By David Holland

June 29, 2021


Are you in the market for a customer relationship management (CRM) too? There is no shortage of options to choose from. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular CRM tools on the market today and compare their cost of ownership against not having any CRM at all.

It is important to note that this article will not discuss features, functionality and other aspects of the various CRM tools. Instead, the article focuses on how much the cost would be to own each tool for one year and then compare that with what a business might spend if they didn't have any customer relationship management software at all.

What we will compare

The initial costs of implementing software can be where most of the project budget goes. While many enterprise software solutions do have a large upfront licence fee, small business software and specifically CRM and Marketing Tool have changed to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

A larger consideration is the cost of hiring experts to guide you through implementing the software and your time dedicated to learning and working with the experts.

It would be easy to fall into the trap of trying to minimise these cost too much. Of course, you do not want to spend money unnecessarily. But budgeting too little money can leave you without the help you need to make a success of your implementation. Any implementation that is not a success is a waste of any money.

When making a comparison of costs we will also consider the scope of the project. The more functionality being covered the more software you will need to licence and the more help you will need. Unless you figure it all out yourself, then the cost is associated with your time.

As well as software, we need to touch on the costs of integration to your other business systems.

Finally, there is the cost of hardware. That is computer systems, whether in your office or hosted off-site. By definition, SaaS solutions are hosted off-site and the costs of that, including any maintenance costs, are included in the monthly or annual fees.

Once you have implemented your initial scope, there are two costs. The first is the ongoing fees to keep the system running. The second is any further development or expert costs you require. Because the context of this article is CRM and Sales & Marketing, it would be likely that you will wish to add additional campaign or ideas. If you can do that yourself these costs will be low, but your time might be more.

Keap Family

Keap is a CRM and Sales & Marketing Automation tool with Small Business eCommerce.

As such many of the functionality needs are covered. This reduces the need to use multiple tools and set up multiple integrations.

The actual costs are dependent on how many contacts and users you have. Keap Pro, with 2 users and 2500 contacts costs £79 ($99) per month. There are no initial software costs. Indeed, very often the first months or two is reduced in price.

Check out for details.

If you purchase Keap Pro directly from Keap, you only get 1 user and 500 contacts. In addition, you pay $500 for Kick Start. This is well worth the money as the expert assigned to help you will pay for themselves many time over in term of shortcutting your learning and providing a great marketing strategy.

When you buy Keap (any edition) from EXELA through from the website you can get the same Kick Start with the same experts for £1!

EXELA offers a membership programme that will provide you and all your team with unlimited tickets to live training events, unlimited email support and reduced service costs for additional assistance you require. The most popular level of membership is Premium and costs £49 per month or £490 per years.

You can get details of this membership at

Keap is a SaaS resulting in no hosting costs.

Initial Cost: £40.50 (First month at 50%-off plus Kick Start for £1)

Ongoing Cost: £128 per month (£79 for the software & £49 Assistance membership)

Compared to a few competitors


Mailchimp a very popular autoresponder. But it is NOT a CRM. There is no sales functionality. It has no eCommerce functionality. While Mailchimp does have a FREE and Essentials plan for $0 and $9.99 per month respectively their Standards plan at $14.99 per month is the most popular. This comes with 500 contacts.

Mailchimp claims CRM functionality but it doesn't really deliver. As contacts sign up they are added to lists. There is no way to search across lists for cohorts with particular behaviours of attributes. The standard edition is limited to 5 lists. After that, the price jumps to $299 per month for 10,000 contacts.

Many CRM's do connect with Mailchimp. For example, Pipedrive, which is good sales CRM costing £49.90 per month.

There is no "Kick Start" for Mailchimp. While it is fairly simple to learn it is time-consuming. If teaching yourself on YouTube is your thing, no problem.

Getting support for Mailchimp usually requires finding a Mailchimp Partner. The cost varies but $175 per hour is a reasonable budget.

Initial Costs: $1,174 ($299 plus 5 hours expert help)

On-going Costs: $299 (Mailchimp only)

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is an email broadcast tool. It has a nice builder and is simple to use, but it doesn't do very much marketing. £45 per month for 2500 contacts, seems pretty expensive. Keap Lite, at £39 per month does significantly more.

Focused at online store owners, but without any eCommerce functionality makes simple implementations cheap, as there is not much to do. However as soon as you get into Shopping Cart automation you will need to integrate to your cart platform and get some help from an expert.

Help is on offer at $595 per month or $220 per hour.

Initial Costs: $1,160 (£45 plus 5 hours expert help)

On-going Costs: £755 per month

Really Simple CRM

Really Simple CRM offers a good range of features. It starts at £25 per month for a Sales CRM. To add marketing functionality with the ability to send a reasonable quantity of emails will cost a further £38 per month.

Support is delivered via a knowledge base and online chat. There is no expert community offered. Without a partner community helping you this is going to be a DIY project. As such really not recommended.

Initial Cost: £63 (plus a lot of learning time)

Ongoing Cost: £63 per month


Pipedrive is a good B2B Sales CRM. It starts at £49.90 per month for the recommended version and there is a free trial. There is an expert community that provides mentoring, training, webinars and chat support on weekdays from 09:00 to 18:00 CET (13 hours).

The functionality is well suited for sales teams of more than five. Salespeople have an array of tools they can use to work their pipelines.

Sales Managers are provided with the tool they need to manage their teams.

Pipedrive integrates with Mailchimp and other technologies, at an extra cost.

Initial Cost: £924.90 (£49.90 plus 5 hours at £175 per hour)

On-going Cost: £49.90 (No marketing capability)

Is buying Keap a sound investment?

We have looked at the initial and ongoing costs of Keap and a few of the many, many competitors. Keap fairs well in terms of cost for the functionality provided.

But what about doing nothing and sticking with spreadsheets and a notebook?

If you are reading this article at all you will already have experienced the pain of trying to run and grow a business without providing systems that have been designed for the task. It would be crazy to try to keep your accounts up to date and comply with the tax regulations without bookkeeping systems.

Trying to use spreadsheets to automate your marketing and sales activity effectively is almost impossible. While you can programme in a good deal of sophisticated functionality in spreadsheets and connect multiple worksheets together using Zapier, the time it takes to build and managed spreadsheets is way more expensive than buying a piece of software designed for the job.

But how does Keap get you a return on investment?


Consider a scenario where you get 10 new leads per week. Assuming  you send three emails to each lead and get a response from five. Now assume that you spend 30 minutes per responded trying to get an appointment and you manage to get three appointments.

As you are well organised we will assume that all your emails have been prewritten and you have saved them as templates.

To send lead each an email from the templates takes 1 minute each. That is 30 minutes. Then 5 x 30 minutes for the responded. Total is three hours to get three meetings.

If the leads coming into Keap all your follow-up emails are sent automatically. If people respond you can send appointment booking links. So the follow-up time is zero.

You save three hours per week. That adds up to 156 hours per year or 20 working days.

Increased business

This leaves five leads who do not respond and two appointments you did not get.

Just working on those numbers, if you have a much longer follow-up process than three emails, and consistently send these lead added value information it is probable that you will convert at least one more into an appointment.

That is a 30% increase in appointments.

Assuming that your sales conversion remains identical 30% more appointment will equal 30% more business at the end of the year.

Return on Investment

We have identified that Keap with EXELA support cost £128 per month or £29.54 per week. You save 3 hours per week. As long as your time is worth more than £9.87 per hour (minimum wage in 2020 is £8.72) you are at breakeven. Three hours per week is the same as about 20-days per year.

Add to this return an increase of 30% of your revenue with no additional marketing costs. You will probably get around a 10% increase in your profit, perhaps more.

With these numbers, it is difficult to understand a scenario where you didn't get a very healthy return on your investment.

Why people fail.

But some people do fail to get a return on their investment. Let's look at what could go wrong.

The single biggest reason people fail to get a good result from implementing Keap (or any other automation software) is they don't engage in the project. Some business owners make the buying decision but then don't put in the effort required to set the software up. The reason is that they are busy "doing the do". They are already under time pressure and never manage to schedule some thinking time the solve their automation challenges.

This is the exact reason we provide a Kick Start and ongoing assistance to our members.

We know what to do. We can do almost all the heavy lifting for you. We do need you to engage in the project and direct us to the most fitting solutions for your particular situation.

Next Steps

Contact the team at EXELA and we will show you what Keap is all about and explain how we implement it.

About the author

Nice bloke with practical ideas. Former Procter & Gamble, Kraft and IBM sales and marketing executive. Became a business owner 20 years ago. Started multiple businesses including EXELA which is the most successful Keap® & Infusionsoft™ reseller in the EMEA region.

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