11) What’s Your Favorite CRM These Days and Why?

Every once-and-a-while, we’re forced to check out the best customer (constituent?) relationship management software. We know — it’s a really crazy idea. There have to be 50,000 CRM apps out there now, all purporting to be the best. The first step is to jot down a half-dozen or so of your top criteria. For us, those might be…

*** Must offer a free trial or free version so you can kick the tires
*** Low “per user” fees (or no per-user fee at all). Maximum $8/month
*** Lightning fast searches
*** Must allow flexible tagging (labeling the contacts as you wish)
*** Ability to relate one contact to another
*** Extra points for ability to track emails to each contact, either by using a custom bcc: address, or by some other simple means

and, most important of all,
*** Has to be fast and intuitive. If you see more hourglass than contacts, go back to square one.

Lately, we’ve been trying out Agile CRM and Marketing360. The first (Agile CRM) solves the email tracking by asking you to “verify” your email by giving Agile CRM your email user name and password. This will send chills down your spine if you have to use your “normal” email address. But if you can create a free Gmail for a new campaign and the emails are all related to this particular project, it’s probably not a huge deal, based on the relative risks involved. (Even if some Agile CRM employee WERE to cheat on the privacy agreement, the worst-case scenario is — he finds out when your missions weekend is going to happen. You know? Just don’t give out credit card information via email. Right?) The up-side is, it’s lightning fast, free forever, and it’s just … attractive. Could it have better reporting? Sure. But you can always export everything to Excel to create those custom print-outs. And the fact that you can send 25 emails at a time, customized by name or any other field, and track the results, all without going to MailChimp is kind of remarkable in this day and age of cut-throat software. AND the corresponding free smartphone apps are fairly cool as well.

Marketing360 is a tad slower and uses the bcc: approach to track communication. But it’s a great option — and also forever free.

What’s YOUR favorite currently? Just click “Comment” following the web or app version of this item. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

3 Responses to 11) What’s Your Favorite CRM These Days and Why?
  1. Charles R Cherry Reply

    I’m always hesitant to go with “free forever” anymore, at least with software that I want to invest a lot of time and data. In my experience the “free forever” model has usually meant “free until our company folds because we can’t sustain our business model.” Not always, but usually.

    So unless a company has a good enterprise story where they are making enough money on the paid/pro versions of their software, I will just pass on the free offer.

  2. Laurie K Reply

    I agree with Charles. Donor data is so important. We use Bloomerang. Many others like Little Green Light. can access a donor’s info on my phone in seconds while I am on the phone with them. Seems expensive, yes but I have found it has helped us raise much more money because we have it and I was afraid we couldn’t manage it.

  3. Justin Long Reply

    I use Cloze. It integrates with Gmail and all social media, scans my incoming email, automatically finds people on social media, reminds me of when I last touched base with people, enables me to mark an email for later follow-up, gives me a daily agenda, etc. It’s fantastic. There’s a free version and a pay version.

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