Act! 365 - Features, Pricing, Alternatives, and More
Almost every online CRM today can trace its roots back no more than a decade and a half ago, and many have been around no longer than the iPhone. It's a relatively new thing, having software running in your browser that's connected to every other app you use. Most of the companies you'd think of as web app companies were built around the idea of software in the browser, while older companies that made desktop software have kept at their original mission.
But one of the original CRMs is still around, nearly three decades later: Act!. It's making its own transition to the cloud while still having desktop apps that can run on local Microsoft servers. In a large firm with internal Microsoft SQL servers, you might find Act! running in the background, keeping track of the enterprise's contacts and connections. But the newest Act! is aimed at the sole entrepreneur, the individual businessperson: you.
You could manage your contacts in a spreadsheet or your email app's address book, but you'll likely want more power after a while. And as an individual, you could use any other online CRM but you'd likely end up paying too much (and having too many features) as they're aimed at teams. Act! Essentials, instead, is aimed at the individual. You'll pay $10 a month, and manage all of your contacts and send out marketing emails on your own.
Act! Essentials is a simple to use CRM that includes the basics you'll need. There's a simple contacts view, as you'd expect, where you can browse through your contacts and add as much info about them as you'd like. The default options include everything you'd expect in an address book, along with custom fields to track anything else you need. There's then an Activities pane in each contact, where you can track notes, todos, meetings, and more about that contact, as well as a Groups option where you can add a contact to as many groups as you'd like and a Leads page to track your potential deals.
Groups come in handy in the Emarketing screen, perhaps Act! Essentials's best feature. Similar to a basic version of an email mailing list app, the Emarketing section lets you create your own email templates or pick from a number of stock templates that you can tweak as you want. Then, you can craft an email update and have Act! Essentials send it to any of your contact groups.
That's when Act! Essentials starts showing some automation. Once you've sent some email marketing campaigns, Act! Essentials will watch and see which of your contacts have interacted with the emails the most in the past two weeks. It'll list these contacts in your Call List, with the assumption that the people who read your emails most are also most likely to be ripe for further marketing. That's all the automation and analytics you'll find in Act! Essentials, though there is also an Activity screen that shows a detailed list of everything you've done in the app.
Act! Essentials is a very simple app that's great for a unique use case: individuals who want to track contacts better and send marketing emails to those contacts. If you want that, and nothing else, then Act! Essentials is a simple tool that'll do that with little fuss.
Originally published October 31, 2014; updated October 19, 2015 with Act! Cloud's new branding as Act! Essentials.
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Act! 365 Features
- All-in-one sales, marketing, and customer management toolset
- Purpose-built for Microsoft® Office 365 subscribers
Act! 365 Pricing
- $10/user/month (billed annually)
- $5 per month for an additional 1,000 email sends (billed annually)