High inflation has small businesses looking to AI-driven CRM

Anna Vod · March 1, 2024 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/581e

Streamline your marketing campaigns, client communication, project management - with AI assistance

While the stock market has hit record highs unseen since 2021, one stock -- Hubspot -- is outperforming, at least since last fall. Shares have gone from $411 in October 2023 to $627 as of March 1, 2024. This is largely due to demand for AI-driven customer relationship management software for small businesses -- a new product for Hubspot.

It's quite an achievement given the dismal economy in the United States driven by record-setting government spending that has caused inflation to reach 40-yr highs. Moreover, these high costs are putting small businesses out of business. Nearly 1 out of 2 are saying they may shutter their doors. Labor costs are one of the biggest issues. In a recent survey, 39% of small businesses said labor issues were hurting their business.

Is it any wonder that companies offering artificial intelligence products for small businesses are getting noticed? Here's a look at some seasoned ones to emerging ones hoping to help small businesses save costs amid inflationary times.

In this overview, we highlight some go-to options for business owners looking to invest in marketing and use the newest tools to score leads and build great client relationships.

Streamlining client interactions

The aforementioned HubSpot is among the more established players in the field. It positions itself as a customer platform where companies can manage customer service in addition to fulfilling their marketing, sales, CMS, operations, and commerce needs. “The real magic,” HubSpot proclaims on its website, happens when you use its products together and get insight “into every contact at each stage in their customer journey.”

However, each of the products in its suite comes with a separate price tag. The starter plans with limited functionality begin at $20 a month for individuals and small teams; but just the marketing product plans for businesses and enterprises cost $800 per month and are also limited on contacts.

HubSpot leverages its tools with GPT-powered generative AI, which it offers for single-page website building, forecasting sales, writing content, and brainstorming ideas. AI helps eliminate repetitive tasks and boosts your SMB's productivity, as well as connect with your customers better, the company said in its June 2023 AI roadmap.

Launched in 2006, HubSpot counts more than 194,000 clients across 120 countries, according to its website. These include some big names like Reddit, Eventbrite, Doordash, WeightWatchers, Casio, and the World Wildlife Fund.

For smaller businesses

Let's next look at Keap, based out of Chandler, AZ. In business since 2001, it’s been backed by Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital Ventures, and was known as Infusionsoft up to 2019. This e-mail marketing and sales platform targets small businesses in particular and offers pricing plans from $159 per month with limited users and contacts per plan.

Among competitors, Keap positions itself as the affordable option where clients get significantly more for the price. In addition to its friendly user interface, sales management, and one-on-one interactions with customers, Keap offers onboarding support and expert business coaching. It also sports drag-and-drop customizable designs on landing pages and lead capture tools at no additional cost.

Keap has also integrated generative AI into its platform, focusing on content writing specifically. "Create content for marketing campaigns in minutes instead of days," Keap says. From landing pages to text messages, AI makes copy writing faster.

Keap has served more than 200,000 clients: consultants, marketing agencies, coaches, startups, travel agents, lawn care specialists, home cleaners, and “countless other growth-focused small businesses,” according to its website.

A virtual AI employee

Here’s a newer player in the market on the Canada side: Leadfox. This startup offers its clients no less than another employee – an AI-powered digital assistant who will lay out your marketing strategy for you, leveraged by the expertise of an entire marketing team. The AI plan also includes the generating of written content and images. This option is available to SMBs starting at $271 per month, if paid annually.

Separately, Leadfox offers plans starting from $59.95 per month for access to basic marketing automation. Leadfox clients get all-in-one software with hundreds of templates and builder tools for pop-ups, call-to-action buttons, emails and newsletters, and landing pages. The tactics Leadfox employs include promotion, sweepstakes, conversion funnel, marketing offers, newsletters, and more. Its plans include several marketing campaigns per year, plus you get A/B testing, as well as visitor tracking and analysis.

Operating since 2016, Leadfox serves hundreds of SMBs across the world, according to its website.

Sales pipeline management

Sales teams in industries such as real estate, consulting, and manufacturing often turn to Pipedrive, with headquarters in Tallinn, Estonia, and New York City. Pipedrive boasts an intuitive user interface that focuses on sales pipeline management specifically, emphasizing moving deals through various stages of the sales process. And this pipeline is customizable, able to match unique sales processes. The platform has great communication tracking tools for activity-based selling.

Pipedrive is using AI for sales assistance. It uses AI to analyze your actions and find the most effective ways to improve your workflow. It is also used to track team performance, predict deals' probability, get progress updates, and more.

Lastly, Pipedrive makes its plans affordable for SMBs, offering a price range of $14.90 to $99 per user per month for various levels of use. Founded in 2010, the company said it serves more than 100,000 SMBs in 179 countries.

Integrating third-party AI tools

Here comes Insightly, based in San Francisco. This platform, launched in 2009, is the go-to for clients big and small “across nearly every industry.” Alongside traditional CRM functionality and personalized customer journeys, Insightly integrates project management solutions in another step forward to make its platform a one-stop for customer communication and project workflows.

Insightly also integrates with a wide range of third-party tools across HR, finance, e-commerce, support, and IT. And -- most importantly for this story -- it integrates AI tools like Amazon Lex, Google Speech to Text, Google Dialogflow, Gender API, Workbot for Slack, and others.

The pricing depends on the products you want to bundle; the all-in-one option with CRM, marketing, AppConnect, and service starts at $349 per month.

The Indian unicorn

Consider also Zoho CRM, a platform based out of India, designed specifically for SMBs. This platform offers a free entry-level option, plus plans for scaling businesses starting at $14 per user. Among its cool features, Zoho sports a customizable dashboard and a social listening tool that allows you to track your company interactions on social media.

In addition to the expected automation in lead management, Zoho also leverages assistance from generative AI on predictive analytics and lead scoring, but this option is only accessible to its top-tier clients.

Operating since 2005, Zoho is known for having exceeded $1 billion in revenue without any external investment. Today, it boasts serving 100 million users globally and has served big names like Amazon, L’Oreal, and Daimler, according to its website.

These are just a few top options in the vast and ever-expanding landscape of CRM solutions. From industry giants to innovative startups, the U.S. market boasts a plethora of CRM platforms, each offering unique features, functionalities, and benefits. Whether you're a small business seeking to enhance customer engagement or a large enterprise aiming to boost sales efficiency, finding the right CRM platform to meet your needs is paramount. We hope this overview, however terse and limited, gave you new ideas into the modern offerings and prices the CRM platforms have in store.

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