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Insightly Review: Best CRM Software for Very Small Businesses

Insightly Review: Best CRM Software for Very Small Businesses
Credit: Insightly

After much research and analysis of customer relationship management (CRM) software, we recommend Insightly as the best CRM software for really small businesses. We chose Insightly from dozens of CRM software options. To understand how we chose Insightly, you can find our methodology and a list of CRM software vendors on our best picks page.

Insightly is an easy-to-use, feature-rich CRM software that won't break the bank. There's a free plan that will suit even the smallest of businesses, and paid plans start at $12 per month. Insightly comes with all the time-saving CRM capabilities a microbusiness requires, such as contact management, project management, opportunity management and detailed sales reports, all in a single solution. But it can also be scaled to meet your needs as your business grows. And because it is a cloud-based CRM software, you can access your data anytime, anywhere, even from mobile devices.

Editor's Note: Looking for CRM software for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Best price

When you start your search for CRM software, you'll immediately notice how expensive most solutions can be. Of the CRM software we researched, Insightly had the best price for the features offered.

For microbusinesses that require only the most basic, minimal features, Insightly offers a free plan that lets you store 2,500 records and onboard up to three users. If you need more functionality, full-featured plans start at $12 per month per user. When we spoke to small business owners who use Insightly, they said one of the reasons they chose it is because it costs a fraction of the price of other CRM software. 

Although many CRM software products offer similarly affordable subscriptions, they limit features, users or both, so you end up paying more for what you need. But Insightly's base plan isn't limited to just base features; it includes unlimited storage, custom branding, third-party integrations, one-on-one help, priority customer support and more. It also comes with an unlimited number of users for the same monthly rate, whereas other CRM software requires you to purchase more expensive premium plans to add on more users than the packages allow. 

Note that the cheapest Insightly plan accommodates 100,000 records. This is generally enough for most microbusinesses, but if you find that you need more than that as your business expands, simply contact sales to upgrade to a plan that fits your needs. 

Very small businesses don't have the time to deal with technically complicated CRM software, or the resources to implement lengthy training programs. What makes Insightly especially microbusiness-friendly is that it offers a very simple, easy to use interface, even for the least tech-savvy employee. 

When we first logged in to Insightly, we immediately liked its clean and intuitive dashboard. We could easily find the different functions of the software using the left sidebar navigation, which is divided into eight key sections: Home, Tasks, Contacts, Organizations, Opportunities, Projects, Emails and Reports. 

The sections are just as easy to navigate. Items like tasks, contacts, organizations, opportunities and projects are laid out in a simple list, and you can easily add new items by clicking on the New button. There is also a sidebar on the right that allows you to quickly perform tasks such as filtering items by tags; accessing reports; and adding, importing and exporting content. 

There was one feature that we thought made the software especially easy to use: At the very top of each section, you'll see a toolbar that helps you find what you need — fast. Using this toolbar, you can quickly find items just by typing a few letters into the search bar, as well as filter and sort items with just a couple of clicks.

Although we found Insightly to be super easy to use, we also know that issues won't always present themselves until employees are on board. When we contacted Insightly, we expressed our concern about training employees on using the software. The rep reassured us that Insightly does have its own Insightly End User Training program, which is designed specifically for small business users. The program lasts only one day, so it won't take much of your time. For your convenience, you can choose between taking the online version of the class or attending an in-person session.

To test Insightly yourself, sign up for free account.

Just because you're a microbusiness doesn't mean you can afford to waste time micromanaging. The best CRM software for really small businesses offers enough automated features where they really matter, so you can spend more time growing your company and less time managing daily minutiae. 

Here are five ways small business owners said Insightly helps them to save time and to focus more on their businesses:

Contact management. Insightly saves you time by giving you instant access to everything you need to know about contacts and by automating your address book. The software stores basic information like phone numbers, email and physical addresses, but also gives you a comprehensive view of each contact, with background data, communication histories, important dates, and opportunities and deals they are associated with. You can also tag contacts, add additional information using custom fields and notes, and link contacts to projects and other contacts. Additionally, Insightly automatically saves contact information from email correspondence, mailing lists, Web forms and other sources of data.

Project management. One feature small business owners said they love most about Insightly is its project management capability. They said the software helps them save time by providing an automated, one-stop shop for managing tasks, events and projects, eliminating the need to use multiple solutions. Project management features include task, pipeline and email tracking; detailed project reporting (such as daily progress reports); automatic deadline reminders via email; and the ability to create and measure milestones. You can also link projects to contacts and team members for fast, easy reference. 

Business management. Skip extra steps and manage your business right from your dashboard. You can view real-time data and reports, create and track tasks, review milestones and opportunities, view calendars and future deadlines, and more. Additionally, Insightly lets you set automated activities and background processes, so you don't have to waste time manually performing repetitive tasks. 

Social CRM. Insightly can gather social media data — such as usernames and recent posts and activities — and automatically add them to each contact's profile. This way, you don't have to spend time scouring different platforms to find where your customers are active online and see what they are saying about your business or whether they are looking for your products and services. The company says it works with most social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, Klout, Picasa and "virtually any social channel" where a contact has an account.

Mobile CRM. Get access to your CRM wherever you are from your smartphone or tablet. Insightly's mobile website, iOS app and Android app let you perform a wide range of tasks, such as accessing your contacts, creating activities and tracking projects.

As a microbusiness, you likely rely on several apps and services to run your company. One of the biggest benefits to using Insightly is that it integrates with more than a dozen small business solutions so that your CRM works with the rest of your operations. 

Here are some examples of how these integrations can save you time and help your business:

  • Gmail. Use the Insightly gadget to automatically save any Gmail email into your CRM and link it to contacts and projects. These emails can also be searched and indexed within the Insightly platform for easy, fast access. 
  • Google Apps. Automatically sync Insightly contacts with Google Contacts, and sync Insightly Events, Tasks and Milestones with Google Calendar.
  • Google Drive. Access Google Drive without leaving Insightly. You can also attach Google Drive files to contacts, organizations, projects and other relevant parts of the software. 
  • Outlook and Office 365. Similar to Gmail and Google Apps, Insightly integrates with Outlook and Office 365 so you can automatically save email conversations into contacts and projects, create tasks, and sync contacts and calendar items right into your CRM. 
  • QuickBooks Online. Link your QuickBooks Online account and do your accounting straight from the Insightly dashboard. This integration lets you access invoices, payment statuses and payment histories, then syncs any changes automatically to prevent any double entries. 

Insightly also integrates with cloud-storage and file-sharing services Box and Dropbox, sales and marketing automation app Brandizi, email marketing solution Mailchimp, customer support platform Support Bee, time-tracking and invoicing tool Timecamp, and task-automation app Zapier. 

Additionally, if you need a more customized solution as your business grows, the Insightly API lets developers integrate the software with apps that aren't natively supported by Insightly.

Find out if the solutions you use are compatible with Insightly here

Besides its features, one of the reasons small business owners love Insightly is its customer support. Insightly's customer service reps were described as responsive and eager to help, which we found was true when we contacted them ourselves. The sales rep we spoke with was attentive and made sure we got answers to all of our questions. Compared to calls we made to other CRM vendors, we were at ease because we felt as though the rep was helping a customer rather than pushing for a sale.

Furthermore, unlike many CRM software products we researched, Insightly's contact information can be easily found throughout the company's website. There are also several ways to get a hold of a real, live person at Insightly: You can email the company at sales@insightly.com, submit a help ticket, fill out a contact form for a call back within 24 hours or call the company directly using its toll-free number. 

If you need help getting started with and using Insightly, the company also offers a Getting Started Guide, recorded and live webinars, tutorial videos, and on online knowledge base at the Insightly Resources page

When we spoke to small business owners who used Insightly, we came across one major limitation with the software: its reporting capabilities. Users said that there are a very limited number of customizable reports. While other CRM software products let you run reports using all types of categories and metrics, Insightly's reporting tools are centered on opportunities and pipelines. Some business owners said they would like to be able to run customizable reports on projects, tasks, events, clients and other functions of the software.

To give you a better idea of this limitation, here are the nine types of reports that Insightly offers:

  • Opportunity category breakdown. Graph the number of opportunities you have using a donut chart. Opportunities can be filtered by forecast dates, pipelines, users, currency and other categories.
  • Reasons for losing opportunities. Pinpoint the main reasons you're losing business. Lost opportunities are graphed using pre-set reasons for a given criteria.
  • Opportunity pipeline stage distribution. See where opportunities are in your pipeline, such as whether they are in the early stages or near closing based on forecast close dates. 
  • Opportunity funnel analysis. Find out how many opportunities are at each stage of your pipeline.
  • Opportunities by responsible user. Identify your top performers, such as who closed the most opportunities and who generated the most revenue for your business. 
  • Opportunities by organization. See which clients are giving you the most revenue and opportunities. These can be filtered by pipeline, opportunity, tags and other categories.
  • Opportunities custom field report. Create opportunity reports based on user-set fields. 
  • Total incoming opportunities. Determine how many opportunities your team generated for a certain time period, for instance, on a monthly basis for the last year. 
  • Value of opportunities won. Discover who the most and least successful members of your sales team are based on opportunities and total revenue at any given time period.
  • Completed tasks and events. Measure your team's productivity. Find out who completed the most tasks at a given period; which clients, projects and opportunities resulted in the most calls, emails and meetings — and which took the most work and time; whether tasks were completed by deadline; and much more. 

For many microbusinesses, these nine reports are likely more than enough. But if you anticipate that you'll need more data than these — or wish to further customize your reports — Insightly may not be the CRM software for your small business.

Ready to choose a CRM software? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's Note: Looking for CRM software for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Sara Angeles
Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.