Revised January 23, 2020
Revised June 15, 2017
Social customer relationship management (CRM) was being written about as a distinct product category as far back as 2008, but market interest really began to take off the following year. According to Google Trends, the average number of monthly web searches for the phrase “social CRM” quadrupled from June 2009 to June 2011. Market interest has remained fairly strong since then.
How does social CRM differ from traditional CRM? Both capture prospect and customer contact data, organizational structure, and interaction history. Both help sales, marketing, and customer service personnel plan and schedule follow-up activities.
But social CRM extends traditional CRM features by adding social media accounts to each contact record, and capturing social interactions as well as more traditional communication like phone calls and email messages.
Social CRM systems don’t simply track a larger amount of customer data, however. More significantly, they shift the focus of CRM from data collection to prospect and customer engagement. Social CRM tools may be integrated with promotions management software to communicate specific promotional offers (sales, discounts, coupons, etc.) to select groups of customers.
According to Data2CRM, “the dynamic engagement with the leads and prospects, instead of uninvolved messages, is the striking difference of social CRM” compared to traditional CRM. “Social CRM extends the boundaries of digital marketing with two-way interaction while traditional CRM focuses on the promotion of its product or service…social CRM places customer interests instead of data into the core of company’s strategy.”
Here are eight of the best social CRM tools for capturing and scoring leads, facilitating prospect and customer social media engagement, and managing sales processes, customer relationships, and marketing programs.
Infusionsoft now Keap
Google Review Count: 242
Small business CRM system that lets you import and organize contacts and collect data about contacts based on behaviors and marketing interactions. Includes marketing automation features to capture, follow up on, and nurture leads, as well as sales workflow automation, ecommerce, and analytics.
Sample review: “Infusionsoft is a CRM designed to cater to small businesses. It’s helpful for organizing customer relationship management, marketing, lead generation, sales, and all manner of automation.” — Express Writers
Pricing: five levels from $199 to $599 per month, plus one-time setup fee of $999 to $2,999
Showcase reviews: AppStorm, Express Writers, Robbie Richards
Google Review Count: 209
A social sales and marketing CRM tool that “automatically updates itself with relevant prospect and customer information from dozens of data sources,” tracks customer engagement activities across sales and support teams, and integrates with popular social networks and social media management apps.
Sample review: “Nimble…merges the feeds from each (major social network) into one centralized inbox. When you add a contact from LinkedIn into Nimble, it automatically checks to see what other networks it is on. It prompts you…but also adds the conversation or engagement triggers like birthdays on Facebook and job/career-related updates from LinkedIn.” — ArCompany
Pricing: $25 per user per month
Showcase reviews: ArCompany, RazorSocial (Software), RazorSocial (Tools)
Google Review Count: 191
Crystal applies the DISC personality assessment to your peers and team members to help improve communications. DISC insights can be applied and displayed in communication tools like Gmail and LinkedIn to help understand different communication styles.
Sample review: “CrystalKnows.com is a web tool and GMail plug-in that analyzes public information (LinkedIn, media quotes, blogs, etc.) written by or about an individual and help you better communicate with them by using algorithms to determine personality, communication style…With Crystal, you’ll be making better introductions, deeper connections, faster meetings and more.” — TNW News
Pricing: contact vendor for pricing
Showcase reviews: TNW News
Google Review Count: 149
Manage leads, contacts, and partners; track project activity and progress; auto-detect social media profiles for contacts; analyze results in dashboards and reports; and integrate with email, file sharing, accounting and other business apps.
Sample review: “Insightly is a tool that combines CRM and project management software into one. It keeps track of all your contacts, leads, and tasks in one spot. Good news for sole proprietorships – Insightly offers a free version if you only need 1-2 users.” — B2B PR Sense Blog
Pricing: free or four levels from $12 to $99 per user per month
Showcase reviews: AppStorm, B2B PR Sense Blog
Google Review Count: 143
An activity-based selling and social CRM tool that helps plan actions so nothing important is missed, tracks all interactions and conversation, helps with forecasting, and keeps sales activities organized.
Sample review: “I’m implementing PipeDrive as my CRM… it’s got a great mobile experience, and is easily accessible.” — Katie Lance
Pricing: $10/$21/$63 per month per user
Showcase reviews: AppStorm, Katie Lance
Base CRM now Zendesk Sell
Google Review Count: 129
A social CRM and sales platform that provides full lead tracking (lead capture forms, automatic incoming and outgoing call logging with a native dialer, conversion optimization), sales management, customer management, email intelligence (templates, personalization, real-time notification of opens and clicks, integration to third-party tools), reporting, forecasting, and win rate optimization.
Sample review: “Base CRM is uniquely suited to meet the needs of…B2B marketing…With Base’s integrated process, (users) can generate unique contact cards connected to their company, as well as the potential client account they’re related to.” — Oktopost
Pricing: $25/$75/$125 per month per user
Showcase reviews: Oktopost
7) Zoho CRM
Google Review Count: 129
Multichannel CRM platform integrating email, telephony (single-click dialing, call analytics), and social media activity. Measure and manage sales performance and ad spending.
Sample review: “Zoho CRM focuses on maximizing sales and customer satisfaction by engaging and communicating with customers via email, phone, chat and social networks all from within the same CRM dashboard. Zoho is very open to other apps too though and allows you to integrate your CRM account with other applications to create a customized solution for your business.” — AppStorm
Pricing: free or four levels from $12 to $100 per month per user
Showcase reviews: AppStorm
Google Review Count: 54
A sales prospecting tool that automatically pulls prospect data from social networks then discovers prospects email addresses, phone numbers, and social media accounts and imports all of their data into your CRM.
Sample review: “I only started using this tool a few weeks ago, and absolutely love it. (SalesIntelligent is) great for finding email addresses of editors, content managers, etc. for big publications. It’s also super affordable” — Robbie Richards
Pricing: monthly subscription fee based on number of prospects at rate of $0.17 per verified prospect
Showcase reviews: Robbie Richards
Google Review Count: 117
A social CRM tool with extensive project management features including task management, document sharing, time tracking, activity streams, collaborative document editing, internal team announcements, workflows, and email collaboration options.
Pricing: free or $39/$99/$199 per month
Google Review Count: 93
An inbound CRM tool for small businesses, Teamgate offers a number of interesting features such as an integrated “SmartDialer” which enables users to make calls from within the application as well as a product catalog, as well as standard functions like lead, contact, and sales pipeline management.
Pricing: $9/$22/39 per user per month
Google Review Count: 73
An intuitive yet full-featured SMB CRM tool, with functionality that includes pipeline, opportunity, project, task, and user role management; sales automation; email tracking; and integration with Gmail, MailChimp, Twilio, and Google Calendar. Unlike most other systems here, WakeUpSales offers both cloud-hosted and on-premises implementation options.
Pricing: free; $9 per user per month; enterprise pricing by quote
This was the 39th post in the Best Online Business Tools series.
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#22: The 32 Best Twitter Marketing Tools
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#39: The Eight Best Social CRM Tools