The Top 10 CRMs for Marketing & Design Firms: The Right Tools to Streamline Success

Elizabeth Lockwood

Running a successful marketing and design firm is a lot of work. You’ve got clients to serve, in-house staff to manage, customer audiences to understand, marketing collateral to design and create, and so much more. A single tool can help bring all those moving parts together and make it simpler and easier to manage all the elements required for growth and success: a CRM.

CRM stands for customer relationship management platform. These are powerful tools that offer wide-ranging capabilities designed to improve communication and collaboration, make it easier to handle all your data, boost client satisfaction and encourage referrals, and hold onto those clients for as long as possible. It should also offer some practical capabilities, such as making it simpler to track email, SMS, and Facebook ad campaigns, integrate with Google Suite, make it easy to segment your client list and create collateral/communication that converts.

Of course, marketing and design firms come in all shapes and sizes, and each has unique requirements. The same CRM that works for a Fortune 500, enterprise-level agency is unlikely to deliver the benefits and features required by a scrappy, small firm that’s making waves and breaking conventions. The good news is that CRMs come in many different flavors and there’s one out there that’s ideally suited to your specific needs and requirements both today and down the road.

Achieving success in today’s ultra-competitive world requires more than just the right CRM, though. It requires being available when your clients need you, whenever that might be – our live receptionists are available 24/7 to ensure that happens. It also means being flexible and adaptable when it comes to changing communication technologies. Today, more and more people are using chat services like Facebook Messenger to reach out to the companies they do business with, and our Facebook message answering service ensures you capture every lead

We’ve explored the options available to you and assembled a list of the top 10 CRMs for marketing and design firms, with an eye for the features and capabilities that matter most to your business. Plus, most of them integrate fully with Smith.ai virtual receptionist services for even more benefits. Explore the options and decide which one is perfect for your needs.

HubSpot logo

1. HubSpot

We’ll start with one of the major (and most cost-effective) CRMs out there – HubSpot. It’s free to use, but also has paid options for agencies that want to bump up their tool’s capabilities. However, even the free version delivers critical capabilities and benefits that speak directly to your needs and challenges. 

One of the most interesting things about HubSpot’s CRM is its modularity. There are specific modules for customer service, marketing, sales, and more. There are also additional add-ons that offer extra value and functionality if you want it. It’s no wonder this platform is used by world-class brands like Coca-Cola and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), as well as startups and entrepreneurs. Some of the most important features and benefits on offer here include the following:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $45 per month
  • Powerful segmentation tools
  • Ad retargeting
  • Modular design allows you to customize your CRM
  • Powerful sales software to close more deals
  • Deliver better client services at all touchpoints
  • Custom/advanced reporting
Copper logo

2. Copper

Copper might be one of the best-kept secrets in the CRM world. While it doesn’t have the brand familiarity that HubSpot does, Copper still manages to deliver plenty of clout. It’s also used by some of the top creative agencies in the world and provides lots of out-of-the-box functionality to accelerate your success.

Copper was designed specifically for integration with the G Suite and it is completely cloud-based. That offers immense flexibility and ease of access, plus foolproof integration with the tools your agency already uses, including Google Analytics. Organization, up-to-the-minute insights from real-time data, deal-tracking capabilities, task automation – the sky’s the limit here. You’ll also find three pricing tiers to customize your capabilities to your budget. 

Some of the key features to know with Copper include the following:

  • Free Option? No, but there is a 14-day free trial
  • Price: $25 per month
  • Chrome and G Suite integration
  • Team collaboration tools
  • Workflow automation
  • Contact enrichment capabilities
  • Sales forecasting and goal tracking
  • Bulk email capabilities with templates
Agile CRM logo

3. Agile CRM

Designed for sales and marketing agencies and easily adaptable for creative agency needs, Agile CRM ranks as one of our top picks for many different reasons. It’s lightweight yet powerful, flexible yet robust, and provides an all-in-one CRM solution that’s well-suited to startups and SMBs. You’ll also love Agile CRM’s cloud-based nature that ensures you can access it from any Internet-connected device. There’s even an Agile CRM Chrome extension to help you do more right from your Internet browser. 

A quick dip into Agile CRM’s capabilities highlights its versatility. Your sales team benefits from contact management, appointment scheduling, deal tracking, and project management capabilities. Marketing automation, social tools, email tracking, mobile and email marketing, and landing page building tools amp up the benefits for your marketing team. Agile CRM also offers plenty of client service tools, and it integrates with Google Apps, the big three social media platforms, and even RingCentral for telephony needs.

Some of the key considerations with Agile CRM include:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $8.99 per month when purchasing 2 years at a time
  • Single-page contact management capabilities
  • Track deal stages and milestones
  • Integrated appointment scheduling
  • Drag and drop marketing collateral designer
  • Social integration
  • Email and mobile marketing capabilities
Monday.com logo

4. Monday.com

It’s time to change the paradigm for the most hated day of the week. Monday.com is a unique solution with something to offer virtually any need, including a powerful CRM that promises a full suite of features, yet easy setup and use. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this CRM is that you can essentially build the platform that you need with only the features you want. It’s ultra-modular and offers industry-specific templates, powerful integrations, custom automations, and the ability to drag and drop what you want, where you want it. 

You’ll find several benefits here, including the ability to visualize sales pipelines, centralize all your data, manage contacts, documents, and tasks in a single place, track clients across their entire history with your agency, and so much more. Monday.com also integrates with the tools you already use, such as Gmail, MailChimp, Facebook, Salesforce, and more. Key features of this CRM include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: $7.80 per month per user
  • Customizable contact cards
  • Unlimited sales pipelines
  • Powerful but flexible account management tools
  • Centralized marketing operations
  • Customizable dashboards
  • Automate workflows
Salesforce logo

5. Salesforce

Another major player in the CRM game, Salesforce provides plenty of benefits, although it might be overkill for smaller, more agile agencies. With that being said, there are plenty of perks available with this platform, including the ability to help your agency focus on leveraging the value of your data and meeting client needs through unique combinations of technology and creativity.

Salesforce focuses on helping build relationships with tools like Email Studio, Customer 360 Audiences, a unique 1-to-1 customer journey builder, Mobile Studio, Social Studio, and more. This platform helps you bring together both sides of your business – client services and customer relationship management – into a single, cohesive whole. Notable features with Salesforce include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: Custom
  • The modular framework supports customization
  • Powerful analytics to leverage your agency’s data
  • A central location for all activities, from email marketing to client interaction
  • Powerful integrations with the tools you already use
  • Specific apps and tools for each stage of the client journey
Freshworks logo

6. Freshworks CRM

Freshworks CRM (previously known as Freshsales) offers plenty of features to love and lots of mission-critical capabilities. It delivers a single platform for lead collection, management, and monitoring, as well as customizable email marketing capabilities to stay front and center in your clients’ minds. 

Additionally, Freshworks brings other capabilities to the table. For instance, powerful social integrations support social listening and better brand management. It also provides the means to streamline all your client communications in one place, automate repetitive work, and improve collaboration between team members.

Features of note with Freshworks CRM include:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $15 per user per month
  • Unify client experience
  • Improve employee productivity and collaboration
  • Deal management and tracking
  • Track page visits and actions
  • Create custom activities and define their outcomes
  • Automate workflows
Insightly logo

7. Insightly

If you’re looking for a solid CRM for a startup or medium-sized marketing and design agency, consider what Insightly brings to the table. Lightweight yet powerful, it promises a unified CRM platform designed to align project, marketing, and sales teams and drive growth and success. 

Insightly empowers marketing teams by allowing you to create engaging customer journeys and expand your pipeline. It also integrates with the apps you already use, allows you to convert deals into projects and then track them granularly, and centralizes all of your customer data in a single place so it’s easier to access and manage.

Some of the features to consider when it comes to Insightly include the following:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: $49 per user per month
  • Powerful lead management features
  • Mass emailing
  • Customizable sales processes
  • Integrated project management
  • Cross-company collaboration
  • Process automation
Podio logo

8. Podio

Powered by Citrix, Podio promises the ability to “track leads, manage customer relationships, and organize your sales team in one place.” This CRM is flexible and easy to use, making it well-suited for small and medium-sized agencies. However, larger agencies might find it too limiting.

Podio provides plenty of capabilities, though, including team collaboration, deal tracking and conversion, and complete customer journey management tools. One thing that makes Podio stand out from other options on the market is that it is completely customizable and scalable, so your agency always has a CRM that fits like a glove. Features of note with Podio include the following:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $7.20
  • Integrates with apps you already use
  • Task management and workflow automation
  • Mobile app available
  • Visual reporting
  • Interactive sales dashboards
Pipedrive logo

9. Pipedrive

Designed primarily for businesses that offer activity-based selling, Pipedrive is a worthy contender for your CRM needs. According to the company, Pipedrive is “designed to keep you selling; when you need to stay laser-focused on the right deals, Pipedrive is here to support you”. 

It does that by providing a powerful range of features that are well suited to startups and SMBs, including lead and deal tracking/management, communication tracking across all channels, visual reporting, workflow automation, and more. However, the CRM is also useful for larger organizations, and you’ll find companies like Vimeo and Re/Max using it. Features to consider with Pipedrive include:

  • Free option? No, but there is a free trial
  • Price: $12.50 per user per month
  • Deal management
  • Customizable pipelines
  • Data merge
  • Two-way email sync
  • Workflow automation
  • Deal and activity reporting
  • Visual reporting
  • Mobile app
Funnel logo


10. Funnel CRM

Funnel CRM was purpose-built for creative agencies, which makes it a strong contender. It was also designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind, yet it manages to deliver on that promise without sacrificing functionality or performance. The platform promises, “never miss closing a deal, or following p with a customer again”, and it aims to fulfill that promise through innovative features.

This CRM features an integrated form builder, as well as the means to code your own forms. You can also use a catch-all email address instead of forms. Deal tracking is high on the list of capabilities, and the platform makes it easy to grow and maintain your customer database, too. It integrates with Gmail provides an integrated proposals tool, and helps your team manage and monitor tasks and activities. Features of note include:

  • Free option? No, but there is a 14-day free trial
  • Price: $10 per month
  • Custom website forms
  • Catch-all email address
  • Task and activity monitoring 
  • Easy Gmail integration
  • Track, manage and close more deals
  • Create professional proposals

Do more with Smith.ai

Whether you’re a startup agency or you helm a growing marketing and design firm, there’s a CRM out there that will fit your needs today and down the road. At Smith.ai, we’re also proud to help you expand on the capabilities of your CRM. We integrate directly with many of the options included in our top 10 list, and our live receptionist services ensure that you never miss a call, no matter what time of the day or night it comes through. Of course, we’re also happy to provide other critical services to accelerate your growth and success, including live chat to capture website leads 24/7.

Isn’t it time to supercharge your success? Get in touch with us at (650) 727-6484. Alternatively, you can drop us an email, or schedule your Free Consultation to learn more about our services.

Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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