The best free CRM software in 2022

Categories: Marketing, Tips & TricksPublished On: 04/12/2021Comments Off on The best free CRM software in 2022130.2 min read

If you landed here, you might be using Excel, Google Sheets, or the humble notebook to keep track of your sales, contacts, and even projects. If so, your life is about to become a lot easier. With customer relationship management (CRM) software, you’ll be more organized and productive and better able to serve your clients. And it won’t cost you anything.

Dozens of companies offer free CRM plans in the hope that you’ll like using their product so much, you’ll eventually upgrade to a paid plan, or at the very least, recommend it to others.

We considered over two dozen free CRMs, and after extensive testing, we narrowed the final list down to eight that will serve a variety of businesses and use cases.

The best free CRM software

  • HubSpot CRM for businesses wanting lots of integration options
  • Insightly for project management
  • Zoho CRM for scaling your business
  • EngageBay for all-in-one business capability
  • Bitrix24 for businesses with a lot of users and contacts
  • Capsule for an easy-to-use free CRM
  • Vtiger for inexpensive upgrade options
  • Streak for managing contacts from a Gmail inbox

What makes a great free CRM?

The best CRM companies don’t try to reinvent the wheel—they just try to make it roll a little smoother. This means keeping things like the user experience fairly conventional so that anyone—even if they’ve only ever operated an email inbox—can get up to speed quickly. The CRMs featured here are all relatively easy to operate for first-time users and provide enough resources (support or self-help) to assist when and if issues arise.

And while the versions reviewed are all free, each company offers different levels of upgrade plans to accommodate businesses with evolving needs. These paid plans are affordable for most small and medium businesses, especially when the capabilities are expanded enough to take the place of additional standalone software such as marketing and support.

Below are the features we looked at when researching and evaluating free CRMs. While not every one of our picks checked off all five boxes, the ones that didn’t offered enough compelling features or highly specific use cases to make the final cut.

  • Contact and sales management. When creating contacts, you should have some flexibility in the type of information you can add. Features like custom fields let you collect what info is important for your business. Also, a free app should provide room for at least several hundred contacts to get you started. Tracking deals is a must-have feature for any CRM, and those that provide a visual (e.g., Kanban) pipeline with the ability to customize stages based on your sales process are ideal.

  • Ease of use. CRMs should make it relatively easy to perform repetitive actions (e.g., contact creation), input information, and provide a system with some customization options. We also looked for features that help automate actions such as performing tasks (emails, calls, etc.) as part of a sales process.

  • Unique feature(s). If a product included a unique (or atypical) feature not usually found in free plans, we highlighted that in the review.

  • Reporting and analytics. At the very least, you should have reporting to track total pipeline, deals by rep, and activities such as calls, emails, and meetings. Some of the apps we selected also had forecasting, leads by source, and average sales cycle duration.

  • Integration with other apps. We valued CRMs that provide integrations with third-party apps, whether natively or with Zapier, since a CRM is just one part of your business’s tech stack.

Best free CRM for businesses wanting lots of integration options

HubSpot CRM (Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)

HubSpot Dashboard

If you use multiple apps within your company and want a CRM to integrate with them, there’s no better choice than HubSpot CRM. The mammoth App Marketplace has over 900 integrations available to various levels of HubSpot plans (e.g., Marketing Hub) with CRM free users able to choose from over 800 apps in categories such as eCommerce, analytics, events, finance, project management, and customer success. Not only that, but many of these third-party apps provide free editions, which allows greater accessibility for small businesses with limited resources. And the new, included Operations Hub provides additional data sync features for a select group of apps.

The CRM is forever free and includes unlimited users and room for up to one million contacts. Included are deal tracking, landing pages, live chat/chatbot, basic email marketing, and a ticketing feature for tracking service requests. All of these are designed to provide a taste of their meatier Sales, Marketing, and Service Hubs, which provide advanced features at tiered pricing.

For many, the CRM will be all that’s needed to track deals and manage relationships, especially if you’re integrating with other business apps in your stack. For example, a good first step is to connect your Outlook 365 or Gmail account, so you can email directly from a contact record, track conversations, and use the sales templates to quickly respond.

HubSpot makes managing relationships easy with a contact record showing all sales, ticketing, and website activity with a timeline of pages viewed if the tracking code is installed. It will also show activity from your integrations. For instance, if you use Mailchimp for email campaigns, the contact record will show sends, opens, clicks, and bounces. Similarly, an Eventbrite integration will show an event registration in the contact’s timeline.

Connecting apps was straightforward for the handful I connected, but if you get stuck, each app’s integration page has a setup guide and resources to help. Also note that not all of the integration features will be available to free CRM users because they require features from the advanced paid plans.

HubSpot’s Operations Hub was released in April 2021 as a way to provide easier and cleaner data syncing between the CRM and third-party apps. Currently, there are over 50 apps available for this new syncing feature. As a test, I connected my Zoho free account from the list of “data sync built by HubSpot” apps in the Marketplace. With a few clicks, both apps were connected. Then I chose how my contacts were to sync using the rule option (there are dozens of filters) for only the contacts where I was the owner. The contact fields that are matched between the two apps defaulted to 16—to get custom field options, you need to upgrade to a paid plan. Finally, I clicked the review button for a summary of the sync and then clicked save and sync to start the process. Within about 20 seconds, all my contacts were shared bi-directionally between the two apps. So my HubSpot contacts synced with Zoho and vice versa. Any contacts I added or changes I made in either app immediately appeared in the other. Check out HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to Operations Hub for more details.

Zapier creates thousands of additional integration options for HubSpot. For example, you can automatically add new leads or email marketing contacts to HubSpot as contacts. Learn about five of the most popular ways to automate business operations in HubSpot.

HubSpot CRM Price: Free for unlimited users with free features from the Operations Hub included automatically; from $45/month/Hub if you add on the Marketing, Sales, or Service Hub. Operations Hub and CMS Hub plans start at $60/month and $23/month, respectively.

Best free CRM software for managing projects

Insightly (Web, iOS, Android)

Inisghtly CRM

I’ve used Insightly in two different roles over the years: sales and project management. For both, the platform performed well, and I knew I was just chipping the surface of what it could do. And that’s true even with their free plan, which allows two users. So if you and a partner need to manage both relationships and projects, Insightly provides lots of potential to start and to grow.

To get a handle on how Insightly is organized, start with the items on the left-side navigation bar. These—contacts, leads, opportunities, emails, and others—are called objects and comprise the records you can create. A record lives in an object with fields to be filled out, such as name, phone, email, or any data you want to track. And you can create new fields, make them required, and customize the layout of fields on the page.

Once a record is created, you can perform actions for, say, a contact, such as changing them to a lead or adding a task, project, or activity set. An activity set is a group of automated tasks and events. For example, if you have a standard process for starting projects, you can create tasks for your colleague to email a new client within three days of closing the sale, another to set up a first meeting in five days, and so on. Activity sets ca