May 18, 2012 CRM, Software 0 Comments

CRM Cloud Software Review

In September 2011, I evaluated CRM systems for a contemporary art gallery.  It was a fantastic opportunity to look generally at the CRM market place and consider what CRM system I should have in place for my own marketing consultancy business.

At the outset I had a number of requirements in mind including: the security of data (based on the supplier assurances and, for US suppliers, the Safe Harbor scheme); lists; custom fields; bulk email; online data capture; mobile access; back ups; auto-updates and fundraising capability.  I also wanted to look for a system that would allow a bulk update of existing records using external analysis – such as exporting your data for Mosaic matching, or Suppression matching and being able to update the respective records on bulk within the system.

My top four cloud CRM systems for a small business or an arts organisation that doesn’t need a ticketing system are:

1.      Capsule CRM, £8 per user per month (full review)

In a nutshell:  Growing UK Based company offering a simple budget solution

2.      Sugar CRM, five users (minimum level) for $1800 per year (around £1200 at current exchange rate)

In a nutshell: good functionality and friendly customer service

3.      Salesforce Professional Edition, £45 per user per month

In a nutshell: The market leader for cloud based CRM systems

4.      Zoho CRM, free for up to 3 users, or $12 per user per month

In a nutshell: Popular free/budget solution with a few notable restrictions


Overall, I was surprised not to find a cloud CRM system with high quality emarketing functionality included – it would easily be possible for many of the leading email providers to be an ‘all in one’ CRM solution by extending their functionality slightly to include the possibility of postal lists and expand the contact data fields.  For many small businesses with fairly basic CRM requirements, an alternative would be to select an emarketing provider with good contact data fields and use the system for their postal mailings as well.

I concentrated on those products marketing themselves as CRM systems as I knew that my client required more than basic contact data functionality.  During my reviews, I took out a license with all four systems and tried to do basic data imports and some of the typical day to day tasks I knew that my clients would use.  A quick summary of my comparisons are here:

System Max Records & Notes Lists Custom Fields Bulk Email Capture Data online Mobile Access Back Up Data Auto-update existing records Fundraising Pricing (as at 2012)
Capsule CRM Up to 50K contacts Yes Yes No but integrates with Mail Chimp Yes through plugin Yes Yes easy under settings Not with external data Yes ‘sales pipeline’ tool Pay as you go – £8/month /user
Sugar CRM Unlimited records Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes for Android & Iphone Doesn’t look easy Further research required Yes lots of functionality $360/user/year.Not available as monthly billing.Minimum of five users – so $1800 for first year.
Salesforce 1GB per org Yes Yes Limited to 1000 sends per day

Mailchimp integration with Professional.

Yes Yes With Enterprise level Yes See links Prof: £45/user/month

Enterprise:£85/user/ month Non Profit Package looks well worth investigation

Zoho CRM Up to 100K contacts on free version Max of 2000 per list Yes Limited to 250 emails per dayOne way import to mailchimp Yes Yes $10 per request to export all data Yes Yes ’sales’ tabs that could be used Free for up to 3 users.Pay as you go

Professional edition: $12 /User /Month

Enterprise: $25 /user / month

What system did I select?

For both my own business, and my art gallery client, I selected Capsule CRM.  My choice was largely based on the trial I took out with each system –  Capsule CRM was by far the most intuitive system with lots of lovely features.  For clients who have previously been using Excel or address books, it’s not a difficult transition which is a big plus.

Interested in a full review of each system?

We’ve written a fuller review of Capsule CRM.