Capsule vs Nimble 2017: Comparison Review of Two CRM Systems for Small Businesses

Capsule vs Nimble - image of the two logos accompanying our comparison review

In this Capsule vs Nimble review we look at two CRM systems aimed at small businesses, to help you see which is the best fit for your organisation.

An introduction to CRM

Before delving into the specifics of Capsule vs Nimble, it is worth taking a quick look at what a CRM or ‘customer relationship management’ tool actually is. In essence a CRM system is an application which is primarily used for keeping tabs on potential and existing clients (helping you to convert your leads and keep your existing clients happy); but in addition to this core function, most CRM systems help you carry out a range of useful business tasks. CRM systems will typically allow you to:

  • store and segment contacts
  • view a communications history between your organisation and your contacts
  • assign and manage tasks / activities
  • view and edit calendars
  • manage a sales pipeline
  • manage customer enquiries

In this review we will compare and contrast how well Capsule and Nimble handle most of the above.

Pricing

Capsule CRM costs $12 per user per month; Nimble’s fee is considerably higher at $25 per user per month - over twice the price. You can gain a discount using Nimble if you pay upfront for a year's service, in which case the monthly fee averages out at $22 per user per month.

Capsule also offers a free plan - this is for users with very basic requirements however, as it limits the number of users to 2 and the total number of contacts to 250. That said, if you're starting a business as a one or two man band, it's not a bad introduction to the world of CRM, and certainly a cost-effective one.

Contact management

Contact limits

Capsule and Nimble allow you to store a large number of contacts as part of their basic plans, with Capsule being the more generous: you can host up to 50,000 contacts on Capsule to Nimble's 25,000.

With Nimble, you also have the option of importing some social contacts - for example Twitter followers - and a limit of 10,000 applies here.

If you need to store more contacts, Nimble will charge you $10 per user per month for every additional 10,000 records; with Capsule, additional contact headroom is possible via negotiation.

Storage limits

With both Nimble and Capsule, you get 2GB of storage per user. Nimble allow you to add additional space in 10GB increments for $10 per account per month. It's not clear what the costs are for increasing the storage limits on Capsule.

Contact overviews

When you click on a contact in Nimble or Capsule, you will see

  • an overview of their contact details
  • a list of any communications you or your team have had with them
  • any notes you’ve added to their records
  • information relating to deals / sales pipelines
  • a list of tasks assigned to them
  • any tags associated with them
  • links to any files you’ve added relating to them

In Capsule, you will also see ‘cases’ information. Capsule cases provide, in Capsule’s words “a bucket for managing customer service and other events, allowing for a detailed view of requests, responses and what needs to be done next.” This effectively amounts to a simple helpdesk / ticketing system, and it is a feature of Capsule not currently present in Nimble (and potentially very useful it is too).

In Nimble, you will see a lot of information about contacts that will not be present in a Capsule contact’s overview – most of this will relate to either information that is publicly available on social media about them or exchanges you’ve had with a contact on social media (more on that later).

Importing data

Both Capsule and Nimble provide import tools that make importing data pretty straightforward. You simply map your existing database's fields across to the CRM equivalents.

In terms of the types of file you can upload, Capsule allows you to upload your data in CSV and vCard format. Nimble allows you to import a wider variety of data types - you can import LinkedIn, Outlook and Twitter contacts, for example.

At the point of import, both Capsule and Nimble provide some options regarding how you'd like to approach merging or overwriting records. Nimble is a bit more flexible in this regard, allowing you to specify the fields you want to use as the basis for identifying duplicates (these include name, company name, email address and website domain).

Exporting data

Both Capsule and Nimble allow you to export data easily enough. However, there are a couple of serious problems with the way that Nimble outputs the file.

First, Nimble export files don't contain a 'date created' or 'date updated' field. This means that if you want to take your data out of Nimble to manipulate or analyse it in another package, you're going to have problems if you need to do any date-based analysis. Second, it makes migrating your data to another CRM down the line significantly more difficult. Capsule, by contrast, provides you with both date fields.

The second big problem with Nimble outputs is the way that tags are output. In the export file, Nimble provides you with a series of columns named Tag 1, Tag 2, Tag 3 etc. – all containing different tags. This makes filtering based on tag in another package - for example Excel - nigh on impossible. Capsule takes a much better approach, providing one tag field which contains all your tags separated by comma.

Email tracking

A key aspect of any CRM system is how it handles communications history. In any CRM system it is vital to be able to go into a contact’s record and easily pull up a list of previous email communications between you (or your team) and a lead or client. This is where Nimble is, for me, a winner (not just over Capsule CRM but products like Salesforce and Zoho) – not so much in the way that email history is displayed but in the way that email history is captured.

With most CRMs, if you want to an email a lead or client to be stored on the system, you have to BCC a ‘dropbox’ email address to capture the communication. However, with Nimble, as long as you are using a Google Apps, Office 365 or IMAP account, and have things configured correctly, you don’t have to worry about bcc-ing any email addresses every time you mail somebody: email tracking happens automatically.

The downside is that you may capture more communications than you strictly need (such as emails to your granny), but you can go into a contact’s record and remove unnecessary communications manually if need be. But overall, I feel it’s a much better way of doing things: personally, there’s no way I’d remember to use the BCC field every time when emailing clients or leads.

Social media

The biggest difference between Capsule and Nimble involves social media. Unlike Capsule, Nimble doesn’t simply capture email communication history – it will automatically store a record of any social media interactions you have with contacts too. This is Nimble’s USP really – in theory it provides you with what the company calls a ‘unified inbox’ which gives you a complete overview of communications you’ve had with your contacts across the supported social media channels.

The unified inbox used to work great, because you could manage not only emails in it but social messages on key networks like Facebook and LinkedIn too...but then Facebook and LinkedIn stopped providing Nimble with access to messaging, making the whole idea a lot less useful. When using Nimble I could only really see my emails and Twitter in the unified inbox. Handy I suppose to have both sets of messages in one place, but not exactly mind blowing. 

That said, Nimble does work well in other ways with a variety of social networks, including:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Foursquare
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram

Basically, you are also able to click on a contact’s record and pull up an ‘activity stream’ containing all of their recent posts from the above channels (which posts you see of course will depend on whether you are connected to them via social networks and what posts they make public). In addition, where possible Nimble will use information about your contacts on social media that is publicly available to pull together a ‘smart summary’ for you – this provides useful information about the contact like current job, education, Klout score, location, website and more.

Furthermore, there's a 'smart contacts' app available as a plug-in for your browser or email client which gives you real-time information on contacts as you come across them online. The idea is that whether you're browsing the web or scanning your inbox, Nimble serves up information about the contacts you're looking at - who they are, where they work, number of company employees, social profiles etc. It's all extremely 'big brother' but also undeniably useful for making business relationships. And, handily, you can use the smart contacts app to add contacts directly into Nimble with a click of a button.

Capsule does provide some social media integration too but it’s very basic – if it spots that a contact has an account on Facebook or Twitter, it will place the relevant icon beside their record, which you can then click on to see their profile. But there is no aggregated social stream or social communication tracking.

Task management

A nice feature in Capsule which is missing in Nimble involves task management. In Capsule, you can set up 'tracks' - a sequence of tasks for things you do in your business in certain scenarios. Examples of processes you could set up using tracks include:

  • following through on a sales opportunity
  • managing a customer support query
  • issuing a monthly customer invoice
  • end of period accounting procedures
  • pre-event organization

'Tracks' in Capsule CRM (click image to enlarge)

The idea is that whenever you start working with a new opportunity or 'case', there is a predefined sequence of tasks for users to follow, and every time one task is carried out, the next one is automatically presented to the user.

G Suite and Office 365 integration

Both Capsule and Nimble offer G Suite integration.

Capsule allows you to sync contacts from Capsule to G Suite (i.e., one way) and send email to contacts from a Gmail window; you can also open your Capsule task calendar in G Suite (so long as you are happy to add tasks in Capsule only – again, sync is one way only). Nimble scores better on the integration front – calendar sync is two way, and, if you don’t mind paying a bit extra ($5 per month) you can use a system called Piesync to create a two-way contacts sync between G Suite and Nimble.

You can also use a third party tool called Zapier to create two way syncs between Capsule’s calendars and contacts and G Suite.

Finally, both Nimble and Capsule provide gadgets which allow you to add contacts directly to each system from within Gmail – a form appears at the bottom of your emails which you can use to add the contact details of the person who is emailing you into the CRM.

The picture is a bit less rosy when it comes to Office 365. Nimble does offer an integration but it covers email tracking and contact management only - and sync is one-way. Calendars are not catered for. Some workarounds are possible using Zapier.

With regard to Capsule CRM and Office 365, there is not an official integration provided, but you can also make the two products work together in various ways using Zapier.

One environment for everything?

A lot of CRM tools try to serve as a workspace where you can do everything: email, add contacts, manage diaries, assign tasks, do accounts and so on.

Nimble comes pretty close in offering this ‘one-stop shop’ environment because

  • it offers 2 way sync between its calendar and Google Apps
  • you can send and receive email from within Nimble
  • you can view (aggregated) social media streams easily, send messages via social media and update (some) social media profiles without ever leaving Nimble
  • it is possible, using PieSync, to have two way sync between Nimble contacts and Google contacts

One big flaw in Nimble however involves email folders: you can use the Nimble interface to send and receive IMAP email or Gmail without having to use an email client like Outlook or Gmail itself...but you can’t access email folders or move mail to folders. This means that you’ll invariably need to go out of Nimble and into another email program to organise / file your mail. Sadly this really takes away from Nimble's claim to give you a singular overview of everything. 

If you have got the Google integration switched on, Capsule allows you to send emails directly from within its interface too, but you won't be able to view your inbox. In essence, with Capsule, you will generally have to use your own email client and calendars. So Nimble's a bit stronger on this point.

Group messaging

Both Nimble and Capsule offer group messaging - with Nimble's being more sophisticated. With Nimble, you can create message templates (and use merge tags); you can also view basic reports on open rates. With both systems however, you are sending email via your own email SMTP so send limits apply (these vary depending on your provider).

For very large mailouts, it's best to use a dedicated e-marketing solution - and both Capsule and Nimble offer integrations with Mailchimp.

Attaching files to contacts

When it comes to file storage, Nimble offers more functionality – you can attach files directly from Google Drive or Dropbox to a contact’s record (which means when they are updated in Google Drive or Dropbox, they’ll effectively be updated in Nimble too).

With Capsule, you have to upload files to the system itself (which of course eats into your storage quota).

Support desk functionality

Capsule is better than Nimble when it comes to running a support desk. For a start, its ‘cases’ functionality can actually serve as a simple support desk out of the box; and it also integrates with the popular Zendesk system easily too. With Nimble there is no built in support desk feature and you will need to use a third party tool such as Zapier to hook a support desk system up to it.

Sales pipelines

Both Nimble and Capsule allow you to create custom sales pipelines or use their suggested templates. These allow you to create ‘deals’ or ‘opportunities’ and track their progress.

Some basic financial reporting is available with both tools, although for any serious bookkeeping or accounting work, you’ll probably need to use a dedicated product such as Xero.

Ease of use

Capsule is arguably easier to use than Nimble – but that’s probably because it does less, certainly when it comes to contact management and social media. But Nimble’s interface is in general pretty clean and intuitive too, and the learning curves for both systems are not as steep as those you might encounter with several competing products.

Mobile apps

Capsule and Nimble both provide iOS and Android mobile apps, which allow you to access selected features on the go. These apps are both surprisingly comprehensive. The Capsule App allows you to add contacts directly from your phone's address book. As the company points out, the import process is particularly useful if you have an app to scan business cards on your phone, because with the card scanner app you can save the contact to your phone and then import it into your account using the app.

Similarly useful is the way that you can sync your phone calendar with the Nimble App. 

 
Capsule's mobile app

Capsule's mobile app

 

Support

Capsule's support is via email or Twitter during UK office hours, Monday to Friday. It'd be nice to see phone support added too.

It's not madly clear what Nimble's support offering is - if you click the support link on their site, you're taken to a Q&A page. In the bottom right hand corner you'll see an easily missed icon which allows you to ask a question - but I wasn't able to work out whether this was live chat or email. Either way it said 'back in three hours'...to be honest, I think Nimble could up their game a bit here.

Which is better, Capsule or Nimble?

If it wasn't for one issue, I would argue that either Capsule or Nimble would make a good solution for small to medium sized businesses in need of a CRM. But because of Nimble's rather odd approach to exporting data - where users are not given the date a record was created / updated - I have some reservations in recommending it. 

If Nimble manage to sort this export problem out, however, they will have a very attractive CRM product on their hands. But as things stand, if you were asking my opinion on which of these two products to use, I'd have to come down in favour of Capsule simply because their approach to data exports allows you to migrate your data properly down the line should you ever need to move to a more enterprise-level CRM.

    Finally, please see below for a summary of why you might want to use one of these products over the other.

    Reasons to use Capsule over Nimble

    • It exports data in a better way - record creation / update dates are output, which is not the case with Nimble.
    • It's considerably cheaper.
    • It allows you to run a basic helpdesk using its 'cases' functionality.
    • It integrates well with the popular helpdesk tool Zendesk.
    • Its 'tracks' functionality has the potential to significantly improve workflow - as yet, Nimble does not provide similar functionality.
    • It's arguably a bit easier to use.

    Reasons to use Nimble over Capsule

    • Its social media functionality is more comprehensive.
    • It is not necessary to BCC contacts to add a record of an email communication to Nimble.
    • Sync between G Suite and Nimble is 2 way for calendars.
    • It generally comes closer than Capsule in providing an ‘all in one’ solution for calendars, task management, email and social media communications.
    • It integrates with Google Drive and Dropbox
    • The Smart Contacts App is very useful in providing context about contacts.
    • It provides more functional group messaging

    Free trials

    As ever, we suggest that you try out both products before committing. Capsule offer a free 30-day trial; Nimble offer a 14-day free trial (which I have found can be extended if you contact their support team).

    See also

    You may also wish to read our full Capsule CRM review or our full Nimble CRM review.


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