Capsule CRM Review – Detailed Review of a CRM System for Small Businesses

Capsule CRM review (image of the product logo on a clipboard)

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

Our overall rating: 3.5/5


What is Capsule 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

In this review we’ll examine how well Capsule CRM manages all the above, and discuss what else the tool offers.


Capsule CRM pricing

There are three Capsule plans available:

  • The free version

  • Capsule ‘Professional’

  • Capsule ‘Teams’

All three plans share some core features, namely the ability to store contacts, manage sales pipelines, track customer activity and assign tasks to other team members.

The main differences between the plans involve contact and storage file limits, and access to more advanced features.

Let’s look briefly at these.

The free edition of Capsule:

  • has a two user limit

  • lets you store up to 250 contacts.

  • comes with a 10MB storage limit.

The ‘Professional’ version of Capsule costs $18 per user per month; and in addition to the functionality available on the free plan, you get

  • the ability to store a higher number of contacts (50,000)

  • more file storage (10GB per user)

  • access to reporting functionality

  • access to premium integrations (Freshbooks, Xero, Mailchimp etc.).

Finally there’s the ‘Teams’ option, which costs $36 per user per month. In addition to the features on the Professional plan, you also get:

  • a 100,000 contacts limit

  • a 20GB storage limit

  • advanced reporting

  • team-based features (the ability to organise users into team and restrict access to records).

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 rivals’ approach to pricing is that with Capsule, you’re dealing with a relatively simple pricing structure — there are only two paid-for plans available.

Many other CRM tools, by contrast, offer a more complex sliding scale of pricing.

To give you a snapshot of competitor pricing:

  • Salesforce offers a very wide range of customisable paid-for plans, but its ‘Essentials’ and ‘Professional’ plans are probably the most relevant to users contemplating using Capsule CRM. Salesforce ‘Essentials’ costs $25 per user (up to 10 allowed); ‘Professional’ costs $75 per user per month.

  • Zoho’s entry level plan costs $12 per month, with more fully-specced $20 and $35 per month plans also available.

  • Hubspot’s pricing is calculated on a sliding scale, based on the number of contacts you want to store. Although you can avail of a pretty-well specced free Hubspot plan, you can also end up paying thousands of dollars per user per month on its ‘Enterprise’ grade plans if you want to store a lot of contacts and avail of its most advanced functionality.

So, generally speaking, Capsule comes in at the cheaper end of the spectrum. It’s fair to say however that the products referenced above are considerably more feature-rich than Capsule, offering features such as email marketing and sophisticated marketing automation features.

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.

And speaking of features…


Key Capsule CRM features

Capsule allows you to

  • store and share contacts with colleagues

  • categorise data using tags

  • create contact lists and use them to send group emails

  • manage your ‘sales pipeline’ and generate reports on it

  • track activity between you, your colleagues and leads (for example, you can automatically append a copy of an email to a lead’s record, add information about a meeting you had with them)

  • 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 (‘tracks’ are 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 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 their profile information to contacts

  • manage ‘cases’ related to particular events – 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. But first, a quick look at how easy Capsule is in general to use.


Ease of use

Capsule is really easy to use – its interface is clean and very user-friendly.

There are 6 icons that you use to access Capsule’s main features:

Capsule's main menu
Capsule’s main menu

These are:

  • 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 (i.e., support or business enquiries)

  • a reports icon, which brings you to the reporting dashboard.

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
The Capsule CRM interface

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 unless you use a third-party sync tool provided by Pie Sync — more on that below).

  • 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 your message to the communications history for that contact).

  • You can use a handy Google add-on for Capsule within Gmail, allowing you to add new contacts and information about them directly to Capsule from within the Gmail interface.

  • 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.

  • You can use Capsule in conjunction with Google Data Studio, which gives you some sophisticated ways to analyse your CRM data.

All good stuff, but there are a few things to watch out for:

  • The G Suite integration is more or less limited to email, contacts and calendars — there’s no obvious way to integrate G Suite’s other apps, or Google Drive, into proceedings.

  • It would be be preferable if contact sync was two-way out of the box, and it would also be great to be able to view Google calendars within Capsule and add appointments directly to them.

  • It would be nice to be able to view your Gmail inbox directly within Capsule. Other similar CRM packages, such as Nimble, allow this.

  • You have to contact Capsule to enable the integration.

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.

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Using Capsule CRM with Microsoft 365

Oddly, there’s no integration between Capsule and Microsoft 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 Outlook.com).

Another alternative is to use a similar sync service, like Automate.io or Zapier, which both offer some Capsule-Microsoft 365 integration options.

The lack of an integration doesn’t by rule out using Capsule if you’re an Microsoft 365 — it just means that workflow won’t be quite as smooth as it could be, and you’ll have to involve third-party apps to connect the too platforms.

Ultimately however, given the widespread and increasing use of Microsoft 365 by businesses in Capsule’s target market, I think it would be in the interest of Capsule to provide an official integration as soon as possible.

Capsule’s free plan – a unique feature?

One of the most commendable aspects of Capsule CRM is its free plan — for small businesses without much of a budget to invest in software, this is a great way to get started in the world of CRM. With the exception of Hubspot — which like Capsule offers a very good free version of its product — it’s hard to think of many CRM providers that offer this sort of free functionality.


Other integrations with Capsule CRM / Syncing tools

Out of the box, Capsule CRM provides integrations with the following apps:

  • FreeAgent

  • Freshbooks

  • G Suite

  • KashFlow

  • Mailchimp

  • Quickbooks

  • Sage

  • Wufoo

  • Xero

  • Zendesk

If you need to integrate another app — for example Getresponse or Campaign Monitor — you’ll need to make use of a syncing service like PieSync, Automate.io or Zapier.

There are also a couple of Capsule apps that you can switch on — one for adding social data to your contacts (i.e., to display Twitter profiles beside your contacts) and another for creating forms that you can use to capture data from your website directly onto Capsule.


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). 

It’s easy to forget to do this however. 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 add-on, which allows you to add Gmail messages to Capsule (and view contact information from Capsule within G Suite).

The G Suite add-on for Capsule CRM
The G Suite add-on for Capsule CRM

Managing a sales pipeline in Capsule CRM

Managing a sales pipeline in Capsule CRM is extremely straightforward.

You can either use the standard Capsule pipeline, or customize it so that it uses bespoke milestones (you’ll find the option to do this under Account Settings > Opportunities).

Customizing sales pipelines in Capsule CRM.
Customizing sales pipelines in Capsule CRM.

Once you’ve got a pipeline that you’re happy with, it’s easy to move deals through the various stages. You simply create an opportunity and then you can drag and drop it through your pipeline as required.

Managing deals in a Capsule CRM sales pipeline
Managing deals in a Capsule CRM sales pipeline

Mass mailouts and marketing automation in Capsule

If you’re hoping to create newsletters, do mass mailouts or automate your marketing in sophisticated ways (for example, through the use of autoresponders) then you might be a bit disappointed with Capsule.

Although you can use Capsule to send basic group messages, this CRM 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 out of the box.

That said, it is possible to integrate several email marketing tools with Capsule — an official integration is are available for Mailchimp — and you can use Zapier to connect other email marketing apps to Capsule.

If you don’t mind hooking a tool like one of these up to your Capsule CRM account then, and spending a bit of time configuring things, you can use your Capsule data to power e-newsletters and autoresponders. But if you’re looking for something that comes withe email marketing built-in you are better off looking at a solution like Hubspot, which includes this functionality as standard (even on its free plan).


Reporting in Capsule CRM

Capsule CRM has upped its reporting game considerably in recent years, and it now contains a reporting section which allows you to obtain key sales data.

Unfortunately there’s no reporting functionality available on the free version of Capsule; however, upgrading to the ‘Professional’ or ‘Teams’ versions gives you access it.

With the ‘Professional’ edition of Capsule you get:

  • Activity reporting (information about how many calls, meetings etc. your staff are arranging, or tasks they are completing)

  • Sales reporting

  • Sales forecasting

In addition to the above, the ‘Teams’ version of Capsule gives you:

  • Reporting by team

  • Reporting on custom activities

  • Custom reporting functionality

It’s worth pointing out the the custom reporting functionality is only available if you connect Google Data Studio to your Capsule account — so you will need some familiarity with the former product in order to get the most out of this.

Activity reporting in Capsule
Activity reporting in 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.


Capsule CRM review: summary

Capsule is a solid, easy-to use CRM system which is a good solution for small to medium-sized businesses, particularly those using Google Apps; and its free plan is great for startups. However, it is one of the more basic CRM tools currently available and lacks some key features, notably where marketing automation is concerned.

The main thing I feel Capsule CRM has going for it is that it is very competitively priced. 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.

A 30 days free trial of the premium Capsule plans are available — you can access these trials here.

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 key third-party applications, including Mailchimp and Xero

  • It is generous when it comes to storing contacts: you can work with 50,000 contacts for $18 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.

  • An entirely free plan is also 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).

  • The 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.

  • There are no built in email marketing features.


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 concerned — 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. 

Nimble CRM is also worth investigating — it’s slightly more expensive than Capsule but offers a wider feature set and full integration with Office 365.

There’s also Hubspot to think about, which actually offers a very good free CRM plan (the paid-for plans can get pretty expensive though).


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Comments (7)

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Hi Chris

Great coverage. I have been using CapsuleCRM for two of my previous companies and now for UnifiedVU. Spent several weeks early this year merging duplicates, but now I have a very clean contact database.

We’ve actually extended the functionality of CapsuleCRM through UnifiedVU platform, see http://unified.vu/capsulecrm/ and http://unified.vu/2016/05/03/supporting-the-saas-cluster-of-capsulecrm-zendesk-mailchimp-xero-and-twitter/

Let me know if you like to take a spin

Best regards
Manoj
manoj.ranaweera@unified.vu
+44 7769734491

Good write up of Capsule CRM which I love, I use two instances of it for two businesses and it’s great.

We’re Laptop based and can’t move away from MS Office (as we’re ex-corporate) so use a BCC plugin for Outlook (from Ablebits – no affiliation) which just works. We set up a rule to copy all emails sent to the Capsule dropbox and et voila, a complete customer history and transaction….Except for call information.

We found that when we were out and about and talking to customers on our phones we very rarely logged any notes about those calls so we had a big communication gap until http://www.call2crm.com/ came along.

It sits on our (android) phones and ‘listens’ for the end of a call (in or outbound) and then pops up, searches capsule for the phone number and asks if we want to store notes against the contact. It’s so simple, non intrusive and just works. Apparently works for Salesforce as well.

For us as remote workers Capsule is fantastic, the full history we now get makes our client conversations far more effective.

I have to declare an interest here in that I am a ZOHO Alliance partner. Saying that I try to be as platform independent as I can be and see my business as being primarily consultancy lead.

This is the first time I have investigated Capsule for a client and from what you say I will probably recommend that they go for the Google Apps integration as a first step.

However, I do think that the comments about the ZOHO UI are not accurate. I use the product all the time and it has never seemed that clunky to me but then again it is more function rich and so probably has more options.

At the end of the day you should use the system that best meets your needs – if you want something really simple and you are using Google Apps (bearing in mind comments about calendars which I think would be important) then Capsule seems OK.

If you want something which has a lot of functionality and allows you to integrate 25 other business modules into the CRM e.g., Marketing Campaigns Management, Support Desk, Surveys and a host of others then ZOHO is a great tool.

Horses for courses

Nick 0750 4459776

Hi

Thanks for this review. However, you may have included ZOHO CRM as well. But then again I guess there are so many out there where would you stop

I tried capsule, but the real problem I had with it was that it lacked an easy way of selecting multiple accounts to update or export them. It’s a tad funny what small little things cause you to walk away. For me, UI is the most important followed by functionality. Zoho has the most functionality per dollar, but the UI is atrocious. I am trying out Contactually right now and it seems really promising in that it is both easy to use, but has powerful automation features like mail merge. Still in trials, but I finally may have found the closest to perfect CRM for a small but growing business

I’d never heard of Capsule before for CRM, just Sage and Qlikview – but after reading this it does look like a viable option for a lot of small businesses. Thanks!

Just adding our point of view:

My wife is a free-lance make up artist and in order to help her keeping track of her customers I have setup a Capsule CRM instance for her business.

While I am techie, my wife prefers to avoid technology as much as possible, yet she find Capsule ease to use and approachable, which in my opinion is a great advantage on a CRM targeting small businesses.

I had tried Zoho previously but found its interface painful to death while capsule offered us a great cost benefit. We love it.