Act CRM – Everything you need to knowNikki
What is CRM Software?
Customer Relationship Management or CRM, is the process of tracking and optimising interactions with your customers. This includes past customers, future leads, and anybody that is valuable to your business.
CRM software makes it easy to record your interactions with customers and to store important data such as contact details, email history, and the products or services each customer is interested in. All of this data is organised and stored in easy-to-access databases. Storing your data in this way keeps it safe, secure, and creates a unified approach to data management across the whole organisation.
You can use also this data to see your past conversations, your customer’s buying habits and predict future trends or scenarios.
What does a CRM system do?
A CRM system stores every important detail and interaction your organisation has with a customer. That includes every email, phone call, text message and even website visit, along with the contact details of each customer and lead.
A CRM system like Act also uses marketing tools like email, lead capture, and analytics so users can market consistently and effectively.
Improve Customer Retention Rates
One of the most important reasons to use a CRM system is to improve your customer retention rates. An existing customer is 60-70 percent more likely to buy again, and 80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers (Small Business Trends).
Use of a CRM system is show to improve Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). This is the profit a business expects to make during the course of a relationship with an average customer. This value takes into account customer acquisition costs (CAC), sales & marketing expenses, and the cost of the products or services.
Furthermore, it costs five times less to retain an existing customer than it does to attract a new customer. This means customer acquisition should be at the heart of every business strategy.
Contact & Lead Management
A CRM system keeps your customer details and information neatly organised and in one place. Small businesses often use spreadsheets to store customer contact details but this can quickly become counter-productive. Spreadsheets only capture basic information and often leave out important notes such as what products or services customers are interested in, and how many times they’ve interacted with your company. Still using spreadsheets to manage your customer relationships? Find out when its time upgrade from spreadsheets to a CRM system in our blog article.
A CRM system makes it easy to segment and sort your customer data using different attributes. For example, you can group together customers from the same city, customers who have bought the same product, or customers who are due for renewals at a specific time. This helps you to market to different segments at the right time and tailor your marketing messages accordingly.
Nurturing Customer Relationships
A CRM system allows you to interact with customers at all stages of the buying journey. Using records of your previous interactions, you’ll be able to personalise every touch point. Set reminders for your team, schedule follow-ups or activities to nurture the relationship with your customers.
You’ll also be able to see exactly where your customers are in the sales funnel at any time, so you’ll never miss an opportunity. Combined with intelligent marketing automation features this gives you more control over how and when you interact with your contacts. For example, you can send automated reminder emails for appointments, contract renewals and events. As well as automatically sending emails when customers perform a specific action such as signing up for a newsletter, or attending an event.
Understanding how your customers have interacted with you in the past, also helps you cross-sell and up-sell to them too. This is a great way to add value to your relationship and keep your customers coming back.
Reporting and predicting
Analysing your CRM data will help you to see what’s working and what’s not. You’ll be able to see sales information such as closed and open opportunities, confirmed sales and any lost customers or missed opportunities.
With in-built marketing automation and reporting you’ll have a full overview of all your marketing campaigns and activities. You’ll see which emails your contacts have opened, what links they’ve clicked on, and if anybody has unsubscribed. Using this data, you can fine tune your campaigns to make them even more successful.
What is Act CRM?
Act! CRM is a leading customer relationship management software, designed for small to medium sized businesses. A powerful CRM system, with integrated marketing automation features, Act is one of the best CRM systems in the market.
Act CRM gives you a 360 view of your customers and contacts, helping you to identify the best opportunities and close sales. With mobile access, your team can stay in sync even while out on the road.
Act has been established for over 30 years and offers great flexibility as well as impressive functionality. Act software is available in both desktop and cloud versions, and is scalable to suit growing businesses – from one user to a full team.
Why should you choose Act CRM?
- Quick, organised access to all of your customer data & history in one place.
- Freedom to tailor the act database to your unique needs
- Rich, actionable customer insights for better marketing and sales campaigns
- 50+ pre-configured reports or create custom reports with the designer
- Extensive online training resources to help you get the most from act
- Expert technical support with online, phone, and email options.
Act CRM Features
Act CRM software is designed to help SMEs manage all of their customer interactions. It is one of the most feature-rich CRM platforms on the market designed to help you build better customer relationships, increase productivity, and close more sales.
Act! Companion App
Act users can enjoy access to their database while on the go with the Act! Companion app.
- Everywhere access to Act! using a smart device with a working internet connection
- Easily add and update customer info, scan business cards and use powerful search features
- Get driving directions and find nearby customers with interactive maps
- Stay in control of your day with an organised view your calls, meetings and to-do list
- Progress deals from anywhere with your pipeline always at your finger tips
- Gain insight into business and team performance with actionable Act! insight dashboards.
Sales Pipeline Management
With Act’s dynamic Sales Pipeline Management, you’ll close deals faster and more often. With a simple drag-and-drop tool you can capture all the details of a sales opportunity and then progress deals through stages.
This feature helps you to
- Project revenue, adjust strategy and focus your team’s efforts where they matter the most.
- Feature in-context KPIs with an actionable sales pipeline, an interactive sales funnel, and advanced filtering
- See an instant roll-up of metrics like opportunity close rate, closed-won value, open deals, and ore based on filters you apply.
- See a visual representation of all opportunities organised by sales stage, with the ability to drill into any opportunity for more detail.
- View the total count and value of all open opportunities in your pipeline with the interactive sales funnel. You can apply filters to see data by rep, sales stage, date range, and much more.
Act! Automated Marketing
Combine powerful CRM and marketing to nurture leads and build great customer relationships. The Act CRM Marketing Automation module is packed full of features to help users cultivate strong customer relationships. Act automated marketing is available for all levels of Act subscription from the entry level Essentials through to the Expert subscription.
Act marketing automation is a selection of tools that can help your business market like a professional. Including email marketing with drag-and-drop or html templates, easy-to-build landing pages to capture and nurture leads, and intelligent analytical tools.
Marketing automation tools will allow you to
- Create advanced drip marketing campaigns that allow you to send out emails and schedule activities following a schedule. You’ll also be able to send emails based on specific triggers, for example, when somebody signs up for a newsletter or downloads a brochure from your website.
- Send impactful emails that promote your business and services without the need for a big budgets or marketing expertise. Act marketing automation includes a variety of pre-made templates that you can edit to add in your own text and pictures. Or you can build your own templates using the drag-and-drop or html options.
- A/B testing. Scrutinise and refine your emails and campaigns with A/B testing.
- Real time metrics so you can see what’s working and what’s not. Compare campaigns and see open rates, clicks, and unsubscribes. You’ll also be able to identify any known prospects on your website in real-time, as well as automatically including web visits into your lead scoring profiles.
- Lead scoring – Score your leads by how they have interacted with your business, so you can prioritise the hottest prospects.
- Capture leads and essential information with landing pages. Choose from pre-built templates, design your own, or embed forms straight into your website using the HTML builder.
- Segmentation. Create targeted marketing campaigns by segmenting your data. You can sort contact records by a wealth of information including location, where they are on the buying journey, what services or products they’ve bought, and loads more.
Extend the power and reach of Act! by connecting to hundreds of apps. Get started with a few simple steps and then watch as Act! Connect automatically moves info between Act! and the apps of your choice.
Some of the apps available to use with Act! connect include
- Plus many more
Act CRM Email Integration
Streamline your workflow, save time, and keep a record of your interactions with Act CRM and Outlook integration. A free-to-activate plugin, Act! subscribers are able to
- Easily identify Outlook email recipients as contacts in Act!
- Add new contacts to Act directly from Outlook emails
- See past interactions with known email contacts from within Outlook. This also includes activities and history.
- Create Act! history records from Outlook emails, attaching the email text to your Act! contacts.
- Create and schedule Act! activities with known email contacts
- Track email opens and clicks in Outlook to prioritise follow-ups.
Act CRM Add-ons
Act software is highly customisable and can be tailored to meet your business needs and processes. There are also a range of add-ons for Act CRM that further enhance the software’s capabilities and cater to industry requirements.
Some of the add-ons available are
Streamline your quoting process with the Seamless Opportunities tool. Use it to create branded quotes, tenders, or proposals, build your own product database with images, and quote in different currencies.
A business and analytical tool, Panintelligence will uncover meaningful patterns and insights in your business data. Originally developed for Sage 200, it is fully secure and GDPR compliant and can be used to delve deeper into your Act! data.
Act CRM Prices
Act CRM software is priced to help small to medium sized businesses grow. Choose from a range of affordable pricing plans that fit the needs of your business and help you to scale up.
Act CRM Cloud
Act! CRM Essentials £15 user/month (billed annually)
Basic CRM + eMarketing including
- Relationship & Task Management
- Opportunity Management
- Email template Library & HTML Editor
- Campaign Management
- Standard Reports
- Act! Companion Mobile App
- Data Import Tool
- Digital Support
- 2Gb Cloud Storage
- 2,500 Emails/mo
Act! CRM Standard £25 user/month (billed annually)
Full-featured RM & eMarketing including everything in essentials plus
- Office & Google integration
- Dynamic Groups
- Dashboards & Analytics
- Integration with Popular Apps
- Team Management
- Marketing Automation (Optional)
- Digital & Phone Support
- 45Gb Cloud Storage
- 10,000 Emails/mo
Act! CRM Expert £40 user/month (billed annually)
Advanced CRM & eMarketing including everything in Standard, plus
- Advanced Sales Pipeline Management
- Custom Sales KPIs
- Custom Dashboards & Analytics
- Advanced Customisation
- Custom Queries
- Marketing Automation (Optional)
- Priority Support
- 6Gb Cloud Storage
- 25,000 Emails/mo
Act Premium | Self Hosted Prices
Act! Premium is available as a self-hosted (on-premises) option starting at £29 per user per month for CRM only (this doesn’t include eMarketing). Act! Premium subscriptions can be customised with add-ons that enhance your CRM software by adding extra functions. These add-ons include:
- Select Plan £59 account/mo. Powerful marketing automation features with 25,000 emails per month to unlimited contacts
- Complete Plan £149 account/mo. Full-featured marketing automation and time-saving CRM workflow to connect your sales and marketing efforts. 50,000 emails per month to unlimited contacts.
- Advanced Plan £299 account/mo. Sophisticated marketing automation features and valuable consulting service
£8 per user per month
Unlock the full potential of Act! by leveraging the power of Custom Tables. Bring together complex data sets, unique business processes, and specialised industry practices.
What’s new in Act CRM?
Act CRM software is frequently updated to include user requests, feature improvements and other updates. Recent version updates have included
- Act Marketing Automation in 2019. Released under the ‘Growth Suite’ package as CRM and Marketing Automation in one.
- SMS text messaging features in 2020, and new pricing plans that deliver great value for money.
To find out the most up-to-date information on what’s new in Act take a look at our updates page.
Upgrading Act CRM
Upgrading your Act CRM software is vital to keep your business up-to-date and with the right level of support. As new versions of the software are released, older versions become ‘unsupported’ which means they can develop bugs and technical support for them is limited. This can cause huge problems for your business and even loss or corruption of data. The longer you wait to update you software, the more vulnerable it becomes.
Act regularly releases new updates with new features, bug fixes and user requests incorporated into them. Act CRM Cloud users can automatically apply these updates themselves as soon as they become available.
If you’ve not upgraded your Act software in a while, you could be missing out on the following versions and features.
Act CRM Training
Although Act is an intuitive CRM software, investing in a training session can help you to use it more effectively.
Why do you need Act CRM training?
Act CRM is a powerful customer relationship management tool that will increase productivity, help you to close more sales, and retain customers. Understanding how to use all of the functions and features of the software will increase your return on investment and generate better results.
Getting to grips with all aspects of the software can take a bit of time, but training sessions will help you get up to speed quickly. You’ll also gain confidence when using the software and create processes to streamline your sales and marketing activities.
What does Act CRM training involve?
Act CRM training is available as both full day and half day sessions that are tailored to your business requirements. A standard session typically covers
- Creating new contact and company records
- Performing lookups and searches within the database
- Creating and managing groups
- Scheduling, creating and editing activities
- Creating email and letter templates
- Outlook & Google integration
- Running reports
- Opening and managing opportunities
- Plus, much more
Act Marketing Automation Training
If you are using Act Marketing Automation alongside Act CRM, a training session focusing on the automation tools will help you market like a professional. Act marketing automation training from Softext teaches you to use the following features
- Landing pages & web forms
- Creating & Editing email templates
- Building drip marketing campaigns
- Automating actions from campaigns such as notifications & call scheduling
- Asset tracking – PDFs, videos & website visits
- General email marketing advice to get you started.
Act Vs other CRM systems
Migration from another CRM system using the Act Migration Wizard
Importing your data to Act from a different CRM system is easy. The Act! Migration Wizard allows you to import data from almost any other CRM system or excel worksheet. The wizard can be customised to incorporate any custom fields you may already have, and you can choose where this data is mapped to in Act! The Migration Wizard also protects your data by securing it behind a firewall during the migration process.
Some of the most popular migrations into Act include
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM
- Zoho CRM
- Act! 365
If you are new to Act CRM software, you may be wondering how it compares to other popular CRM systems. We’ve analysed some of Act’s top competitors below (This information was correct at the time of writing but may be out of date)
Whilst Sales Force is a powerful CRM software, it may not be the right choice for SME’s that need a CRM system to match where they are on their business journey. Act CRM has a budget-friendly entry price that includes more features than Salesforce.
Salesforce starts at £20 per user, per month with features including
- Account, Contact, Lead and Opportunity Management
- Email Integration with Gmail or Outlook
- Task management, activity feed
- Salesforce Mobile App
- Web-to-lead capture
- Mass email
- Campaign management
- Email templates
- Reports and dashboards
Whereas Act CRM starts at just £15 per user, per month with similar features including
- Relationship & Task management
- Opportunity management
- Email template Library & HTML editor
- Campaign Management
- Standard Reports
- Act! Companion Mobile App
- Data Import Tool
- Digital Support
- 2Gb Cloud Storage
- 2,500 emails per month
When it’s time to scale up and increase the capacity and features of the CRM system, the price differences between Act! and Salesforce become more pronounced. The second level of Act CRM Cloud subscription, ‘Standard’, – is just £25 per user per month. However, the second level of Salesforce, ‘Professional’, costs £60 per user per month. This is a significant rise that may be difficult for growing SMEs to accommodate.
Salesforce is a feature-rich CRM system incorporating everything from Account and Lead Management, to Email Marketing and Order Management. However, to really get the most out of Salesforce, many users need to purchase additional add-ons. These add-ons are often necessary to make the CRM system work in a way that matches the business. This means extra costs on top of the monthly subscription fees that can quickly spiral and take the software prices over budget.
Salesforce users have also reported that the software is complex and at times difficult to configure, especially when extra addons are included. A cluttered interface makes it difficult to navigate and perform simple tasks.
So, while Salesforce is an impressive CRM system, the way it is structured – particularly in terms of pricing – can often mean it is out of reach for growing SMEs.
Microsoft Dynamics is a multi-faceted software that incorporates everything from Sales and Customer Service, through to Marketing, Supply Chain, HR, and much more. Whilst this is ideal for large companies looking to keep everything in one central platform, it’s not really suitable for small to medium business who need a more adaptable software.
The Microsoft Dynamics packages designed for small and medium businesses start at £52.80 per user, per month for the ‘Essentials’ version and rise to £75.40 per user, per month for the ‘Premium’ version. This is considerably more than the entry level Act subscription starting at just £15 per user per month.
Microsoft Dynamics also requires a large capital outlay to get started, followed by an annual maintenance fee. With a 5-user minimum license for the Dynamics CRM license online (which must be the professional version) the costs quickly stack up. Microsoft Dynamics also has limited storage – just 5 gigabytes for the entire organisation. Therefore, many organisations find themselves having to purchase more storage which becomes costly.
Due to its many features, Microsoft Dynamics can be difficult for inexperienced users, requiring extensive training to use it effectively. On the other hand, Act! CRM is designed for beginners through to experienced users, so it is much easier to use without training. Act also offers a thorough training library with videos and articles explaining how to perform every task.
Unlike Act, Microsoft Dynamics also has no direct access to the database for its users. This means as the end user you cannot make changes yourself. You’ll need to go back to your Dynamics partner each time you want to make a change to your CRM software or subscription. Not only can this become inconvenient, it can also become expensive as you start to customise the software.
When you subscribe to Act CRM Cloud, you’ll have full control over your Act subscription and software. This means the ability to add new users, change fields and customise to your heart’s content without having to ask your Act partner to make the changes for you.
The upgrade process for Microsoft Dynamics has also been known to cause problems for Dynamics 365 users. With silent upgrades and releases it’s hard to keep track of new updates. Act CRM software is regularly updated and users are notified each time a new update becomes available, ensuring they are always using the latest version of the software.
The entry level price for Hubspot ‘Starter’ is £38 per month (paid annually) or £42 if paid monthly. While there is a free CRM version, is has very limited functionality and can only hold a small amount of contact records. As your business grows you will need to pay to scale up your CRM system which becomes more expensive as you gain more customers.
The starter version of Hubspot only allows for 1,000 contacts, after that you’ll need to upgrade to the professional version for another 1000 contacts at £655 per month (£729 if paid monthly) – a huge jump from the entry price for the starter version. This poses an obvious problem for small businesses looking to grow – if you start off with the cheaper version it can be difficult to fund the upgrade to the next version.
Additionally, if you plan on storing more than 2,000 contacts, you’ll need to upgrade to the even more expensive enterprise option. At £2642 per month, or £31,488 per year, you’ll still only have the capacity to store and market to 10,000 contacts. This may not be practical for many SME’s who will struggle to afford the steep rises.
Hubspot is also designed as an all-in-one tool that incorporates CRM, marketing automation, and social media. Whilst it works brilliantly together, it can be hard to use the different components individually. For example, if you have built your website using WordPress you might find it tricky to get the two systems to talk to each other. Some users have likened Hubspot to an all or nothing solution suggesting that if you want to use only a part of it, you are better off not using it at all.
While Hubspot’s marketing templates are certainly effective and eye-catching they often require the user to have some understanding of CSS to edit them. For small businesses lacking this skillset this is another obstacles that makes it hard to get true value for money.
Hubspot users will also need to apply for additional technical support, however for Act CRM users who purchase through Softext – you’ll get personalised support from your Act partner included in your subscription price.
Now that you’ve read everything you need to know about Act CRM its time to try the free trial. You won’t be asked to enter any card details to begin and there are no obligations one the 14-day trail period has ended.
If you have any questions, you can call our consultants on 0121 323 2304 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
As accredited Act! Consultants, Softext has been working with Act CRM software since 2012 so we really know our way around it. We use it in-house on a daily basis to manage our own customer relationships, sales opportunities, and marketing campaigns.
Our technical support team are trained in all aspects of Act software. From implementation to troubleshooting problems, they’re here to help you as you use the software. We also offer training sessions in both Act! CRM and Act! Marketing Automation along with on-going support.