The 5 Top Customer Engagement Software Options for Small Businesses

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A company that excels in customer engagement can expect repeat buyers, loyal customers, and climbing revenues. Here are five customer engagement software options for your small business.

The phrase "customer engagement" gets thrown around so much that it sounds like a cliche. But it refers to a very important business practice, and you won't be able to grow without perfecting it.

Basically, customer engagement refers to the relationship and interactions between your customer and your brand. It can be a sale, or how you respond to a complaint, or even just something you post on social media that the customer sees and reacts to.

By building positive customer engagement experiences with your brand, you’ll deepen the all-important trust factor that can lead to more sales down the road, whether you’re talking about direct-to-consumer or B2B sales. But how do you really connect with a customer? That’s where a customer engagement system can help.

Here are the top customer engagement software options for your small business:

  • Insightly
  • Salesforce CRM
  • Agile CRM
  • Pipedrive
  • Zoho CRM

What to look for in great customer engagement software

Customer engagement management has many aspects. It’s a nebulous phrase that a lot of people have trouble defining, which makes it a challenge to find the right software. However, you’ll do well if you can get software that has the following three core features.

1. Contact management

At the heart of any good customer engagement platform is contact management. You simply must know everything about your clients, from their contact information to their most recent purchase to what marketing channel they came through. By understanding who your customers are, you will know how to engage with them and what they’re interested in.

2. Case/opportunity/task tracking

Whether you call it a case or an opportunity or a task, you need to know what kind of activities are going on with your customers if you want to be effective at client management. Did one of your salespeople reach out to offer a discount? It’s important that your sales team knows that so another salesperson doesn’t reach out to offer the same thing a day later.

3. Analytics

You need good data to manage your customer relationships. Data helps you understand what marketing channels are most effective in communicating, what products are getting the best response, and other critical insights. As a result, customer engagement software must offer an analytics tool.

Our 5 top picks for the best customer engagement software options

Most CRM software platforms approach customer engagement on a basic level, but not all excel at it. Here is our view of the five CRM examples that do this job better than just about anyone.

1. Insightly

Insightly offers one of the best customer engagement solutions out there by integrating tools such as contact management, sales management, opportunities, and task tracking in one place.

By having all of these activities interconnected, it's easier for your team to have a holistic view of each opportunity or contact, which means you can anticipate the needs of your customers and deliver a superior customer experience. There's no better way to drive loyalty.

Also, by closely tracking important things like a client's purchase history or preferences, you'll be able to have conversations with that client that show you care enough to know what they already have and what they are likely to need, rather than just throwing products at them hoping one of them sticks.

Screenshot of Insightly opportunities dashboard

Insightly makes it easy to see where each opportunity stands. Image source: Author

And because contact records are synchronized, your team doesn't need to do as much data entry, which makes you more efficient and better equipped to respond to customers quickly.

Pricing: In addition to a basic free version that excludes most features, Insightly has three plans: Plus ($35/month per user), Professional ($59/month per user), and Enterprise ($129/month per user). With the most basic paid plan, you can schedule emails and manage leads, with access to up to 100 email templates. Enterprise clients will have access to unlimited storage and even a dedicated specialist.

Read The Ascent’s full Insightly review

2. Salesforce CRM

In addition to being good complaint management software, Salesforce aims to solve the customer engagement challenge by enabling you to create a "360-degree view" of each customer. You'll be able to see a customer's activity, how they've engaged with your marketing efforts in the past, and other insights powered by artificial intelligence.

The software will even tell you the right moment to engage with a customer, because timing is everything in sales. And a lot of the outreach is automated, which takes a lot off of your team's plate.

Screenshot of Salesforce CRM opportunities

Salesforce closely tracks all opportunities. Image source: Author

Salesforce does a good job of providing analytics that will help your team break down how you're currently engaging with customers and how you might be able to do better, again, thanks to artificial intelligence insights.

Also, all of this is simple to access and run, whether you're using desktop software or a mobile app.

Pricing: Salesforce can get fairly expensive (and complicated): it's $25/month per user if you get Essentials, the most basic package. Then it jumps to $75/month for the next tier, then $150/month, then $300/month for the Unlimited version. There's also extra add-ons that might make it even more expensive.

Read The Ascent’s full Salesforce CRM review

3. Agile CRM

Agile CRM has all sorts of interesting tools for customer engagement. For example, it can pop up a message announcing a discount that your customer can take advantage of right away but expires after a certain time period. Or it can provide choices to the customer in a way that gets them into your sales cycle and using your product. And it can get them signed up for a newsletter.

This is a great option for small businesses on a tight budget, plus there’s a free version available. It doesn't have a lot of the customer engagement features that the paid version has, but it can get you started doing customer engagement better.

Agile CRM Dashboard

Agile’s dashboard enables you to see the overall state of your team. Image source: Author

Agile is good for account management, helping you store some basic information about your customers’ interests and how they have been interacting with your brand, which is vital to good engagement.

The software is also capable of making and receiving calls, as well as recording calls and then taking notes. And you'll be able to integrate your social media accounts with the platform to be a more effective marketer.

Pricing: As stated, Agile CRM is free for up to 10 users. If you have more than 10 users or want extras like branded emails or analytics, you'll need to get the paid version, which ranges from $8.99/month per user to $47.99/month. Annual signups offer sizable discounts.

Read The Ascent’s full Agile CRM review

4. Pipedrive

Pipedrive has a highly visual and intuitive dashboard, which clearly shows the status of every customer interaction your team is having, making it easy to see what action should occur next. A good dashboard is underrated in terms of its importance for customer engagement, because all the greatest tools in the world will do no good if your team doesn't have good situational awareness.

Pipedrive also helps you to spot trends and customize your pipeline to fit your business. You'll be able to track activities and contacts with this platform in a way that will make you more efficient overall.

Pipedrive interaction history screen

Pipedrive shows interaction history with your customers. Image source: Author

Another great customer engagement feature: email integration. You will be able to track email conversions to the point that you can even see which emails your customers open. This lets you follow up more effectively. After all, you don't want to reference an email you know they haven't read.

The software syncs emails in your inbox so everything is centralized. All of this contributes to a more centralized customer engagement experience.

Pricing: Pipedrive has four versions. The most basic version, Essential, costs $12.50/month per user if you pay annually ($17 otherwise). This ranges up to $99/month per user for Enterprise at the high end, which includes custom onboarding and support. You can try it free for 30 days.

Read The Ascent’s full Pipedrive review

5. Zoho CRM

A key aim of Zoho CRM software is to ensure that you are staying in touch with prospects and customers. They offer visitor tracking and live chat, as well as ways to engage with customers no matter what the medium -- email, telephone, or even social media.

Like Pipedrive, Zoho offers a simple and intuitive dashboard design that will help you visualize how you're engaging with customers now, and therefore how you could do even better.

The software's lead and contact management system is probably its best feature. It centralizes vital customer information in one place so your team always knows what the situation is when they reach out to a customer.

Zoho CRM Setup menu

Zoho offers extras, including advanced analytics that can break down your team’s performance. Image source: Author

The software offers a call log that includes notes, multiple email templates, and a way to track tasks and events. It will also do live visitor tracking and generate leads from social media accounts, if you sign up for the paid version of the software.

Pricing: Zoho is great for small businesses because it offers a free version with up to 10 users. You'll be able to do all the basic customer engagement you need to do, such as logging sales tasks and events, a call log, and up to 10 email templates. If you want more features such as email analytics, automatic field updates, and even conversational artificial intelligence, you'll have to pay for Standard, Professional, or Enterprise. The software starts at $8/month per user if you sign up for a year, and can get as expensive as $35/month per user for the Enterprise version. There's a 15-day free trial available.

Read The Ascent’s full Zoho CRM review

Rethink how you engage with customers today

If you want to be a good salesman, you have to be good at customer engagement. There's just no way around it. Customer acquisition is great, but if you can't retain those customers or build relationships that last, you're never going to get to the next level.

If you aren't spending a lot of time on customer engagement, it's time to fix your sales process and carve out some time for developing those relationships. So sit down and think about how you could engage with your clients differently. You'll be surprised at how important a few interactions with your customers can be in the long run.

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