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The Best CRM Software (In-Depth Review)

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Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Without customers, your business wouldn’t exist. 

I guess it could… but you wouldn’t last long without a stream of revenue helping you keep the lights on. Because of that, it’s critical to understand how your customers behave and what they want from you. 

Doing so makes their experience better. And helps you generate more money. 

The best CRM software helps streamline, simplify, and improve your business processes to create better experiences for the one thing your business revolves around — your customers. 

But today, your biggest challenge is choosing the right one. 

With countless options to choose from, it’s easy to feel paralyzed. So, to help you out, I reviewed the top CRM software available and put together an extensive list of what to consider before making your final decision. 

The top 5 options for the best CRM software

  1. Hubspot – Best free CRM software
  2. Salesforce – Best CRM software for versatility
  3. Zoho CRM – Best for small to midsize businesses
  4. Freshsales – Best CRM for sales teams
  5. Creatio CRM – Best enterprise-grade CRM solution

How to choose the best CRM software for you

With so many options and types to choose from, finding the best CRM software for your business can feel impossible. 

So, let’s talk about what to consider as you go through the process. 

Business size

The size of your business plays a role in which CRM software is best for you. If you have separate departments for marketing, sales, IT, and customer service, you need more advanced functions than a business with five employees. 

Furthermore, you need to consider who’s going to manage the software. Choosing and paying for software isn’t the same as using it to its full potential. 

You have to set it up and take advantage of its features for the investment to be worth it. 

For small teams, it may be a collaborative effort of everyone pitching in. However, large teams may have dedicated employees to set everything up and maintain the software moving forward. 

The size of your business also plays a role in how much the software is going to cost. The more user seats you need, the more expensive the software. 

So, take this into consideration. 

Your use cases

Before you decide, it’s essential to consider what systems you want to streamline and improve. It may help to think about current inefficiencies and how a CRM can help. 

Typically, CRM software helps with sales, marketing, IT, and customer service. Which of those do you want to improve, and do you have the capacity to set everything up and maintain it?

Furthermore, there are specific CRM solutions for particular industries. And you may benefit from choosing a CRM that offers something specific to your industry. But keep in mind that these may be more expensive. 

Basic CRM features

Most CRMs include a basic set of standard features. And the CRM you choose should include them as well. While the specifics of each feature vary from software to software, there should be a system in place to help you handle things like:

  • Contact and lead management
  • Document sharing and storage
  • Workflow automation
  • Interaction tracking
  • Mobile access

Look for these core CRM features before making any final decisions. 

Advanced CRM features

It’s also important to consider the advanced CRM features you need. Oftentimes, these are only available on high-tier plans. So, this plays a role in which pricing plan you choose, and it can significantly impact your budget. 

It may help to outline your current processes. 

This can help identify areas that need improvement and the specific CRM features you need to make it happen. You can then use your list to narrow down your options. 

Third-party integrations

To really streamline and automate your business processes, your CRM tool needs to play well with the tools you’re already using to run your business. Make a list of the tools you use and double-check to make sure your CRM integrates with them. 

Don’t forget to consider your:

  • Email platforms
  • Social media tools
  • Internal communication software
  • Customer service tools
  • Calling/video chat software
  • Shopping cart (for ecommerce)
  • Contract/proposal software
  • Connectors (i.e., Zapier)
  • Analytics tools
  • Calendar

Once you have your list, you can use it to narrow down your choices to the right CRM software. You can also use it when speaking with a sales team to make sure they offer everything you need. 

The different types of CRM software

There are three different types of CRM software. The most common type is operational. And thankfully, companies are integrating more features from the other types of software into operational CRM systems. 

Doing so helps minimize the need for businesses to have three separate pieces of software. 

Before diving into my top recommendations, let’s talk about these different types and what they mean. 

Operational

Operational CRMs help businesses of all sizes handle business processes and enhance the lead generation systems they have in place. The idea is that streamlining your operational processes helps your business provide better customer experiences. 

There are four types of operational CRMs, including:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • IT

These are traditionally what people think of when they hear CRM. So, all of the recommendations on this list fall under this category. 

Analytical

Analytical CRMs help businesses gather, analyze, and leverage data collected from their customers. Essentially, this type of CRM software helps turn large data sets into valuable information you can use to improve the customer experience. 

The recommendations on this list include a few basic analytical features.

But there are certainly more robust CRM tools out there for collecting and analyzing customer data, especially for enterprise businesses with a lot of customer information. 

Collaborative

Collaborative CRMs make it easy for businesses to share everything they learn about their customers using operational and analytical CRM software. 

Essentially, this type of software lets team members quickly pass along lead, contact, and customer information from one department to another. 

Doing so helps track interactions between customers and your business as well as identify your customers’ preferred communication channels. 

Both of those things combined help improve customer experiences. 

Most of the recommendations on this list offer multiple operational CRM solutions that seamlessly integrate, making this type of collaboration easy. 

However, there are better systems out there if you’re looking for something more powerful. 

#1 – Hubspot Review — The best free CRM software

If you’re in the sales or marketing industry, you’ve probably read Hubspot’s blog or taken one of their free certification courses. However, they also offer a robust and free CRM software to streamline your customer relationship management process. 

With Hubspot, you can gain unprecedented insight into how your audience behaves. 

Need to monitor when contacts open your emails so you can optimize your open rates? No problem. Maybe you want to see how a contact behaves on your website. With Hubspot, it’s easy. 

Furthermore, they offer a wide variety of solutions, depending on your role within your company. 

These position-specific solutions include sales, marketing, customer service, operations, and owners. 

The free CRM plan includes a robust set of features, including:

  • Contact management
  • Email scheduling
  • Deal pipelines
  • Meeting scheduler
  • 1-1 live chat
  • Contact website activity
  • Store, track, and manage tasks
  • Document sharing
  • VoIP calling

These features are hard to beat on any other free plans on this list. However, Hubspot’s paid plans are well worth their price as well. 

The Starter Plan starts at $40 per month, paid annually. However, if you want to bundle all of Hubspot’s CRM software, you can get starter access to all four for $50 per month if you commit to a 12-month contract. 

So, for $10 extra dollars a month, you also get software specialized for marketing, sales, and customer service.  

However, keep in mind these prices are based on 1,000 contacts. The price increases for every additional 1,000 contacts you have. 

Sign up for a free plan to get started with Hubspot today.

#2 – Salesforce Review — The best CRM software for versatility

Whether you’re a small business owner or a sales, marketing, IT, or customer support team, Salesforce has the perfect CRM solution. Known for its versatility, they offer specialized software that adapts to meet your needs. 

More than 150,000 businesses, including T Mobile, Adidas, and Yeti, rely on Salesforce to help them build strong relationships with their customers. 

They also offer specialized solutions for 14 different industries, including:

  • Financial services
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Consumer goods
  • Energy
  • Communications
  • Nonprofits

The system is so versatile because you can pick and choose which apps you need to build a complete CRM solution customized to match your business. 

From marketing automation and ecommerce sales to call-center software and self-service portals, Salesforce is dedicated to providing everything you need for unprecedented customer relationships. 

Their business plans include:

  1. Essentials — $25/user per month (basic sales and support)
  2. Sales Professional — $75/user per month (complete sales solution)
  3. Support Professional — $75/user per month (complete service solution)
  4. Pardot Growth — $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts (marketing automation)

However, you can add additional features and applications depending on what you need. They also offer other plans for sales, customer service, commerce, and marketing CRM packages with varying features. 

Start your free trial to take Salesforce for a test drive today.

#3 – Zoho CRM Review — The best for small to midsize businesses

Unlike the other options on this list, Zoho CRM is an all-in-one solution. There aren’t additional modules to look through for different departments or anything like that. This makes it an excellent option for small to midsize businesses.

They also have an extensive network of 40 other business tools. So, if you’re using Zoho software already, integration with Zoho CRM is seamless. 

Plus, they have a worldwide network of over 150,000+ customers (including Netflix and Bose) in 180 countries, so you know you’re in good hands. 

Furthermore, Zoho offers a free forever plan with up to three users. It includes essential features like lead management, document sharing, task management, workflow rules, and a mobile application. 

However, their paid plans are affordable as well, and they include advanced CRM features like:

  • Real-time sales signals and customer notifications
  • Blueprint business management for both on and offline processes
  • Prospect scoring capabilities
  • Unique sales pipelines
  • Mass emails
  • Inventory management
  • An AI assistant
  • Advanced customizations

The cheapest paid plan starts at $12 per user per month, making it extremely affordable for small businesses. 

Sign up for a free 15-day trial to see if Zoho CRM is right for you. 

Note: Zoho also recently launched a sales-centric CRM specifically for small businesses. It’s called Bigin, and it includes a robust free plan if you’d like to try it out. Bigin’s paid plans are $7 per user per month. 

#4 – Freshsales Review — The best CRM for sales teams

Unlike the other options on this list, Freshsales is specifically built for sales teams and lead management. From cold leads to customers, Freshsales helps you make better relationships while saving time with automation. 

Furthermore, this CRM helps you find the best leads, get in touch with them via their preferred method, and close the sale. 

And Freshworks includes a built-in email and phone system to help simplify the process. 

They have a customer base of over 40,000 businesses, including some big names like Dyson and Best Western. So, despite being newer to the industry, they’re not inexperienced by any means. 

With Freshworks, you get powerful sales-based features, including:

  • Lead, contact, account, and deal management
  • Tasks and appointment management
  • Merge or clone records
  • Advanced conversation views
  • Lead scoring
  • Time-based workflows
  • Sales pipelines
  • Team inboxes and email forwarding
  • Email scheduling, templates, and alerts
  • Website visitor tracking
  • iOS and Android mobile apps

Aside from an impressive set of features, they also offer industry-specific solutions for 15 different industries, including retail, ecommerce, manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, and more. 

Their free forever plan includes access for an unlimited number of users with limited features. However, it’s a great way to try it out before investing. 

Freshsales’ paid plans are more robust, yet still affordable for businesses of all sizes. Their premium plans include:

  1. Blossom — $12/user per month (for small teams)
  2. Garden — $25/user per month (for growing teams)
  3. Estate — $45/user per month (for large teams)
  4. Forest — $79/user per month (for enterprises)

Sign up for a free 21-day trial to see if Freshsales is right for you and your sales team today.

#5 – Creatio Review — The best enterprise-grade CRM software

While some of the other CRM software on this list includes an enterprise plan, you may find them limiting if you’re managing a large operation. However, Creatio is an enterprise-grade CRM software built with businesses like yours in mind. 

They offer specific CRM solutions for sales, marketing, and customer service teams.

Marketing Creatio gives enterprise businesses everything they need to streamline their multichannel marketing campaigns and manage incoming leads. It includes features like:

  • Visual campaign designer
  • Website behavior tracking and segmentation
  • Advanced trigger campaigns
  • Personalized email marketing
  • Event tracking and response management

Pricing depends on the number of contacts and the number of emails per contact. 

Sales Creatio is perfect for large sales teams taking over after marketing hands them over. It’s an end-to-end sales management platform built to simplify the process and save you time. 

It includes a wide range of features, including:

  • Opportunity management
  • Customer profiles and buying behavior insight
  • Field sales management
  • Performance and operations

Pricing starts at $30 per user per month. 

Lastly, Service Creatio is for customer service teams interested in streamlining their processes and creating excellent customer experiences from start to finish. It includes features, like:

  • Account and contact management
  • Case and knowledge management
  • Omnichannel communications
  • Service catalog
  • Contact center

Pricing starts at $45 per user per month. 

You can bundle all three CRM solutions if you need to. And you can use their online pricing calculator to estimate the total cost. 

Get started with a free trial to see if Creatio is right for you. 

Summary

Hubspot, Salesforce, and Zoho CRM are my top recommendations for most businesses. Each one offers a wide range of features suitable for teams from all departments, including sales, marketing, and customer service. 

Furthermore, they’re all affordable, easy to set up, and easy to use.

However, the best CRM software for you depends on your business’s size and the features you need. So, use the criteria we talked about above as you go through the process of making your final decision. 

Which CRM software do you use?

Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/best-crm-software/

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SaaS Ventures takes the investment road less traveled

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Most venture capital firms are based in hubs like Silicon Valley, New York City and Boston. These firms nurture those ecosystems and they’ve done well, but SaaS Ventures decided to go a different route: it went to cities like Chicago, Green Bay, Wisconsin and Lincoln, Nebraska.

The firm looks for enterprise-focused entrepreneurs who are trying to solve a different set of problems than you might find in these other centers of capital, issues that require digital solutions but might fall outside a typical computer science graduate’s experience.

Saas Ventures looks at four main investment areas: trucking and logistics, manufacturing, e-commerce enablement for industries that have not typically gone online and cybersecurity, the latter being the most mainstream of the areas SaaS Ventures covers.

The company’s first fund, which launched in 2017, was worth $20 million, but SaaS Ventures launched a second fund of equal amount earlier this month. It tends to stick to small-dollar-amount investments, while partnering with larger firms when it contributes funds to a deal.

We talked to Collin Gutman, founder and managing partner at SaaS Ventures, to learn about his investment philosophy, and why he decided to take the road less traveled for his investment thesis.

A different investment approach

Gutman’s journey to find enterprise startups in out of the way places began in 2012 when he worked at an early enterprise startup accelerator called Acceleprise. “We were really the first ones who said enterprise tech companies are wired differently, and need a different set of early-stage resources,” Gutman told TechCrunch.

Through that experience, he decided to launch SaaS Ventures in 2017, with several key ideas underpinning the firm’s investment thesis: after his experience at Acceleprise, he decided to concentrate on the enterprise from a slightly different angle than most early-stage VC establishments.

Collin Gutman from SaaS Ventures

Collin Gutman, founder and managing partner at SaaS Ventures (Image Credits: SaaS Ventures)

The second part of his thesis was to concentrate on secondary markets, which meant looking beyond the popular startup ecosystem centers and investing in areas that didn’t typically get much attention. To date, SaaS Ventures has made investments in 23 states and Toronto, seeking startups that others might have overlooked.

“We have really phenomenal coverage in terms of not just geography, but in terms of what’s happening with the underlying businesses, as well as their customers,” Gutman said. He believes that broad second-tier market data gives his firm an upper hand when selecting startups to invest in. More on that later.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/09/18/saas-ventures-takes-the-investment-road-less-traveled/

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The 6 Best Digital Strategy Companies of 2020

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According to Smart Insights, 49 percent of organizations don’t have a clearly defined digital strategy. 

Choosing the right digital strategy for your business is essential. Experience helps you sift through what to do differently, what not to do, and where to focus your energy. Having a fresh perspective from an outside eye can make all the difference. What’s more important is choosing a company that can execute that strategy. 

When you need to choose the best digital strategy company, you may be wondering where to start. Here’s a list of our picks for the best digital strategy companies in the world.

1. Neil Patel Digital — Best For Content Marketing & Digital Strategy

I’ve written more than 4,294 blog posts in 10 years. I’ve created millions of words and I’ve used content marketing to build three companies of my own. I used content marketing to generate 195,013 visitors a month and I’ve done the same things for my fortune 500 clients. When it comes to digital strategy and content marketing I’ve shown it can work. 

I do the same thing for clients with my agency, NP Digital. We help our clients develop a digital strategy that maximizes the results they achieve with their content marketing, advertising, and SEO campaigns. 

The focus with our digital strategy is revenue. Everything we do is focused on producing real results for businesses whether that’s more traffic, leads, or revenue. 

NP Digital’s client list includes:

  • Facebook
  • Viacom
  • Google
  • GM
  • eBay
  • NBC
  • Thomson Reuters foundation
  • TechCrunch
  • Cheezburger
  • American Greetings

2. REQ – Best for Enterprise Business Strategy

REQ is a Washington DC based, award-winning agency with enterprise-level experience. They’re industry veterans with some of the best talent in the business. 

Projects start at $50,000. They offer a comprehensive suite of solutions for your marketing and digital strategy needs. Including: 

  • Advertising & Media
  • Digital Advocacy
  • Brand Strategy
  • Reputation Management
  • Public Relations
  • Data & Analytics

They’ve been named to both the Inc.500 and Deloitte Fast 500 lists – they’re one of the fastest growing companies in America. They have offices in Washington, DC, New York, Boston, San Diego, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.

REQ’s client list includes:

  • eBay
  • Amazon
  • StubHub
  • Sweet Green
  • Mastercard
  • Empire State Building
  • Constellation Energy

3. Usman Group – Best for Mid-market Business Strategy

With 80% of its clients in mid-market range, earning between 10M – 1B, the Usman Group specializes in digital strategy and market research. They provide analysis, strategy, execution, and measurement to help clients deploy successful campaigns.   

They apply the four key principles of design thinking, learn from people, identify patterns, make solutions tangible, iterate continuously, in all of their client engagements.

Projects start at $10,000. You get a hand-picked team that will provide evidence-based, practical strategy and recommendations.

Usman Group’s client list includes:

  • Red Prairie
  • University of Chicago
  • National Safety Council
  • Chicago Sun Times
  • Priceline
  • Baird

4. DeSantis Breindel – Best for Branding Strategy

DeSantis Breindel is a New York City based digital strategy company that specializes in end-to-end branding strategy. They help businesses with brand differentiation, customer experience, merger & acquisition branding, brand valuation, brand launch, and employee engagement.

Projects start at $75,000. They offer thorough research and measurement for your digital branding, brand identity and strategy, content marketing, customer experience design, and film production services.

DeSantis Breindel’s client list includes:

  • Verifone
  • Lathrop Gage
  • OneSpan
  • SailPoint
  • Lincoln International
  • Lewis Roca

5. Mabbly – Best for Data Analysis, Channel Strategy

Mabbly is a Chicago based strategic design agency that relies on digital strategy, market research, and data analytics. They focus on turning complex problems into growth opportunities. Supporting human connection with digital experiences, via sophisticated design and data-backed digital strategy.

Mabbly’s team of digital and brand strategists work together to curate a channel strategy that combines the message along with the medium that’s right for your business opportunity. Projects start at $25,000. 

Mabbly’s client list includes:

  • Edelman
  • Microsoft
  • Berkshire Group
  • Griffith Foods
  • 21st Century Fox
  • Limitless Coffee & Tea
  • ShopRunner

6. Ironpaper – Best for Small Business 

Ironpaper bills itself as a B2B growth agency. Their conversion growth strategy is focused on gaining traction with growth up to 1 percent. The growth phase is set at 1 to 3 percent, with anything above 3 percent listed as scaling. 

What’s interesting about Ironpaper is the fact that they discuss the elephant in the room. 

“Oftentimes, enterprises try to answer the question, ‘What is a good conversion rate?’’ without any context. What is a good conversion rate? When establishing conversion rates, context is everything.

A lack of context can actually do harm to a marketing team, because it causes teams to make the wrong assumptions.”

This tells you that Ironpaper isn’t focused on vanity metrics or conversion manipulation. They know the difference between high and low value conversions. Their projects start at $10,000 and are focused on small businesses.

Iron Paper’s client list includes:

  • Nokia
  • Echo226
  • Telmar
  • Mformation
  • Arago

3 Characteristics That Make a Great Digital Strategy Company

Your digital strategy company should be able to provide you with specifics ahead of time. While many companies are able to provide you with amazing strategies, many are unwilling to demonstrate this ahead of time. 

1. Your agency asks the right questions

Creating an exceptional digital strategy begins with your agency asking the right questions. These questions determine what will be answered and where your answers will go. Here’s a small sample of the questions your agency should be asking. 

  • How is our business currently performing? 
  • Which parts of your business are underperforming?
  • What’s our goal for each area of our business? 
  • What do customers expect from our product and our business?
  • Which marketing channels are our customers active on?
  • Which marketing channels should we use to accomplish our goals?
  • Which metrics and KPIs will we use to evaluate performance?
  • How should we promote our products and services in the market to achieve our goals? 

These questions inform your digital strategy. 

  1. Why are we in business?
  2. Where are we right now?
  3. Where do we want to go? 
  4. How will we get there?

Your digital strategy framework should answer four high-level questions. Good digital marketing agencies should be asking these questions at the beginning of the engagement process. 

2. Your agency is willing to share strategy

The agency you choose should be willing to share sample strategies with you. This doesn’t mean that you should expect your agency to provide the entire strategy upfront, for free. Spec work isn’t ideal and that’s not what you’re looking for.

You’re looking for one example. 

They can share this with you over the phone, in your proposal or quote, or in a sample report. You’re looking for them to share a small snippet, a piece of their proposed digital strategy. This is important for several reasons. With sample data you can: 

  • Evaluate your agency’s competence 
  • Use sample data to evaluate potential performance
  • Assess their digital strategy or marketing priorities
  • Outline knowledge gaps and weak points in their process

You’re not asking for a comprehensive strategy document, you’re simply asking your agency to pick one part of your business and create a strategy around that; ask your agency a question (e.g., how would you increase sales for one of my products?). 

3. Your agency can implement Strategy

Venture Capitalist Arthur Rock, believes strategy is important, but not as important as people who can execute that strategy

“Over the past 30 years, I estimate that I’ve looked at an average of one business plan per day, or about 300 a year, in addition to the large numbers of phone calls and business plans that simply are not appropriate. Of the 300 likely plans, I may invest in only one or two a year; and even among those carefully chosen few, I’d say that a good half fail to perform up to expectations. 

The problem with those companies (and with the ventures I choose not to take part in) is rarely one of strategy. Good ideas and good products are a dime a dozen. Good execution and good management in a word, good people are rare.”

A great strategy isn’t enough. You need amazing people who can implement your digital strategy and produce the results you need to grow. 

Your agency should have two things: 

  1. A team that can implement your digital strategy
  2. A proven track record showing that they’ve achieved this consistently in the past

If they can provide you with both or they’re willing to provide you with a trial period where you’re able to test their ability to execute your digital strategy, then it may be a good fit. 

What To Expect From a Great Digital Strategy Company

Your agency should provide you with detailed specifics for each of these points. If you have more questions or concerns, you’ll want to bring those up with your agency. 

  • A clear track record: Your agency should be able to show you samples, references, case studies, and reviews showing that they’ve achieved results for other clients.
  • Clear milestones: You’re looking for clear milestones, timelines, and deliverables that show you’re able to create and implement a plan successfully. Your agency should be able to provide you with a timeline, explaining how long everything will take to implement, and when they anticipate you’ll begin seeing results.
  • Agency procedures: You’ll want to see how your agency plans on approaching your campaign or project. They should be able to break down the approach that goes into their strategy document; this document should clarify how they’ll approach your campaign, what you should expect, what their goals are and more.

The digital strategy company you choose should provide you with the options you need to implement the plan successfully.  

Conclusion

Choosing the right digital strategy for your business is essential. You need a plan to guide you, outlining where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there. Having a fresh perspective from an outside eye can mean the difference between success and failure. 

Remember, executing your digital strategy plan is even more important than simply having a plan.  Use this pool to choose a digital strategy company that will partner with you to achieve your business goals.

Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/digital-strategy-companies/

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Best Content Management Systems

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Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Imagine moving thousands of articles, pages, images, and videos from one place to another. 

It sounds like an extensive, time-consuming mess because it is. But that’s exactly what you have to do if you choose the wrong content management system. 

A few years ago, I decided to switch one of my websites from WordPress to Squarespace. At the time, it seemed like a great idea. But… I ended up spending months painstakingly transferring everything from one platform to the other. 

The worst part? Every single page had random code snippets, weird formatting, and shortcodes I had to manually handle because there are countless things you can do in WordPress that aren’t possible in Squarespace.

It was so terrible I ended up giving up halfway through. Switching from one CMS to another is an awful experience and I definitely don’t recommend it. 

So, there’s a lot of pressure to make the right choice the first time. 

However, there are countless options to choose from, making the right decision feel impossible. So to help you get it right, I reviewed the top CMS platforms that you should consider.

Wix Logo

Wix

Best for Beginners

All-in-one drag-and-drop website builder. Includes web hosting services and a free domain name for the first year. Paid plans start at $13 per month with a limited free forever plan to try it out.

The 6 Best Content Management Systems to Consider: 

  1. Wix – Best drag and drop content management system
  2. WordPress.org – Best content management system for bloggers
  3. Squarespace – Best CMS for creative businesses
  4. Drupal – Best CMS for high-security industries
  5. Cypher Learning – Best content management system for online education
  6. CrownPeak DXM – Best enterprise CMS solution

When it Makes Sense to Invest In a Content Management System

If you’ve never created a website before, a content management system is crucial to the process. High-level developers and coders may be okay without one, but beginners and everyday business owners have a lot to gain by investing in the right platform. 

Without a CMS, you have to know (or learn) HTML and CSS. Or hire a developer to build something for you. 

And when you hire a developer, it’s hard to make changes to your website on your own. 

So, you have to go back and hire the developer again ($$$) to make simple changes like updating your brand colors or rewording a headline on your home page. 

If you’re anything like us, the lack of control and relying on someone else simply isn’t an option. Things change every day, and you want to try out new things without spending money or waiting for someone else to do it for you. 

Which… is where a content management system comes in handy. 

Essentially, the best CMS provides templates with HTML and CSS code built in. So, you don’t have to touch a single line of code to design your entire website and manage the content that lives on it. 

The bottom line: If you’re not a website developer, not interested in hiring one, you want a complex website, or you don’t want to spend several years learning two programming languages, you need a CMS platform to build your website. 

#1 – Wix — The Best Content Management System for Beginners

Wix Logo

Wix

Best for Beginners

All-in-one drag-and-drop website builder. Includes web hosting services and a free domain name for the first year. Paid plans start at $13 per month with a limited free forever plan to try it out.

Wix is an all-in-one website builder that includes web hosting services and a drag and drop interface, making it super easy to use and excellent for beginners. 

Source: Wix.com

You can choose between hundreds of free design templates to help you get started. And they offer a free Wix ADI (advanced design intelligence) tool that automatically creates your website for you. 

From there, you can edit and customize everything as much as you’d like, rather than starting from a blank page. You also get access to essential features, including:

  • Advanced design (i.e., animation, video backgrounds, and parallax)
  • Unlimited fonts with 100+ built into the platform
  • Integrated live chat to speak with customers in real-time
  • Free SSL security certificate
  • Powerful analytics and reporting
  • Intuitive ecommerce features (on specific plans)
  • Simple blogging tools

Furthermore, you can try it out and build your entire website for free. However, the free plan comes with a Wix subdomain as your URL, meaning it’ll look like this — username.wixsite.com. And Wix also displays ads on your website. 

You have to upgrade to a paid plan when you’re ready to publish your website using a custom domain name without Wix branding. 

If you don’t already have a domain name, you can get one free for the first year if you choose one of Wix’s annual paid plans. Alternatively, see our top domain registrar recommendations to purchase one elsewhere. 

Wix’s paid plans start at $13 per month and increase from there, depending on what you need. 

Get started on the free plan to take Wix for a test drive today!

#2 – WordPress.org — The Best CMS for Bloggers

WordPress.org Logo

WordPress.org

Best for Bloggers

Powers 38% of the entire internet, making it the most popular CMS on the market. Open-source with 55,000+ plugins for extended functionality. Free to download and install.

38% of the entire internet runs on the WordPress.org CMS platform. 

Plus, it’s the most popular content management system available. You can build virtually any type of website with WordPress.org. However, it’s most suitable for bloggers and websites that regularly publish new content. 

WordPress.org is a free, open-source platform that makes it easy to create, edit, and manage the pages of your website as well as your blog posts. 

Furthermore, you also get access to features, like:

  • 55,000+ free and paid plugins for added functionality
  • Complete design flexibility and freedom
  • Intuitive media management (i.e., images and videos)
  • Mobile app to manage your site on the go
  • A community of 60+ million users

We use it here at Crazy Egg, and it’s perfect for our needs. 

But despite being free to download, you need to buy web hosting before installing and using WordPress.org’s open-source software. 

With that said, most essential web hosting services cost between $3 and $10 per month for the first year (we recommend Bluehost). So, it’s one of the most affordable options on this list. 

However, there is a learning curve, so be prepared to spend some time learning how WordPress.org works. Once you get the hang of it, it’s straightforward to use, lightweight, and much easier than coding a website from scratch. 

Download WordPress.org for free today and get hosting with Bluehost!

#3 – Squarespace – The Best CMS for Creative Businesses 

Squarespace Logo

Squarespace

Best for Creative Businesses

All-in-one drag-and-drop website builder for displaying creative, visual portfolios. Includes web hosting services and a free domain name for the first year. Paid plans start at $12 per month with a free 14-day trial.

Squarespace is also an all-in-one page builder. Its intuitive drag-and-drop builder makes it perfect for beginners and creative businesses alike. 

However, it’s most suitable for businesses that rely on visual content, like photographers, illustrators, design studios, and artists. 

While Wix and WordPress.org are known for flexibility, Squarespace is known for its beautiful and professional design templates. They’re perfect and ready to go right out of the box, making Squarespace an excellent choice even if you’re not tech-savvy. 

And every plan includes powerful CMS features, like:

  • Pre-built design sections
  • Third-party extensions
  • Built-in email and social tools
  • Basic blogging features
  • Ecommerce functionality (on some plans)

Furthermore, Squarespace includes web hosting services, so you don’t have to worry about buying it elsewhere. And you can also get a free domain name if you opt for one of their annual premium plans. 

Paid plans start at $12 per month billed annually. But, you can pay a bit more for month-to-month billing if you’re not sold on the platform. 

Just keep in mind you don’t get a free domain name with Squarespace’s monthly plans. 

Start your 14-day free trial today!

#4 – Drupal — The Best Content Management System for High-Security Industries

Drupal Logo

Drupal

Best for Security

Free, open-source CMS software known for airtight security features. Best for banks, healthcare facilities, and government agencies. Requires web hosting and your own domain name.

Government agencies, universities, banks, and healthcare facilities are just a few examples of high-security industries with heightened security needs. And organizations like NASA, Cornell University, and the White House trust Drupal to keep their websites secure. 

Why? Because the open-source platform is built with security and stability in mind. 

There are more than one million developers supporting Drupal around the world. Furthermore, they have an in-house team of security experts continuously monitoring and addressing security issues and vulnerabilities. 

And many attacks and security problems get resolved before they become a threat thanks to Drupal’s extensive community code review process. 

With Drupal, you also get access to advanced security features, including:

  • Extensive user access control
  • Database encryption
  • Transparency with frequent security reports
  • Automatic updates
  • Malicious data entry protection
  • Mitigation of DDoS attacks
  • Regular security patches

Aside from security, Drupal is highly customizable and suitable for organizations of varying sizes. Plus, the software offers accessibility, automation, and personalization features straight out of the box. 

Note: You need to buy web hosting services before you can start using Drupal. Check out our top web hosting recommendations to find the right hosting services for your new website. 

Download Drupal for free today!

#5 – Cypher Learning — The Best Content Management System for Online Education

Cypher Learning Logo

Cypher Learning

Best for Online Education

Industry-leading learning management software for universities shifting to online learning and businesses interested in internal training programs or selling online courses. Complete online education environment builder.

An learning management system (LMS) is a specific type of content management system, specifically for online education. And if you’re interested in creating a website to facilitate online learning, Cypher Learning offers the top systems on the market. 

They offer specialized products for schools, businesses, and entrepreneurs. So you’re covered whether you want to build an internal training platform for your employees, an online classroom for your students, or you want to add an extra revenue stream to your online business.

NEO is Cypher Learning’s solution for schools and universities. It’s suitable for educational facilities of all shapes and sizes, anywhere in the world. 

And the best part? It’s free for basic CMS features and schools with up to 400 students. 

MATRIX is for enterprise business training programs. It’s an excellent solution whether you need to train your employees, want to sell online courses, or track your employee’s performance over time. 

Plans start at $249 per month for up to 50 learners. 

Lastly, INDIE is perfect for entrepreneurs and small business owners interested in creating and selling online courses. It includes everything you need to create, market, and sell your courses to share your expertise and make more money online. 

INDIE plans start at $103 per month for up to 1,000 students. 

Each product offers a free 14-day trial so you can try it free to see if it’s the best content management system for your organization.

#6 – CrownPeak — The Best Enterprise-Grade CMS Solution

CrownPeak Logo

CrownPeak

Best Enterprise CMS

The only cloud-native enterprise-grade CMS platform. Get everything you need to build, personalize, and launch complex websites at scale. Custom pricing plans only.

If you need to launch and scale complex websites or manage content on multiple websites from one centralized location, CrownPeak is the world’s only cloud-native enterprise-grade CMS platform. 

This powerful platform empowers enterprise users to create excellent and contextual experiences across hundreds of channels around the world. Plus, this CMS exists to help you build, personalize, and launch intricate websites at scale. 

With CrownPeak, you can use their in-line content editor or a form editor. Plus, you can create content once and deliver it across hundreds of sites with one click. Furthermore, you get access to enterprise-grade features, like:

  • Advanced A/B testing and targeting rules
  • Content localization and translation features
  • Multi-site management from one dashboard
  • Omni-channel accessibility compliance
  • Completely headless experiences
  • Consent compliance and management
  • No upsells and no downtime

CrownPeak Digital Experience Management also includes a secondary product to optimize your websites and user experiences seamlessly without breaking the bank. It helps users flag broken links, spot accessibility issues, find critical SEO errors, and more. 

It’s the only CMS on the market today that offers this level of service. 

Pricing isn’t available online. So, request a quote or schedule a free demo to see if CrownPeak DXM is the right enterprise-grade CMS solution for you. 

Methodology For Choosing The Best Content Management System

Now that you know my top CMS recommendations, let’s talk about how to choose the best content management system for you and your new website. 

Every platform is unique and serves users of differing skill levels with different requirements. So, it’s important to consider the following factors as you go through the process of making your final decision. 

Your Skill Level

If you’ve never created a website before, Wix and Squarespace are the easiest content management systems to use. 

However, if you’re up for a slight challenge, WordPress.org is an excellent alternative. It offers more flexibility and creative freedom. However, it does take a few extra steps to get going. The process starts with purchasing a shared web hosting plan.

With that said, systems like Drupal, Cypher Learning, and CrownPeak have a steeper learning curve. So, I don’t recommend them unless you know what you’re doing or have a specific need for those types of content management systems. 

Purpose of Your Website

Aside from skill level, the purpose of your website is just as important to consider. 

Drupal, Cypher Learning, and CrownPeak all have specific use cases. So, I only recommend those if you need the specific features they come with. 

On the other hand, WordPress.org is great because you can create virtually any type of website you want to. From ecommerce and blogging to restaurants and physical stores, there’s a plugin to make it happen. 

Wix and Squarespace are a bit more limited in what you can do with them. However, they’re both still a smart choice for beginners. Wix is better for ecommerce stores, bloggers, and general businesses. 

And Squarespace is best for creative businesses interested in showing off their portfolios. 

Flexibility Requirements

Some content management systems are more flexible than others. 

But if you need a simple website and want a simple setup process, Wix and Squarespace are your best options. Their drag and drop interfaces make getting started and maintaining your website easy. 

However, if you need more flexibility, WordPress.org is your best bet. With 55,000+ plugins, you can make your website do anything you want it to. But, it’s not as easy to learn, so expect to take some time to learn how to use it. 

Drupal and Cypher Learning offer a lot of flexibility for their specific use cases. But, I don’t recommend them unless you’re after airtight security or creating an online learning platform. 

Lastly, CrownPeak is highly customizable and flexible. But, it’s overkill for most websites. So, stick to one of the other options unless you need an enterprise-grade CMS. 

Wix Logo

Wix

Best for Beginners

All-in-one drag-and-drop website builder. Includes web hosting services and a free domain name for the first year. Paid plans start at $13 per month with a limited free forever plan to try it out.

Summary

For most users, WordPress.org is an excellent choice. It’s flexible, open-source, and easy to use once you figure out how it works. It’s suitable for virtually every type of website. However, you do need to buy web hosting (we highly recommend Bluehost). 

Plus, Bluehost makes it incredibly easy to get started. They offer a free domain name for the first year and one-click WordPress.org installation. So, it only takes a few clicks to get things set up. 

However, if you’re an absolute beginner and want something easy to use and simple to set up, Wix is your best option. It doesn’t offer quite as much flexibility, but it’s the easiest content management system on the market. 

Aside from WordPress.org and Wix, the right choice depends on what you need. 

So, be sure to use the criteria we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the best content management system for your new website. 

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Source: https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/best-content-management-systems/

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