Best CRM for Email Marketing: Increase Sales with Automated Campaigns

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When it comes to email marketing CRM tools, our recommendation for small business is Keap. Its sophisticated lead segmentation combines with an email design editor for reliable automated outreach. It's not the cheapest, however, so keep reading if you're looking for a more affordable solution.

What Are the Best Email Marketing CRMs?

These are the providers we recommend based on our research. Clicking on the links will take you to the provider's website or to the review further down this page.

  1. Keap – Best Overall Email Marketing CRM
  2. Freshmarketer – Best Email Marketing CRM for Automations
  3. Act! – Best for Ease of Use
  4. HubSpot – Best Integrated Email CRM

You may have already weighed up the most popular CRM systems, and now you're looking to focus on an email-specific solution. Here are the main factors you need to consider when choosing a product:

  • The price needs to be within your budget
  • Automation should be the right level of complexity for your business model
  • Email design ideally includes templates you can customize
  • Limits on the number of contacts and emails you can send per month

Each of the above are very specific to the exact nature of your business, so you should carefully consider your priorities. In this article, we've assessed the best CRM for email marketing according to how well it supports the essential lead nurturing process. Our expert research includes first-hand testing of each product, an assessment of value for money, and direct comparisons with similar products.

screenshot from hubspot shows lefthand text editing menu of options. Right hand side shows workspace area with a marketing email and personalization elements
HubSpot's free tool enables you to create marketing campaigns with personalized emails.

What Is an Email Marketing CRM?

An email marketing CRM is a database tool with email marketing automations enabling you to engage new and existing customers. The software replaces the need to write up individual emails and send them at the exact right moments to clients, partners, and leads in your database. You can set the CRM system to deliver emails triggered by certain customer actions or calendar dates, use templates to design marketing campaigns, and carry out A/B testing to optimize open rates.

Benefits of Email Marketing CRM

These tools are huge time savers because they save on manual tasks like sending emails at certain times. Email CRMs for small businesses enable your account managers to work in a connected way. Here are the other benefits:

  • Loyalty: Improved customer retention
  • Remarketing: Boosted customer lifetime value
  • Branding: Long-term growth for your business
  • Data: Understanding how customers interact with your email content
  • Efficiency: Execute segmented campaigns based on customer preferences
  • Testing: Learn what conversion techniques successfully drive sales
  • Feedback: Carry out customer satisfaction surveys at scale
  • Cost: Save on the phone bill by automating the customer onboarding process
  • Traffic: Boost visitors to certain pages on your website with links to your content
  • Security: Block malware and protect data
  • Cleaning: Eliminate duplicate data with contact merging
  • Compliance: Automate opt-out and ensure you're acting in line with regulations
  • Division: Ensure junior staff cannot access certain client data

Keap – Best Overall Email Marketing CRM

Keap Logo
Keap
Pricing $159-$299 per month
Who it's best for

Keap is a great CRM system, yet it's a more expensive option than most, and therefore an investment best suited to scaling business operations. Marketing and sales managers in industries such as fast-moving consumer goods, ecommerce, fashion retail, professional services, insurance, and technical or support services will benefit from a Keap subscription.

Strengths

Unlimited automated workflows

Dedicated account manager

Unlimited storage

Weaknesses

Pro plan limited to two users

Limited contacts

Pricier than other plans

Pricing
PlanPrice
Pro 2 users included ($29 per additional user), 1500 contacts $159 per month (billed annually) $199 per month (billed monthly)
Max 3 users included ($29 per additional user) 2,500 contacts $229 per month (billed annually) $299 per month (billed monthly)
Ultimate 3 users included ($29 per additional user) 2,500 contacts $229 per month (billed annually) $299 per month (billed monthly)

We favour Keap for email marketing automation overall for its useful automation and lead segmentation features. While some CRM systems have email marketing tacked on as an afterthought, Keap is designed as a marketing-first tool. It allows unlimited email marketing drip campaigns, and unlike monday sales CRM, there's an email design editor for eye-catching inbox marketing.

Keap will help you to pick up on loose ends when it comes to lead nurturing, thanks to scheduled reminders and sales pipeline automations.

Keap's Email Marketing Features

  • Sync with Gmail or Outlook
  • Automatic lead segmentation based on selected criteria
  • Email templates for newsletters, broadcasts, ecommerce and more
  • Remarketing with email automation
  • A/B testing on email types
  • Campaign effectiveness reports
  • Reminders sent automatically
dashboard of a CRM shows list of automation options including actions which trigger email sends
Keap's automation library gives you ideas on time-saving sales and marketing email methods.

Keap's Additional Marketing Functionalities

  • Text message marketing ($9 per month with Pro or included with Max)
  • 100+ custom fields to store business-specific information
  • Lead scoring (Max and Max Classic plans only)
  • Calendar sync and appointment scheduling
  • Automatically request Google reviews
  • Mobile app for marketing and sales managers

Freshmarketer – Best Email Marketing CRM for Automations

Freshmarketer
Pricing $0-$359 per month
Who it's best for

Freshmarketer is ideal for ecommerce entrepreneurs (anyone who is selling online), particularly those migrating data from Shopify or WooCommerce. It's better for ambitious smaller businesses attracting customers through online channels including social media, email, and messaging apps.

Strengths

Custom workflows (quick to set up)

Contact segmentations

Clear, attractive dashboard

Marketing analytics

Weaknesses

Limited customer chatbot sessions

A/B testing costs extra

Website-triggered emails Enterprise only

Pricing
PlanPrice
Free 100 marketing contacts $0 per month $0 per month
Growth 2,000 marketing contacts $19 per month (billed annually) $23 per month (billed monthly)
Pro 5,000 marketing contacts $149 per month (billed annually) $179 per month (billed monthly)
Enterprise 10,000 marketing contacts $299 per month (billed annually) $359 per month (billed monthly)

A product under the Freshworks umbrella, Freshmarketer is the best email marketing CRM for automations thanks to its custom user journeys. You use “journey playbooks” which are basic templates that are easy to edit and amend marketing moves to suit your lead generation process.

We liked the smooth interactivity and attractive graphics of the CRM dashboard; every time you mouse over a different journey type, the section flips over to reveal the target audience and use case. That made it clear and easy to interpret.

Freshmarketer's broad range of marketing channels enables you to synch your email marketing to your wider customer outreach campaigns. It's a more comprehensive marketing toolkit than Less Annoying CRM, which lacks a built-in email client, workflow automations, and web forms.

Freshmarketer Email Marketing Features

  • Email templates (20, 100 or 500 depending on plan)
  • Different emails based on customer journey types
  • Multiple email subscription types (5, 25 or 50)
  • Timezone-based email delivery (on Pro and Enterprise plans)
  • Custom domain names for marketing emails (Pro and Enterprise plans)
  • Emails triggered by user action on website (Enterprise only)
Freshmarketer dashboard preview entitled Nurture your customers with these ready-to-use journey playbooks. Searchbar beneath and "create from scratch" button visible beside it. Send welcome email to newsletter signups MARKETING Target audience Contacts who just signed up for your newsletter. Use playbook to Confirm your contact's email and tell them what to expect. Re-engage with inactive customers MARKETING Target audience Customers who haven't been active for a while. Use playbook to Reconnect with customers and make sure they don't churn. Send welcome email to new contacts MARKETING Target audience Contacts who've just been added to the CRM. Use playbook to Start engaging with new contacts. Send auto-replies to contacts SUPPORT Target audience Contacts who've asked a question/made a request. Use playbook to Let customers know that your team will get in touch soon. Send alerts to Sales teams MARKETING Target audience Sales agents or sales team. Use playbook to Notify sales about interested leads who could be potential customers. Add hot leads to a list and notify the sales team MARKETING Target audience Leads who cross a lead scoring threshold. Use playbook to Personalize your communication for a earmarked set of hot leads. Reclaim abandoned carts through email MARKETING Target audience Contacts who should be reminded about their abandoned carts. Use playbook to Fix issues in your checkout process and increase sales. Re-engage with churned customers MARKETING Target audience Customers who no longer have an account with you/buy from you. Use playbook to Win back customers through offers and discount codes. Run customer satisfaction survey for older customers MARKETING Target audience Customer who've done business with you for some time. Use playbook to Understand what long-standing customers think about your business. Make special occasions count MARKETING Target audience Customers celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Use playbook to Send a personalized gift voucher or just greet them. Ask for feedback through email MARKETING Target audience Customers whose orders have been received. Use playbook to Get feedback when the purchase is still fresh in customer's minds. Send shipping update through email SUPPORT Target audience Customers whose orders have been shipped. Use playbook to Let customers know that their order is on the way. Run NPS survey for new customers via Email MARKETING Target audience Customers who bought from you at least 14 days ago. Use playbook to Get feedback about your product/service from new customers. Use double opt-in (Confirm subscription preference) MARKETING Target audience Customers from countries covered by GDPR. Use playbook to Confirm interest in your emails and avoid spam signups by bots. Invite contacts to webinar via Email SUPPORT Target audience Contacts who are visiting your website be interested in your product/service. Use playbook to Educate contacts about your product/service. Send reminder to renew subscription, via email SUPPORT Target audience Customers for whom refund has been initiated. Use playbook to Let customers know that they've been refunded. Send issue status to affected customers via Email SUPPORT Target audience Customers who are facing issues with their order. Use playbook to Proactively update customers on the status of their issue. Confirm refund through email SUPPORT Target audience Customers for whom refund has been initiated.
Customer journey playbooks give you inspiration for email marketing automations.

Freshmarketer Additional Marketing Functionalities

  • Marketing journey workflows which you can customize
  • Real-time customer tracking
  • WhatsApp messages triggered by certain actions
  • SMS messaging triggered by certain actions
  • Facebook, LINE, and Google Business messenger integrations
  • Shopify back-in-stock notifications
  • Data import and export
  • Chat widget with FAQs, and AI chatbot builder
More Leads, Please!

Marketing automation can increase the volume of leads for your business by 80%, according to research.

Act! – Best for Ease of Use

act!
Act!
Pricing $30-$399 per user, per month
Who it's best for

Act! is ideal for keeping sales and marketing teams organized in smaller and medium-sized businesses. Email campaign features connect with your CRM sales management system to improve deal closure rates.

Strengths

Customizable email templates

Campaign calendar view (with filters)

Real-time campaign metrics

Email surveys for data collection

Weaknesses

Phone support costs extra

A/B testing on Advanced plan only

SMS messaging costs extra

Pricing
PlanPrice
Act! Premium Cloud CRM + Marketing Automation Basic $30 per user, per month (billed annually) or $40 with desktop sync
Act! Premium Desktop CRM + Marketing Automation Basic $37.50 per user, per month (billed annually)
Marketing Automation Select Must have Cloud or Desktop CRM $79 per user, per month
Marketing Automation Complete Must have Cloud or Desktop CRM $199 per user, per month
Marketing Automation Advanced Must have Cloud or Desktop CRM $399 per user, per month

Act! marketing automation offers a common-sense tool that neatly connects your sales and marketing operations. We found its dashboard very easy to navigate, with the right amount of on-screen guidance on how to use the functions. While tools like Salesforce or HubSpot can seem overwhelming in their complexity, Act! is simple to use without being too basic.

Act! Email Marketing Features

  • Email drip marketing with multiple stages
  • 170+ email templates (not the most comprehensive or stylish but you can make your own)
  • Campaign calendar with filter views
  • Visual marketing automation workflow editor
  • Compliance tools to manage spam and delivery rates
  • Real-time campaign metrics (track clicks, opens, and compare stats)
  • Carry out polls and surveys that save customer responses in database
diagram of an automation workflow in a dashboard editor view
Automation workflows are not drag-and-drop but you can click any feature to edit it.

Act! Additional Marketing Functionalities

  • Social media campaigns
  • Landing pages with client data capture forms
  • Manage which team members have access to functions
  • Visual history of prospect engagement
  • Maps, social profiles, and other contextual contact info from the web
  • Mobile app for Apple and Android
  • Productivity dashboard to show your top deals and activities

Complete and Advanced Plans Only:

  • Marketing automations connect with sales-side actions
  • Detailed user behavior tracking (dwell time, ROI, leads generated)
  • Lead scoring from engagement behavior
  • Website activity tracking

HubSpot – Best Integrated Email CRM

HubSpot Logo
HubSpot
Pricing $18-$3,600+ per month
Who it's best for

The Marketing Hub is suitable for marketers of any experience level, as its onboarding is tailored to your level of knowledge. Certainly a vital tool for PR and brand management, plus increasing engagement with new and existing customers.

Strengths

Customizable marketing emails

Over 1,500 app integrations

Scalable

Weaknesses

Campaign comparison data only on pricier plans

Up to 10 automations on Starter plan

No phone support on Starter plan

Pricing
PlanPrice Professional and Enterprise plans: Must pay for onboarding at $3,000 or $6,000
Marketing Hub Starter 1 user, 1,000 marketing contacts $18 per month (billed annually) $20 per month (billed monthly)
CRM Suite Starter Marketing Hub Starter (1,000 marketing contacts), Sales Hub Starter (2 paid users), Service Hub Starter (2 paid users), and more From $20 per month (billed annually) From $30 per month (billed monthly)
Marketing Hub Professional 1 user, 2,000 marketing contacts $800 per month (billed annually) $890 per month (billed monthly)
Marketing Hub Enterprise 2 users, 10,000 marketing contacts $3,600 per month (billed annually) No monthly plan available

Visually appealing, with adaptable tools and paid add-ons as you need, HubSpot's Marketing Hub is best-in-class software for outreach, conversion, and customer engagement. It's the best for integrating with the rest of your software set-up, as HubSpot has over 1,500 app integrations (including MailChimp and Xero). On top of that, HubSpot offers further CRM tools for sales and customer service functions, if you're looking to add those.

Advanced marketing technology functions, including web analytics and social media integration, give you better insight into the effectiveness of your campaigns. HubSpot's automations workflows are complicated, but likely to be invaluable for sales and marketing operations at scale.

One downside, however, is that you'll only access lead scoring on the pricey Marketing Hub Enterprise package (from $3,600 per month). If this is a critical feature for your pipeline protocol, you should consider Act! Complete, a far more budget-friendly CRM at $199 per month.

HubSpot Email Marketing Features

  • Email design optimized for viewing on smartphone
  • Drag-and-drop email editor (very easy to customize and looks great)
  • Bulk email sends
  • Segment target audiences and send personalized email using automation
  • One inbox for email and live chat messages
  • Data reports to monitor targets
  • Email response tracking
screenshot from HubSpot email set-up form showing different fields for personalization and an A/B testing option
HubSpot's email automation set-up offers handy tips at each stage.

HubSpot Additional Marketing Functionalities

  • Custom data dashboards to understand your performance
  • Mobile app (iOS and Android)
  • Website traffic analytics
  • Live chat to convert website visitors
  • Retarget ads on Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn
  • Connect marketing data with sales and customer service CRM

Professional and Enterprise Plans Only:

  • A/B email and landing page testing
  • Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter integration (publish posts, monitor performance)
  • Group content together into campaigns you can track
  • Google Search Console integration
  • SEO analytics
  • Campaign performance comparison
  • WhatsApp integration

How We Test CRM Systems for Businesses

We tested 13 market-leading CRM systems to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, cost, scalability, and more so we can make the most useful recommendations to US businesses.

Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in six main categories of investigation and 13 subcategories – in fact, we covered 84 areas of investigation in total. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting' to ensure the product's final score perfectly reflects the needs and requirements of Expert Market readers – and that's our product testing algorithm in a nutshell!

Our main testing categories for CRM systems are:

Features: the functionalities and capabilities provided by the CRM software, such as contact management, lead and opportunity tracking, and task and activity management.

Help and Support: the resources and assistance available to users when they encounter issues or require guidance while using the CRM software.

Customization: the ability to tailor the CRM software to suit the specific needs and processes of the organization, e.g. customizing fields, layouts, and workflows.

Scalability: the ability of the CRM software to accommodate the growth and changing needs of the organization, such as the capacity to handle a growing customer database.

Price: the cost associated with using the CRM software. It includes factors such as licensing fees, subscription plans, and additional charges for add-on modules or features.

Team Structure – Sales CRM: determining if a platform makes it easier to manage large sales teams, including team dashboards, team hierarchies, and team inboxes.

Usability – Small Business CRM: assessing the simplicity of the interface, the ease of navigating through menus and options, and the overall user experience.

 

You Can't Beat Keap

After carefully weighing up the competitors, we champion Keap as the best email marketing CRM for your small business. Although it's not the biggest name on the market, we think it's an underrated platform that offers the right amount of automation for performance marketing campaigns.

Unlike Act! and HubSpot, you can access A/B testing on all tiers of Keap, to understand what makes your audience convert on a marketing email. The automated follow up features of Keap are a life-saver when it comes to managing floods of enquiries during busier trading periods. You're much less likely to lose track of valuable deals with this mid-priced tool.

But if you're not certain Keap is a keeper, we're happy to set up introductions to sales managers of other CRM tools. If you want quotes for the best CRM for your business simply let us know how to get in touch. 

FAQs

Which CRM platforms are considered the best for email marketing?
The best CRM email marketing platforms are: Keap, Freshmarketer, Act!, and HubSpot.
What features should I look for in a CRM for email marketing?
The best email marketing CRM platforms include:

  • Email personalization
  • Automated sends
  • Campaign monitoring
  • Open and response tracking
  • A/B testing
  • Option to add more marketing contacts
  • Integration with your sales CRM
How can I measure the ROI of using a CRM for email marketing?
To measure return on investment (ROI) of email marketing CRM, you should take into account data from a wide trading period (minimum one year). This ensures your results aren't skewed because of the time of year.

Next, you need to choose a success metric. This could be the number of leads generated, or, more concretely, the value of sales, purchases, and deals closed as a result of contact with email marketing from your CRM. Then add up the total costs of your email CRM tools, and divide the total by the sum of your sales. The final figure is your ROI. If it is negative, then you have a negative ROI, whereas a positive figure is a positive ROI.

Should I choose a regular CRM and integrate it with email marketing platforms like Mailchimp or Constant Contact instead?
It depends on what you really need for your business. If your company handles a high volume of sales enquiries with a long or complex pipeline then you will definitely benefit from a sales-specific CRM. If marketing is less of a priority, then in this case, you could simply choose a regular CRM and integrate an email marketing automation tool.

On the other hand, if you operate within ecommerce or retail, then your email marketing is likely to align much more closely with your sales operations. In this case, we recommend an email-specific CRM like Keap.

Written by:
Sabrina Dougall
Sabrina is a business journalist whose career began in news reporting. She has a master's in Investigative Journalism from City University London, and her work has appeared in The Times, The Daily Express, Money Saving Expert, Camden New Journal, Global Trade Review, and Computer Business Review. She specializes in writing about SEO (search engine optimization). Having run her own small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how critical digital marketing is to building a client base and local reputation.
Reviewed by:
Chris is a highly experienced Editor whose CV includes household names such as The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Future and even BBC Top Gear. His role on Expert Market is to oversee and steer its coverage of all the solutions and services you need to grow your business.