Contactually is a surprisingly fresh take on CRM solutions. While many CRM producers assume that you have at least some pre-existing knowledge about using web-hosted dashboards, Contactually walks you through just about everything it can do, all with an upbeat attitude.
Founded only a few years ago by the top-notch business and tech trio Zvi Band, Tony Cappaert, and Jeff Carbonella, Contactually has a lot of experience underpinning its user-friendly design.
I was a little surprised to discover the many accolades and broad experience of its team members. As I toured the software for the first time, I got the distinct impression that I had stumbled upon the Programming Class final project of a couple college kids. The lack of professionalism in these webinars belies the genius that developed the software itself. The Contactually team was able to take grudging tasks and actually make them fun. Mostly.
What separates Contactually from the sea of CRMs is the proactivity of its software. The set-up process is fairly comprehensive, often asking a few questions of you in order to automatically configure the software to your business profile. This proactivity is also implemented in the daily use of the software, which uses algorithms to analyze your communication patterns and suggest intelligent daily tasks that will keep you on top of everything. It’s a great perk to have software that takes the pressure off of the question we all ask, “What am I forgetting to do today?” Contactually will answer this for you, and give you actionable steps to make sure that no one in your business network will slip through the cracks.
Contactually is a true Relationship Manager, and doesn’t try too hard to be anything else. While it does offer useful tie-in features like pipeline tracking, it excels at what you’d expect: managing your communication. To see if Contactually is the right tool for your needs, read on.
Contactually offers a free trial, with no credit card required.
After the trial period, there is a 3-tier pricing plan. The prices below reflect subscriptions billed annually, but Contactually also offers monthly rates that are somewhat higher.
- Basic: $35/mo/user (billed annually)
- Professional: $59/mo/user (billed annually)
- Enterprise: $125/mo/user (billed annually)
Product features scale with pricing plan. To see what features are included at each level, refer to the pricing page.
Web-Based or Locally-Installed:
Like most CRMs, Contactually is primarily offered in SaaS format (Software as a Service,) which means that its primary usage will be by remote login via a web browser. This enables the software to be used from any internet-connected computer anywhere. However, there are also locally-installed clients that access the same data, which provide simplified use for access by a smartphone. iPhone and Android versions are available for download.
Hardware and Software Requirements:
- iOS: Requires iOS 8.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
- Android: Requires 3.0 and up.
Ease of Use:
Contactually has a definite edge over other CRMs in the ease of use category. Upon creating an account, I was “interviewed” before I ever had to start data entry to get my business established. Based on the information I provided, Contactually set up an entire template for me, jump-starting the setup process. This was a very handy and time-saving touch.
As I began to use the software, there were float frames (like pop-ups) that guided me through the rest of the setup process. This was also very helpful to get familiarized. However, these frames sometimes hijacked me away from what I was doing, preventing me from finishing until I had completed the tutorial.
As I began to explore the dashboard (after the tutorial) I was stumbling over one helpful resource after another. There were unavoidable videos and pop-ups, teaching on the very thing I was about to do. This can be annoying if you learn best by simply getting your hands dirty, but most people will be pleasantly surprised. These videos can also be found on Contactually’s training page, where there is a library of all of the webinars, available for view at any time. You can also view free ebooks on a variety of relevant topics, if you’d really like to dig into a subject.
As for the software itself, there seems to be several ways to do anything you might want to do, which makes it easy to get where you want to be. And since Contactually can tie in with all of your social networking platforms, it enables you to follow up with your contacts by any of these methods, right from the Contactually dashboard. Send your contacts a LinkedIn message, a text, or a phone call, and track what kind of communication was sent, and when.
Finally, the mobile app I used was for the iPhone. The good news is that the app was simple, fast, and seemingly hard to break. It was very simple to learn; however, many iPhone users reported a decrease in functionality over time as the number of contacts increased, as well as other glitches. You can read more on that later.
The iPad was able to access the dashboard via web browser almost identically to a full desktop computer. There was a slight glitch where the right side of the window didn’t adjust correctly to the smaller screen size, but aside from that, everything else worked very well.
All of Contactually’s features seem to build upon one another, making them hard to isolate in a simple and itemized breakdown. This alone may be Feature #1, demonstrating just how thought-out the software is. Since this is a CRM, let’s start with Contacts.
- Fully customizable contacts. Each contact card can have its own rules for communication: frequency of contact, inclusion in customizable programs (see below,) ownership settings for your team, and tags for quicker filtering.
- Resource library. Save relevant articles and other web content to your Contactually dashboard, and recall it quickly in emails, for keeping your contacts well informed.
- Email templates and merge fields. Send a personalized email to up to 250 contacts at once.
- Programs. User-created tasks, or groups of tasks, that can be automatically executed on a set schedule.
- Buckets. A smarter way to organize your contacts into groups. Can be shared among team members, or given specific Programs and resources.
- Pipelines. This feature allows you to connect contacts to specific pipelines and keep track of each stage for each client.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
Either implemented or planned:
- Evernote: Suite of apps to find, organize, and share information.
- Rapportive: Gmail add-on that shows expanded information for contacts.
- Xobni: Data analyzer for Outlook inbox.
- Vertical Response: Create, send, and track emails.
- AWeber: Email newsletters and automated follow-ups.
- iContact: Email marketing solution.
- ActiveCampaign: email newsletters and campaigns.
- Campaign Monitor: Attract email subscribers, send newsletter, track results.
- eBay: Online auctioning.
- PayPal: Send and receive online payments, create merchant accounts.
- MailChimp: Drag-and-drop HTML editor for email marketing.
- Amazon: Online shopping portal.
- GetSatisfaction: Enables customers to interact with each other.
- ZenDesk: Customer Service platform.
- ZenCart: Adds e-commerce to your website.
- Box: Online file sharing.
- Dropbox: Online file sharing.
- Formstack: Online form builder.
- QuickBase: Web database software.
- Wufoo: Online form builder.
- AccountEdge: Small business accounting software.
- FreshBooks: Small business accounting software.
- Harvest: Online time tracking software.
- Intuit: Small business finance and tax software.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
I was quite pleased with my interactions with Customer Service. I emailed a few questions to the support team, and received an email back within eight minutes, fully answering my questions. Other users of Contactually have had different experiences with technical support, particularly when trying to reach them by phone. Here are the ways that I found to get in touch with support:
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
You can browse through Contactually’s Facebook page and get a pretty good idea of where many of the top issues arise. Some users complain about the level of technical support they receive when facing an issue. Most of the negative reviews that I found were complaints about the software being buggy. iPhone users report that Contactually performs well on the dashboard but terribly on the app, giving the most recent version 1 out of 5 stars with 19 ratings. The app rates only 3 out of 5 stars overall with 61 total ratings. The Android version doesn’t fare much better with 3 out of 5 stars and a total of 167 ratings. There are still a few issues with the web version, but the number of complaints has decreased significantly since the last review. Some of the complaints are copied below.
“Please rebuild this as proper Android app/ux Terrible ux, not at all feeling like a modern Android client. Let-down compared to the great web interface; I far prefer the responsive web interface to the android app.”
“Can’t edit contacts. Chews up ridiculous bandwidth and battery. Absolutely no offline use. Bug where the app sends double emails.”
“Doesn’t do much. The UI is horrendous, takes long to sync, no pipelines, or programs. I can’t create a task to follow up with a contact say 2 months from now. What’s the point of crm if 1. Crm is not funcutonal on mobile (where we all live), and 2. I can’t create follow ups/calendar items from app? The Web version is great, but the mobile app clearly was released too early, and not thought out. I hope they do a major overhaul on it. Mobile functionality is very critical for any crm software!”
“Terrible… I’m in the process of evaluating a few different CRM’s for my business. I looked at online reviews of different CRM’s and Contactually got a nice write up so I set up for the 30 trial run. Thankfully, I took the time to download the app to see if it was as good as the desk top version… Not even close! The app is completely useless. We are in a mobile world and if won’t work on my HTC or iPad why would I want the product? I have no intention of buying Contactually at this point, I’ve crossed it off my list. If they down the road improve the app I’ll take another look, until then don’t waste your money or time.”
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Some users happily reported that Contactually won them new business from old customers within only a few hours of using the software. The Contactually website claims that users also get 30-40% more referrals by keeping on top of their communications with this software. Here are a few positive customer reviews, taken from various websites:
“Just what I wanted. Finally – a piece of software to nag me to keep in touch with my clients. Telling who I am neglecting and who I have been in touch with a lot – seems really simple to use and integrates brilliantly with google mail / contacts. It is still early days but I would certainly recommend it. . .”
“Using Contactually with Google Apps. I am a Realtor that is part of a small Team. I use every facet of Google Apps and was looking for a way to have a single interface for client follow-up, notes, click to call, email or contact using Social Media, properly categorize clients etc. – Then it all has to have a User Friendly interface (remember these are Realtors not IT people 🙂 I think we have found a winner with Contactually. . .”
“Cutting edge software. Contactually is very clear, quick and easy to use. It is cutting edge software as a service (SaaS). It actually saves a lot of time and effort and once you get going with it, it really proves its worth at putting you back in touch with your contacts, and in context (it can show you any LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter info and your recent conversations all together in one place). Integrates well with other services. I would also recommend watching a few YouTube videos to understand how to set it up quickly! Finally, if you only get this for the bucket game you will not be disappointed!”
Like almost all online entities, Contactually employs full 256-bit SSL encryption for log-in pages, the dashboard, and data transfers. Contactually performs real-time backups as you add new contacts, and promise permanent data deletion if you decide to cancel your account.
I can see this software working well for any small business that would benefit from simple networking. Contactually has improved the overall function of its software and added more sales-oriented features, such as pipeline tracking, task management, and insights. The company also offers a public API and additional add-ons that may sufficiently add this functionality for those who don’t mind piecing together 3rd party programs to meet their unique business needs.
Contactually has cleaned up some of its rough spots, such as the quality of the webinars and the reported reliability issues. Improving customer service and technical support could go a long way in helping customers overcome the less-than-perfect aspects of the software. The biggest downside to Contactually is the quality of the mobile app. For those who conduct most of their business on their phone, Contactually’s mediocre app is a deal breaker.
Contactually didn’t blow my mind, but it is a very solid 4/5 stars. If you need an excellent CRM, and not a powerful all-in-one solution, I definitely recommend giving Contactually a try.