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Have you been struggling to choose the right CRM for your small to medium-sized business (SMB)?

With an array of options in the market, like Pipeline and EngageBay, it can be a challenging task to decide which one aligns best with your business needs.

Hi, I’m AJ! I built my business over the last ten years to a successful seven-figure exit

In doing so, I’ve learned what works (and what doesn’t). My goal with Small Business Bonfire (SBB) is to help fellow business owners succeed (without making the same mistakes I did). 

So, let’s talk about two of the best CRMs I’ve used—Pipeline CRM and EngageBay. We put them head to head to see which was the best overall.

Let’s break it down!

Bonfire Rating: 4.7/5

Pipeline CRM is perfect for managing your sales pipelines as you scale your small business!

Bonfire Rating: 4.7/5

EngageBay is perfect tool to help SMBs grow from the ground up!

How Did We Evaluate Pipeline CRM and EngageBay?

The SBB team and I evaluated Pipeline CRM and EngageBay CRM using the following metrics:

Pricing & Free VersionTop FeaturesCustomer ServiceIntegrationsEase of UseBest Mobile AppKnowledge and Learning CenterLimitationsWhich One We Think is Best for Small Businesses

How We Objectively Test Each Platform:

Expert Review



Customer Service


Ease of Use


AJ’s got a knack for kick-starting businesses, putting them on autopilot, and setting them up for acquisition. Over the past decade, he’s been right in the thick of things with hundreds of small businesses, helping them with just about everything under the business sun. If you need advice on software suites and choices? AJ’s your guy.

We roll up our sleeves and dive into the top CRM features we think are pretty crucial for small businesses. Stuff like reports and analytics, options to customize your pipelines, and the ability to link up with other apps and services. We know what makes small businesses tick, so we know what features they need to get the job done.

Money matters, folks! When it comes to picking a CRM system, price is usually the deal-breaker. We give a big thumbs up if a provider charges $30 or less per user each month for their starter plan. Extra brownie points for throwing in a freebie plan or trial, options to scale up or down as needed, and the freedom to pay monthly or yearly. We’re looking for flexability for small businesses. 

We all know support is mega important when you’re choosing a CRM platform. This is especially true for those smaller businesses or sales teams who can’t afford to have tech wizards on their payroll. We put our detective hats on to see if these companies offer round-the-clock support, and we looked at the different ways you can get help. We’re talking live chat (like, real-time convo), email tickets, a good old-fashioned phone call, and self-service tools (for the DIY-ers out there).

When you’re in the business of picking a CRM, integrations are like the secret sauce that takes your burger from ‘meh’ to ‘mind-blowing’. Imagine, all your favorite apps and tools, working together in perfect harmony, making your workflow smoother than a fresh tub of Nutella. When we review a CRM, we look at the integrations most SMB owners are looking for.

When you’re reviewing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, it’s essential to pay close attention to its ease of use. After all, a CRM is as beneficial as its usability. A simple, intuitive interface saves you and your team a great deal of time and headache. When we’re reviewing each CRM, this is a crucial aspect that we look for.

The importance of Mobile CRM cannot be overstated in today’s digital age. It’s essential for fostering strong customer relationships and managing business activities. Mobile access to CRM makes it possible for sales teams to update and access customer information in real time, improving efficiency and ensuring up-to-date data. Mobile CRM can have a massive impact on SMBs, so thoroughly testing it is essential for each one of our reviews.

EngageBay Vs. Pipeline CRM Comparison Chart

Here’s an overview of how each platform did during our comparison.

EngageBay Vs. Pipeline CRM: Pricing

Let’s see how the two platforms do when it comes to pricing. 

EngageBay Pricing

EngageBay offers a free forever plan and three paid plans.

They are as follows:

Free – Free foreverBasic – $14.99/month Growth – $49.99/month Pro – $99.99/month 

Pipeline CRM Pricing​

Pipeline offers three pricing plans.

They are as follows:

Start Plan – $25/monthDevelop – $33/monthGrow – $49/month

Pipeline CRM Vs. EngageBay Pricing Winner: EngageBay

AJ’s Take: There’s no doubt in my mind that EngageBay takes the win when it comes to pricing. The free forever plan is a major plus for small businesses, and even their paid plans are affordable.

Pipeline CRM Vs. EngageBay: Top Features

Let’s see how each platform performs when it comes to features. 

EngageBay Top Features

EngageBay has some fantastic features that cover everything from marketing and sales to customer service. 

Contact management is a vital component of any CRM. EngageBay’s contact management system lets you keep all your client information organized and in one place

The best part is that it’s entirely free to use (and extremely beginner-friendly).

We started testing this feature (over six months) by putting in some of our B2B affiliate marketing contacts at SBB. 

Here’s how it looked to add a new contact.

As you can see, the contact cards are comprehensive but also sleek and easy to read.

We were able to easily add and edit the following information:

NameEmailRoleTagsCompanyPhone number Custom fields

We could easily add custom fields for anything specific to our business within each card.

For example, here’s a checkbox we created to let our entire team know when a contact has been followed up with. 

This kept everyone on the same page and ensured we were all in the loop if a prospect or client needed attention. 

Once our fields were customized and our contacts put in, here’s how our dashboard looked.

Overall, we were impressed with how easy and customizable EngageBay’s contact management system is.

Finding excellent sales pipeline management for free is like finding a needle in a haystack. 

But EngageBay has done just that.

We were able to track our leads through their entire journey, from initial contact to post-sales

We added some of our affiliate marketing deals at Small Business Bonfire to test the capabilities of EngageBay.

We were blown away by how intuitive the interface was and how well we could customize everything to our liking. 

Here’s our list view to give you a better idea of how great it was.

We especially liked the color-coded milestones that showed us exactly where each of our Pipeline deals was. 

We also liked the grid view, which offered a drag-and-drop user interface (to easily move open deals around).

Here’s how it looked during our testing. 

The bottom line: EngageBay is a dream come true for a sales rep. The best part is that it won’t break the bank!

Staying on top of your tasks is crucial in any business, especially as you scale. 

EngageBay’s task management feature helps you stay organized and on top of everything that needs to get done.

We tested this feature by setting up some typical onboarding tasks at Small Business Bonfire. 

Here’s a new task card (for reference). 

Within each card, we had full control over which tasks deserved priority, who was assigned, and any notes related to the task

It was like having a virtual assistant keeping us on task (but without the added expense). 

Check out our tasks pipeline once we put some tasks in.

As you can see, everything is easy to read and color-coded to show the urgency of each task. 

At the end of the day, task management isn’t the most impressive feature of a CRM, but we loved how effortless it was with EngageBay.

Email marketing is one of the most effective means of communicating with potential and existing customers. 

EngageBay’s all-in-one marketing platform allows you to create professional-looking, branded emails quickly and easily. 

They offer customizable templates (shown below) and an easy drag-and-drop email builder so you can have your emails up and running in no time.

Creating a campaign is as simple as clicking “Create Broadcast” and giving it a name.

Here’s one we created as the introduction to our newsletter (the Bonfire Field Guide).

From there, we simply created an email for each stage in the campaign. 

Check out our email creation process below for a better idea of what we’re talking about.

Once everything was customized, we could easily schedule and send off our emails! The whole thing took less than 30 minutes (and we saved a ton of time in the process). 

Web form creation is necessary for any business collecting leads or customer information. 

With EngageBay, we could easily create custom forms (and embed them on our website).

Here’s an example of a form we created for our newsletter sign-up at Small Business Bonfire.

From there, we were able to customize the appearance and fields (and add tags as needed).

Here’s how it looked from our perspective. 

There’s a ton of depth here (with essentially no learning curve), making it perfect for SMBs looking to streamline their marketing efforts and convert visitors more effectively.  

Plus, it’s extremely affordable (for startups and businesses on a budget).

Landing page creation is a feature that’s not offered by all CRMs. 

However, we think it’s one of the most important methods for capturing leads

Lucky for us—EngageBay offers a landing page builder that’s both easy to use and effective.

Check out the gorgeous templates below (we were pretty impressed).

We created a page to showcase our newsletter, the Bonfire Field Guide. 

Here’s what it looks like in editor mode (midway through the creation process).

The best part is how easy it was to edit and customize the page exactly as we wanted

Throughout our three months of using EngageBay, we saw a noticeable increase in conversion rates when using these landing pages. 

A definite win for the SBB team!

Live chat software is a must-have in a world where digital communication is king. 

EngageBay offers a fantastic live chat solution that’s 100% free

Like everything with EngageBay, we found it easy to set up and customize (using our brand colors and logo). 

Here’s our Bonfire Support chat box that we could easily embed on our site. 

We could create automated messages for when we weren’t available and track our response times for when we were. 

Plus, all chats are recorded, so you can review them later.

We’re firm believers in making it as easy as possible for our audience to reach us, and EngageBay’s live chat software helped us do just that. 

A robust ticket management system is an absolute game-changer for businesses trying to keep up with customer inquiries, and EngageBay doesn’t disappoint in this department. 

The ticketing system is not only intuitive but also easy to use. Now, let’s walk you through the process

Here’s a new ticket we were able to create in just a few seconds.

The process was as simple as hitting the ‘Create Ticket’ button and filling in the required details. 

Once we had all of our tickets input, our ticket dashboard transformed into a structured hub of customer interactions, making it easy to keep track of all open, closed, and pending tickets

Here’s a sneak peek into our ticket dashboard view. 

The interface was user-friendly, clutter-free, and color-coded, making it a breeze to navigate and manage tickets effectively.

We also liked that each message (whether it was live chat, email, or phone) was automatically converted into a ticket. 

This helped us keep all customer interactions in one place and made it easy for us to respond promptly.

Regarding service automation, EngageBay offers a wide range of options to help streamline your processes. 

From automating repetitive tasks and workflows to setting up autoresponders, EngageBay has got you covered. 

Here are some service automations we created while testing the platform: 

Automatically assigning users to new ticketsSending notifications when high-priority tickets are createdCreating tasks for team members when a ticket is assigned to them

We found the service automation feature particularly useful in managing our customer support and ensuring timely responses. 

Plus, it helped us save time and stay organized while dealing with a high volume of tickets

Here’s how the automation creation looked from our perspective.


Adding actions, triggers, and conditions was a breeze from this screen. 

We also appreciated the option to test out the automation before activating it.

Our takeaway: Staying on top of your tickets and customer service just got much easier with EngageBay. The fact that this feature is free forever (with no commitment) makes it even better!

Pipeline CRM Top Features

Let’s go over some great features of the pipeline-centric CRM.

Contact management is the foundation of any CRM worth its salt, and Pipeline CRM doesn’t disappoint. 

Whether you want to add leads or customers, the process is incredibly straightforward.

Plus, there’s a ton of customization options available for each contact. 

The user-friendly interface allows you to add, update, and organize your contacts into different categories or groups.

You can also track their activities and interactions with your business, making it easier to maintain personalized relationships with each contact

To really test this feature (over six months), we added our B2B affiliate marketing contacts at SBB. 

Here’s a new contact card to give you a better idea. 

Each contact card allowed us to add and edit the following information:

NameTitleContact infoCompany nameWebsiteSummary

We liked how Pipeline delivered a ton of information on each contact (without making the interface feel cluttered). 

Our contacts dashboard (shown below) was laid out nicely, with fully customizable columns (which we thought was great).

The bottom line: Pipeline doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to contact management, but it does deliver a polished and effective system that gets the job done. 

Pipeline CRM offers a clean and customizable dashboard view, giving you an instant overview of their sales pipeline. 

Throughout our six months of testing, we were able to easily track our progress by viewing the following metrics:

Deals won & lostSales performanceLead generationAgenda (tasks & meetings)Team activitySales funnel

The dashboard also allows users to create custom reports and charts for deeper insights into their sales performance. 

Here’s a glimpse of our dashboard during our testing.

At SBB, we firmly believe in making data-driven decisions, and Pipeline CRM’s dashboard allowed us to do just that.

As the name suggests, pipeline management is at the core of Pipeline CRM. 

The platform offers a simple yet effective visual representation of your sales pipeline, making tracking and managing deals at every stage easy.

During our testing period, we created custom pipelines for our various partnerships and sales processes. 

We added our affiliate marketing deals to the pipeline to really test this feature out. 

Here’s a new deal card (to give you a better idea).

We especially liked the option to add notes and activities for each deal, making it easier to collaborate with team members in real time.

Once we had our affiliate deals input, here’s how our pipeline looked.

As you can see, there’s a ton of information made readily available at a glance, including:

Deal nameCompanyAmount StatusPipelineStageSourceOwner

This gave us a bird’s eye view of our pipelines, allowing our sales reps to focus on what matters—closing more sales. 

Our verdict: Pipeline CRM is a solid choice for businesses seeking an organized and visually appealing pipeline management system.

It’s tough to scale your business if you can’t keep track of your tasks, meetings, and appointments. 

That’s where Pipeline CRM’s agenda-tracking feature comes in. 

With a clean and simple interface, users can easily view their upcoming tasks and meetings (and schedule new ones directly from the dashboard).

We scheduled a call to follow up with an affiliate marketing deal (shown below) with just one click and filling out a few fields. 

We found the calendar view (shown below) particularly helpful in keeping our team on top of their schedules (and preventing double booking). 

Plus, with integration options for Google Calendar and Outlook, you can easily sync your Pipeline CRM agenda with your preferred calendar.

Bonus tip: Use the built-in scheduler to set up follow-up emails or tasks after a call with a customer. It’s a great way to stay organized and communicate consistently with your leads and customers.

Overall, if you’re looking for a CRM with a simple and efficient agenda-tracking system, Pipeline CRM has got you covered. It may not be the best-looking feature, but it gets the job done.

The reporting and analytics capabilities of Pipeline CRM are designed to give businesses in-depth insight into their performance and streamline decision-making. 

Here’s what we found particularly impressive:

Detailed sales reports: Pipeline CRM offers comprehensive reports on every aspect of your sales funnel, from deal wins and losses to sales forecasts. These reports allowed us to understand our sales cycle better and identify potential bottlenecks.Activity reports: These reports provide a detailed breakdown of all activities, including calls made, emails sent, meetings held, and tasks completed. It helped us gauge our team’s productivity and efficiency.Custom reports: Pipeline CRM allows you to create custom reports based on specific business needs. We found this feature useful for assessing specific KPIs and trends relevant to our SBB.Visual data representation: The reports are presented in a visually appealing manner with graphs, charts, and infographics, making it easy to interpret complex data sets.Real-time analytics: All data is updated in real time, ensuring we always had the most current data to base our decisions on.

The bottom line: Pipeline CRM’s reporting and analytics capabilities are a powerful tool for businesses seeking data-driven growth and efficiency.

If you’re looking to streamline your email marketing efforts, Pipeline CRM offers robust automation and syncing features to help you do just that. 

These include the following: 

Email tracking: With Pipeline CRM, you can track all the emails sent from within the platform. This feature gave us insight into our email campaigns’ effectiveness, allowing us to make necessary adjustments.Email templates: The platform allows you to create and save custom email templates for quick communication with leads and customers.Email sync: Pipeline CRM offers two-way email syncing, allowing you to view and respond to emails directly from the platform. This feature saved us time by eliminating the need to switch between multiple tabs or programs.

We got started testing this feature by syncing our SBB Gmail account. 

The integration process took just one click (screenshot below), and we were in business!

From there, we were able to accomplish the following: 

View and respond to emails directly from Pipeline CRMCreate follow-ups with Pipeline’s marketing automation Schedule and send emails at the drop of a hatCreate bulk email campaignsCreate email templates

We created email campaigns (and sent them out without a second thought) within a matter of minutes. 

Disclaimer: It is worth pointing out that Pipeline lacks more advanced marketing features, such as A/B testing or advanced segmenting options.

If you’re serious about marketing, you might want to look elsewhere (like EngageBay). 

EngageBay Vs. Pipeline CRM Features Winner: EngageBay

AJ’s Take: When it comes to features, EngageBay takes the cake. With its all-in-one platform, businesses can get everything they need in one place without having to juggle between multiple applications. 

EngageBay Vs. Pipeline CRM: Customer Service

We put EngageBay up against Pipeline CRM in terms of customer service. 

We looked at the following metrics:

Availability Knowledge baseTrainingResponsive support

EngageBay Customer Service

Our team was thoroughly impressed by the customer service at EngageBay. 

Over a six-month period, we thoroughly tested each aspect of their customer support. 

Here’s what we found:

Availability: EngageBay’s customer service team is around the clock, ready to assist anytime. This 24/5 support was a massive plus for businesses that operate in different time zones.Knowledge base: EngageBay’s knowledge base is extensive, covering a wide range of topics. This resource proved essential in helping us better understand the platform and its features.Training: EngageBay offers detailed training sessions for its users. These sessions helped us make the most out of the platform, and we believe they will benefit any user, regardless of their technical expertise level.Responsive support: EngageBay’s customer support team was incredibly responsive. We received quick and clear responses to our queries, significantly improving our experience with the platform.

Pipeline CRM Customer Service

Pipeline CRM also offers excellent customer support. 

Here’s how we evaluated their service:

Availability: Pipeline CRM has 24/5 availability, with support agents always available to assist you.Knowledge base: While Pipeline CRM does have a knowledge base, it is not as extensive as EngageBay’s. The information available is limited and could be improved upon.Training: Pipeline CRM offers basic training resources for users, which we found helpful. However, these resources are not as in-depth as EngageBay’s.Responsive support: Pipeline CRM’s customer service team was responsive (but not as quick as EngageBay). We found that it took longer to get a response, and sometimes, the answers were not as detailed.

Pipeline CRM Vs. EngageBay Customer Service Winner: Tie

AJ’s Take: Both EngageBay and Pipeline CRM offer excellent customer support. While EngageBay may have a slight edge with its comprehensive knowledge base and active community, Pipeline CRM still provides reliable and helpful support for its customers.

Pipeline CRM Vs. EngageBay: Integrations

Let’s see how Pipeline CRM and EngagaeBay compare when it comes to integrations.

EngageBay Integrations

EngageBay provides some basic native integrations, including Zapier (which adds thousands of third-party apps). 

Some native integrations we love include the following:

AsanaTrello WhatsAppShopifyZapier 

We would have liked to see a few more native integrations (such as Slack), but EngageBay’s Zapier integration makes up for it.

Pipeline CRM Integrations

Pipeline boasts a few great native integrations.

These include the following:

MailchimpOutlookQuickBooks OnlineZapierExcel

They offer a great app store where you can easily find all the necessary integrations.

This one is close, but we think Pipeline offers the better native integrations overall. 

EngageBay Vs. Pipeline CRM Integrations Winner: Pipeline

AJ’s Take: Pipeline CRM comes out ahead in this category with its robust native integrations and easy-to-use app store. While EngageBay’s Zapier integration is impressive, its lack of other native integrations may be a dealbreaker for some businesses.

Pro Tip #1: Look for great support. You’re going to need help eventually, so make sure it’s reliable!
– AJ Silber

EngageBay Vs. Pipeline CRM: Ease of Use

Let’s compare the two platforms in terms of how easy they are to use. 

EngageBay Ease of Use

EngageBay is extremely user-friendly, and even novice users will find it easy to navigate.

It has a sleek user interface (UI) and an intuitive design that makes it simple to find what you need and get started. Even with its comprehensive features, we found EngageBay easy to learn and use.

Pipeline CRM Ease of Use

Pipeline CRM has a more cluttered UI compared to EngageBay. While it may take some time to get the hang of the platform, it is relatively straightforward to use once you do.

The learning curve may be steeper for non-technical users, but they will find their way around the platform with some time and practice.

Pipeline CRM Vs. EngageBay Ease of Use Winner: EngageBay

AJ’s Take: EngageBay’s user-friendly UI and intuitive design make it the clear winner for ease of use. Pipeline CRM may take some time to get used to, but it is still relatively manageable once you familiarize yourself with the platform.

Pipeline CRM Vs. EngageBay: Best Mobile App

A great mobile app is crucial for any business in today’s digital landscape. Let’s see how the two platforms compare against each other regarding their mobile app. 

EngageBay Mobile App

EngageBay offers a mobile app for iOS and Android devices, which is user-friendly and easy to navigate

The app offers the following features:

Deal managementLanding pagesCampaignsTask managementNotificationsContact management

While we liked the app and the ability to manage our business on the go, we found it slightly limited compared to the desktop version.

Pipeline CRM Mobile App

Pipeline CRM also offers a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices. 

Here’s what the app offers:

Contact managementReal-time updatesDeal managementTask managementEmail tracking

What’s great about Pipeline’s mobile app is that it offers all the essential features of the desktop version, allowing your sales team to manage your entire sales process on the go

EngageBay Vs. Pipeline CRM Mobile App Winner: Tie

AJ’s Take: Both platforms offer great mobile apps, with EngageBay having a slightly more user-friendly interface. However, Pipeline CRM’s app offers more functionality and features, making it a tie.

EngageBay Vs. Pipeline CRM: Knowledge Center

Self-service knowledge centers have become a must-have for any product or service.

They give users the resources they need to understand and the CRM efficiently.

So, let’s dive in and compare how EngageBay and Pipeline CRM compare in this area.

EngageBay Knowledge Center

As mentioned earlier, EngageBay’s knowledge base is extensive and comprehensive.

It covers a wide range of in-depth topics, with detailed guides, videos, and tutorials to help users navigate the platform.

Additionally, EngageBay provides regular updates and new content to keep their knowledge center relevant and up-to-date.

Pipeline CRM Knowledge Center

Pipeline CRM also has a knowledge center, but it’s not quite as extensive as EngageBay’s

While they cover the basics, we found it less helpful (and more difficult to navigate) than EngageBay’s knowledge base.

Pipeline CRM Vs. EngageBay Knowledge Center Winner: EngageBay

AJ’s Take: EngageBay’s knowledge center takes the cake in this category with its thorough and regularly updated content.

Pipeline CRM Vs. EngageBay: Limitations

No product is perfect, and both EngageBay and Pipeline CRM have their limitations.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing between the two platforms.

EngageBay Limitations

EngageBay has the following limitations:

The free plan is limited – EngageBay’s free plan is limited to 250 contacts and does not include some essential features such as workflow automation.Calendar views & customization are lacking – We found the calendar view and customization options limited with EngageBay. For example, there are no monthly/weekly views. 

Pipeline CRM Limitations

Pipeline CRM has the following limitations:

Limited marketing features – Pipeline doesn’t offer many marketing features compared to EngageBay, making it less attractive for businesses looking for an all-in-one platform.Limited project management capabilities – Pipeline doesn’t offer much in the way of project management. You can manage your agenda, but it lacks teamwork features and project tracking. No free plan available – Pipeline does not offer a free plan, making it less accessible for small businesses or startups with limited budgets.

EngageBay Vs. Pipeline CRM Limitations Winner: EngageBay

AJ’s Take: EngageBay has fewer limitations compared to Pipeline CRM, making it the overall winner in this category.

EngageBay Vs. Pipeline CRM: Which is Best for Small Businesses?

Both EngageBay and Pipeline CRM offer robust features and integrations that make them suitable for small businesses. 

Ultimately, the best platform for your business will depend on your specific needs and budget

However, based on our comparison, we declare EngageBay the winner due to its all-in-one capabilities, comprehensive features, and affordable price tag.

So what are you waiting for? Check it out for free today!

The post Pipeline CRM Vs. EngageBay 2023: Which is Best for SMBs? appeared first on Small Business Bonfire.

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