If you are looking to identify a CRM with email marketing for a small business, it may feel like you are attempting to chart a course through a strange forest in the dark. With a plethora of options out there, each boasting its unique set of features and pricing models, how do you pick the right platform without breaking the bank? This is a scenario that we encounter regularly in conversations with potential customers and as a result, we are constantly watching and evaluating the CRM space. This article outlines the details of a recent evaluation conducted by Lata Forum Digital Engagement, aimed at pinpointing the ideal CRM platform for a hypothetical small business with 1-3 employees. The primary objective of our research was to find a CRM that not only supports basic email marketing needs but also offers robust features for categorizing and segmenting existing data without breaking the bank. Through hands-on research, we sought to uncover which CRM offerings provide the best value and functionality alignment for small-scale operations.


For a detailed comparison and quick reference, refer to our CRM comparison chart available in PDF format. This resource offers an in-depth, side-by-side look at several of today’s most popular CRM platforms, comparing their pricing, email marketing capabilities, and key features side by side. Included in the chart is a rating scale outlining how well we felt that the platform met the objectives of our research along with a separate rating scale rating our opinion of the overall value that the CRM and its various plans offer for the money. We hope that sole proprietorships or very small businesses find this to be a valuable tool to help them visually assess which CRM with email marketing for small businesses might fit best. Should you wish to do your own research or review other feature comparisons, the URLs for each resource used in this study are included at the bottom of the comparison chart as well as at the bottom of this article.


Snippet of Lata Forum CRM with Email Marketing for Small Businesses Comparison Chart

Contender – Salesforce Starter Suite

Often lauded as the behemoth of the CRM world, Salesforce offers the Starter Suite, an entry-level solution that seems to be the perfect CRM with email marketing for small businesses. However, the devil is in the details. While the Starter Suite does provide the ability to email in bulk, schedule emails, and track email engagement, it provides little to no ability to tailor the platform to your business by offering no custom objects, and no ability to access to the tools which give Salesforce its power, Flow Builder and Lightning App Builder, forecasting and advanced analytics. If you’re eyeing these capabilities, you’d need to upgrade to the Pro Suite, which comes with a heftier price tag of $80 per user per month. And should you require API access? That’ll be an additional $25 monthly for each user. Even with the Pro Suite, should you want or need to leverage more than 5 Flows in your org, you then need to be prepared to shell out $165 per user every month for the Enterprise tier. Before you even consider Salesforce’s renowned email marketing tools like Marketing Cloud or Pardot, remember these are premium offerings with their own, individual pricing structures.

Having worked with Salesforce Enterprise Edition extensively in the past, I believe that Salesforce may be the best platform ever developed in any space. However, while Salesforce is a powerhouse, it’s essential to weigh whether its advanced features justify what would be a considerable investment for your small startup or business. You get what you pay for, but prepare to pay a lot. While Salesforce is undoubtedly the master of the CRM space, they are also the master of monetizing the most attractive and impactful features of the platform.

Real-World Application: Imagine a small boutique agency looking to automate its customer follow-ups and nurture leads through personalized email campaigns. Without advanced features of higher-priced plans, this automation is not possible. Segmentation of their audience and tracking the effectiveness of their email strategies would need to be done manually.


Contender – Zoho CRM

Stepping in as a more budget-friendly contender, Zoho offers a tiered CRM with email marketing for small businesses that is kinder to the wallets of small business owners. With four distinct packages – Standard, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate – the pricing escalates from $14 to $52 per user each month. However, each tier comes with a different email-sending cap, which might be a bottleneck for businesses keen on extensive email marketing campaigns. The twist? None of the tiers provide segmentation or custom email workflows out of the box. To unlock these features, you’ll need to integrate Zoho Campaigns, an additional service with pricing based on your contact list size. While Zoho presents an appealing CRM package, the need for add-ons to access full email marketing functionality could push your costs higher than anticipated.

Real-World Application: Consider a startup that regularly publishes newsletters and promotional content to its growing contact list. They would need to carefully monitor their list size to avoid sudden spikes in costs due to Zoho’s contact count-based pricing.


Contender – Zendesk Sell

Perhaps not the first name that springs to mind in the CRM discussion, Zendesk Sell offers a fresh perspective with its four-tier plan structure. The Sell Team plan, the most economical option, might attract small businesses with its $19 per user per month pricing. Yet, it’s essential to scrutinize what’s missing: bulk emailing, customizable email sequences, and advanced automation features are notably absent. Scaling up to access these features means a significant price jump, with the Sell Professional plan hitting $115 per user monthly. Zendesk Sell could be a viable option if your CRM needs align with its offerings or if you already leverage other Zendesk products. However, we highly recommend ensuring that the feature set matches your business requirements before committing.

Real-World Application: A small e-commerce business specializing in artisanal products wants to improve its customer relationships and sales tracking. Using Zendesk Sell’s Sell Team plan, the company can efficiently manage customer interactions and sales pipelines, even though bulk emailing and advanced customization are not available at this tier. As they grow, the company plans to upgrade to access more sophisticated features like email sequences and templates, which will allow them to tailor their outreach and follow-up strategies, thereby increasing conversion rates and customer satisfaction.


Contender – Pipedrive CRM

With a straightforward approach and a visually intuitive interface, Pipedrive offers five pricing plans catering to various business sizes and needs. The Essential plan, priced at $14.90 per user per month, might seem adequate for basic CRM functions but falls short for businesses serious about email marketing. The lack of email templates, group emailing, and email scheduling in this tier means most businesses will need to consider at least the Professional plan, which provides a more comprehensive feature set. However, even at this level, limitations exist, like the cap on custom permission sets and visibility groups. Pipedrive shines in its user-friendly design and sales pipeline management, making it worth considering if these align with your business priorities.

Real-World Application: Consider a small marketing agency that needs to streamline its lead management and deal-closing processes. By adopting Pipedrive’s Professional plan, the agency can take advantage of email marketing features, including email templates and group emailing, to engage potential clients effectively. The ability to set custom fields and use them for filtering reports allows the agency to segment their leads based on specific criteria, optimizing their marketing efforts and focusing on the most promising opportunities.


Contender – Nutshell

Offering a blend of CRM and additional marketing functionalities, Nutshell presents itself as a versatile tool with tiered CRM plans complemented by various add-on modules. The pricing spectrum for the CRM ranges from $16 to $67 per user per month, with the Campaigns module adjusting based on your contact list size. Nutshell stands out with unique offerings like a web form builder, though advanced features such as audit logs are reserved for the highest tier. For small businesses, balancing the lure of these unique features against their necessity and the overall cost is crucial.

Real-World Application: A boutique real estate firm is looking to enhance its client engagement and property listing organization. By implementing Nutshell’s Pro plan, the firm can leverage the CRM’s capabilities to create detailed client profiles, track communication histories, and manage listings efficiently. The availability of up to 50 custom fields helps the firm categorize properties and client preferences effectively, while the team feature allows different agents to collaborate seamlessly, ensuring that every client receives personalized and attentive service.


Contender – Monday.com

Known for its robust task management capabilities, Monday.com also steps into the CRM arena with a flexible platform that integrates CRM and work management. However, aligning the tiers between Monday Work Management and Monday CRM plans can be tricky and potentially costlier than it appears at first glance, especially with the three-user minimum requirement. This interconnected pricing structure might complicate budgeting for small businesses, so a detailed cost-benefit analysis is recommended before diving in.

Real-World Application: A local event planning company already utilizing Monday.com for project management integrates Monday.com CRM to enhance client relationships and streamline lead tracking. By creating a dedicated board for client interactions and sales pipelines, the company centralizes all customer communications and tracks the progress of each event from initial inquiry to follow-up. This consolidation allows seamless collaboration between sales and planning teams, ensuring efficient workflow, improved client satisfaction, and increased sales efficiency, all within a single platform.


Contender – NetHunt CRM

As a platform that seamlessly integrates with G-Suite, NetHunt offers a CRM experience that is deeply woven into the Google ecosystem, providing intuitive interactions with familiar tools. The tiered pricing structure is relatively straightforward, with plans ranging from $24 to $96 per user per month. NetHunt’s distinct advantage lies in its native G-Suite integration, offering functionalities that are especially beneficial for businesses already entrenched in Google’s ecosystem. The higher-tier plans unlock a wealth of features that can rival more expensive CRMs, making NetHunt a strong contender for G-Suite-centric businesses looking for a comprehensive yet affordable CRM solution.

Real-World Application: An IT consultancy firm heavily relies on G-Suite for its daily operations and seeks a CRM that integrates smoothly with its existing tools. By choosing NetHunt CRM’s Business plan, the firm can synchronize its CRM activities directly with Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive, enhancing productivity and ensuring that all client interactions are tracked and accessible within the G-Suite ecosystem. The firm uses NetHunt to automate follow-up emails, track client project stages, and analyze email campaign effectiveness directly from their Gmail interface, streamlining their workflow and improving client engagement.


    The CRM with Email Marketing for Small Businesses Maze to Reach ROI


    Making The Choice

    While the purpose of this article is to discuss the objectives we outlined at the beginning of this article, there is much more to choosing a CRM than just these few items, and embarking on the CRM selection journey is no trivial task; it’s about finding a partner that aligns with your business ethos, can scale with your growth, and fits within your budget. Whether you’re swayed by the allure of Salesforce’s extensive features, attracted to Zoho’s cost-effectiveness, intrigued by NetHunt’s G-Suite integration, or considering other contenders like Pipedrive, Zendesk Sell, or Nutshell, the decision should be grounded in a thorough understanding of your business needs and future aspirations.


    Before you commit to any product, consider:

      • The scalability of the CRM: Can it grow with your business?
      • The total cost of ownership: Are there hidden fees or required add-ons?
      • Unused features: How many features of the plan tier will go unused?
      • The learning curve: Is the platform user-friendly, or will it require extensive training and configuration?
      • Integration capabilities: Does it play nicely with the tools you already use?
      • Support and community: What kind of assistance and resources are available?

    In the end, the best CRM is the one that empowers you to focus on what you do best – growing your business and delighting your customers. So take your time, do your homework, and choose wisely. Your future self will thank you!

    A Note on Products with Contact-Count-Based Pricing

    Before we outline our conclusions on the CRM exploration, it’s essential to address a critical pricing aspect that could impact your budget significantly: CRM plans that charge based on the number of contacts in your system. If your business doesn’t plan to engage in extensive email marketing activities or if you don’t foresee utilizing the platform to send marketing messages to the majority (80-100%) of your contacts each month, it’s wise to steer clear of these contact-count-based pricing models. The rationale is straightforward – you could end up paying a hefty sum for underutilized functionalities. Furthermore, as your contact list grows, so does the cost of these plans, which could increase your expenses unexpectedly. Opting for a CRM solution with a fixed pricing structure might be more economically prudent, ensuring you’re not paying extra for unused capacity and keeping your costs predictable as your business and contact list expand.


    Final Thoughts

    In closing, I would like to again underscore that the essence of this research was to outline how several of the most popular CRM solutions available today compare when trying to identify the best CRM with email marketing for small businesses. For small businesses for whom email marketing capabilities are not a significant component of their strategy, we plan to dive deeper into each of these platforms in the coming months.

    Should you find yourself pondering over these CRM options, or perhaps considering different use cases, remember that Lata Forum Digital Engagement is more than willing to lend a hand. Whether you’re seeking advice on the best CRM fit or need expert guidance on configuration and implementation, we’re here to support your small business on its path to CRM empowerment.