If you’re a small business owner, you’re aware of the myriad of tasks that keeping your business healthy and growing involves, even more if it’s a one woman show like myself.
There’s customer service, project management, accounting, marketing and strategy which include, but are not limited to, social media, emails, website and/or landing pages, and we’re not even talking about actually doing the work that customers are paying us to do. All of this is just the behind the scenes.
Every business needs help keeping up with all of these online efforts. Not only maintaining, but being organized which can be the difference between red numbers on the books and earnings at the end of each quarter. Time actually is money on this playing field.
Efficiency is the goal. And happy customers, obviously.
One big game changer is using a customer relationship management (CRM) system. A CRM is a data-driven way to administer a company’s customer interactions that help learn which actions work to generate sales, retain customers, how and why they work –and, certainly, which don’t– to guide sales growth.
When considering choosing a CRM software, choosing to invest in any service, you have to keep in mind two things: the kind of company you run, and what are its needs. Once you have that clear in mind, you can start to actually figure out the service that’s right for your business.
Nowadays, there are a ton of these services in the market to choose from. Two leading platforms are Hubspot and Infusionsoft.
Hubspot is a software that integrates marketing, sales, and customer services tools to help take on a more integral approach to business growth. An all-in-one. Its main function is being a CRM that has all the extra bits you always wish it had: social media marketing, SEO, web analytics, marketing automation, it can even integrate with other platforms to manage your content and publish directly with it.
Infusionsoft’s fundamental focus is customer lifecycle management, with tools that are useful in the scale of small businesses. They center on email marketing and sales, meaning that, as opposed to Hubspot, it has a feature for receiving payments and invoicing your customers. If you run an eCommerce, you’ll benefit from these features, streamlining your process while also being able to measure every campaign and strategy –from beginning to end.
The price range of Infusionsoft may seem steep and that’s something to consider if you’re willing to invest for the future, because this actually is a great tool for online shops. They offer different level plans that are very clear on what they include and the price of each, starting at $99 a month for the basic plan. If you want more features, more contacts, etcetera, they add up to the base price.
Hubspot’s pricing is similar, although Hubspot’s first appeal is that it has a free version that can be a great intro to start incorporating a management system like this into your business. Infusionsoft doesn’t have a free version, it has a 14 day trial with all the bells and whistles of a paid plan.
The free version of Hubspot includes the basics tools to manage your contacts’ information and conversations –with all 1 million of them included in this package.
Hubspot’s user interface is friendly, very intuitive and easy to use. It’s flow is similar to that of the “timeline” of a lot of social media platforms. The marketing tools in this version are limited to lead capture in the form of Facebook ads, pop-ups and forms for your website, so it’s not as bad as the word limited may imply. The sales tools included are useful organizational resources. The downside to taking advantage of the always-free plan is that no marketing automation features are available. In this, a good investment is worth it.
One extra I do find very convenient –being that it’s a big issue in 2018– is that Hubspot helps you be GDPR compliant in just a turn of a switch. It may not seem so big if your company and customers are all US based, but it is recommended to at least have these new regulations in mind, no matter where you or your customers are located. What business doesn’t want to be able to have customers worldwide? With Infusionsoft, it takes more to have your account comply with the GDPR guidelines and that can be a deterrent for some. It’s not difficult, it just takes a little research and more steps to do so.
Real talk: if you’re new to CRMs like me, understanding not only how they work, but their value –the true importance to your company– can be daunting. I didn’t at first, and it took a lot of reading –guides, blog posts, reviews, articles– and 10+ video tutorials for me to start scratching the surface and start to comprehend their utility. I’m glad I did.
To me, Hubspot seems like a natural fit. It’s a great comprehensive CRM on its own, which is what I’m ultimately looking for, compared to Infusionsoft’s email marketing automation and sales focused tool. Also, 1M contacts included in the free version, versus Infusionsoft’s 500 contact starting point is a defining factor.
Hubspot integrates most of the areas that the software and apps –Botsify, Google Analytics, Asana– I use right now cover, which is what I was looking for since the beginning. And, if I require more tools or integrations, it can easily scale with the changing needs.
Whether you’re a small business owner, a marketing manager, head of sales, or in charge of a 1k employee company, staying organized, planning and carrying out measurable holistic strategies is a way to push and maintain growth. Having a set of tools that concentrates all the efforts you’re pushing and makes sense of everything, data and action wise, will undeniably be to your company’s advantage.
Examine and determine the needs, size, and goals of your business; compare, contrast, and find the service that’s right for you.