Every Friday since the pandemic shut things down in March (here in the U.S.), we’ve highlighted communicators and marketers who at first were trying to figure out which part of the sky just fell on them in My Hot Mess. Then we shifted to those who are crushing the pandemic with Survive & ThriveNow it’s time to get back to business, even if it’s not totally normal. We’re going to do that with an Ask Me Anything series—an elevation of our previous Spin Sucks Question series.

Today, Lesley Chang asks about the best customer relationship management software for a communicator. 

Welcome back to another Ask Me Anything, which is a new series where we talk to our friends, our viewers, and our community. about what they would like to know. The whole point is to stump me. If I don’t know the answer, I will ask one of my smart friends to join me.

Let’s take a look at the mailbag.

Today’s question comes from Lesley Chang. She asks:

Hi, guys. I’m looking to see if there are any affordable CRM options for agencies out there. Ideally it would track clients, media, media coverage, and events. Thanks!

The Best CRM for Communicators

There are a lot of great options: HubSpot, Prowly, Prezly, Propel, Mailchimp, but what you choose is totally dependent on you and your needs.

If you’re doing mostly media relations and tracking media outreach and coverage is most important to you, I would definitely check out Prowly, Prezly, or Propel.

But if you need to include events and clients and other types of relationships to manage, I would look at HubSpot or Mailchimp. Those are the most affordable right now.

We use ActiveCampaign, but I’m lukewarm about their CRM features. I’ve added in Nutshell to give it an extra bump. When you have to do that, the software begins to become less affordable and then you have to have a person dedicated to keeping it all updated and working correctly.

Our favorite, right now anyway, is HubSpot. We use it for clients and I now wish I’d built this website on it.

The thing I really love about HubSpot is it’s crazy easy to use, you can drag and drop to create landing pages and beautiful emails and blog posts. You can even create website pages if you want. But the real value lies in tracking and reporting.

Once someone fills out a form—they subscribe to the blog or download some content or contact you—you know exactly what they’re doing on your website.

You know which pages they’ve visited, how long they spend on the site, how many times they come back, whether they’ve shared content or pages with colleagues, and what their decision-making process looks like.

From an agency’s perspective, this gives you a ton of great information about who they are, what they’re interested in, and what they might buy.

From a company’s perspective, this allows you to attribute your marketing leads to a specific campaign and then track them all the way to sales qualified and converted.

It’s one of the best B2B tools I’ve used. It can get expensive, in the end, but you can easily use their free or light options and get what you need…and then grow into their more expensive options.

The Buckets of CRMs

Sure, some of this is kind of creepy—and prospects might be weirded out that you know as much about them as you. The first rule of CRMs: don’t be weird. Even though you have the information at your fingertips, don’t start off a conversation by saying, “So I saw you were on our website for 32 minutes today. How can I help you?’

Stalker! Don’t be weird.

There are three buckets of CRMs that you can consider:

  1. Media relations only: Prowly, Prezly, or Propel (I wonder why they all chose names that start with P?)
  2. Affordable all-in-one CRM: HubSpot or Mailchimp
  3. Upping your game: SharpSpring, Marketo, or Keap (formerly known as Infusionsoft)

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for every communicator. What you choose depends on what you need to track and report on.

Ask Me Anything

If you have a question that you’d like to stump me on or get one of my very smart friends to answer, drop a comment in the (free) Spin Sucks Community.

I will be back next week. And since we’re not going back to school anytime soon, I’m sure my intern will be, too.

Addendum: my Agency Leadership co-host, Chip Griffin, actually watches these videos (he and my mom are the only ones!). He sent me an email in response and I thought it was pertinent to add his comments here (especially #2—you can ignore #1):

  1. You have already lost your mind.
  2. The best CRM is the one that you actually use. (I added the link because we DID talk about this on a recent episode.)
  3. Pumpkins should be carved.

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich