Capsule CRM Review 2017 - Detailed Review of a CRM System for Small Businesses

In this updated Capsule CRM review, we take a look at what Capsule does, its pros and cons, and why you might consider using it for your business.

Our overall rating: 4/5

What is CRM?

CRM stands for ‘customer relationship management’, and a CRM tool like Capsule is a piece of software that allows you to keep track of and manage the business relationships between your organisation and your leads and clients.

Typically, a CRM solution will allow you to

  • capture, organise and analyse leads
  • track communication with leads and clients
  • allocate tasks to your team
  • manage your ‘sales pipeline’ (i.e., identify leads and track how the process of converting them to a client is going)
  • deal with customer enquiries via a support ticketing system

In this review we’ll examine how well Capsule CRM manages all the above.

Capsule CRM pricing

There are two editions of Capsule.

First, there's a free edition, which

  • permits you to have two users using it
  • lets you store up to 250 contacts.

The professional (paid-for) edition costs £8 / approx $10 per user but is much better specced: 

  • it allows you to host up to 50,000 contacts
  • it comes with much bigger file storage (2GB)
  • it allows you to integrate several third-party services into your account.

Third-party integrations include Google Apps (more on that below), accounting tools such as Xero and document signing tools such as RightSignature.



How does Capsule's pricing stack up against competitors?

So how does Capsule's pricing structure stack up against that of its competitors’? Well, the key difference between Capsule and its competitors' approach to pricing is that with Capsule, you're dealing with an extremely simple pricing structure - it's a simple case of using either the free plan or paying £8 ($10) per user, per month. Many other CRM tools, by contrast, offer a more complex sliding scale of pricing - with more functionality being provided as you go up the pricing ladder. 

For example, Salesforce offers a $25 / £20 dollar plan that allows you to run a basic version of their system with up to 5 users (but things get a LOT more expensive with Salesforce if you want to use their fully functional products – their ‘Performance’ edition costs around $300 per user). Zoho's entry level plan costs $12 per month, with more functional $20 and $35 per month plans also available. Nimble uses a similar pricing structure to Capsule, offering just one paid plan - but at $25 a month per user, it's considerably more expensive. 

It's fair to say however that all the above products are more feature-rich than Capsule, offering features such as mass mailouts, sophisticated sales automation features and more in-depth reporting. 

As ever when it comes to pricing, it boils down to being very aware of your needs and evaluating the features of a few different CRMs before committing to one. The most obvious thing you can say about Capsule is that its pricing structure is very simple and it's much more reasonably priced - if not as feature packed - than its competitors. And speaking of features...

Key Capsule CRM features

Capsule’s paid plan allows you to

  • store and share up to 50,000 contacts with colleagues
  • categorise data using tags
  • create contact lists and use them to send group emails
  • manage your ‘sales pipeline’ (you can customise the stages in it however you please – ‘lead identified’; ‘proposal under review’ etc.) and generate reports on it
  • track activity between you / your colleagues and leads (for example – depending on how you send the email – you can automatically append a copy of that email to a lead or client’s record)
  • manage to-do lists and calendars
  • create tasks relating to particular deals and share them with co-workers
  • use ‘tracks’ to create a standard selling process: a sequence of predefined tasks that should be completed and checked off within Capsule when following up on a business opportunity
  • integrate the system with Google Apps (this is discussed in more depth below)
  • make use of a wide range of third-party tools, like Mailchimp or Zendesk (to manage e-comms or a support desk respectively)
  • identify which of your contacts are on social media and append this info to contacts
  • manage ‘cases’ related to particular events – essentially you can use these to deal with customer enquiries or manage pieces of work to do with a particular project. As you might suspect you keep these open until they are resolved and close them off when they are finished, and this functionality effectively allows you to run a basic support desk.

We’ll deal with how well a few of these features work in more depth below.

Ease of use

Capsule is easy to use – functionality-wise, it is definitely at the more ‘basic’ end of the CRM spectrum, meaning its interface is clean and user-friendly. There are simply 5 icons that you use to navigate around the various features:

Capsule's main menu

Capsule's main menu

  • a home icon, which takes you to a screen detailing upcoming tasks and newly added contacts
  • a people and organisations icon, which allows you to browse your contacts
  • a calendar and tasks button, which takes you to your calendar, tasks and activities
  • a sales pipeline icon, which allows you to manage your business opportunities
  • a cases icon, which allows you to manage your open cases

Unless you are a complete technophobe, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty using Capsule CRM or encounter much of a learning curve. It's a very straightforward interface.

The Capsule CRM interface is modern and intuitive

The Capsule CRM interface is modern and intuitive

Capsule CRM and G Suite integration

A really important aspect of Capsule CRM is its integration with G Suite (the suite of productivity tools formerly known as Google Apps). As millions of businesses now use G Suite to manage their communications, file storage and calendars, I was very keen to find out how good this is. The answer: it’s pretty good, but could be a bit better.

The good bits first:

  • Any time you add a contact to Capsule, their details will automatically get added to your Google address book (but NOT the other way round).
  • When you click on a contact’s email address, it automatically opens up a Google email window and allows you to send them an email (it'll also automatically add this message to the communications history for that contact).
  • You can use a handy ‘Google Gadget’ for Capsule within Gmail, allowing you to add new contacts and information about them directly to Capsule from within the Gmail interface (it also pr
  • You can open your Capsule task calendar using G Suite. However, all new activities on it need to be added in Capsule – sync is one way only.

All pretty good stuff, but it would be preferable if contact sync was two-way, and it would also be great to be able to view Google calendars within Capsule and add appointments directly to them. Additionally, it would be nice to be able to view your Gmail inbox directly within Capsule. Other similar CRM packages, such as Nimble, allow this.

Capsule CRM's 'Google Gadget' allows you to access or store Capsule information from within the Gmail interface (click to enlarge)

One other improvement that could definitely be made regarding the Google Apps integration is to do with its visibility - despite being possibly the most important Capsule integration available, it's not listed in the 'Integrations' list in settings, nor are there any obvious buttons or call-to-actions on view to link your Google Account with Capsule. Finally, before you can use the integration, you have to email Capsule's support desk. To be fair, once it's all set up, it works well...but there's quite a few barriers in place to getting it up and running.

Another option with regard to integrating G Suite into Capsule is to use a third-party tool called Pie Sync. This facilitates two-way contacts sync. You can also use Pie Sync to integrate Capsule with other third-party apps, such as Mailchimp, Getresponse and Campaign Monitor.

Using Capsule CRM with Office 365

Oddly, there's no integration between Capsule and Office 365 available within Capsule - you'll have to use a third-party one provided by Pie Sync (which is fairly limited really - it's a two way contact sync between Capsule and Office 365 Outlook.com). Given the widespread use of Office 365 by businesses in Capsule's target market, I think it would be in the interest of the company to rectify this as soon as possible.

The lack of an integration doesn't by any stretch rule out using Capsule if you're an Office 365 user - it just means that the workflow won't be quite as smooth as it could be.

Capsule CRM and email activity tracking

A key aspect of a CRM tool is its ability to keep a record of communications between you and a lead or client. 

As with most CRM solutions, if you want to email somebody and store that message in Capsule, you’ll need to BCC a ‘dropbox’ email address to save the message (to store received messages in Capsule, you’ll need to forward the message to the dropbox address). 

I personally would nearly always forget to do this, and there are other solutions out there which I feel handle email activity tracking better – with Nimble’s Gmail and IMAP integrations, for example, all email history can be stored automatically, regardless of what email program is being used to send and receive emails.

However, so long as you are working within Capsule you should be okay, because if you click on a contact's email address in Capsule, it will automatically open a new email window in your default email program with the 'to' field populated with that email address and the 'bcc' field populated with the Capsule dropbox address. The trick is to remember to keep the Capsule application open and use it religiously when sending emails.

If you're using Gmail, you also have the option to use Capsule's 'Google Gadget', which allows you to add Gmail messages to Capsule.

Managing a sales pipeline in Capsule CRM

Managing a sales pipeline in Capsule CRM is extremely straightforward. You can either choose from 2 predefined templates: "Simple" or "Customer-Centric". As you might expect, the former has just a few milestones in it ('New', 'Bid', 'Closed - Won' and 'Closed - Lost'), whereas the latter has a lot (8 in total - 'Suspect', 'Prospect', 'Champion' and so on...).

If you don't like the templates provided you can simply configure your own and add the milestones that you feel typically reflect the customer journey for your business.

The 'customer centric' sales pipeline template in Capsule CRM.

The 'customer centric' sales pipeline template in Capsule CRM.

Mass mailouts and marketing automation in Capsule

If you're hoping to do mass mailouts or automate your marketing in sophisticated ways (for example, through the use of autoresponders) then you're going to be a bit disappointed with Capsule. Although you can use it to send basic group messages, Capsule should be not be viewed as a tool that allows you to send bulk emails to thousands of people, or set up automated email communications. 

That said, it is possible to integrate several email marketing tools with Capsule - official integrations are available for Mailchimp, Active Campaign, Mad Mimi, MPZ Mail and Wishpond - and you can use Pie Sync to hook other e-marketing tools up to Capsule.

Support

Support for Capsule is available via email or, if you're keen to air your support questions in public, via Twitter. The helpdesk is available Monday to Friday, although it's not clear during what hours. My (admittedly limited) experience of the support available during my trials of the product has been good, but I think it would be better if support was provided via more channels - the addition of live chat would be welcome, for example.

Should I use Capsule for my business?

Here are the pros and cons of using Capsule CRM to manage your business' CRM:

Pros of using Capsule CRM

  • It’s competitively priced
  • It is very easy to use
  • It integrates reasonably well with Google Apps
  • It allows you to create lists of multiple contacts and email them easily without recourse to third party e-newsletter tools (although using a tool like Mailchimp is better for very large mailouts)
  • It works well with a good range of third party applications, including Mailchimp and Xero
  • It is generous when it comes to storing contacts: you can work with 50,000 contacts for $12 a month.
  • The cases functionality can act as a simple helpdesk, which will be very helpful to some businesses
  • A fully functional 30-day free trial is available.

Cons of using Capsule CRM

  • If you want to store an email communication, you will need to BCC a ‘dropbox’ address every time you email somebody (this is less of a problem if you are happy to work within Capsule all the time and click on contacts' email addresses to email them).
  • Integration with Google Apps, while solid, feels a bit basic, particularly as far as calendars, tasks and two-way syncing in general goes.
  • The Google Apps integration is hard to locate and involves emailing a support desk to set up.
  • There's no official Office 365 integration.
  • The free trial requires you to enter credit card details before signing up.

Capsule CRM Review: the conclusions

Capsule is a solid, easy-to use CRM system which is a good tool for small to medium-sized businesses, particularly those using Google Apps. Overall we'd rate it at about 4 out of 5 - because although it's not the most fully-specced CRM out there, it's extremely good value for money.

The main things I feel it has going for it is that it is very competitively priced, and extremely easy to use. Despite being one of the cheapest CRM tools available, it provides a feature set that will allow you to manage a large database, identify business opportunities, track communications and manage a sales pipeline with ease. The learning curve is not steep at all, and for startups without much of a budget to invest in tools like CRM, it won't break the bank.

There are a few things it could do better, particularly around email history tracking and syncing of contacts to Google Apps - but overall it’s a very solid product.

As with many other tools, you can get a 30 days free trial of Capsule before committing to the product – you can try it out here

Alternatives to Capsule

In general, it's fair to say that Capsule is at the more basic end of the CRM spectrum, so if you find that you need more advanced functionality - particularly where marketing automation is concerend - there are lots of other products available for you to consider. Salesforce and Infusionsoft are probably the best-known alternatives providing marketing automation features, but they are considerably more expensive than Capsule. 


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