Act! Blog

Free CRM & Marketing Tools: Why you should be cautious about using them

As a small business owner, you are certainly a very busy person who is focused on growing the bottom line of your company. Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) and marketing tools are necessary to be successful and competitive in any area of business. It can be overwhelming trying to research which tools and software are best for you and your business. It can also be very tempting to go with any of the numerous free options that are available.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or migrating an existing system you currently have in place, going with a free option will likely come back to haunt you. We understand the importance of saving money with smart business decisions however, saving money on what is arguably the most important tool of your entire sales process could end up costing you more money in the long run. The purpose of using a CRM service is to ensure your sales process goes as smoothly as possible. Anything that impedes the flow of your sales process is costing you more money.

The free options aren’t really FREE.

A common tactic for those who create “free” software is to get you hooked in with a free download, get you established and set up, and then once you need access to a certain feature or function, you will be asked to pay. All of these pay-to-use features for your so-called free software will start adding up quickly.

Even using readily available options such as HubSpot or a Gmail and Excel combo can still end up costing you more money. As a small business owner, you understand more than anyone that time is money. If you’re using free software but wasting time on tasks that could have easily been automated, are you really saving money?

Having the right software bundled and working together saves money over using multiple separate options. A longtime Act! CRM user is saving 25%-30% on their marketing costs by using the Act! Growth Suite, an all-in-one solution.

How secure are free CRM and marketing tools?

When properly integrated, your CRM and marketing tools will be the backbone that helps you earn your livelihood. It goes without saying that security for these tools and services should be a top priority. Free software, as well as open-source software, are favorite targets for hackers and thieves alike. Companies that offer their services for free likely do not have enough funds allocated for proper security measures.

Open-source software means that literally anybody anywhere can take a look at the source code of the software. Hackers can look through this source code and easily find vulnerabilities and loopholes. Paid tools will keep their source code (and your data!) nice and secure, out of prying eyes of those with malicious intent.

Service and customer support

Your marketing setup, sales process, and client database is essential for running a business. The right CRM and marketing setup will seamlessly handle all of this for you. But, what happens if you have a question? What if you’ve hit a bump in the road and need some guidance? A company offering free tools and software is almost guaranteed to have less-than-stellar support, if any support is offered at all.

A good cloud-based CRM provider will also ensure your data is kept in a safe place. Don’t expect one of the free providers to put the time and resources into keeping secure, offsite backups. Should anything happen, a free provider likely won’t be able to restore your data at the drop of a hat.

With CRM you get what you pay for

There are plenty of types of services and tools out there where the free option is totally safe and a perfect choice. However, your company’s CRM software and marketing tools are not something you want to take a shortcut on. Once you get ‘stuck’ with a free CRM option, it can be a bit of work to migrate away from them. If you’re just starting out, it’s best to do your research, ask a lot of questions, and stay away from the free options. If you’re currently using a free CRM and need to migrate to a better, more secure, all-in-one option, then a good cloud-based CRM provider should have support staff dedicated to helping you migrate away.

Choosing the right CRM for your business should not be based on cost alone. Act! Premium is an affordable, on-premises or cloud-based CRM and marketing solution designed specifically for small business owners like you.  And, Act! has been a trusted CRM provider for over 30 years.

Want to check it out? Try Act! for free for 14 days. No credit card or download required.