Relax, this is NOT a generic listicle showing you the same 5 best CRM brands you’ve checked out already. The CRM tools below have been chosen as the best CRM software for marketing agencies.
As a marketing agency owner for almost two decades, I’m probably more qualified than most writers when it comes to the subject of agency CRM software. Over the last few years, I’ve tried and tested ALL the CRM tools on this list and countless others.
Before we jump into the list below, I wanted to explain why the larger industry names are missing from this list.
Salesforce, Zoho CRM and Sugar CRM are all giants in the software industry and would all work perfectly well for marketing agencies. All of them, however, leave the agency owner with yet another silo of information to connect to additional tools. So although this post is titled the “Best CRM for marketing agencies“, in reality, it goes much further.
The tools listed here are all powerful CRMs for marketing agencies, with additional functionality best suited to agencies’ business processes.
The term customer relationship management software is confusing name when you consider that most CRMs are solely focused on selling a product or service to a NEW customer. Almost the entire focus is around moving a lead through a sales funnel and tracking activity and producing sales metrics to measure sales rep performance.
Ironically at the point in which the prospect becomes a customer, most CRMs drop the ball. This is perfectly fine for a business which is selling consistently to new customers and has no ongoing customer relationship management, beyond sending an occasional email.
Marketing agencies don’t have that luxury. The real work of the marketing agency begins once the sale has been made. This is why the CRM platforms on this list are very different to a regular CRM shortlist.
There are 5 key features that the very best CRM for marketing agencies should include:
Sales & Marketing – Does the software allow you to capture sales leads from a web page? Can the leads be nurtured through the sales funnel automatically? Can you easily track the progress of your prospects through your sales funnel and accurately report on each stage? Are you able to measure sales team performance and accurately forecast future sales? Can you securely store customer data and allow access to your entire team?
Customer Support – Are you able to easily see historic customer conversations? Can you deliver live chat support via your website? Can customer issues be easily escalated and viewed by management? Can support times and feedback be reported and measured by management to ensure customer relationships are strengthened over time?
Project Management – Can projects be planned efficiently? Can work be broken down into manageable tasks? Can delays and bottlenecks be easily identified and addressed?
Resource Planning & Tracking – Can progress be easily measured? Can milestones be set and shared with clients? Can resources be monitored and reported on?
Billing & Reporting – Can billing be connected to projects and billable hours? Can client payment histories be shared with sales and marketing? Can debtors be highlighted easily to reduce risk? Can company performance be reported transparently across the organization?
The 8 Best CRM Software for Marketing Agencies
Here’s our shortlist of the 8 best agency CRM systems most suited to managing your agency’s customer relationships.
OK, so Hubspot CRM isn’t a tool specifically designed for marketing agencies to use. That said the software has some powerful features which are perfect for agencies.
Hubspot as founded way back in 2006, but didn’t introduce its CRM software until 2014. The core of the Hubspot software suite is its marketing platform. Essentially this is a more marketing-centric version of WordPress.
The platform allows you to build entire websites or be used purely as a blog and landing page tool. What makes it so useful for agencies is the focus is very much on lead generation rather than e-commerce. The platform is really one huge lead-capture tool!
If Hubspot has one problem, it’s price. Although the CRM is touted as FREE (and it really is free), the real power in their software comes when you connect the CRM to their website platform and their customer support software.
If you’re happy running the software in isolation (not something I’d recommend) or have growth plans that are in line with their pricing structure, then Hubspot is a fantastic product that can grow with your marketing agency.
Similar to Hubspot, Monday wasn’t specifically designed to support marketing agencies. When monday.com launched back in 2014 the software was promoted as a project management tool and shared a lot of the key features you’d find in tools like asana and trello.
Where Monday differs from other CRM tools, however, is in its flexibility. On the back of the no-code revolution, Monday quickly established itself as one of the most powerful flexible tools in the market.
Think of Monday as CRM software lego, and you’re not far wrong. You can connect Monday to a range of tools and have it sit at the centre of your agency as the one “source of truth”
At this point, a lot of agency owners will be thinking, oh, the last thing I need is a software project for me to manage and workflows for me to map out. Don’t worry, Monday realised not everyone has the time or inclination to play with lego software. To help business owners, they have a range of pre-built workflow templates like this to help you get started.
The great thing about Monday is its flexibility. If you’re more concerned about workflows and project management than sales metrics, this is a great tool. You can track leads, track tasks and even customise it to handle customer support at a basic level.
Productive is a marketing agency CRM tool that goes beyond sales and marketing and aims to help manage your entire business. Founded 8 years ago, Productive software (such a great name) aims to manage the entire life cycle of your clients.
You can track deal flows through your sales funnel. Track projects, and budgets. See what hours are being used by who on your team, and on what projects.
Pitched as End-to-end agency management productive is looking to become your one system, and perhaps what to some is seen as a strength, could be seen by others as a weakness.
I started off this post talking about the power of unified systems, but its worth caveating that dream. As great as it can be to have all your systems under one brand and talking to each other seamlessly. It comes with a couple of potential issues.
Firstly does the brand have longevity. Will it be here in 10 years time? Basically, if you put all your eggs into their basket, will the basket be safe for years to come?
Secondly, the jack of all trades, master of none issue, can raise its head. This comes down to personal preference. You may not value the CRM-specific reporting and customisation above the value of a fully integrated suite of tools that requires less management (it just works as it should!)
Productive offer a free CRM trial, making taking it for a test drive a no-brainer!
Founded in 2011 Accello is another software suite that aims to do much more than simply act as crm software for your agency.
Although CRM software supports a growing range of industries, they started out life as a marketing agency, that built a toolset to manage its own operations. This fact alone makes them a serious contender for the top spot on your list of best CRM software for your marketing agency!
Pitched as the client work management platform (a bit of a mouthful, admittedly), the goal of Accelo is to manage the entire lifecycle of your clients, even down to the billing!
Accelo has perhaps the most comprehensive range of tools in this list when it comes to managing an agency. Not only can you track sales, but you can also even manage retainer billing and link it to product catalogues and support tickets. To say it’s comprehensive is really not doing them justice. You can clearly see the people behind this product really understand the agency model and the pain points agency owners are experiencing with other tools in the market.
OK, so this is the one for you, right? No need to look any further! Not so fast. Take a breath. Yes, Accelo is an incredible tool. It does have its own issues, however.
Firstly it’s not cheap. If you’re paying monthly, then you’re looking at $30 per month per user. If you’re looking for the best CRM software to just manage your sales process, and you’ve got a couple of salespeople on your team, then the cost is manageable. But you need to bare in mind that’s not really the goal of accelo. It aims to become your one system. That means that literally, everyone in your business will need a user profile. Suddenly that user per month bill shoots up.
Secondly, and this isn’t an Accelo-specific issue, unified systems create a lot of disruption. They inevitably solve one team’s problem, whilst at the same time causing headaches for other teams in your business. Let’s just say, accountants, don’t generally like change, and leave it there….
Let’s just start by saying Workamajig isn’t cheap. Starting at $50 a user per month, it’s right at the top of the food chain when it comes to agency CRM software.
Founded in 2008, Workamajig is one of the most established best CRM providers in this list. And when I say best CRM, I really mean a suite of tools that work together in a similar way to Accelo and Productive.io
The core strengths of Workamajig lie in its process management. Yes, they have a sales and marketing toolset, but the real reason to choose Workamajig is for the stages after the sale is made.
If you operate a remote or hybrid agency, then this process and workflow management could be a much more important feature than having the latest sales metrics and a pretty mobile app.
Cosmetically it’s not the prettiest software on the market, but what it lacks for in shiny new features, it makes up for in robust process management. Specifically, its document storage and version control stood out from the rest, alongside its billing functionality and resource management.
Workamajig has amassed an impressive client roster over the years, which is a testament to the company’s work in developing and supporting its tool since 2008. You can watch client case studies here to get more of a feel as to how other marketing agencies are using the system.
Founded in 2013 Scoro CRM software provides what it calls, end-to-end workflow management in the form of marketing agency management software.
Marketing agency management software, as we’ve already discussed, offers a much broader range of tools and features than generic CRM software.
Similar to Workamajig, Scoro core strength lies in its project management tools, rather than comprehensive sales and marketing systems. That’s not to say the system isn’t fit for purpose when it comes to sales teams. Scoro just falls a little short when compared to some of the other tools on this list (specifically Keap and Hubspot) when it comes to sales focus.
If you’re looking for the best CRM software to handle daily task management well then, Scoro could be the right fit for your business. What it lacks in sales focus and user interface it more than makes up for in robust workflow and task management
At half the price of some of its main competitors (yes, Workamajig, we’re talking about you) and offering a comprehensive suite of tools focussed on agency management, Scoro should definitely be on your short list of best CRMs for marketing agencies.
Formally known as Infusionsoft, Keap is the most established brand on our list. Founded in 2001, they are the grandaddy of CRM tools.
Right away, if you’re looking for a tool which can handle your marketing agency workflows beyond sales and marketing, then Keap probably isn’t for you. Or rather, it will require bolt-on integrations to other tools in order to give you that end-to-end customer relationship management. If you want it all under one roof, then you can ignore Keap and move on.
If you’re a more sales and marketing focussed business, then Keap will probably blow your mind when it comes to lead capture, management and deal flow, not to mention workflow automation.
Keap is, without doubt the most sales and marketing-centric software tool I’ve tested over the years. They live and breathe sales. Don’t believe me, a 2 min visit to their website will quickly show you what I mean.
When it comes to best CRM for marketing agencies Keap, Hubspot and go high level should all be grouped together in regard to their attention on lead capture. If you’re looking for a tool that allows you to easily build compelling landing pages and sales funnels for your business, then Keap is probably top of the list.
Capturing leads and then automating follow-ups and drip marketing campaigns is where Keap really shines. Their methods are extremely effective, but if you’re not a fan of Clickfunnels style methodology or highly automated sales processes in general, then Keap probably isn’t for you.
Another drawback of their software is the price. They come out right at the top of most lists when it comes to cost. This is because they focus on pricing around leads and contacts (similar to Hubspot). All their pricing literature will argue that their workflow automation saves your business a fortune, so the monthly software cost is fractional in comparison. All of which is true, if one of the key features you’re looking for in your software is sales and marketing automation and you have high lead volumes that warrant the cost. If however, you operate a marketing agency that focuses on high ticket sales and low volume leads, then it’s unlikely that keap will be the right fit.
Go High Level CRM
Founded in 2018, Go High Level is a relative newcomer to this list of best CRMs for marketing agencies. Don’t let its relative youth put you off, the business has been growing like crazy the last few years and has secured more than $60M in funding along the way, so they’re clearly doing something right!
Similar to Keap and Hubspot, Go High Level has a very heavy slant towards lead capture and nurturing, and leaves the workflow and project management for other tools to focus on.
The company was founded by Sean Clark, who has a very sales team focussed background, and this really shines through in their software design.
Go High Level has a couple of fairly unique features that make their CRM platform worth a closer look.
Firstly they offer a white-label version of their CRM that they actively encourage their customers to resell under their own brands. This isn’t something I’ve seen before in the marketplace. Depending on the type of agency you operate, this could make for a compelling reason to utilise their software over others.
Secondly, they offer probably the most unified messaging platform in this list. Their CRM software allows you to email or text prospects and customers through a range of automation designed to nurture leads through your sales funnel. This area it shares a lot of the characteristics of Keap.
If you’re familiar with tools like Clickfunnels that follow a fairly aggressive email (perhaps to strong a term) automated nurturing sequences, then Go High Level shares many of the same features. Again, this tool suits an agency with a more sales-centric approach to business and lacks any of the customer service tools that the more comprehensive platforms like Accello, productive and Workamajig include.
When it comes to recommending software, or for that matter, anything in life, we all want that definitive recommendation. Unfortunately, that’s an impossible task when it comes to business software. Each marketing agency has slight differences that make one tool’s features more suited than the next. The size of the team, technical capability and budget all contribute to what makes the best CRM platform for your agency.
In my summary below, I’ve broken the 8 agency CRM tools into 3 types to help you make the right choice for your agency’s needs. Best value, most flexible and most complete CRM platform.
One final note is that most of these tools offer either a free trial or, in some cases, an entirely free tier of service that allows you to test their CRM software for yourself. This is something I highly recommend you take advantage of before signing up for a CRM platform. Not only can you test the CRM software itself, but you can also put their software support team through their paces as well!
Best Value CRM for Marketing Agencies – Productive.io
Most Flexible CRMs for Marketing Agencies – Monday.com
Most Complete CRM for Marketing Agencies – Accelo.com