As essential as CRM systems have become, they can also be pricey. The expense of implementing and running CRMs is what can throw many business executives off using a CRM, which causes them to lose out on the incredible CRM benefits that their business could take advantage of.
CRMs can be used in a variety of different ways, but overall, they bring so much to a business that it’s hard to overlook them. If you find most premium CRMs to be too far out of your budget, you might be looking for a free CRM to use.
The thing is, there’s always a catch when you choose something that’s free. So, you’re probably wondering if it’s worth choosing a free CRM over a premium one. Keep reading to find out.
What’s the catch with free CRMs?
CRM systems play a vital role in businesses all around the world. From building a vault of contacts to tracking projects and marketing your business, there are tons of invaluable tools and features on a CRM that will help you to streamline and grow your business. There’s no doubt that CRM systems are vital, but they can be expensive when you need to pay for each user on a monthly basis — that’s why many small businesses seek out free CRM systems.
There are a few important limitations that you can expect to run into when looking for a free CRM. It’s important to keep these restrictions in mind when you make your final decision as it will affect your business. But, it’s even more important to consider the premium features of the CRM too. When you inevitably need to upgrade to a premium package, you’ll want to ensure that the CRM you chose is good enough and has all the features that allow your business to thrive.
CRMs will always limit the free version of their system because need businesses to subscribe to the paid version in order to make money. Each CRM will use one or more of the following restrictions for the free version of their CRMs.
The idea behind a CRM system is to connect the different teams in your business and streamline work between departments and geographic locations. Most CRM systems will limit the number of users that can use the free version of their system. This tactic to used to encourage businesses to upgrade their plan as their business needs grow.
Many “free” CRMs will limit the usage of their systems. The majority of CRMs will use a 14-day trial, but it’s not uncommon to find free trials that could last up to a month. Free trials can be frustrating for many people because it means that the CRM is technically not free. Nevertheless, this a restriction that is still used in some cases.
The most obvious restriction that CRM vendors have with their free plans is limited features. Almost every free CRM will limit their features. You can expect limitations on the number of contacts in your database, app integrations, marketing limitations, watermarked emails, and much more. These are just a few ways in which CRM systems can be limited in their free plans.
Most popular free CRMs
There are a couple of different CRMs that offer free plans. Each CRM is unique, and you need to take a few factors into account when choosing the right CRM for your business. Keep in mind that no single CRM will suit every business, so you need to make sure to do thorough research on each free CRM before you make your final decision.
That means you might not even find the perfect CRM for your business on the list below. We’ll try our best to refine your search by describing what each of the CRMs below specialises in. Later on, we’ll also be discussing our top choice for free CRMs.
The CRMs on the list below are some of the most popular choices among small to medium-sized businesses according to Forbes.
Monday.com is a great, easy-to-use CRM that will help your business stay organized between tasks. Their platform is highly customisable, so you can tailor it to any business. The free plan offers you a basic pipeline that is incredibly simplistic and straightforward with drag and drop capabilities.
You can organize your team members by assigning them tasks and notifying them of their deadlines. The free version of Monday is great, but when it comes to bigger businesses, it might fall short of your needs and expectations. If you need to have more than two users on Monday, you need to move over to the paid plan, which starts at $8 per user per month.
Who should use Monday: Monday.com is a great fit for small teams that need some organisation in their business. What’s great about Monday is that you can customise it to your liking, whether you want to track sales, plan your marketing campaign, or just oversee the progress of a project.
EngageBay is one of the smaller and lesser-known CRMs out there. It’s likely that you haven’t heard of them before, but they offer a comprehensive free package that is an all-purpose solution ideal for small businesses.
From email marketing to live chat functions and sales tracking, EngageBay will give you a whole host of features without charging you a cent. It’s rare to find a CRM that allows users to streamline their business with so many essential features on a free plan. There are some limitations to the free plan, and some features are locked behind the paywall. But, EngageBay will allow up to 15 of your team members to use their CRM features for free. EngageBay’s paid packages start at $14.99 per user, per month.
Who should use EngageBay: EngageBay is one of the few comprehensive CRMs on the market, even though it’s not well renowned. This CRM is perfect for teams with 15 members or less who need to use a CRM to stay connected and streamlined.
Insightly offers a free CRM, but it’s difficult to grasp exactly what they offer. In order to get an idea of their free features, you need to sign up and install the CRM first. From there, you will be prompted to unlock additional features in the paid version of the CRM.
Despite the unknown free features on Insightly, it remains one of the most popular CRM options on the free market. One of the highlights of Insightly’s CRM is that it comes with an intuitive mobile app, so you can manage your contacts while you’re on the move. Insightly is only free for up to two users, and if your team is bigger than that, you will need to move onto the paid package. The paid version of Insightly starts at $29 per user per month.
Who should use Insightly: With Insightly’s free features (purposefully) hidden away, it’s difficult to determine whether it would be a good fit for you or not. From our testing, we can tell you that the free plan for Insightly is good for a team or two, which is not enough for most businesses. Nevertheless, the CRM has a comprehensive set of features
Zoho is one of the biggest players in the business application market. With several useful tools and apps available from this Indian tech company, it’s no surprise that a CRM is also available from them. Zoho CRM is a great platform that offers a ton of useful features, but it’s especially powerful when you combine it with other Zoho business apps.
As for the free version, you can have up to three users using the system at no charge. But, in addition to that restriction, you’ll also be limited when it comes to features. There are no third-party integrations or AI features. The best free features are the best suited to businesses that only need to track leads and contacts. The paid version of Zoho CRM starts at $14 per user per month.
Who should use Zoho CRM: Zoho CRM is best suited for small new businesses that don’t need a comprehensive CRM solution. Zoho is also better suited to businesses that already use other Zoho applications as they are the only applications you can integrate with Zoho.
Why HubSpot is our favourite free CRM
That brings us to our top pick for free CRMs — HubSpot. HubSpot allows you to use their CRM for free with an unlimited number of users. There are limitations on some of the CRM features that you might need, but the features offered on the free version of HubSpot are comprehensive enough to support small and medium sized businesses.
What’s especially great about HubSpot’s CRM is that it is divided into three branches: the Sales Hub, Marketing Hub, and Service Hub. Each of these three branches can be upgraded to a paid version as and when needed. This means you don’t have to pay for features that you’re not going to use by moving up to an entirely new plan.
Who should use HubSpot: HubSpot is suited to any business looking for a free CRM that they can establish a long relationship with a CRM that will grow along with their business.
Free CRMs can be tricky to choose from because they often have some extreme limitations. Finding the perfect CRM system is not impossible though, and it’s entirely possible to find a great system to integrate into your business. Get in touch with a GoCRM expert if you want more information on the best free CRMs on the market.