In business, relationships drive everything, from cold lead all the way to closed won. While you may have everything under control in an Excel file—or in a forest of Post-its around your monitor—using customer relationship management (CRM) software will make it easier to manage and nurture more complex relationships. It'll also introduce opportunities for automation and help standardize processes in your company, leading to more consistent touchpoints across channels.
It sounds huge, I know. But you don't have to pay a huge price to get started. I took to the internet to find all the free CRM systems out there. I considered about 80 apps and then did in-depth testing on the top contenders. After dozens of hours of testing, these are the nine best free CRMs.
The best free CRM software
EngageBay for all-in-one business capability
Bitrix24 for businesses with a lot of users and contacts
Zoho CRM for scaling your business
HubSpot CRM for integration with your other apps
Capsule for project management
Vtiger for inexpensive upgrade options
Snov.io for prospecting and cold outreach
Streak for adding a CRM to Gmail
eWay-CRM for adding a CRM to Outlook
What makes the best free CRM software?
How we evaluate and test apps
All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.
CRM software is a lead management solution that keeps track of your contacts—both their personal and business information. It lets you classify each one based on your contact history and the deals you're building and negotiating.
The more basic free CRM apps help you organize your contacts, have a sales pipeline to keep track of the deal process, and provide simple reports and dashboards to let you know how you and your team are performing. More advanced platforms pack extra functionality in areas like project management, marketing, help desk, content management, and SEO; offer automation and integration opportunities to save time and streamline processes; and let you create your own reports and access game-changing analytics.
With that in mind, here's what I was looking for as I tested each free CRM app:
Ease of use. Using your CRM system should be as easy as using your email client. It should also make repetitive actions easier to carry out—things like adding new contact details or tracking deals shouldn't be a time suck.
Contact and sales management. For contacts, I was looking at how many fields there were and if you could create filtered lists for segmentation; for sales, I was looking out for at least one visual sales pipeline that you could customize for your particular sales process.
Reporting and analytics. I paid attention to how the dashboards work: how informative they are, how many reports you can run (and if you can create your own), and any analytics that give you insight on how to improve your processes.
Integration with other apps. The more integrations and the more seamless they are, the better. Your CRM is your information hub, so it needs to be able to send data to and receive information from your other business-critical apps.
Unique features. I tested anything that's not strictly tied to CRM functionality but that could be an interesting advantage—things like traffic analytics, project management, or internal team collaboration features.
To test these CRMs, I signed up for each one and followed the suggested onboarding procedure. Then I added a few contacts and businesses, created deals, and advanced them through the pipeline. I then took a look at the reporting and analytics features to see what had changed with my data. Where available, I tested marketing features by sending out an email campaign to myself; managed projects, adding tasks and milestones; asked myself for help in service desk portals; and tested some integrations with other apps. I spent anywhere from 40 minutes to several hours with each app, depending on the breadth of features.
Here are the best CRM apps with a solid free plan.
Integrating your CRM with other apps helps you get the most out of your investment. Learn how to get started with CRM integration and ways to add automation to help your team be even more productive in your system.
Best free all-in-one CRM software
EngageBay (Web, iOS, Android)
All-in-one with lots of extras
Automation is easy to set up
Free plan is somewhat limited
EngageBay is a CRM at heart, packed with sales, marketing, customer support, and chat features, all on a freemium plan. There is a drawback to this flexibility, though: you can only add 250 contacts to the platform on the free plan, so consider archiving inactive contacts to keep using it for longer.
Adding contacts is easy, with all the fields you'd expect. I particularly liked the smart lists feature: you can segment your contacts by picking a set of filters, and the list updates itself with all the contacts that fit those conditions in the future— automatically. The visual sales pipeline is equally easy to use, letting you drag and drop deals forward as sales advance. You can also add more pipelines to keep track of everything, which isn't something all platforms let you do.
EngageBay sits at the top of this list because of the CRM features it offers for free but also because it comes with all sorts of extras. There's a full marketing suite, including lead scoring, landing pages, pop-ups, email templates, newsletters, and tools to capture new contacts; a service suite that lets your customers create support tickets and assigns them to your team automatically; and a basic live chat module you can integrate on your website, with stats to help you see first response time, chat duration, and total chats. It's a lot—all for free.
There are dashboards for each of these features, too: marketing, sales, service, and live chat. Each one gives a good overview of how the area is doing, and you can show or hide data depending on what you do or don't want to see. The generosity of the free plan ends at advanced analytics, though: you can only get deep insights into profitability analysis and integrated multi-channel analytics if you subscribe to the paid plan.
You can connect EngageBay to Shopify, six bulk email-sending platforms, 14 SMS providers, Jotform, DocuSign, and reCAPTCHA, all natively. If this isn't enough, by connecting EngageBay to Zapier, you can integrate it with thousands of other apps to be sure your information is flowing in and out of your CRM automatically. Here are a couple examples to get you started.
Add new Engagebay contacts to a Mailchimp list as subscribers
Add new Shopify customers to EngageBay as contacts
Note: At the time of writing, EngageBay is letting users switch to a more recent and polished UI. The differences are in aesthetics only—the navigation and options are all the same.
EngageBay price: Free plan includes 250 contacts and basic versions of all the other features; paid plans start at $11.99/user/month.
Best free CRM software with unlimited users and contacts
Bitrix24 (Web, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android)
Business software suite
Wide range of features
Potentially high configuration time
If you know Bitrix24, you know that it isn't technically a CRM app. It's an all-in-one business app where you can collaborate with your team on basically everything. But the feature set that it offers, coupled with the fact that it allows for unlimited users and contacts on the free plan, makes it really powerful for this particular use case.
This power comes with a need for a heavy dose of patience. Bitrix24 is a very deep app. Start slowly: first, get your team on the platform and start collaborating there; then, add your contacts and set up your sales pipeline and deals; after that, explore the reports and integrations. Trying to do everything at the same time will be overwhelming, but going step by step will build momentum. Once you and your team get a good grasp of the basics, you can organize the menus just the way you want them to be, hiding or showing buttons for total customization.
On the contacts page, you have the ability to rearrange fields, so you can move what's relevant to the top—I found this super handy. And with the contact card open, click the Profile button to access a set of reports about your relationship with this client, including a graph of the current communication load.
In addition to everything you'd expect from the sales pipeline, the platform has other some useful extra features. For example, you'll get a notification if a deal has no tasks, prompting you to get someone on it. If you have a particular sales objective in mind, you can set it on the platform and work toward it. And at the end of the quarter, you can take a look at the pipeline trends and run comparisons with past reports.
Bitrix24 is deep in reporting, even on the free plan. The analytics page has dozens of tabs tracking numbers on employee performance or activities reports. The screenshot you see above scratches the surface, and it's surprising to see a free plan offer so many options as far as reporting and analytics go.
And since Bitrix24 is also about team collaboration, it offers loads of collaboration features. There's an activity stream—kind of like a social media feed for your company, making tasks and achievements more visible. You can add your team members to the platform, distributing them by departments and organizing them by hierarchy. You can also collaborate with teammates via chat, audio, and video calls, and create workgroups to help employees focus on projects. Add to that project management features, a file drive, and a website builder, and this is a massively robust free tool.
With 290 native integration options spanning multiple app categories, there's a lot of freedom to create connections and empower your team. If you don't find your apps in the marketplace, you can connect Bitrix24 to Zapier to automate all your business workflows: trigger important emails when new contacts are added or create new contacts from your lead gen tool—and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Send emails in Gmail when new contacts are added on Bitrix24
Add Bitrix24 deals from new Facebook Lead Ads leads
Bitrix24 price: Free plan includes unlimited users and contacts and all the basic features; paid plans, which add things like customer support features, start at $49/month for 5 users.
Best free CRM software for scaling your business
Zoho CRM (Web, iOS, Android)
Zoho CRM pros:
Great free plan
Unique AI features on the paid plans
Zoho CRM cons:
Interface and navigation could be better
Zoho's software suite expands into the CRM territory with Zoho CRM. It's great for scaling your business because the free plan is generous, and as you grow, you can connect more features by integrating other Zoho apps—which also have decent free plans. Because you can mix and match a la carte, you don't have to pay a bulky subscription package for enterprise software features that you'll only use a few years down the line (or never).
This CRM app gives you 5,000 records for free. Records here means contacts, deals, accounts, and campaigns, so bear in mind that every time you create something new, it counts against the limit. One nice feature: it offers an option to get rid of untouched records, which may increase the lifespan of the free plan.
The user interface has an enterprise vibe with a big top-level menu for easy access to all the app sections. You can click on your contacts to see a 360-degree view of all their data, and even add the best times to email or call, helping you reach your customers when they're most available. Zoho CRM is also impressive in its reporting and analytics. You can see data quickly by clicking on one of the 60 pre-made reports available.
The free plan is a bit limited as far as integrations go, mostly connecting you to other Zoho tools (but they're robust!). Getting on the paid plan unlocks hundreds of other integrations with third-party services via the marketplace—and you can make that thousands by connecting Zoho CRM to Zapier. For example, you can automatically add leads you generate from Facebook lead ads or connect your eCommerce store to the CRM to power all your business's workflows.
Create contacts on Zoho CRM from new leads from Facebook Lead Ads
Create Zoho CRM modules from new WooCommerce orders
Zoho CRM price: Free plan available for 3 users and up to 5,000 records. Paid plans, which add features like sales forecasting, custom reports, and more marketing automation features, start at $14/user/month.
Learn more: 5 ways to automate Zoho CRM
Best free CRM for lots of integration options
HubSpot CRM (Web, iOS, Android)
HubSpot CRM pros:
Generous free plan
Wide range of well-designed features
HubSpot CRM cons:
When you need to upgrade, paid plans are confusing
HubSpot is where your tech stack comes together. With over 800 native integrations available for free CRM users, you'll be able to connect most of the other apps you use to your CRM. And if you connect them via HubSpot's Operations Hub, you can make the data bi-directional, pulling it into HubSpot and pushing out updates if you make changes, keeping information current wherever it is. If you don't find the app you want in HubSpot's marketplace, you can always connect HubSpot with Zapier to open the doors to thousands of other integrations. Here are a couple examples.
Copy new lead responses from Facebook Lead Ads to a HubSpot form
HubSpot's CRM is free forever for unlimited users and unlimited contacts. Technically, that "unlimited contacts" comes with an asterisk: due to technical limitations, each account can only have up to one million contacts. Still, going through all those could take a nice decade or two, depending on how much lead gen goes on at your company.
HubSpot has all the core CRM features in place, with contact and account management included. The contact page is well organized, with personal details on the left side, activities in the center, and extra information (deals, tickets, and data from integrated third-party apps) on the right. This focus on organization and user experience can be felt throughout the app—of all the apps I tested, it was one of the most intuitive to use. Everything is well thought-out, so you won't feel lost even in the parts of the app you only visit once a month.
There's just one pipeline on the free plan and you can't create more, but HubSpot makes it up to you by letting you create your own customized dashboards and tailored reports. You can take a peek into analytics like marketing campaign stats, traffic analysis of your website, contact analysis on your CRM activity, and form performance.
The extent of HubSpot's free plan is pretty remarkable—it's far from limited to the CRM. There's an entire marketing suite, including email marketing, landing pages, and basic forms. You can create and manage your own website using HubSpot's content management system, handle support tickets and set up live chat and chatbots with the service suite, and review traffic analytics and SEO tools to optimize your channels. The free plan will serve you for a long time. And once you do decide to upgrade, there are multiple tiers to choose from, depending on the focus of your business.
HubSpot price: Free plan includes unlimited users and contacts, plus a lot more; paid plans for the CRM hub start at $45/month.
Learn more: 6 ways to automate business processes in HubSpot
Best free CRM for project management
Capsule (Web, iOS, Android)
Dashboard focuses on tasks to do
Not as feature-packed as others on the list
I didn't know you could fall for an app at first sight, but that's what happened when I started testing Capsule. The interface looks great and works even better. And the fact that it doesn't have a ton of features like some of its competition keeps the navigation simple and to the point.
This ease of use supports Capsule's "best for" label too. The project management functionality resembles that of a true project management platform, with enough depth to keep everything on track. It has a calendar view, Kanban view, and list view, and a dashboard that shows you the tasks for the day and what's coming next—it really takes the overwhelm out of your daily tasks.
There's only one sales pipeline on the free plan. It comes with a Kanban view for visual tracking, a filterable list view, and a dashboard view displaying pipeline forecast, status by milestone, conversion rate, and a grouping of pipeline tags. In the end, the metrics that Capsule offers make up for some of the limitations.
You can connect Capsule to thousands of apps via Zapier (no coding skills required) so that all your important business workflows run in the background. Import sales opportunities or projects, send automatic notifications, and more.
Import sales opportunities from Google Sheets into Capsule CRM
Add new WooCommerce orders to Capsule CRM as new contacts
Here's how this love story ends: Capsule will only let you use its free plan as long as you stay below its 250-contact limit. But when you're willing to invest, getting on the lowest-paid plan will bump that to 50,000, as well as lift the limit on your sales pipelines and project views. P.S. If you can't figure out how to create your free account, that's because it's a little hidden: scroll down on the pricing page and click Get started.
Capsule price: Free plan for up to 2 users and 250 contacts; paid plans start at $18/user/month.
Best free CRM with flexible upgrade options
Vtiger (Web, iOS, Android)
Well-organized mega menu
Robust features across the board
Mobile apps are hard to use
As a free CRM for small business, Vtiger has a robust feature set wrapped in an easy-to-use and speedy user interface. And it's free for 10 users, 3,000 contacts, and 1,000 email sends per month—pretty generous for a free plan.
Of course, there will come a time when Vtiger brings in decent ROI, and you'll want to double down on your CRM strategy, moving to a paid plan. When that happens, you'll pay per user depending on the privileges they have: users with full access to all functions cost more; users with read/write access to one app (Sales, Marketing, etc.) and read-only access to other apps get a discounted price. If your team is expanding and is organized by departments, it makes sense to set up these privileges and save based on what they need to do or access.
As for the platform itself, Vtiger had the most detailed onboarding checklist of any app I tested, assigning me a total of 32 simple tasks that, when complete, gave me a pretty good idea of everything I could do. The help doesn't end there: every time you visit a new screen for the first time, a help video pops out at the bottom-left: click play, and you can explore the features yourself.
Vtiger doesn't have a big top-level menu with lots of buttons, opting instead for focusing on what's happening on the current screen. So, where are the other features? When you click on the hamburger icon on the top-left of the screen, you can access everything:
The entire CRM section, with contacts, leads, and conversations
The marketing suite, offering a landing page builder and a full email marketing platform, with campaigns, contact segmentation, and basic email analytics
Sales features, offering a dashboard, deal view, quotes, and inbox
Service help desk, including a list of cases and a place to handle appointments
Inventory tracking for products and services
Vtiger comes with 18 pre-made reports you can generate with a couple of clicks. If these don't yield the insights you're looking for, you can build your own reports in a step-by-step wizard. You can also set up a lead scoring feature called Profile Score, letting you give points to a contact based on their characteristics.
Connect Vtiger to Zapier so it can talk to all the other apps your team uses. Do things like automatically add an opportunity when someone posts to your company's Facebook feed or completes a lead form.
Add new Facebook Lead Ads leads as leads in Vtiger CRM
Add Vtiger leads from new posts to your Facebook page
Vtiger price: Free plan includes 10 users and 3,000 contacts. Paid plans start at $20/user/month for limited access and $30/user/month for full access.
Best free CRM for prospecting and cold outreach
Plenty of company data available
Chrome extensions for prospecting
Very focused on the outreach use case
When you're just starting out or trying to get established in a new market, you can't leverage referrals or inbound marketing as much. This is when prospecting and reaching out to leads is crucial to securing new business.
Snov.io packs all the features of a CRM with prospecting, letting you search for companies, see their employee rosters and respective titles, and then verify if their emails are valid and active. If you use LinkedIn on a daily basis, Snov.io even offers an extension to let you add search result pages or individual profiles to your prospecting lists.
So now you have a good list of people you want to reach out to. What's next? Snov.io lets you send direct emails to these contacts, and you can start from one of their many email templates or build your own. Alternatively, you can set up a drip campaign built on a visual editor, with customizable rules on how many emails to send, how much time to wait between each one, and conditional triggers for when the recipient clicks on a link.
Since there's no previous relationship between you and your prospects, there's a possibility that your email may get caught in spam filters. Snov.io offers a basic email warm-up feature on the free plan, allowing you to optimize your emails to land in the inbox, not in spam or promotions. It also has lots of tips on the platform to improve your deliverability, and to keep your sending reputation intact—for example, not sending to invalid email inboxes and not repeating sends for email addresses that bounced your message. Even with all that, everything throughout the app feels pretty straightforward.
Snov.io's pricing puts most of the limitations on the prospecting and email verification features with a credit system. You get 150 credits per month, and each new lead or verification costs 1 credit. There's also a 100-recipient limit on email drip campaigns per month, but that only applies to the first email sent to a contact—all subsequent ones for the month are free.
Do more with Snov.io by connecting it to Zapier, so you can automate all your prospecting and lead management workflows. Here are a few examples to get started.
Create records in Salesforce when you add new prospects in Snov.io
Snov.io price: Free plan includes 150 credits and 100 recipients; paid plans start at $33/month for 1,000 credits and 5,000 recipients.
Best free CRM for Gmail users
Streak (Web extension for Chrome, Safari, Edge; Gmail add-on)
Seamless Gmail integration
Multiple pipelines available
Lack of deep reports
If Gmail is the base for all your business communication, you're in luck. You don't have to install a separate app or even give up the interface you've grown so used to. Streak doesn't just integrate with Gmail: it fits seamlessly into the original interface, adding the buttons and features of a powerful CRM.
To get started, you have to download and install the Streak browser extension. With that out of the way, all you have to do is give Streak permission to access your Gmail account—necessary to enable all the features—and walk through the simple configuration process, with an introductory video to all the features sitting at the end.
Unlike other options on this list, Streak's interface feels more like Google Sheets. The sales pipelines have the stages at the top, and below the graphical representation, there's a spreadsheet where you can see your contacts, add relevant details, and move them through the pipeline. This approach may feel a bit strange at first, but after you add your first contact and see how the app handles it, things will click into place quickly.
You can add new contacts from emails in your inbox and assign them to any active pipeline you have. From that point on, all future emails will be labeled as a lead or deal, and the information about tasks/notes/activity will appear on a column to the right. If you click on the contact's email on that column, the entire history will appear, letting you take a look at the whole relationship so far.
In addition to the standard pipeline, there are multiple pipeline templates for use cases spanning sales to HR. You can start from one of those or create your own. This is great if you do more than sales—for example, if you're also hiring or looking for partnerships. Another useful extra is email tracking. When your recipient opens the email, a message pops up on your screen. It even keeps a record of the tracking history, showing the email views by date and location.
Streak doesn't offer any integrations on the free plan; it also doesn't have any deep reporting and analytics features, which is a definite drawback. If you ever upgrade to a paid plan, you can integrate Streak with Zapier to be sure all your CRM info is up to date and all your critical workflows are running in the background.
Create boxes in Streak from new rows in Google Sheets
Create boxes on Streak for new Facebook Lead Ads leads
Streak price: Free plan includes 500 items and 50 mail merge emails per day; paid plans, which add features like shared pipelines, link tracking, and reports, start at $15/user/month.
Best free CRM for Outlook users
eWay-CRM (Microsoft Outlook desktop add-on)
Adds new features inside Outlook
Great free plan
Interface isn't very up-to-date
It's not fair that Gmail users get all the love with their own integrated CRM, is it? Faithful Outlook users rejoice: eWay-CRM will augment your email inbox with plenty of useful features to keep track of contacts, projects, deals, and notes. And it's free for unlimited users and contacts.
To use eWay, you have to create your account and download the installation file—it's meant to be used as an Outlook add-on for the desktop version. (If you use Outlook on the web version, you're out of luck.) After you complete the installation, you'll notice some top menus on Outlook change to accommodate the new features that eWay offers. When you click to create a contact, a new window appears with all the fields ready to be filled. After you type in the details, your contacts will sit on a list accessible from within Outlook, with an Excel-like look and functionality. You can then customize which fields you want to see in columns, and filter, sort, or reorganize as you want. eWay also has a company view, letting you add details and then connect the individual contacts with their respective employers.
One of things I liked most is how it improves the right-click menu in Outlook: you can convert anything in your inbox to a contact, task, project, or note, saving you the time of tabbing out to your project management or enterprise platform to enter the details manually. This is a testament to how eWay isn't setting out to impose a new working logic—it's instead building on the things you actually do every day on Outlook.
There's no visual sales pipeline here. All your deals will appear in a list as if you're tracking them in Excel. You can right-click the deal status column and select Group by to organize them. It will reorganize with toggle lists, letting you show or hide each deal stage, which provides decent visibility, considering we're doing all this inside Outlook.
There are no sparkling dashboards, but you can use your Excel skills to Group by then sort and filter to create your own reports. If that's not enough, eWay can export the data to the actual Excel app so you can put the data magicians in your department to work. eWay also integrates with Word, and even has an offline mode—a nice touch.
Connect eWay-CRM to Zapier, and you can automate a lot of the power of eWay. Here are a few ways you can get started, but you can automate processes across your entire tech stack.
eWay-CRM price: Free plan includes unlimited users and contacts; paid plans, which add things like more storage, deeper project management features, and more customization, start at $18/user/month.
Which free CRM tool should you use?
If you're used to managing your leads and customers the traditional way, with notebooks and spreadsheets, hopping on a free CRM system will streamline your systems and help move your work forward. It's also the beginning of building a body of data that you can analyze, giving you better insights about your business, helping you increase your impact.
Give a few of these free CRM tools a spin. Before committing, be sure you take a good look at the pricing pages. Each app approaches "free" a little differently, so make sure you have everything you need on the free plan, and that the upgraded pricing model matches your budget.
This article was originally published in December 2014 by Matthew Guay and has had contributions from Chris Hawkins. The most recent update was in November 2022.