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Act! is a powerful CRM + a marketing automation powerhouse!

Act! CRM

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Fantastic Automation Capabilities

Powerful Customer Data Management

Great Reporting & Analytics


Finding the right customer management platform can feel impossible with so many choices.

Pick the wrong one, and you’re potentially throwing away revenue, leads, and lifelong client relationships.

I’m AJ, here to help narrow it down. I’ve used all kinds of business software while building my business over the last decade.

After a successful multi-million dollar exit, I acquired Small Business Bonfire (SBB) to help my fellow entrepreneurs succeed.

So let’s talk about one of my favorite CRMs for SMBs—Act! CRM. The SBB team and I did our homework by testing the platform thoroughly over three months (so you don’t have to).

Let’s get into it!

FYI—we compiled a list of the best Small Business CRM platforms. Be sure to check it out when you’re finished reading!

You Can Trust Small Business Bonfire

The Small Business Bonfire team and I have been testing hundreds of platforms over the last decade, providing our honest take on each one to take the guesswork out of the equation for you. To learn more about how we test, please read this article here. 

What is Act! CRM (Customer Relationship Management)?

Act! CRM is a customer relationship management (CRM platform that’s both cloud-based and has a desktop version.

Act! evolved from a personal contact manager (created in the late 80s) into a fully-fledged CRM designed with small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in mind.

Some features that Act! software offers include:

Contact managementMarketing automationTask managementReporting & analyticsOpportunity tracking

We think it’s fantastic for SMBs looking to scale their sales process management and take their marketing automation efforts to the next level.

Despite the immense power that Act! CRM offers to manage all your data comprehensively, it’s clear that the user interface (UI) could seriously benefit from a much-needed overhaul.

We believe that if Act! CRM was to redesign its interface with a modern and user-friendly touch, it could easily become one of our all-time favorites.

Pros and Cons of Act! CRM

It’s just as important to look at a CRM’s negatives as the positives. So let’s look at the pros and cons of Act! CRM.

Act! CRM Pros

Act! CRM Cons

Who is Act! CRM Best Suited For?

Act! CRM has a lot of use cases, but let’s narrow it down a little.

Here’s who we think Act! CRM is best suited for:

Small businesses – Act! is great for small businesses that want powerful automation and customer data management without breaking the bank.Midsize businesses – We think Act! is great for midsize businesses looking to scale and ensure leads don’t fall through the cracks. It’s also got great segmentation capabilities ensuring you don’t have to sort through tons of contacts manually.Marketing agencies – Act! really shines for marketing agencies eager to elevate their marketing prowess. Its robust automation capabilities are truly remarkable, enabling agencies to streamline their marketing efforts and achieve greater results with less manual effort.

Who is Act! CRM Not Suited For?

To give you the most honest review possible, it’s important to mention that Act! isn’t for everyone.

Here’s who we think Act! CRM isn’t particularly well suited:

Startups – While Act! CRM has many fantastic features, we think it may not be the best fit for startups. The platform can be somewhat confusing to navigate, even for us (and we’ve tested dozens of these platforms). Additionally, the lack of a free plan may pose a hurdle for cash-strapped startups looking to keep their operational costs low.Enterprises – For larger enterprises, Act! software may not be the optimal choice. The primary reason for this is the limitation in the pricing structure—there’s really just one plan (for cloud and desktop). This restricts scalability and doesn’t provide the flexibility large enterprises typically require.

Act! CRM Software Pricing

Act! offers a unique pricing structure in that there are only two plans—Act! for cloud and Act! for desktop.

Act! Premium Cloud – $30/monthAct! Premium Desktop – $37.50/month

How Does Act! CRM Pricing Compare?

So how does Act! CRM compare when stacked up against some of the best CRMs regarding pricing and features?

Let’s break it down!

Act! – $30/month per user

No free planPowerful marketing automationGreat customer managementAdvanced reporting and analytics

HubSpot CRM – $50/month for 2 users

Free planLimited marketing automationGreat customer managementAdvanced reporting and analytics

Pipedrive – $14.90/month per user

No free planLimited marketing automationBasic customer managementBasic reporting and analytics

Less Annoying CRM – $15/month per user

No free planLimited marketing automationBasic customer managementBasic reporting and analytics

As you can see, Act! CRM isn’t the most affordable option on this list. Pipedrive wins out at $14.90/month.

However, it’s important to note that several of Pipedrive’s advanced features are hidden behind a paywall. For instance, LeadBooster costs an additional $32.50/month.

Plus, when you compare features, Act! clearly comes out on top regarding marketing automation, contact management, and reporting capabilities.

Therefore, we declare Act! the winner in this pricing matchup. contact

Act! CRM Pricing Tips

Annual Plans Save
Act! CRM’s cloud and desktop plans are billed annually by design. This helps with budgeting your business expenses, as you’re not worrying about monthly payments or hidden fees.

Free Trial
Act! understands the importance of trying out a product before making a commitment with your wallet. They offer a great 14-day free trial. During this period, you have the opportunity to explore the platform’s powerful features and decide if it’s the right fit for your business.

Act! CRM Core Features

Task Management & Calendar View

When it comes to managing all your activities, Act! software offers a powerful and intuitive calendar and scheduling system.

The software provides an integrated calendar view that lets you see all your upcoming activities at a glance. Here’s how ours looked during our three months of testing.

This includes the following:

AppointmentsMeetingsPhone callsDeadlines

The calendar view also allows for color-coded symbols of the different activities for easier differentiation and prioritization.

We started testing this feature by adding in some typical activities that we have at Small Business Bonfire.

Adding new tasks was as easy as one click (“add task”) and then filling out a few fields.

Check out the “activities” card we thought was awesome regarding how much info we could add.

The Small Business Bonfire team and I found the task management capabilities of Act! CRM are incredibly beneficial.

It was easy to see how Act! CRM had an immediate impact on our productivity.

The color-coded symbols made differentiating and prioritizing activities a breeze.

Detailed activity cards ensured we had all the information needed at our fingertips. We found ourselves spending less time organizing our tasks and more time focusing on growth-driving activities.

Contact Management

When it comes to contact management, Act! CRM delivers the goods.

We started testing this feature by adding some of our B2B affiliate contacts at Small Business Bonfire.

Here’s how the “new contact” interface looked (for reference).

For starters, we loved how we were able to switch between detail and list view for all of our contacts.

This allowed us to organize and segment our customer data to make it easy to find and reach out to them.

We also really liked how much information was available on each contact card.

We were able to easily view the following from each card:

ActivitiesOpportunitiesHistoryDiscountsPersonal infoVendor responseRelated marketing automation

Act! CRM does a fantastic job of providing the information you need for each contact.

However, the only downside to this is that it can appear clunky (and frankly a bit overwhelming) while trying to navigate each contact.

So if you’re looking for substance over style when it comes to managing your contacts, Act! CRM has our vote.

Marketing Automation

Act! isn’t just a CRM—it’s also a fully functioning marketing automation tool.

Essentially, Act! provides an all-in-one platform that can help scale your marketing efforts.

With Act!, you get access to the following:

Automated workflowsDynamic contentComprehensive campaign management

The marketing automation feature makes it easy to strategically target your contacts with the right message at the right time, boosting customer engagement.

You can design beautiful and responsive automation sequences with the drag-and-drop builder or choose from a library of helpful templates (pictured below).

With A/B testing and advanced analytics, you can easily optimize your campaigns and measure their success.

From attracting new prospects to nurturing existing customers and even turning them into brand ambassadors, Act!’s marketing automation capabilities can drive your business growth.

We saw this firsthand as we tested the platform over three months, creating all kinds of automation.

Some that we created include:

Welcome emailsFollow up emailsReengagement campaignsAbandoned cart campaigns

The combination of powerful automation and analytics made it a breeze to measure our success. This allowed us to make meaningful data-driven decisions that led to more deals being closed!

So, if you’re looking for a CRM that can double as a robust marketing automation tool, Act! is the platform for you!

Opportunity Tracking

Whether it’s sales pipeline management, tracking deals, or managing opportunities, Act! CRM’s got you covered.

The software allows you to create an opportunity and assign the following details to it with ease:

Days openRelated productsAssociated contactsProcess/stageProbabilityStatus

To really test this feature (over three months), we added in some affiliate marketing deals we have at Small Business Bonfire.

Here’s how the creation page looked (to paint a picture).

We especially liked how within each opportunity card, we could add and manage all products associated with each deal.

For example, we were able to easily create a product called “affiliate plan” (shown below).

We were able to easily customize the following within each card:

Item numberCostPriceAdjusted priceDiscount

In short, we found the opportunity tracking feature of Act! CRM to be robust and flexible.

It provides a comprehensive view of your sales pipeline, which can help significantly in making data-driven sales decisions.

Opportunity management is a remarkable addition to Act! CRM’s repertoire. Our only complaint is that (like most of Act! CRM) it’s a little confusing and hard to navigate.

Landing Pages

Having a great landing page is essential for capturing your audience’s interest and persuading them to take action. Act! CRM excels in this regard as well.

Act! gave us the option to create a page from scratch or use one of their helpful templates (shown below).

We think these templates make the whole landing page creation process much more manageable for beginners, which is always great.

From there, we named our page, added tags, and selected the page/skin type.

Here’s how the process looked for us.

Finally, we filled out the following fields:

Notification emailAuto-responseAssigned contactAllow/don’t allow duplicates

After that, we were in business. We were able to automate our landing page with all kinds of actions (which we thought was awesome).

All in all, landing page creation with Act! was awesome. Despite the otherwise cumbersome UI, Act! made it easy to create landing pages and get a lot of mileage out of each one!

Reporting & Analytics

At Small Business Bonfire, we firmly believe in learning from our data to make informed decisions.

In this regard, Act! CRM’s reporting and analytics capabilities were well worth the price of admission.

Some reports we were able to create include the following:

Gross marginGroup summaryLost opportunitiesPipeline reportSales by reason

Throughout our testing period, we obtained actionable insights with these reports that helped us refine our strategies and enhance performance.

For example, check out a report we created called “opportunities by record manager and process.”

As you can see, it’s not the flashiest reporting by any means. However, Act! does a great job of laying out all of the information in a way that’s easily digestible.

So if you’re looking for data and results instead of flashy reports, Act! is a solid bet.

What are the Limitations of Act! CRM?

No CRM is perfect, and Act! is no exception.

Some limitations of Act! CRM include:

Limited pricing options: Act! CRM only offers one pricing plan (for the cloud and desktop versions). This could be a limitation for businesses with varying needs and budgets, as there isn’t much flexibility to choose a plan that’s tailored to their specific requirements. Despite the comprehensive features it offers, if your business needs only a subset of these functionalities, you might find yourself paying for features you don’t need or use.No free plan: Unfortunately, Act! CRM does not provide a free plan. This might be a turn-off for small businesses and startups who are testing the waters and looking for a cost-effective CRM solution. Nevertheless, Act! does offer a 14-day free trial, which can give you a brief insight into its features and capabilities.The UI is outdated: One of the most significant drawbacks of Act! CRM is its user interface. From the outset, we noted that the system can appear somewhat clunky, making navigation a bit of a challenge. There’s a steep learning curve, especially for beginners, which can lead to a frustrating user experience.Limited customization options: Another area where Act! CRM could improve is in providing more customization options. For instance, when managing contacts or tracking opportunities, we found ourselves wishing for the ability to add more personalized fields specific to our business needs. This limitation can hinder users from fully capturing and utilizing customer data, which is central to CRM functions.

Act! CRM Integrations

When it comes to integrations, Act! CRM offers quite a bit.

They also make it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for by breaking the integrations down.

These categories include the following:

Sales & marketingBusiness productivitySocial mediaeCommerceBack officeCustomer service

Here’s a screenshot of the Act! Marketplace to give you a better idea.

At Small Business Bonfire, we use Slack for the majority of our communications, so we were excited to see it on the list of “business productivity connections.”

We clicked “get started” and were taken to a Zapier web page (shown below), where we easily integrated Slack with our CRM.

The whole process took less than 5 minutes, and we were in business!

From there, we were able to receive notifications when deals were added, changed, or deleted.

We think integrations are a great way to add value to your CRM system and automate certain processes. Act! makes this process as easy as it can get.

Overall, when it comes to integrations, Act! offers quite a few options (and the process is made even easier thanks to Zapier).

How to Get Started with Act! CRM

Getting started with Act! CRM was super easy (and took less than a few minutes).

Let’s go through the onboarding process.

We navigated to the Act! homepage (shown below), where we saw a brightly colored call to action (CTA) to try it for free.

The SBB team and I don’t typically turn down a free trial, so naturally, we signed up.

Next, we filled out the following fields:

NameBusiness emailPhone numberBusiness name

From there, we answered a few questions, such as:

How many people would be using the CRMOur reason for using Act!Our business type

Here’s how it looked from our perspective.

Finally, we created a secure password, and that was it!

We were taken to the main dashboard (screenshot below), which honestly was a bit overwhelming.

While the onboarding process was seamless, we immediately noticed that the UI could use a major update.

However, just based on getting started, we give Act! CRM two thumbs up!

Is Act! CRM Easy to Use?

While Act! CRM offers a range of robust features that can streamline and enhance your customer relationship management, its user interface does leave a bit to be desired.

It seems slightly dated and could be more intuitive, making it less user-friendly than some of the other CRMs on the market.

Here are some areas where the user interface could benefit from improvements:

Navigation: The navigational structure can be a bit cumbersome and complex, making it difficult for users to quickly access the information or feature they’re looking for.Dashboard layout: The main dashboard, while comprehensive, can be overwhelming due to the amount of information presented. A more straightforward, less cluttered layout could improve user experience.Visual appeal: Lastly, the aesthetic of the user interface is quite dated. A design refresh could make the platform more appealing and modern, improving user engagement.
Remember, a CRM should work to simplify your business processes, not complicate them.

So while Act! software is undeniably powerful, the challenge lies in navigating its user interface efficiently.

Act! CRM Customer Service Review

Great customer service is like a lifeline for any software user, especially when it comes to CRM systems where extensive data are managed.

When things go wrong or when you need guidance, it’s the customer support that comes to your rescue.

Let’s take a look at the kind of customer service Act! CRM provides.

Act! offers a comprehensive suite of customer service options to ensure customers get the support they need.

This includes the following:

Helpful tutorial videosKnowledge baseWebinarsEmail supportSupport tickets

To test the response time of Act!’s service team, we asked about getting started with marketing automation.

To our surprise, we heard back within a matter of minutes!

However, before getting a response, we checked their knowledge base by searching our question.

Within seconds, we found a page that detailed the entire process. Three cheers for great customer (and self) service!

Does Act! CRM Have a Mobile App?

Yes, Act! CRM has a mobile application available for both iOS and Android devices.

This means you can take your customer management on the go, updating contact information, managing opportunities, and tracking sales activities right in the palm of your hand.

We downloaded the app for iOS and were surprised to find that we preferred the app to the desktop version in many cases.

Specifically, we thought the interface for adding new opportunities or contacts was much easier to navigate on mobile.

However, just like the desktop version of Act!, we think the software could use a full overhaul to make it more user-friendly.

Act! CRM Alternative Comparison

We’ve established that Act! is fantastic, but it’s not the only option. Here are some alternatives that we think are worth checking out.

Is Act! CRM Worth it for Small Business Owners?

Act! CRM is perfect for SMBs!

Act! software ensures you’re not just getting a CRM (with optional digital marketing features) but a virtual Swiss Army Knife for your business.

So, if you’re a small business owner still on the fence about choosing a CRM, do yourself a favor. Give Act! CRM a spin today. After all, it’s completely free with the 14-day trial.

The post Act! CRM Review 2023: Best All-In-One Software for SMBs? appeared first on Small Business Bonfire.

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