Looking for a CRM system that won’t cost you a penny? Read on to get up close and personal with the best free CRM solutions in the UK – and to find out why you should upgrade!
|Free contacts||1,000,000||∞||Not specified||250||∞||2,500||150|
|Free storage||∞||∞||10MB to 1GB||10MB||5GB||200MB||5GB|
|Free daily email sends||2,000||None||None||N/S||None||10||Via MailChimp|
*Per user, per month
They say the best things in life are free. In business, though, that’s not quite the way it works. It may be tough on your wallet, but if you want the best CRM (customer relationship management) software, you’ll have to pay for it.
That’s not to say free CRM software isn’t widely available – a simple Google search turns up a plethora of providers, all willing to offer you something approximating ‘CRM software’ in exchange for your data. All we’re saying is that free CRM has its setbacks – you can read about free CRM’s limitations further down the page.
Hence, we only recommend free CRM software for the smallest of businesses – either as a make-do until there’s more flexibility in your budget, or as a way to ‘try before you buy’ a more advanced version.
Still, if you’re set on not paying for your CRM, you’ll need to know the difference between the good and the bad. So read on – our research team has pulled together the seven free CRM software suppliers that your small business needs to know about.
The best free CRM systems for UK businesses
The best free CRM system comes from HubSpot. Freshworks is a close second, while Zoho is our third pick for UK teams.
The remaining four free CRM systems worth their salt are Capsule, Bitrix24, Insightly, and RAYNET CRM.
- HubSpot (best for high email send limits)
- Freshworks (best for lack of restrictions)
- Zoho (easiest to use)
- Capsule (best for integrations)
- Bitrix24 (cheapest to upgrade)
- Insightly (best for data visualisation and reporting)
- RAYNET CRM (best customer support)
How did we decide? Well, we undertook an extensive research project into all things CRM, rating and ranking eight of the industry’s most prominent suppliers. Only three – HubSpot, Freshworks, and Zoho – made it onto this list, on account of their excellent free versions. Three suppliers is okay… but it’s not quite enough.
So, we did some more research, focussing only on free CRM suppliers with the most generous contact, storage, and user limits, and with sufficient customer support.
You can jump to our methodology for information about how we undertook the research, or read on to start reviewing the best free CRM suppliers in the UK.
Alternatively, you can start comparing tailored CRM software quotes right here, right now. It takes just 30 seconds to provide us with some details about your business’ requirements, so it’s ideal if you’re short on time. When you’re done, the CRM suppliers that fit your needs will be in touch with you directly with quotes and further information.
Best free CRM software for its generous daily email send limit
It’s hard to argue with HubSpot’s free plan. Unlimited free users? One million free contacts? 2,000 bulk email sends? If you hadn’t already seen how steep HubSpot’s paid plans are, you’d wonder how it makes any money!
Of course, on the free plan, you won’t be privy to HubSpot’s more developed features for businesses – that’s a given. But as contact management software with a few marketing features thrown in – including webforms, list segmentation, and basic ad management – HubSpot’s free version excels.
Sales teams too can benefit from live chat and conversational bots, while HubSpot’s drag-and-drop ticketing feature will make life easier for your customer service agents.
|Free daily bulk email sends||2,000|
|Free support||Knowledge base, community forum|
To upgrade, HubSpot’s offerings for sales, marketing, or customer service teams each cost £33.60 per month for up to two users, based on the ‘Starter’ plan.
|Cost to upgrade|
|Sales||£16.80 per user, per month|
|Marketing||£16.80 per user, per month|
|Service||£16.80 per user, per month|
Our only word of warning re HubSpot is to take care with the contact limit. Though you’re privy to up to one million contacts with the free version, if you choose to upgrade to HubSpot’s Marketing Hub, your contacts will automatically appear in both places.
And guess what? HubSpot’s rates are determined by none other than your contact limit – so, if you’re not careful, you could end up paying through the nose to store a heap of contacts that used to be free.
- When it comes to users, contacts, and data storage, it’s effectively limitless
- Slick UX (user experience) across all devices
- Superlative online customer review scores
- One of the more expensive free CRM software solutions to upgrade
- Extremely limited customer support (at least, until you become a paying customer!)
Best free CRM software for its lack of limitations
Freshworks offers a free plan (cutely named ‘Sprout’) across all its products, and for teams of all shapes and sizes. Like HubSpot, Freshworks’ free CRM gives you unlimited users and unlimited contacts, as well as mobile CRM. Yet, unlike HubSpot’s free CRM, Sprout also provides you with unlimited records, as well as 24/7 email-based support. So how do each of Freshworks’ free products break down?
|Free contacts||Unlimited (for Freshmarketer, it’s 500)|
|Free daily bulk email sends||None|
|Free support||24/5 phone and chat support, 24/7 email support|
Well, Freshsales (Freshworks’ offering for sales teams) offers all the basics in terms of lead, account, and deal management, as well as a visual pipeline builder. Crucially, it also adds lead scoring into the mix – a feature usually reserved for CRM software’s premium plans.
Freshmarketer offers marketing teams a free solution for building emails, with web forms and limited CRO (conversion rate optimisation) tools thrown in. Likewise, Freshdesk offers customer service teams a free ticketing system for dealing with issues (plus a few basic reporting features), but not too much else.
|Cost to upgrade|
|Sales (Freshsales)||£12 per user, per month|
|Marketing (Freshmarketer)||£39 per user, per month|
|Service (Freshdesk)||£11 per user, per month|
Upgrading scores you a wealth of benefits – most notably for marketing teams, who’ll get list segmentation and a drag-and-drop email builder to play with. Purchasing one of Freshworks’ paid plans also allows you to integrate the CRM with a range of third-party applications – something the free version lacks.
- Unlimited users, contacts, and storage. Full stop.
- The interface is a genuine pleasure to use and navigate
- 21-day free trial available when you upgrade
- Not as suitable for marketing teams, who’ll pay more to upgrade and be hampered by more stringent contact limits
Best free CRM software for user-friendliness
If there’s one thing Zoho can be relied upon to do, it’s provide simple, no-frills CRM at a low cost. And, though its free version was never going to break any new ground, it’s still a solid, dependable selection for (very) small teams.
|Free contacts||Not specified|
|Free storage||1GB (files), 10MB (data)|
|Free daily bulk email sends||None|
|Free support||Knowledge base, community forum, email, customer portal|
Zoho’s free CRM software includes all the lead and contact management stuff you’d expect. You’ll also get rudimentary filtering features and some level of customisation, plus workflow rules and standard reporting functionality.
The bad news is, that’s about all there is to Zoho’s free CRM. The good news is, it won’t cost you much to unlock the meaty features needed to grow your business.
|Cost to upgrade|
|Sales/Marketing/Service||£10 per user, per month|
- Integrates natively with the other products in Zoho’s range of productivity tools and business software
- Simplistic user interface...
- ...maybe a little too simplistic!
- No phone-based support
- Poor online customer approval ratings
Wait a second…
You’ve just finished exploring our top three selections for the best free CRM software in the UK. Now, why not get an even better idea of which one’s right for you, by taking advantage of our free quote-finding service?
Simply provide us with some details about your business’ specific requirements. We’ll then match you to one or more CRM suppliers that fit your needs, who’ll be in touch with you directly to provide more information and tailored quotes.
If you’re not quite at that stage of your journey yet, read on for the best of the rest.
Best free CRM software for third-party integrations
Free for up to two users, Capsule offers intelligent pipeline views, and straightforward contact management features. However, its limited amount of data and contact storage may make it a tough pill to swallow for ambitious businesses.
|Free storage||10MB per account|
|Free daily bulk email sends||None|
|Free support||Basic (not specified)|
That said, there aren’t any limits on the number of sales opportunities, cases, or custom fields you can create. Capsule’s free CRM also integrates with up to 1,000 third-party applications – a far cry from the free plans offered by providers such as Freshworks, which only works with its own products!
|Cost to upgrade|
|Sales/Marketing/Service||£12 per user, per month|
- Integrates seamlessly with Google apps, as well as key software products such as Xero and MailChimp
- Easy to use, with an intuitive, ‘what you see is what you get’ approach to CRM
- Capsule is extremely basic – particularly its task and calendar management functions
- No email marketing functionality included
Cheapest free CRM software to upgrade
Free for up to 12 users only pre-COVID-19, the arrival of the pandemic saw Bitrix24 do away with the user limits on its paid plan altogether. Add this to an already generous 5GB of online data storage, and Bitrix24 is worth considering. Available as either a cloud-based or on-premise solution, it’s fast, flexible and scalable software that grows with your business… providing you're willing to upgrade.
|Free daily bulk email sends||None|
|Free support||Webinars, newsletter, and helpdesk|
Sure, Bitrix24 isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel when it comes to features – but what free CRM system is? Plus, you’ll still benefit from flexible access rights, while its savvy mobile app will support your field workers. Oh, and did we mention unlimited records?
Plus, with Bitrix24’s plans starting at such a reasonable rate, you may end up upgrading sooner than you’d intended.
|Cost to upgrade|
|Sales/Marketing/Service||$7.68 (£5.92) per user, per month|
- Easy to set up and get to grips with
- Offers a striking visualisation of your deal pipeline
- No bulk email marketing, but you can still send up to 1,000 regular emails through the CRM system’s interface every month
- Each email you send will have a Bitrix24 watermark at the bottom
- Some reviews criticise the UX, and the lack of synergy between the mobile and desktop versions
- Limited customer support
Best free CRM software for reporting and data visualisation
Calling all self-confessed visual learners out there – you won’t want to look past Insightly. Breaking down your data in a colourful array of dashboards, and rife with simple, digestible graphs and charts, Insightly is a data head's dream. Oh, and it’s free, of course – for two users, anyway – with solid phone and email-based support included to keep you and your business partner ticking over.
|Free contacts||2,500 records|
|Free daily bulk email sends||10 per day|
|Free support||Phone-based, webinar, FAQ, email|
Aesthetics aside, Insightly’s free CRM does, of course, come with its limitations.
While not stingy per se, Insightly’s contact and storage limits aren’t exactly generous, either. Insightly measures how much you can store in your CRM by ‘records’. This is defined not only as contacts, leads, and organisations, but as opportunities, projects, tasks, emails, comments, and reports, too.
And as you can imagine, when you’ve got a limit of just 2,500, you’re going to hit it pretty quickly. That’s why – if you’re set on Insightly, that is – we recommend shelling out for a paid plan.
|Cost to upgrade|
|Sales/Marketing/Service||$29 (£22.30) per user, per month|
- 14-day free trial available for the ‘Professional’ version
- Integrates seamlessly with Google’s ‘G Suite’ applications
- Decent email-based help and support included...
- …but you’ll have to upgrade for phone-based support
- Limited storage capacity
- Supports only two users
Best free CRM software for customer support
With almost 6,000 active users and 15 years in the industry, RAYNET is a small, yet experienced CRM provider. It sports a range of integrations that allow for email marketing, as well as solid document management features, and a good-looking interface to boot.
RAYNET CRM also comes with a GPS-equipped app that’ll benefit travelling sales teams. The only sticking point is its limited reporting features, which aren’t as strong as those of other free CRM systems.
One thing RAYNET CRM does offer in spades, though, is affordability. If you’re not satisfied with the free version, you can purchase its singular paid plan for just £14.60 per user, per month.
|Cost to upgrade|
|Sales/Marketing/Service||$19 (£14.60) per user, per month|
- Attentive and responsive customer support
- Very user-friendly
- Mobile app, though handy, could use an update for the modern age
- Even for a free product, the limits on contact and data storage are hefty
The limitations of free CRM software
Free CRM is all well and good, but it does come with some frustrating restrictions. Free CRM is basically like the meat and potatoes of the business software menu – it’ll satiate your basic hunger pang, but it’s not exactly going to set your tastebuds alight… and it’ll always leave you wanting more.
But what can you expect? Suppliers provide free CRM plans as a way to get you using – and reliant upon – their services. Their true motivation is to get you upgrading to a paid package. So, while free software is handy, it’ll never provide you with the core features you’ll need to grow your business.
Let’s take a look at what you’ll be settling for with a free CRM.
X Lack of scalability
One of the major selling points of paid CRM software is that it’s scalable, designed to grow alongside your business. CRM systems are typically priced per user, per month – so you’ll only pay access for team members who’ll actually be using the software.
Free CRM systems typically impose strict limits on the maximum number of users you’re allowed – it’s usually around two or three. This, of course, is fine if you’re a sole trader, or have just branched out into business.
But as you add more and more fresh-faced new staff to your books, you’ll need to make sure your CRM solution is scaling with your team’s ambitions.
X Fewer features
Features. The good news is that most CRM systems come packed full of them – and they’ll make your life a whole lot easier. The bad news, though, is that free plans will seriously limit the amount of features you’ll actually get to use.
Free CRM system suppliers are notorious for stripping back most of the functionality that makes the software so great. Automation, analytics, and email template builders are all examples of important features that you won’t get unless you open your wallet.
X Fewer email sends
CRM systems don’t just store your client and contact data – they allow you to utilise it through targeted email marketing, too. CRM systems let you create engaging emails, and send them in bulk to your customer database. It’s a quick, direct approach that simplifies how you manage your client communications.
The catch? Well, free CRM systems limit the number of emails you can send per day. Some don’t let you send any!
Again, this shouldn’t be an issue if you’re a small operation with a more modest client base. But as your business grows, your contact list will, too – and you’ll need to be prepared to adapt your approach to CRM accordingly.
X Limited contacts and storage
Speaking of growing your contact list, what happens when your CRM runs out of room for them? With free CRM, this is a real possibility, with some plans capping contact limits at as few as 150 contacts.
And, by restricting the total amount of data you can store in your CRM system, free plans also limit the amount of deal, lead, and opportunity information you can store – not great for growing businesses!
Upgrading to a paid plan not only lets you store more contacts – it adds storage for lead and deal info too, plus more room for inspiring email templates and designs.
We won’t belabour the point, but it’s important – free CRM software isn’t the answer for most businesses. It’s restrictive, self-defeating, and ultimately unsuitable for growing companies. Still, if it’s the way you want to go, you can’t do better than the providers above.
Whether it’s HubSpot’s drag-and-drop ticket and pipeline builder, Zoho’s workflows, or Freshworks’ 24/5 support, there’s something for every small business – providing your contact, feature, and data storage requirements are suitably modest.
So what’s next? Well, if you’re set on a provider, the way forward is simple – just head to their website, and sign up. In most cases, you won’t need to provide a credit card – just an email address and a few details about you and your business.
However, if you’re not set on a provider just yet – and we'd definitely advise against jumping straight in – then there’s another way to get the best value for your business.
Simply provide us with a few details about your team’s requirements. That includes the amount of users your CRM will need to support (which we imagine is probably more than most free suppliers offer), plus the features you’ll require, and what (if any) contact management software you’re already using.
It takes 30 seconds to do, and when you’re finished, we’ll match you with one or more CRM suppliers that fit your requirements. They’ll then be in touch with you over the phone to learn more about the solution your business needs, and provide quotes tailored to your answers to our form.
Oh, and we forgot to mention – like the CRM software on this page, the whole process is free for UK-based businesses.
What’s the best free CRM for a Mac?
Since most free CRM providers are cloud-based – meaning you can access them via a web browser, without having to install any software onto your computer – the actual device you access your free CRM from doesn’t actually matter all that much.
However, if we had to recommend one CRM for Mac, it’d be HubSpot. Its interface is one of our favourites, while HubSpot’s mobile app is compatible with both Android and iOS – meaning it’ll hit the spot for you Apple addicts.
Which is the easiest CRM to use?
Zoho is renowned for being particularly easy to use, and customer reviews suggest that RAYNET CRM and Bitrix24 both score well in this department, too.
That said, if you don’t have much experience with using a CRM system, it can be hard to know not just how to make it work, but how to get the most out of what the technology has to offer. That’s why it’s often worth paying a bit extra to upgrade to a version that includes full customer support and ongoing advice.
The prices here are the cheapest these providers have to offer. Come on… how much does CRM really cost?
To find out, head to our comprehensive guide to CRM software costs, updated for 2020.
How we analyse and rate CRM software providers
At Expert Market, it’s our aim to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date, and transparent product and service reviews possible. So, to help you better understand the best CRM software options out there, we’ve conducted in-depth, extensive research into the CRM software market and its top companies.
Here’s how we did it:
We worked with three independent researchers to rate eight different CRM systems over a total of 40+ hours. This included five separate varieties of CRM software, as well as more than 61 specific features. Using a bespoke, industry-style algorithm, we rated each provider across four key metrics.
- Help and support: we assessed the level of customer support (such as email, phone, or live chat), as well as its availability (24/7, or weekdays only?), to provide a weighted score for each CRM supplier.
- Affordability: our affordability algorithm took into account the cost of CRM ownership over 12 months – based on the average buyer – as well as factors such as free trials and money-back guarantees.
- Features: we assessed each supplier on five specific features per type of CRM. We then weighted these scores, and translated them into a point value system. This allowed us to form accurate ratings for each CRM provider, broken down by the industry it best serves.
- Customer approval: we assigned each provider a ‘customer score’, which involved seeking opinions from within the community, as well as feeding data aggregated from online sources into a unique algorithm. This allowed us to calculate overall customer approval scores for each CRM supplier, in real time.
We take the integrity of our research seriously. If you’ve got any questions at all about our research process, feel free to get in touch with Rob, our CRM specialist, at email@example.com.