3 Small Business CRM Options with Social Integration

by Vangie Beal

Small business CRM is gaining in popularity and social CRM trends makes this a good time to look at investing in CRM software.

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Small business CRM, or customer relationship management is a growing market and business owners couldn't have picked a better time to look at investment options in this type of business tool.  CRM is more user-friendly as companies develop the IT requirements, pricing, tools and features with the small business in mind.  

Another reason this is a good time for small businesses to invest in CRM is that many lightweight solutions also leverage social media to help a business connect to customer conversations and relationships from social networking sites.  

There are a number of smaller companies and new start-ups entering the small business CRM market with a focus on adding a social element to traditional CRM processes.  We look at three small business CRM options with social integration features.

1. Nimble Social Contact Management

Calling its hosted CRM solution a "social relationship manager," Jon Ferrara, CEO and Founder of Nimble said, "Most CRM solutions focus on the business pulse, but Nimble focuses on the customer."

Nimble is a light-weight, online social software service (SaaS) that lets businesses use social relationships as a customer management and contact tool. Last February, Nimble Contact launched as a public beta at the DEMO Spring 2011 conference. The Web-based service integrates LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google, email contacts and conversations to socially connect with customers.

Nimble Social Contact Management; small business CRM; social CRM
Nimble Social Contact Management

This is one of the main benefits a small business will realize from a product like Nimble.  From within Nimble, you can manage all contacts from multiple places. There is no need to have Nimble open in one browser tab, Facebook in another and there is no need to copy and paste details back and forth. Managing your CRM in multiple social spaces and between team members in one environment makes Nimble Contact worth a look for small businesses.

"The problem today is our contacts and our communications are in too many places," said Jon Ferrara in a statement. "Between IM, text messaging, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and email, we can't keep track of it all. Trying to manage all of this in eight different tabs on your browser isn't the solution. We created Nimble to solve our own needs and we’re bringing it to the world to help small businesses solve theirs."

According to Nimble, the Nimble Contact solution will always be free. The company plans to release other versions of Nimble, including Nimble Team, Nimble Sales and Nimble CRM, which will vary in price from $10 to $29 per user, per month. Nimble is also working on an API (Application Programming Interface) that will allow developers to integrate Nimble into existing cloud applications such as accounting and email marketing tools and to create new applications that can be sold to Nimble customers via the Nimble App Store.

2.  Batchbook: Small Business CRM

Another option in the small business CRM market is Batchbook: Small Business CRM. According to Michelle Riggen-Ransom, BatchBlue Software's co-founder and communications director, the company was started just over four years ago and has been providing small businesses with many options that previously were considered the domain of big business.

BatchBlue offers consulting services and original software development. "Many small business owners know how to run their own business, but they don't know how to manage all the technology. That's what we do -- we manage the tech so small business can focus on their business," Riggen-Ransom said

As part of the company’s software offering for small business, Batchbook social CRM lets you manage all your contacts and address books, see who your colleagues have spoken with, track sales, leads deals and more. 

Of course one of the newest features is the social integration that allows businesses to keep track of all social conversations taking place on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The Batchbook social media integration is built-in so you can access the social functionality right from your CRM dashboard for better workflow.

Batchbook; small business CRM; social CRM
Batchbook Small Business CRM

Batchbook: Small Business CRM is available on a pay-as-you-go monthly subscription. Pricing starts at $14.95 per person up to $149.95/month for 50 people. Each account is available for a free 30-day trial period.

3.  ContactMe: CRM for Small and Micro Businesses

Another small business CRM option to consider is ContactMe, which was developed with the needs of the small and micro business in mind.  ContactMe feels like a tool designed for individuals and very small businesses -- not a "stripped down" enterprise application. It has a modern interface that anyone who has logged into Gmail or Facebook would be familiar with.

ContactMe offers a number of tools and features, but not so many that you or your employees get lost in a myriad of tabs and reports. Using ContactMe you can create, add and edit contacts; attach notes and email messages to contacts; and manage tasks such as meetings or phone briefs. There is also a full calendar function and access to pre-defined sales and business reports.

ContactMe; small business CRM; social CRM
ContactMe for CRM for Small and Micro Businesses

An important aspect of ContactMe is the sales lead buttons and forms. You can create the forms and display the ContactMe button on any of your websites and on some social networking sites, like Facebook.

When potential customers send you a message using the forms, the leads are automatically added to your ContactMe contact list -- removing the need to manually transfer new contact information to the small business CRM system.

ContactMe is free for individuals. This is the Standard version, and it offers ContactMe Buttons and Forms for unlimited contacts and groups. The Biz Pro version includes these features plus Notes, Attachments Calendar, Tasks, Reminders, Mobile Apps and Stats for $7.42 per month with additional savings offered on a one-year subscription.  A free 14-day trial is available on the ContactMe website.

More Small Business CRM Software Tips

From beginner guides to expert tips, our selection of small business CRM tips and articles can help you to better manage your small business.

Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.

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This article was originally published on Monday Apr 18th 2011
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