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CRM Software for Small Business - Top 10 Solutions (2023)

Whether you’re just starting out or already a crafty veteran, the proper CRM software for small business is essential. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and when implemented correctly, it can supercharge sales, drive exponential growth and let you provide incredible customer experiences.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, not necessarily.

With the right CRM software for small business, you can create a central hub of customer information that allows your team’s different departments to optimize their effort. CRMs can track sales, quickly organize analysis and encourage collaboration, getting everyone on the same page and putting all the elements of a successful business in one place.

In an increasingly data-driven world, this is a critical piece of the small-business puzzle, with the best options aiming for clarity – letting you spend less time cobbling insights together and more time engaging your community. But, the CRM landscape is large, and with so many options, getting started can feel daunting. Even deciding which type of CRM software is right for you may not be easy.

 

There are 3 types of CRM software for small business:

Collaborative – To help teams within your company work together more seamlessly.

Operational – Automated, tactical solutions that make your customer experience better.

Analytical – Providing insight into customer behavior, helping you steer toward greater results.


With those in mind, we’ve broken down the top 10 CRM software solutions for small businesses.
 

1. Salesforce

CRM software for small business

Salesforce is an all-in-one CRM with a sales focus, helping manage contacts, leads and more into an interactive dashboard. The result is a big-picture view of your business, and you can add features as you grow.

Key Features:

  • Cloud-based platform with mobile app
  • Scales with your business
  • Lead management



2. Zoho CRM

crm software for small business

Zoho CRM is a popular choice for small startups looking to keep expenses down, because its free plan allows up to three users. You can create sales workflows and keep track of customers, and switch to a paid version for more features.

Key Features:

  • Free option for three users (Good for those just starting out)
  • Add-on apps to integrate marketing, inventory and accounting (paid version only)
  • Workflow automation

 
3. Zendesk Sell

CRM software for small business

For small businesses relying heavily on customer support, Zendesk Sell funnels all customer interactions into a single interface, tracking leads and keeping your team informed. It even allows calls to be recorded, helping your help desk be its best.

Key Features:

  • High performance help desk features
  • Call recording 
  • Sales triggers

 

4. Insightly

crm software for small business

Insightly works best for small businesses with project-management needs. If you need to track a project from inception through implementation, delivery and review, this CRM can help keep things running efficiently.

Key Features:

  • Chart-view tracking of project workflow
  • Easily import date from other apps
  • Mass Email Contacts with MailChimp Integration


5. Agile CRM

CRM software for small business

Like its name suggests, Agile is a CRM for small business which excels at being versatile – namely by adding top-notch marketing features. It’s ideal for shops where sales and marketing team members work closely together.

Key Features:

  • Streamlined sales and contact tools
  • Drag and drop marketing campaign builder
  • Project management tools


6. Keap

CRM software for small business

Keap is another CRM which combines sales and marketing prowess, where leads can be organized, tracked and turned into sales. Plus, it offers expert instruction to get the most of the platform.

Key Features:

  • Automated lead capture and organization
  • Expert coaching and support 
  • Great email marketing features


7. Less Annoying CRM

CRM software for small business

Knowing that complexity is a small-business turn off, Less Annoying CRM is exactly what it claims to be. It lets you manage your contacts, calendar, and more without getting lost in the tech-feature weeds. 

Key Features:

  • Built for ease of use, less complexity.
  • Straight forward, to-the-point feature set. 
  • Relationship management


8. monday.com

CRM small business

If you’ve got a fast-moving team who need to be in lockstep, monday.com could be your ideal CRM for small business. Those familiar with Kanban will find its visual organizer especially easy to use.

Key Features:

  • Kanban-style organizer boards 
  • Free option with robust features
  • Dynamic sales pipelines


9. Freshsales

CRM software

For many small businesses, finding and developing leads is a key concern, and Freshsales is built to make that easier. Automatically capturing and tracking potential customers is the beginning of rising revenues.

Key Features:

  • Built-in lead generation
  • Advanced analytics 
  • Make calls & send emails
     


10. Creatio

CRM for small businesses

Creatio can take a complicated, multi-step process and make it (relatively) simple, by automating the sales cycle, marketing approvals and more. And best of all, you don’t need to be a code wizard.

Key Features:

  • “Process library” of pre-built workflows
  • Intuitive customer record keeping 
  • Automated marketing campaigns


Remember, with the right CRM software for small business; you can take your customer experience to the next level – along with your sales, revenue, and more. As long as you're in a system that WORKS for your business! 


So, which CRM solution is best for you?

Ask these 3 questions about your business needs:

1. What are we trying to achieve? (Manage Customer Relationships, Leads, Audience Segmentation)

2. What features are needed to achieve our goals? (Email sender, automation capabilities, etc.)

3. What is our budget? 

When comparing platforms, look for those with numerous positive reviews and a good track record. If you're on a budget, shoot for the middle of the market. You'll find a reliable platform that may have some feature limitations. But, if you need a CRM as dynamic as a fighter jet, then there's a solution for your organization out there!



Cause Machine Solutions

One of the most significant pieces of what sets Cause Machine apart from other technology platforms is where we start… with a community engagement strategy.  We begin all of our work on the foundation of engaging a community well and then begin mapping out the technology to help support that strategy.  We’re certain that you’ll find some great resources and powerful tools in Cause Machine to better engage your community as well. Learn how it can work for you here
 


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3 Membership Site Tools to Inspire Your Approach

So you’ve built a thriving community around a bold cause or brilliant product. Great work! But you’re not done yet.

As your project scales up, one of the most powerful tools you can implement is a membership site, turning “users” into members, driving engagement to your cause… and even monetizing your work.

With the creator economy growing, all sorts of businesses use membership sites – which is really just website that features some sort of “gate,” beyond which only members can pass. 

Artists and influencers, nonprofit organizations, social clubs, associations, even retail businesses use these since they all need to present content that only members have access to. That could be special sales and exclusive products, digital classes, or even just a newsletter, and these memberships don’t even have to be paid – they could just involve opting in. But the point is this: Being a member comes with special privileges… and added consumer value.

From your perspective, this added value is the key. It can lead to more revenue for your business, repeat visitors to your site, longer session times, and greater sales numbers – and plus, you could even add a revenue stream if the memberships are paid. But like anything, there are different methods to building a great membership site for your community, and different strengths to each approach. 

 

3 popular membership site approaches:

 

1. WPQuickStart

membership site

WPQuickStart for Membership Sites is a plug-in service designed especially for WordPress – the website builder used by almost half of all websites worldwide. If you already have a website, and it’s running on WordPress, this offers a way to add membership functionality.

Key Features 

  • Fast and easy set-up
  • Multi-level subscription packages
  • Built-in tools for payment, marketing, and analytics
  • WordPress Security



2. CMS Hub from Hubspot

membership site

On the other hand, creating a membership site using CMS Hub from Hubspot can help you create a customized experience. More than a plug-in that works with your WordPress website, this standalone content management system is fully hosted by Hubspot (and fully integrated with its marketing, sales, and service tools). The possibilities are endless. You can create multiple membership tiers, with unique perks included in each. But the downside is higher cost – and the fact that one-of-a-kind creations take time and expertise. 

Key Features 

  • Hubspot hosting and systems integration
  • Full design flexibility
  • No plug-ins necessary
  • Personalize membership experience

 

 

3. WildApricot

membership sites

Creating a connected membership site usually comes down to whether or not the platform can truly meet your needs. Another solution that has membership capability is WildApricot. WildApricot has a variety of ways to build and run your community. One is a built-in member database that allows you to manage how members interact with one another, share exclusive member-only content and more. You can create multiple tiers of membership and encourage users to join up with membership applications. WildApricot is a solid option for launching a membership site.

Key Features 

  • Member database
  • Event management
  • Mobile app
  • Online store

 

Transitioning from casual users into highly-engaged members is crucial to growth and monetization, and so is using the right platform to do it. Ideally, you’d keep everything from website building to e-learning and membership controls in one place (with a little marketing prowess and analytics thrown in), so you don’t have to piece your digital footprint together. 

 

Cause Machine Solutions

One of the most significant pieces of what sets Cause Machine apart from other technology platforms is where we start… with a community engagement strategy.  We begin all of our work on the foundation of engaging a community well and then begin mapping out the technology to help support that strategy.  We’re certain that you’ll find some great resources and powerful tools in Cause Machine to better engage your community as well. Learn how it can work for you here


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9 Best WordPress Alternatives for Building a Website

When it launched in 2003, Wordpress sparked something close to a digital revolution. Suddenly, almost anyone could make a professional-grade website packed full of high-quality content, and it now dominates the market.

Believe it or not, about 43 percent of all websites currently run on Wordpress1, making it the most popular website builder in the world. But it’s not the only option. And if you’re about to take the plunge, you should ask yourself:
 

What kind of WordPress alternatives are out there?

It’s true that Wordpress is a powerful tool, with things like drag-and-drop block editing, thousands of themes and countless plug-ins to choose from, but it can also get complex pretty quickly. Perhaps the plug-ins you’ve chosen are not compatible with each other… that happens. Or maybe you’re not up for the hassle of managing your own web hosting, with security and updates and all the rest.

Luckily, many WordPress alternatives exist. Some offer a simple approach, while others are extra flexible. Some emphasis e-commerce, while others are great for blogging. You just need to know what's right for you. 

We’ve scoured the internet to compile a list of the 9 best WordPress alternatives for building a website, with hopes of giving you a fuller picture of the options.
 

1. Wix

wordpress alternatives

Wix is probably the best-known Wordpress alternative, and there’s good reason for that. If you’re looking to keep things simple, Wix is great for building basic websites with a similar drag-and-drop model to Wordpress, but a more streamlined list of plug-in options to choose from. 

 


2. Domain.com

Wordpress alternatives

Next up we have Domain.com, which excels in a few areas where Wordpress does not – right out of the box. While WordPress needs some customization before you can start selling goods and services, Domain.com comes ready-to-go with e-commerce capability. Good news if you need to set up shop.

 


3. Shopify

Wordpress alternatives

Then we have Shopify, and just by the name you can tell – it’s built for e-commerce. Shopify is one of the best Wordpress alternatives if you need a digital storefront, and with great-looking templates, payment option tools and 24/7 tech support, you get a professional feel without much heavy lifting.

 


4. Drupal

wordpress alternatives

As far as rivals to Wordpress, Drupal is most popular with bigger organizations. If you’re looking to create a website with complex, one of a kind content at enterprise scale, Drupal is almost endlessly customizable, and highly adaptive. The drawback is you’ll need some technical know-how to set it up.

 


5. Squarespace

wordpress alternatives

Squarespace is a great Wordpress alternative with a little something for everyone. Whether you’re building your first site for a new small business, or you’re a creative looking to showcase your work, it has a familiar drag-and-drop feel, and templates that often look better than the competition.

 


6. Hubspot

best wordpress alternatives

Searching for a high-tech solution? Hubspot’s CMS Hub is a powerful content management system – and its main draw is a fully-hosted platform, meaning it can handle all that pesky back-end maintenance on its own. Plus, with automated marketing tools and killer analytics, you get a lot of bang for your buck.

 


7. Ghost

wordpress alternatives

Not all websites are intended to sell stuff – some are just there to deliver fantastic content – and if you are a writer of any kind, Ghost might be the way to go. With powerful SEO and publishing tools built right in, plus things like an RSS feed builder and full-picture editor, this is a great choice for creatives.
 

 

8. Web.com

wordpress alternatives

Web.com is a good choice for Wordpress alternatives that don’t break the bank – or take over your life. Relatively inexpensive and easy, users can start by choosing from a list of templates. Or, with the added ability to make your own design, this option can also help you create a truly unique brand experience.
 

 

9. Medium

wordpress alternatives

Another example in the world of Wordpress alternatives is Medium. Perfect for publishing text, you’ve probably read a column written by a celebrity on Medium in the past – even if you didn’t know it. It’s not as endlessly customizable as some of the others. But it’s clean looking if the written word is your thing.

 

In the end, this is still just a fraction of the website-building options out there, and it might sound like a lot to think about. Whether you just need a website or if you're looking to give your community a home, it’s a decision you can’t afford to sleepwalk into. Take the time to decide what works for you.
 

Cause Machine Solutions

Here at Cause Machine, we help organizations solve complex community engagement problems/questions.  We use these disciplines of innovation ourselves in our own development process and have helped lead many organizations through their own process of innovation discovery.  Leveraging the Cause Machine platform for engaging your community helps you be confident that the foundations of this platform are built on time-tested best practices of great processes like innovation and design thinking.  Schedule a FREE demo today!


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5 Best Online Course Platforms to Grow Revenue

Let’s start with a hypothetical. Say you’ve got some skills in an in-demand field—mad chops, like, so good it’s almost scary! Naturally, other people want them, too, and with the right online course platform, you can create and sell your own brilliant ideas

That’s great! Since 2020 made virtual collaboration the norm, it’s easier than ever to share your knowledge with a global community… and get paid to do it. Your timing is perfect, but after a quick scan of the options, you’ve got a question.
 

How do I decide on the best online course platform for me?

To be honest, there are dozens of platforms out there, all serving a different need. Some are geared more toward creatives, while others offer amazing marketing tools. Some are endlessly customizable, while others use templates to get you up and running quick. Some let you control the data in your community.  Your plan to spread knowledge (and monetize your mad skills) will have to wait, at least until you figure out where to host this game-changing course. 

We’ve done the digging and picked out five gems from the heap—quite possibly the best online course platforms out there today. Then we broke them down so they’re easier to choose from, and the results are in. 


5 online course platform options that serve a unique purpose.
 

1. Teachable

best online course platforms

Teachable is widely considered one of the best online course platforms for beginners, since it has loads options to help first timers get started. You can build out simple courses with quick, pre-set template options and tips to get the most out of the program. And you also get access to student information, making marketing that much easier. But while it’s great for startups, you might want something more once you grow.
 

 

2. LearnDash 

best online course platforms

Next up is LearnDash, a learning platform that comes with one big advantage: It works with your existing WordPress website. That’s right, if you are one of the millions of people already hosting a website on WordPress, you can plug LearnDash right in. That does streamline things, but it also comes at a cost – you’ll need a bit of technical know-how to keep it running smoothly, in comparison to some other options.
 

 

3. Mighty Networks

best online course platforms

Maybe the key to your success is a thriving, interactive community, one where you stay in constant contact with your members. Count Mighty Networks as a possible solution. You can use your existing social media following to build a network of potential students, and with live-streaming video uploads, your content will keep them engaged. When done right, your course could feel more like a social platform than school.
 

 

4. Skillshare 

best online course platforms

But what if the course you’re hoping to teach is in a creative field? Something like comic-book writing or… quilting… advanced finger painting? If that’s the case, you might want to check out Skillshare. With simple courses based on video lessons and projects to apply those lessons, it’s especially adept in creative fields. But, if the skill you’d like to share is more technical, you may need to look elsewhere.
 

 

5. Cause Machine

best online course platforms

Enter Cause Machine, a purpose-built, all-in-one option. While other platforms can make it hard to centralize your digital footprint, Cause Machine is set up to do just that. Your website, podcast, events manager and online courses? They can all be in the same place. Members can interact with each other and take classes as a group, creating a more personal, engaged atmosphere, and whether your class is rooted in creative whimsy or hardcore data, you’re all set. Best of all, there’s no technical expertise required, and analytics are included, so it can grow as your business does. Check out some key features below:

  • Robust Event Management & Registration

  • Sell Online Video eCourses

  • Members-Only Original Content 

  • Connect With Other Subscribers 

  • Take Classes Together

 

In short, picking the best online course platform for you is an important decision, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. 
 

Cause Machine Solutions

Here at Cause Machine, we help organizations solve complex community engagement problems/questions.  We use these disciplines of innovation ourselves in our own development process and have helped lead many organizations through their own process of innovation discovery.  Leveraging the Cause Machine platform for engaging your community helps you be confident that the foundations of this platform are built on time-tested best practices of great processes like innovation and design thinking.  Schedule a FREE demo today!


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Seven Types of Innovation

There are countless types of innovations you could facilitate - each with their own strategy, design, timeframe, and more.  The important thing to know is that each type of problem you’re working to solve has a unique run of play for how that innovation should be facilitated.  My goal here is to unpack seven core types of innovations to consider.  It’s important that you help your client understand which innovation they are desiring before launching the event.

 

#1 Concept Sketch

Overview: A Concept Sketch Innovation is when there is a felt need and/or a basic idea with a very open minded or open-handed approach to how that might come to life.  

Goal: The outcome from this innovation would be a fresh idea, in concept format, for how to approach this problem.  
 

#2 Framework Design

Overview: A Framework Design Innovation is when there is a defined project/goal but there is a needed framework or picture needed to help simply capture the overall complexity. 

Goal: The outcome from this innovation would be sketches of this framework (picture, pathway, etc.)
 

#3 Vetting Concept

Overview: A Vetting Concept Innovation is when there is a plan in motion and a fairly good picture of the desired goal, but a desire to “vet” out the concept more and gain more collaborative buy-in.

Goal: The outcome from this innovation would be more details to the plan, a stronger prototype of the concept, and greater unity around the vision.
 

#4 Business Plan

Overview: A Business Plan Innovation is when there’s an agreed upon plan already existing, but there is lacking a more comprehensive business plan with specific details for execution  

Goal: The outcome from this innovation would be a multi-page business plan outlining specific Go to Market strategies.
 

#5 Resource Design

Overview: A Resource Design Innovation is when there is a need to design (or potentially redesign) a resource - focusing on the resource design, purpose, and delivery.   

Goal: The outcome from this innovation would be the prototyping of fresh resources with some content creation and strategy.
 

#6 Process Design

Overview: A Process Design Innovation is when there is a new process (or a process to re-vision) and a need to collaboratively streamline and make a process.  

Goal: The outcome from this innovation would be a process design map with detailed steps, dependencies, and outcomes.
 

#7 Rethink

Overview: A Rethink Innovation is when there is a pre-existing program that could use some fresh thought and fresh ideas.     

Goal: The outcome from this innovation would be a new concept plan for how to approach this in a more current context.


 

As you can see, there are many types of innovations you could facilitate.  More than likely, just seeing the list sparked a few ideas for innovations you might consider.

 

Cause Machine Solutions

Here at Cause Machine, we help organizations solve complex community engagement problems/questions.  We use these disciplines of innovation ourselves in our own development process and have helped lead many organizations through their own process of innovation discovery.  Leveraging the Cause Machine platform for engaging your community helps you be confident that the foundations of this platform are built on time-tested best practices of great processes like innovation and design thinking.  Schedule a demo today!


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