marketing efforts really stand out. Salesforce is a standout provider of CRMS services, so you get great support in your usage of this package as well. A la carte pricing make it serious consideration, even for a solo business owner.
Adobe is another one of the premiere software companies in the IT space. Offering a multitude of products, you have probably dealt with an Adobe product before. Whether it is Adobe Flash or Acrobat, or one of its other established software offerings, Adobe has proven itself time and again by offering the products needed within computing environments. Hence, their Campaign marketing offering is part of a larger, integrated software offering. Campaign is integrated across Adobe’s other products in order to maximize its effectiveness.
Cross coordination with other products, like Adobe Analytics, PhotoShop, Illustrator and others, allows you to access some powerful features to yield success and comprehensive results in your marketing campaign.
As a CRM, Adobe Campaign is largely embraced by mid-sized to larger entities. As another CRMs available via a SaaS setup, it becomes readily available for small businesses as well. This means that smaller business get access to all the enterprise level features that bigger companies use for their successful marketing outreach.
Adobe emphasizes the ability of Campaign to make an impact both offline and online for business. Being cloud-based, the price-tag associated with all of its features are reduced, and thereby, can be appropriate for the marketing budget of a smaller business.
ActiveCampaign strives to offer your business a lot of features that lend to its abilities as a complete marketing software package.
Fortune 500 companies to small businesses alike choose ActiveCampaign due to its ease and simplicity in making your marketing efforts work seamlessly across its platform. In addition to its fully functional CRMS platform, it also offers an email marketing component, a marketing automation section and direct site engagement messaging. Also, in-depth analytics are available for reporting to make sure that your marketing campaign is successful and helps point out wherever adjustments are needed. Email marketing features are also integrated into the CRMS so that aspect of your marketing efforts are optimized.
ActiveCampaign offers one-stop shopping for your customer, marketing and outreach efforts. It is easy to see why so many successful companies, from the Fortune 500 to smaller businesses, trust their CRMS and marketing efforts to this platform. Its integrated suite of products makes it feasible to get things done in an effective and meaningful way.
Maropost is a complete marketing services software provider. Favored by larger enterprises wanting a comprehensive CRMS package, it is not overly complex and is actually well-suited for smaller and mid-sized businesses as well.
With the Maropost Marketing Cloud, your business can automate its email marketing campaign, personalize customer/lead messages for greater effectiveness, coordinate your outreach and communication(s) across multiple platforms (e.g., mobile, email, web and social media), generate real-time analytics (with reporting) and capture important lead data and demographics.
Maropost offers the features and tools needed for any business to have successful audience engagements designed to convert potential customers into actual customers, as well as retention of this customer base for future transactions. Maropost did not have an API interface though.
With an API interface, it would make be easier to do your own development, combining the powerful Maropost features with your other data platforms. The website noted new features (such as the API) becoming available soon though.
Zoho is another SaaS provider that looks to integrate your marketing efforts across its platform of products. Like Microsoft, Zoho offers an online suite of administrative software with their word processing, spreadsheet, database, slide presentation, project management and other software apps.
The customer relations software package looks to further enhance your marketing efforts via its multiple software package modules. Ideal for any business looking to control the magnitude of their overall costs, Zoho’s offering allows you to select and customize their package(s) to best meet your needs and budget. Workflows, analytics and reporting are also some of the features available with the Zoho package. Therefore, you are not left feeling that you are lacking anything needed for a comprehensive and effective customer relations package.
All of the CRM platforms reviewed here offer their products via software as a service (SaaS) pricing models and are cloud-based. You can get a fully powered marketing effort done on your own terms. Just a few years ago, such software would mean having a million dollar IT staff and large marketing budgets in order to recreate these same features. As a solopreneur, finding the right package for your business is as easy as just taking a comprehensive look at which features, service and support match your needs.