ActiveCampaign screen

The Best CRM + Marketing Automation Tools for Small Business

When you hear CRM, which stands for “Customer Relationship Management,” you probably think of the more complex enterprise-grade CRM systems such as Salesforce, which has become almost a household name given they command about 30% of the overall CRM market followed by a long list of several smaller CRM and marketing automation providers. Many of these smaller cloud-based CRM tools can be a very sensible option for small businesses, even with very limited size and budget.


With the wide selection of CRM tools currently on the market, we understand that choosing the right one can be intimidating if not confusing. Below, you will find a detailed list weighing the pros and cons of each platform to help you in comparing all of the options. Read on for our top picks of CRM + Marketing Automation platforms hand-selected for small businesses and startups.


Why do small businesses (even startups) need a CRM?

First of all, CRM isn’t just a term that describes a technology or a tool. At Bevelroom Consulting, we think of CRM (customer or client relationship management) as a business strategy first and foremost. CRM is a strategic commitment to having an automated process for maximizing the efficiency and profitability of your client relationships across their entire journey and sales process, from discovering your offering, all the way to engaging with you and advocating your brand. CRM isn’t just a tool that marketing and sales teams use. When implemented successfully, it offers benefits across the entire company.


Investing in CRM makes sense for businesses of all sizes and types, especially those that are built upon customer relationships (and what business isn’t really?), because CRM makes managing and growing those relationships easier. In fact, we would argue that CRM and marketing automation makes even more sense for small businesses for two additional reasons:


  1. Small businesses rely on developing strong and lasting customer relationships to grow.
  2. Small businesses have less complexity making CRM implementation easier and faster, offering an advantage over larger, slower competitors.


Making an investment in CRM offers a wide range of benefits to small businesses including reduced cost of acquisition (CAC), increased sales velocity, the ability to boost reach, awareness and better convert leads to customers, and improved employee productivity. These are all great ways to focus lean resources where they can have the most impact for growth.


What is CRM and marketing automation?

CRM platforms allow you to manage all prospect and customer profiles, interactions and your sales process in one place with analytics to measure performance and make improvements.  Some platforms combine CRM with a category of features called marketing automation, which really boosts the business value of CRM. Marketing automation includes features such as integrations with your website or app for building forms and landing pages for generating leads and feeding them into the CRM. Marketing automation also includes tools for using other digital channels such as email, chat and social media to attract and engage with prospects and customers.


If you’re tired of dealing with paper and spreadsheets and not knowing how effective your marketing and sales process is, then CRM and marketing automation can certainly help.


Our list of top small business CRM + marketing automation platforms for 2021


1. ActiveCampaign



Source: ActiveCampaign

About ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign represents one of the best overall values in a crowded CRM + marketing automation space. It is a fully equipped, highly customizable CRM + marketing automation platform offering enterprise-grade CRM, email marketing, automation builder, chat, analytics reporting, and a wide range of integrations, all in one easy to use package. Why it is suitable for larger companies, ActiveCampaign is also very easy to setup and use, making it a great fit also for DIY smaller firms. The platform offers several leading-edge features such predictive sending, email segmentation, A/B testing of subject lines and content, and lead scoring that usually are only found in the most advanced platforms on the market.


ActiveCampaign also offers terrific customer service, with a number of ways to get help getting started and getting the most out of the platform. They offer an extensive online help center with several guides and video tutorials and a highly responsive support chat option. Some packages also offer a Customer Success Manager and free email design services.


Another notable feature that sets ActiveCampaign apart is it’s HIPAA compliance feature in the enterprise version. This is a must-have for any business operating in the healthcare industry that deals with highly regulated patient information.



  • Marketing automation is unmatched by ActiveCampaign’s competitors. Whether you’re looking to use existing “recipe” templates or create one from scratch, this platform’s newsletter email automation is the definition of user-friendly!
  • Their “Deals” CRM system allows you to add notes to contacts, set future reminders, and email, text, or call customers directly through the platform.
  • Offers free, 1-on-1 online training, digital onboarding, and tutorial videos for additional customer support.
  • Integrated subscription forms to collect emails and contact information to grow your customer database.
  • Features intelligent site and event tracking to monitor video views, button clicks, popular login times, how users engage with your website, and more.
  • 350+ third-party integrations including WordPress, Salesforce, Shopify, PayPal, and more.



  • Dashboard and reporting may be less useful than other options.



The price of ActiveCampaign varies depending on how many contacts your business has. Starting at about $9/mo for approximately 500 contacts, $25/mo for 1,000, $45/mo for 2,500 and so on, the estimated price maxes out at about $405/mo for 100,000 contacts.


2. HubSpot


Source: HubSpot

About HubSpot

No matter whether your business goals are geared towards increasing sales, amplifying leads, refining customer service, or all of the above, HubSpot’s all-in-one CRM platform has a diverse selection of tools to help you accomplish more of everything. Fully serviced with a variety of different integrations like Marketing, Sales, and Service Hubs, HubSpot offers vast connectivity to track customer touchpoints via social media, email, or phone. Because the platform is so easy to use, it is widely recommended as a great tool for small businesses that are just getting started.



  • Considered the “All-in one Inbound Marketing Software for Your Entire Team”, HubSpot specializes in the following areas: blogging, landing pages, email, marketing automation, lead management, analytics, partitioning, social media, SEO, calls-to-action, ads, and its Salesforce integration.
  • HubSpot’s free version offers a complete, comprehensive view of the CRM that allows you to test how your business might adapt to the migration before committing long-term.
  • Has a shining reputation for its user-friendly interface and easy to navigate homepage.
  • HubSpot Academy offers free courses and globally recognized certifications for a variety of topics ranging from social media and email marketing to inbound sales, SEO, and content marketing.
  • Automation workflows, email sequences, and intuitive navigation expedite time and efficiency to save you countless hours creating content from scratch.
  • Full-service chatbot for 24/7 customer support.



  • Email templates can be difficult to modify without existing programming knowledge.
  • HubSpot offers basic reporting that lacks the depth and attention to detail that many of its competitors showcase.
  • Pricing for different packages and features quickly adds up and does not offer flexibility between different tiers.



Depending on the size of your company, HubSpot offers a variety of different packages to service your business goals. Offering a free version of their program with limited features, the platform also offers three paid tiers – Starter, Professional, and Enterprise, each starting at $50/mo, $890/mo, and $3,200/mo respectively.


3. Pipedrive


Source: Pipedrive

About Pipedrive

Pipedrive is designed for all the visual learners out there! With automation on your side, Pipedrive takes care of all the busy work tasks that usually dominate your time so you can concentrate on what’s truly important – growing your sales goals. Upon login, users will find their sales objectives laid out in a user-friendly format where deals are organized to signal when a client should be contacted via phone, email, or text. Scheduled deals that are due or overdue for contact automatically rise to the top in green or red so that your sales team is notified that each deal requires immediate attention. Offering an assortment of templates, scheduling features, and unlimited pipelines, Pipedrive helps sales teams manage leads, track communications, and focus on closing more deals.



  • 150+ mobile apps and integrations available like Gmail, LinkedIn, Slack, and other social platforms.
  • Plethora of insights, reports, and metrics customized for your business.
  • Streamlines the sales process and saves a significant amount of time thanks to their intuitive marketing automations and lead scoring features.
  • Pipedrive Academy offers free video tutorials informing users on how to get full use out of premium features and overall functionality. Ranging from a variety of webinars centered around the basics, organizing sales data, and automating manual work, Pipedrive makes it crystal clear that they are devoted to helping your business run as efficiently and effectively as possible.



  • Since Pipedrive is primarily oriented on sales growth, users may find the platform lacking in CRM tools widely found across various competitors.



Now offering four different growth plans, business owners can choose between Essential, Advanced, Professional, and Enterprise options which are each billed annually at $12.50, $24.90, $49.90, and $99 per user/month respectively. All plans come fully equipped with 24/7 support via chat and email, 150+ apps and integrations, and iOS and Android mobile apps.


4. Salesmate


Source: Salesmate

About Salesmate

Happy customers are Salesmate’s specialty! Specifically designed for modern sales teams at small and mid-sized businesses, Salesmate recognizes that many teams are plagued by disorganization and processes that are either too bare-bones or require too much manual tracking. That’s why Salesmate manages your customer data on a user-friendly platform that organizes your sales pipelines, captures new leads, and measures productivity all while providing a 360-degree view of your customer profiles so that you can follow up appropriately. Equally committed to growing your business’s revenue AND your relationships with clients, Salesmate is dedicated to maintaining a personal touch that will make a long-lasting impression on your existing and prospective customers.



  • Provides real-time email tracking to monitor activity and track which prospects have opened, unsubscribed, clicked through, and can even measure exactly what percentage of a video someone has watched before losing interest and exiting.
  • Automatically integrates with Google apps like Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Drive, and Contacts in addition to Microsoft Office apps like Outlook.
  • Chrome extension available.
  • Sales pipeline is easy to navigate and navigate to your business’s unique needs and goals.
  • Click to call integration is automatically synced with Skype and Facetime. Also allows for bulk texting with a variety of templates available.
  • The price per user/month is unbeatable compared to other CRM platforms.



  • Having been founded in 2016, Salesmate is still a relatively young company that is still getting its legs underneath itself. While positivity rates are overwhelmingly high, some customers have noted connectivity issues as well as a lag in loading speed.



Salesmate subscription packages come in three tiers with the option to save 20% when billed annually. The Starter Package is designed for small teams likely to be found at startups, priced at $12 per user/month. The Growth Package offers the best value for growing teams typically found at small businesses, billed at $24 per user/month. And finally, the Boost Package is intended for mid-sized companies costing approximately $40 per user/month.


5. Copper


Source: Copper


About Copper

Frequently lauded as the ideal CRM platform for modern small business owners, Copper is more than just a sales system! Optimized for G Suite users, this program offers tried and true solutions for users seeking lead, contact, and task management amid a diverse collection of other effective tools to save you hours of manual data entry. Offering dynamic workflow automation and a comfortable user experience to move contacts through various pipeline stages, Copper empowers your team so that they never miss a lead. With live syncing to update customer profiles in real time, Copper even goes so far as to prospect new clients for you so you can focus your attention elsewhere.



  • 24/7 chatbot automation service
  • Available as a Google Chrome extension & G Suite Add-on.
  • Customizable, ready-to-use email templates straight from Gmail.
  • Intelligent forecasting and predictive analytics allow you to sell smarter and scale rapidly.
  • Books meetings for you by linking your calendar with your open availability.
  • Efficient alerts and notifications for time-sensitive leads or tasks.



  • Since Copper CRM is designed specifically for Google and G Suite users, there is little to no flexibility for syncing with other programs. As such, this program is best for modern business owners who are already familiar or willing to learn these particular services.
  • Copper’s workflow automation tool requires more time and attention to navigate than other CRM software tools currently on the market.



Copper CRM offers three tiers of growth plans. When billed annually, the Basic version allows up to three users to use the full G Suite integration for $25 per user/month. As its most popular option, the Professional tier includes a long list of additional features for $59 per user/month. Finally, the Business program functions as the most advanced version, allowing Copper to scale with your business and including full customization features at $119 per user/month.


6. Zoho CRM


Source: Zoho CRM

About Zoho CRM

Utilized by powerhouses like Amazon and Netflix, Zoho is the perfect CRM to level up your customer relationship needs at an affordable price tag! No matter the size of your organization, Zoho is a simple and efficient introduction to CRM with a variety of sales performance metrics, trend analytics, pivot charts, and more to consistently keep your business on the cutting edge of the industry. As a program capable of automating all of your routine activities to free up your time, no longer will you find your days bogged down by time-consuming record keeping, slaving away at your never-ending schedule, or going cross-eyed spending hours responding to emails.



  • Users rave about the program’s unique ability to clone existing layouts for ultimate time effectiveness and organization.
  • Blueprint allows your sales team to easily visualize the different steps in the sales funnel to effectively determine what has already been done and which components still require attention.
  • SalesSignals gives instant notifications when your customers need immediate attention across any digital channel including live chat, email, phone, or social media platform
  • Zia, Zoho’s AI-powered sales assistant, who guides you based on suggestions, predictive analytics, and customer behavior.
  • User-friendly dashboard with an easily customizable homepage



  • The user interface is quite plain jane and lackluster in appearance when compared to other CRM systems.
  • Exclusively allows Twitter and Facebook accounts to be stored, excluding all other social media accounts like Instagram or LinkedIn.
  • It has been noted that Zoho CRM’s customer service leaves something to be desired. Response times vary with many users being forced to wait 24+ hours for solutions to time-sensitive matters.



Affordability is this CRM’s shining feature! Ideal for businesses on a budget, Zoho’s Standard program starts at just $12 per user/month, including a wide array of features like positive and negative scoring, custom dashboards, and multiple pipelines. From this starting package, plans move up to Professional for $20 per user/month, Enterprise for $35 per user/month, and Ultimate for $45 per user/month.


7. Really Simple Systems


Source: Really Simple Systems

About Really Simple Systems

Crafted specifically for small B2B businesses, Really Simple Systems (RSS for short) is a CRM designed to grow with your team so that you can eliminate worry and disorganization as your company expands. Sales, marketing, and service focused, this platform is geared towards maximizing sales opportunities, growing revenue, and closing deals. Offering sales forecasts, predictive analytics, database segmentation, and marketing automation, this cloud-based platform allows you to work across multiple devices no matter where you are located for 24/7 service.



  • Easy to set up and easy to use.
  • Offers scalable packages that allow you to build a system that works best for your individual business needs and only pay for the features that you want!
  • You don’t need any third-party servicers like MailChimp since you can edit and customize email templates and newsletters all in one place.
  • Really Simple Systems doesn’t mess around when it comes to excellent customer service! With fast response times and a helpful phone support team, it’s no surprise why their reputation is so impressive.



  • Reports can be limited and lack depth at times, but this is an issue that RSS has expressed they are actively working on improving!
  • Homepage lacks the same premium level of customization that some of their competitors feature.



Providing a variety of different packages for your various sales tracking needs, Really Simple Systems offers three programs ranging from Starter, Professional, to Enterprise with each package costing $14 per user/month, $30 per user/month, and $46 per user/month respectively when billed annually. For full transparency and flexibility, all of these pricing plans are cancellable at any time with no hidden fees.


Don’t wait until your business absolutely needs a CRM tool before you start utilizing one. Rather than juggling outdated spreadsheets, address books, and customer profiles, a CRM system allows you to track emails, phone calls, meetings, and conversations with clients in a secure, organized location so you can eliminate busywork from your day. Equipped to automate the majority of repetitive admin work that hinders your productivity rates, customer relationship tools offer a wide variety of professional services to streamline your lead processes.


Small businesses of all sizes and industries have the potential to benefit from using a CRM tool.


Want to know more about how CRM + marketing automation can help your business?

We would love to help! We usually start by asking a few questions to understand your customers and your business. After an exploration of your goals and what data you have available to fulfill them, we will design a tailored CRM strategy and implementation plan to maximize the potential of your customer relationships for growth and competitive advantage.


Let’s Get Started

Schedule a CRM consultation today.


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