Zoho CRM platform overview

Zoho's cloud-based CRM platform helps businesses manage the key aspects of their customer engagement strategies.

Zoho CRM from Zoho is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform to manage the sales, marketing and customer support facets of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) engagement strategies.

Zoho CRM is licensed as software as a service (SaaS) and can be accessed by popular Web browsers designed for use on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows desktops. The platform is also available as a mobile app for use on Android phones, as well as Apple's iPad and iPhone. It is suited for companies of all sizes, but Zoho's CRM platform is particularly popular with small businesses given its pricing options and range of tools. It provides users with core CRM capabilities, as well as email marketing, social CRM, marketing automation and sales functions.

The platform is available in five editions:

  • Free -- for up to 10 users,
  • Standard -- $12 per user, per month,
  • Professional -- $20 per user, per month,
  • Enterprise -- $35 per user, per month
  • CRM Plus -- $50 per user, per month.

Each edition offers increased capabilities, with Enterprise and CRM Plus offering the most tools and storage capacity. A complete breakdown of each edition's offerings can be found in Zoho's comparison chart.

The platform's lead management tools enable users to track and manage new and existing leads throughout their lifecycle. Standard dashboards and report forms help users quickly adapt to the platform with a minimal learning curve. Users can also import leads from external sources and campaigns, as well as export lead data to spreadsheet software for additional analysis.

Zoho CRM's Contact Management tool enables users to track contacts and related details in one centralized database, which can be customized to user specification with a drag-and-drop interface. Users can also establish contact assignment rules so that new or existing contacts are assigned to the proper sales or service personnel. Existing contacts can be imported from third-party applications with Zoho's Import Wizard, and the tool can be integrated with POP-enabled email services -- such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo -- and synchronized with Microsoft Outlook.

The platform's marketing automation tools allow users to develop targeted marketing campaigns, implement email campaigns, and define and track company marketing costs. Users can create unique email templates using Zoho's Rich-Text HTML Editor, create and manage mailing lists, manage drip campaigns, and schedule and execute mass email campaigns.

Zoho CRM also features a role-based security system that lets users customize who has access to data and modules based on user profiles. Users can also be grouped according to roles and data access permissions. The platform also allows users to create, schedule and store reports in every module. These reports can include multiple modules, providing users with data on multiple facets of their customer relationship and sales initiatives in one place. Advanced analytics are available for all reports using the Zoho Reports tool.

Social CRM tools allow users to track and monitor customer interactions, mentions or comments on social media platforms. Zoho CRM integrates with Facebook and Twitter, allowing users to manage social media interactions on these mediums without having to leave the platform. It also offers integration with more than 50 third-party applications, including Constant Contact, Google Apps and WordPress, and offers an open API for developers to integrate created applications with the platform.

For Professional, Enterprise and CRM Plus edition users, the platform comes with Zoho PhoneBridge, a call center tool that integrates on-site and hosted telephone applications to allow for calls to be made directly within Zoho CRM. PhoneBridge provides on-screen caller details and customer history data, if available. It also allows users to make one-touch calls to existing customers and automatically logs the call data in the system with any notes or follow-up tasks made by the user. The service is available through online connectors Asterisk, Avaya, Elastix, Ozonetel, Promero, Ringio and Twilio.

The platform can be purchased directly from Zoho and through affiliated partners. Zoho provides support over the phone, email and social media platforms, and enhanced customer support is available for Enterprise editions users. A free 15-day limited trial is available for all editions.

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