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Insightly’s easy-to-use interface, customization, and fluid data importation make it a CRM that can greatly enhance your business.
How to Buy Insightly
Insightly comes in the three, standard SaaS pricing tiers:
- Plus costs $29 per user per month (billed annually), and gives you limited access to most features. Notably, you won’t be able to customize anything.
- Professional costs $49 per user per month, but it has limited Dashboards and third-party app integration.
- Enterprise costs an eye-opening $99 per user per month, but it includes full access to everything we’ve mentioned in this review.
Insightly also offers other products that are tightly integrated with the CRM, but they cost extra. These include Insightly Service and Insightly Marketing and they follow the same tiers and per-user pricing as CRM.
Insightly is an easy-to-use customer relationship management (CRM) system that’s squarely focused on small to midsize businesses (SMBs). The software’s interface isn’t hard to pick up, and, more importantly, getting data into the system isn’t overly convoluted. Insightly is easier to use than our Editors’ Choice pick for SMB-friendly CRM, Zoho CRM, it’s not as feature-deep, and costs almost twice as much money at the high end. Still, its many positives make it a SMB-friendly CRM application.
Getting Started With Insightly
Like most of its competitors, Insightly starts you off on a customizable landing page that you can configure with your most important tasks, outstanding emails, or reporting dashboards. Unlike several competing CRMs, including Act! CRM, you don’t need to hop into a separate designer to tweak this interface. You can add, delete, modify or move objects on your dashboard on the fly.
Insightly offers four dashboards, and it lets you pick one to act as the default. The four are Recent Activity, Opportunities Dashboard, Project Dashboard, and Leads Dashboard. That said, you can also create entirely new dashboards from scratch, and distribute them to other individuals or teams associated with your account. You’ll find these options in other CRMs, but Insightly makes everything easy to find and use.
Like Zoho CRM, Insightly has an all-up settings view. However, it’s located in the User Profile tab, and it’s only for settings directly related to a particular user. If you have administrator permissions, you’ll find a System Settings tab that has features for the entire organization, such as an active user list and the ability to add new users. This is also where you’ll find data administration, workflow automation, and app integrations options.
These admin-level options aren’t particularly intuitive, so you may need to tap Insightly’s support team. In addition, there’s only a basic, utilitarian view for most options. Creating new data objects, for example, starts with a basic list view of all your objects. From there you can create new objects, but only one at a time. Most SMBs won’t need thousands of objects, so the strength here is that it’s easy to get started. However, as your company grows, you’ll want more objects than this kind of engine can easily handle.
Spinning up any CRM means importing data, usually related to contacts and deals. For our reviews, we import a small CSV file containing 50 test contacts. Insightly’s importation process was, again, what we expected, except it was just a little easier (and ran just a little bit more smoothly) than most competing software. Here’s how.
\Most CRMs import contacts only through a custom integration or CSV file, but Insightly offers several other options. For example, you can import contacts directly from an Excel file (why don’t more CRMs do that?) or from Google Workspace or Microsoft Outlook. Most CRMs make you add an integration for that functionality, but Insightly offers it out of the box along with options for Act! Premium and Mailchimp.
In addition, we imported our CSV file without a hitch, which was a nice change from some of Insightly’s competitors (Salesflare was particularly frustrating during this import process). Once we selected our file, Insightly grabbed the first row of the spreadsheet, made educated guesses about what each field should be, and then presented us with its findings along with the option to change anything it got wrong. In our case, we only had one mystery field, called EU Importer. Insightly identified everything else, and let us define EU as a custom field directly from the import UI.
Contacts and Organizations
Hopping over to the Contacts tab on Insightly’s left-hand nav brings up all your contacts in a basic list view. We really would like to see a more visually pleasing interface, like Zoho CRM’s Kanban cards or something similar. Then again, the interface makes it easy to use tags to filter your list. Zoho and many other CRMs let you define tags for contacts, organizations, deals, and other data points, but Insightly places them directly on the UI so you can easily filter them. You can also create your own tags, and use them under Organizations and Opportunities.
Aside from tags, you can sort the view by several filters, including Recently Viewed and Contacts Added in the Last 7 days. Those filters aren’t customizable, however.
There’s a long list of things you can do to an individual contact once you drill down, including assigning a new owner, exporting to a vCard or Mailchimp, and adding a new activity record. It’s the same basic process when you’re in the Organizations, Leads, and Opportunities views, though the fields change slightly in each section.
Contacts and Organizations are tightly linked. If you manually add a contact and associate it with a company that’s not in the Insightly database, the application opens the Create New Organization dialog. Complete that, and you can finish adding your contact.
When you pull up either the Organizations’ or the Contacts’ details card, you’ll see four options. Under Contacts, that’s Details, Related, Activity, and Timeline. Details is all the information you entered, while Related is any other touchpoint the Contact has with Insightly, including other deals, projects, and open tickets. Activity is where Contacts crosses paths with Tasks, which we’ll discuss later. Timeline is just a scheduling view that shows all the outstanding Tasks, and when they’re due.
Details, Related, and Activity also appear on an Organizations’ drill-down card, and they work the same fashion. Instead of a Timeline as the fourth option, Insightly adds a News view. That’s where Insightly scans the web for the latest news about your prospect organization, and surfaces the information there.
Leads looks very much like Contacts, except Leads aren’t contacts until you designate them as such. You fill out the same information as you would under Contacts, except any new organization you add isn’t automatically entered into the database (and the lead only shows up in the Leads tab).
You can add notes and files, and expose the lead to another team member as a Task via email (or just by giving them permission to view it). If you never get anywhere with the lead, you can click Close or just delete it. If you convert the lead, you can manually hit the “Convert this Lead to a Contact” option so that it appears in your Contacts list.
All of this might sound complex, but it’s not in practice. It’s nice to have a separation between leads (people you know you’re going to do business with) and contacts (people who you may have only shook hands with once). This separation is also something you won’t find in other SMB CRMs, notably both Onpipeline and Salesflare.
The Basics: Tasks, Opportunities, and Scheduling
Insightly’s Tasks tab isn’t quite a project management interface, but it is an effective task tracker for both users and managers. Tasks can be assigned by a user, teammate, or the boss, and they’re tracked on a milestone basis so the view surfaces even partial progress. The Task drill-down view shows the task details and any related tasks. Plus, you can assign them to a particular Opportunity, which then surfaces them in that Opportunity’s reporting, too. Tasks that you associate with specific contacts show up in the appropriate Contact or Organization records.
The Calendar view is exactly what you’d expect. You can link it to a user’s calendar, and sync to Google Workspace or Microsoft Exchange. But in a rare Insightly oversight, that means a local version of Exchange, not the cloud version. That’s a bit of a blunder in this day and age, and Insightly should immediately address it. At this point, Microsoft Office 365 should be a three-click integration, just like Google.
When you first spin up Insightly, you’ll probably have some opportunities already in the works. These can be imported from a CSV file, but you’ll need to go in afterward and manually update your pipeline progress. That can be a bit of a learning curve if you’re trying to turn your numerical fields into visual data, but it isn’t overly steep.
Manually adding a new opportunity is the same basic process as for anything else in Insightly. You put in deal details, such as the organization’s name, matched to the right entry in the database. You can also specify open and close dates, product or service information, revenue information, and the current pipeline stage. You can assign tasks, and associate them and the deal with other team members who are involved. Once you’ve created the opportunity, it’ll show up in the list view along with a quick visual of where it is in the pipeline. A quick click moves the deal along and adds Tasks, which will also show up under the Organization and Task lists for the team member who’s responsible for completing them.
All this interlinking is one of the things we liked best about Insightly. It takes a while to detail all of it, but in practice, it’s easy to add information in one place and have it automatically appear wherever else it’s needed. That not only makes input easier, but it also lets salespeople work from whichever view they prefer.
The Projects tab is another place where this really comes in handy. Think of a project as any other complicated activity that needs to happen in order to complete an opportunity, like order fulfillment or maybe some nonstandard shipping process. To create one, you start with a name and then add a status, the category type, where it is in the pipeline process, who’s responsible for it, and any other project information you need. Once it’s created, it’ll show up in other views as a series of tasks, related activities, and in the timeline.
It all sounds obvious, but some other CRM contenders make you jump through more hoops than Insightly even Zoho, and certainly Salesforce. With Insightly, this is all set up and ready to go. You just add contacts and organizations, and link them to your opportunities and pipelines.
Working With Email
Once you set up email syncing, you can send emails from inside Insightly. That’s not the case for every competing CRM. For example, Act! CRM pulls up your personal email client for this. Email templates are also easy to create and edit in Insightly, although they’re a little basic.
What you won’t get with your default Insightly account are email marketing features. Insightly sells a separate Marketing product for this, which, naturally, costs extra. There’s also a new Service product, which is Insightly’s help desk offering. Our test instance had access to all of these tools, but we only looked at the CRM for the purposes of this review.
It’s worth noting, though, that all of these products are seamlessly integrated with one another without much effort on your part. So, if you sign on to these other Insightly products and add a contact in the CRM, anyone using your company’s Insightly Marketing or Service products will automatically see that contact. Similarly, if a help desk tech adds trouble ticket information associated with a contact or organization, that ticket appears in the CRM, as well.
Reporting and Dashboards
Insightly’s Reports and Dashboards can be related, but you access them from different tabs, and they’re typically used for different purposes.
Insightly provides a lengthy list of prebuilt reports, but one of its weak points is that you can’t actually create an all-new report that includes only the data you want, where you want it. There’s a New Report button, but when we clicked on it, we found that just means you’re running one, not creating one. However, in a very nice touch, there’s one-button export to Microsoft Power BI, one of our Editors’ Choice winners for business intelligence tools. You can create new reports there, and then import them into Insightly using the API or simply use Power BI as your reporting engine (which is probably the more efficient option).
Dashboards are your constant view into how your deals, team, and organization are doing in terms of sales. As with Reports, Insightly has a lengthy list of premade dashboards that will probably cover most needs. However, there’s a Create Report button that opens up a fairly easy-to-learn visual editor.
In the visual editor, you can pick an existing dashboard and modify it. Alternately, you can create an entirely new one by picking the fields you want, where you want the data to show up on the card, and how you want it to look.
Overall, we’d recommend ignoring Reports and using Microsoft Power BI instead. You can use the free version as a reporting engine, and that’ll be much better than what almost any CRM offers outside of Salesforce, or Zoho CRM’s integration with its own Zoho Analytics product. Then use Dashboards to your heart’s content to create your day-to-day views.