Salesforce vs. Insightly for Agencies

Choosing the right CRM for your marketing agency

Creative differences. Client demands. New business acquisition. Rising costs. These are just a few of the many reasons why running today’s digital marketing agency is challenging. The industry is constantly evolving with technological advances, and new competitors are added to the scene regularly. With a mix of creative and technical people working independently in their roles, it’s highly important for your agency to have a feature-rich application that is the single source of truth for your operations. That application is often a customer relationship management system (CRM).

How do I choose a CRM for agencies?

You’re convinced…you know you need a CRM for your agency – whether you are an advertising agency, a creative agency, a digital marketing firm, a media buyer, or somewhere in between. Which CRM should you select? Salesforce and Insightly are both popular CRM platforms that cater to a wide range of industries, including ad and media firms. In fact, you may find one or both of these CRMs at work in the client companies you work with so it pays to have working knowledge of both.

These platforms offer features and functions designed to help agencies do more, including automating workflows and repetitive tasks, managing customer relationships, and creating efficiencies. The platform will also have to work seamlessly with your marketing automation platform. In fact, you may be a part of the platform’s partner program to sell it to your customer base. 

In the context of marketing agencies, let’s compare Salesforce and Insightly across various key features and functions. Keep in mind that Salesforce is considered a legacy CRM whereas Insightly is a modern CRM, so many of these comparisons will be conducted with that fact in mind. 

  1. CRM Scalability:
  • Salesforce: Salesforce is specially designed for large-scale enterprises. Since most creative agencies don’t fall into this category, it is not a popular choice for the overwhelming majority of agencies. Its highly customizable platform would allow your agency to adapt and grow as your client base evolves. However, the sheer size and complexity of the platform would make it a highly unlikely choice for firms other than a small number of global marketing agencies.
  • Insightly: Insightly is designed for growing agencies and businesses, which means that it can be a powerful, affordable tool for agencies who are seeking power and value. Agencies are able to access the full feature function of Insightly which is comparable to that of Salesforce. This is because it has the features and power they experience via Salesforce but at a much more affordable price and with significantly less complexity. Insightly is popular with agencies in that it can accommodate all types of budgets. 
  1. Customization:
  • Salesforce: The diverse needs of an agency’s individual clients means that a CRM has to be customizable to truly work for creative and digital agencies. While Salesforce excels in offering extensive customization options, enabling all types of creative firms to tailor the platform to their unique needs, these customizations come at a price. As such, rather than pay expensive integrators or developers, many agencies simply use Salesforce out of the box, which renders one of its best-selling features meaningless. 
  • Insightly: Insightly offers extensive customization features that are as robust as Salesforce in terms of flexibility. However, since Insightly is a modern CRM, customizations are easy to make with in-house resources. Since agencies must meet the unique needs of their clients, it will be easy in Insightly to address the diverse client projects and adapt workflows in Insightly accordingly. For example, one client may use one workflow in Insightly while another has its own and so on.
  1. Integration Capabilities:
  • Salesforce: Agencies must have a CRM that integrates with apps like accounting systems for billing, communication systems (e.g., Slack/Teams), and marketing platforms (e.g., marketing automation). Salesforce has an ecosystem of technologies that work with the platform, facilitating integrations with third-party applications. This is valuable, but integrations are costly, and those costs add up quickly. As such, if your agency selects Salesforce, you’ll likely need to prioritize your requested integrations, and you may need to skip a few at the outset due to budget constraints. 
  • Insightly: Integrations in Insightly are facilitated by AppConnect, a middleware product that is part of the Insightly platform. AppConnect offers the ability to create low-code/no-code integrations, and there are more than 1000 pre-built connections that are ready to use. The connections that the typical agency needs are highly likely to be pre-built and available; if not, they can be established via an open API.
  1. User-Friendly Interface:
  • Salesforce: Agencies are used to the latest advances since the pace of MarTech is typically 1-3 years ahead of most industries. As such, MarTech pros may find Salesforce to be slow…in terms of processing and page speed. While it’s great that there is a plethora of detail on each page, you’ll need to wait for it to load every time. This is because Salesforce is a legacy CRM, and therefore its interface is dated. While it has improved its user interface to be more intuitive and user-friendly, page load speeds are still slow, and the interface appears complex. This also can lead to long training periods and a big learning curve for new users.
  • Insightly: Insightly is often praised for its user-friendly interface, making it easier for creative teams to adopt quickly. Insightly looks like a lot of the apps your team already uses. The popular blade view allows users to drill down into data without loading additional pages. And when pages are loaded, they load quickly. The intuitive interface means the training for Insightly will be much shorter than it is for Salesforce.
  1. Pricing:
  • Salesforce: Salesforce is a high-end, enterprise-grade CRM solution and is priced like one.  The comprehensive features may be justified for global ad agencies and marketing firms, but it could be a significant cost factor for small to mid-sized businesses.
  • Insightly: Insightly generally offers more affordable pricing plans (and even a free plan if you’re just hanging out your own shingle as a new creative business), making it an attractive option for growing ad agencies and marketing firms. With the change from retainers to gig work, every penny counts. As such, ad agencies will find Insightly’s price point to be quite competitive. 
  1. Project Management:
  • Salesforce: How will you manage your accounts after you win the deal? Salesforce is a CRM primarily and does not have post-sale project tracking built in. You’ll need to acquire an additional application to manage projects and clients after you pass through your sales process. 
  • Insightly: Great news – Insightly has a plethora of project management functions built right into the CRM. Using the familiar sales pipeline interface from your sales process, you can create project delivery pipelines to track your accounts, tasks, and relationships. This can be a real money and time saver for agencies who don’t want to acquire multiple pieces of software. 

Insightly vs Salesforce for Marketing Agencies

The choice between Salesforce and Insightly as a CRM for digital marketing agencies of all sizes depends on factors such as the size of the agencies and your number of clients, your customization needs, your budget, and the number of integrations you’ll need to operate your firm. Salesforce is costly, but with its scalability and extensive enterprise features, it could be a good fit for global ad agencies with multiple offices worldwide, hundreds of teams, and thousands of associates. Insightly is a modern, affordable CRM that is an attractive option for digital marketing agencies of all sizes looking for a CRM that offers good value to grow.