A Complete Guide To CRM For Designers

4 years ago

According to an infographic by CloudWave, 75 per cent of companies have no process for nurturing leads (yikes!). While lead nurturing may not be top of mind for you — at least not in the way current client projects are — it’s a business necessity.

Because, like a caterpillar that turns into a beautiful butterfly, leads have the potential to grow into profitable clients. All they need are time, patience, the right product or service, and a strong business relationship.

One of the easiest ways to manage these relationships is to use a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). These tools aren’t just for salespeople; agencies and freelancers can equally benefit from using a CRM in their day-to-day business activities.

We’ll walk you through what exactly defines a CRM, how it can benefit your business, common terms you’ll see in CRM products, and a list of five free CRM tools you should consider using from now on.

What Is CRM

A CRM is a system designed for keeping track of communications, interactions, and other details about contacts you maintain (i.e. clients, leads, customers, etc.).

In a professional context, you can use CRMs to communicate productive relationships with your contacts.

However, it’s not just for salespeople.

In fact, as mentioned earlier, you could use it for managing relationships with your fellow team members, especially if managing issues, tasks, and bugs by writing in-app comments gets a bit tedious.

For example, Trello is a great CRM when you’re working on a project with other team members. You can create boards for each phase of your project, add members to each board, and attach Trello cards to a project’s board to display the details of a current task.

But what about if you don’t use Trello for project management?

Want to know how else Trello can improve your work/life balance? Read our list of cool life Hacks.

The Benefits Of Using A CRM

Managing your leads can feel like a (never-ending) maze. There are unlimited things to do — logging contact info, checking their social media updates, creating a reminder based on their interest, and so on.

While email has become the norm for most businesses, it’s far from perfect. A 2013 study found that the average email user receives 82 emails daily. Each day.

That’s about 3,650 emails a year per person!

Now, agencies’ clients receive even more emails in a single year (with exchange, collaboration, all those support emails, client reports, and analytics).

That is a lot of emails!

Besides, does anyone actually like getting emails? Most people don’t.

In fact, IBM reports that 65 per cent of emails unread and 40 per cent ignored. That’s just one example of how quickly we gain and lose interest in email and don’t check them all.

The best CRM tools make it easy to track your email history and make notes without logging onto a web-browser. That way, you avoid using a second or third platform to handle a single task.

At the of the day, the goal of using a CRM is to free up time for more important work.

Common CRM Terms

There are several CRM terms worth explaining.


A lead is someone who has shown interest in your business. For intance, a lead might visit your website, download a brochure, contact you for a consultation, etc.

It is a term used both for lead management and lead scoring.

Lead ID

Leads get assigned a unique ID or code. You can then save this ID to contact details to use when managing your relationship.

Lead Scoring

Leads get scored manually or automatically according to various factors. You can define lead scores based on any of your criteria that you’re interested in.

For example, you can assign a score on whether a lead has exhibited interest in a specific product or service.

But just getting a lead score is not enough — you need to also assign leads to specific phases of the sales funnel (e.g. planning, marketing, thinking, etc.), create a contact record, and more.

Lead Funnel

The lead funnel refers to a system used to direct leads into a sales process. Each of these processes include defined activities that help to build the relationship and ensure leads are qualified to make a purchase decision. You can read more about how to set up lead funnels here.

Lead Type

Most CRMs allow companies to assign a lead type to each lead. For example, a lead type could consist of different categories based on purchase behaviour.

For example, leads could be assigned to a “hot prospect,” “warm prospect,” or “cold prospect” category. Each of these would be designed to guide the salesperson through the different stages of the sales process.

Contact Management

Contacts have a ton of valuable information about your leads. So it’s important that you keep that information up-to-date.

For example, you can add details like a person’s phone number, email address, LinkedIn handle, and any other preferred contact method.

The better you organize your contacts, the easier it is to log details as they arise, and to follow up at the right time.

Contact Record

Contact records are the repositories of all the details you have about your contacts. These include notes, email and social media history, tasks, and any details you want to keep track of regarding that contact.

How do I choose a CRM?

CRM tools have proliferated in recent years. Where, just a few years ago there were less than twenty different products, today there are dozens.

With so much choice, it can be hard to know which tool is best for your business.

One of the first things you should consider is how many people in your agency will use the CRM. More than one? Good! Then you need to choose a tool with a recurring price that works for everyone.

CommVault, Zapier, Google Apps, and many other tools provide their services monthly. So, you can use the pricing calculator on their respective website to find a price that works for everyone.

Like most CRMs, Outreach offers a free version. However, this version is limited to 5 users, 25,000 emails per month, and limits the number of contacts to 500.

Another factor to consider is whether your potential CRM has all that you need. If you choose one of the more expensive tools, you’ll find that it provides a host of features to assist you with the sales process.

It may even offer calendar integration so you can create a reminder on your calendar as you schedule a meeting with a lead. It will also adapt to you and help make the sales process more efficient.

The important thing to remember is that CRMs are not built for you to email potential leads directly.

Rather, the purpose of using a CRM is to allow you to track your lead’s actions, see how they move through the sales process, and keep tabs on the information you’ve uncovered.

We have put together a list of best free customer management tools for you. Here it is –

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM is a free web-based platform with tons of great features. With this tool, you can create a CRM that fits the needs of your business.

Whether you want a free CRM, a simple CRM, or a complex CRM, there are three plans to choose from. These plans include Zoho CRM Essentials, Essentials Plus, and Advanced.

Depending on your needs, your monthly price ranges from $1 (Essentials) to $25 (Advanced).

The Basic plan allows for one user while the Advanced plan offers limitless users.

Zoho CRM has several tools, including email creation, an email marketing tool, and a customer survey tool.

You’ll also find a full suite of analytics tools, including customer marketing analytics, sales analytics, KPIs, KPI dashboards, retention analytics, and social analytics.

And, since Zoho is owned by Zoho, it includes all their other products like Zoho Docs, Zoho Books, and Zoho Projects.

One of the best features of Zoho CRM is the design. You can choose between two available customer plans: “ideas” or “passion.”

“Ideas” are a simple three-panel design while “passion” are entire themes.

The “ideas” plan is free while the “passion” plan is subscription based.

The CRM will also work with Google Apps and Salesforce so that you can integrate with your existing workflows.

Not to mention, Zoho is one of the most popular and efficient CRM tools on the market. So, it has a large community of users who are absolutely raving about it.

To sign up, visit Zoho CRM here.


Joey-CRM is another free CRM that runs on Google Apps for Work. The paid version gives you access to the following features:


  • Advanced reporting
  • Campaign tagging
  • Custom segmentation
  • On-site customized emails
  • On-site Facebook promotion
  • Multiple Facebook campaigns
  • Business hours routing
  • Lead scoring
  • Multi-day email reminders

Ticket system

  • SEO tools
  • Google Apps integration
  • Autoresponders
  • Customer groups
  • Google Docs integration
  • Facebook integrations

Gantt charts

  • Google Apps integration
  • Custom tables
Export Data
  • CSV
  • Outlook
  • API

Well, it’s a pretty appealing list, isn’t it?

Unlike Zoho and many other tools, Joey-CRM is nearly the complete package.

To find out more about this free CRM tool, visit their website here.


As talked about above, each lead is either a hot lead, warm lead, or cold lead.

Snowflake is a great tool to track these leads at every stage of the sales process. Using this tool, you can also see statistics about your sales funnel.

With a focus on adapting to your specific needs as an employee or job seeker, the features of Snowflake are wildly versatile.

In addition to a basic CRM system, you can create lead forms, email templates, and templates for follow-up calls.

It also integrates with many other apps like Google, Instapage, Google Analytics, and Google AdWords.

And, to help you track your sales pipeline, Snowflake creates automatic workflows and reminders.

Snowflake CRM is free to use, though there are multiple plans you can choose to upgrade to. The plans are as follows:

  • Basic — free — 5,000 contacts, 100,000 contacts, 50 users, 10,000 contacts, account and users
  • Team — $5 / month — +50 users on Basic plan
  • Small — $50 / month — +50 users on Basic plan, CRM, unlimited contacts
  • Medium — $300/ month — +50 users on Basic plan, CRM, unlimited contacts, marketing funnel
  • Large — $1,000/ month — +50 users on Basic plan, CRM, unlimited contacts, marketing funnel, sales pipeline, campaigns

For any paid plan, you can add more users, contracts, and contacts from there.

The company is still in private beta, so to register, visit the Snowflake beta here.


If you are looking for a free CRM that is easy to use, focuses on lead management, and doesn’t cause too much trouble, getresponse should be a good start.

Getresponse CRM is your single platform that combines email marketing and CRM into a single platform.

Every part of the sales process, from the product page, to the landing page, and the offer, are influenced by this system.

And, with an inbuilt email marketing campaign, effective marketing can be accomplished within the tool.

What’s more is that this CRM is available on top of your Gmail or Outlook.

How’s that for convenient?

Furthermore, the dashboard integrates the areas of lead generation, nurturing, acquiring, upselling, and reporting.

The free version of GetResponse has a few limitations, so we recommend upgrading to the “Business” version. For $12.63 per month, you can use unlimited leads, emails, and reports.

Though this might seem a bit steep in comparison to what you get, it’s still affordable, right?

Lastly, getresponse does integrate with Google Drive, so you can export your data if you wish to use it with another system.

Kickoff Labs

Kickoff Labs is an ideal tool for sales teams. If you are looking for a simple yet resourceful CRM, this one might be your best bet.

This CRM focuses on core functions, like customer management and email marketing. The dashboard is also well designed.

So, no matter the price point, the focus never skips on quality.

The one thing Kickoff Labs doesn’t include is marketing features. For that, you need to use a separate resource.

However, there is a limited free option that is available.

You can get a 100% free trial version for 30 days. That means you can check out the system, build accounts, use attachments, and everything else.

After 30 days, you will still have access to your data, but the system will no longer be free.

The paid version costs $69 per month per account. This is definitely worth it in our opinion because it includes everything you need in a CRM.


Optinmonster is a free CRM that places an emphasis on driving sales. Since it’s not a full CRM system like the rest, it’s meant to be used as a plugin, on top of a CRM.

This is the most flexible tool on our list. Instead of using a dashboard, Optinmonster lets you build your own.

With this, you can decide how you want to view and track your leads.

The automatic popups and opt-in forms on this system are very convenient. They are also detailed and customizable.

Of course, you can also integrate another CRM (through an IFTTT integration) on this platform.

If you are looking for something that doesn’t dictate how you want to strategically use your CRM, then Optinmonster might be the right tool.

To use the platform, you need to sign up and create a free account (trial). Just sign up with your email and activate your account.

From there, you will get access to a free opt-in form, which will be good for 50,000 visitors. After your visitors hit that limit (which will take very long), you will be asked to pay if you wish to continue seeing results.

How To Create The Perfect Lead Generation Campaign

Wouldn’t it be nice to invest in a lead generation campaign that actually attracts the customers you want?

Well, since you have a lot of options, you might be tempted to just opt for the lowest bidder. After all, you don’t want to overpay, right?

So, to help you make the most of your investment, here are a few requirements that a perfect lead generation campaign should have.

The Call To Action Is Clear

Whether you are going for a landing page or an email, you should be clear about what you want your lead to do.

For instance, if the goal of your landing page is to get a lead to click a CTA button to download something, place the button where the eye can see.

Better yet, place an image right above the button that shows what the lead will get for clicking that button.

The Offer Has Value

With your lead generation campaign, you need to present a message that clearly states why that service or product is worth it.

Let’s take an example of a service designed to help people train their pomeranians.

To make this service captivating, let’s say that you are offering a one-hour training class in a discreet local gym that specializes only in training dogs.

Now, this offer suggests several things:

  • The service in itself has value It’s suitable for a specific group of people There is professional training involved.
  • By clearly stating these elements, you could easily fool your lead into believing that using your service is beneficial to him or her.

The Sales Copy Appeals To Emotions

If your landing page or email is dull, it’s likely that the leads that follow will also be dull.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should resort to using outrageous tactics. Instead, you should play on the psychology of your customers.

For instance, if you own a page that caters to individuals who want to learn how to make money, you should feature different money quotes in your copy.

This is a tried and tested tactic that tends to appeal to certain emotions for those who are keen to succeed in life.

The Offer Fits Your Target Market

Are you familiar with your target market? If not, you will need to do some research.

For instance, if you want to attract people from a specific niche, do some research on them and find out what they might need.

Once you know what they need, you can create an offer that addresses their needs.

To start with, you can consider their ages, genders, and other demographics.

The Advertisement Is In A Leads Area

Some websites are optimized to receive leads, others aren’t.

In your search for the perfect lead generation campaign, you will need to figure out where your leads are usually found.

This can be done by discovering where your competitors send their leads. Pay attention to what they sell and where they promote it to get an idea about where your leads come from.

Once you know this, you can create a specific website for that purpose and begin your campaign there.

Finally, make sure that your website redirects to the page where you want your leads to go.

The Advertisement Is Displayed On The Right Time

Nowadays, you can advertise in an unlimited number of places.

From Facebook to Instagram, to your own website, you could place an advertisement anywhere and everywhere.

However, if you are new to lead generation campaigns, don’t place an ad in too many places.

Instead, focus on one place at a time and create your campaign there. By doing this, you can figure out whether or not the campaign is working for you or not.

And if it’s not, you could adjust the process and increase the number of places that you advertise in.


Lead generation campaigns are an integral part of any effective sales strategy.

If you don’t feel like you are getting enough leads, check out the platforms listed above. Especially, if you are the type of business owner who likes to be his/her own boss, check out our blog on how to start a virtual assistant business.

Once you have figured out where you want to advertise, make sure that you follow the advice outlined in this post, to create the perfect lead generation campaign.

If you do, you will have much more information about your leads. This means that you can give them what they want without wasting your time and money.

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