Not much in life is free, but “freemium” ― a business model offering basic services for free, while charging a premium for more advanced features ― is exactly that, making it ideal for small firms on a budget. There are now hundreds of sites offering freemium business services, so we’ve picked out five of the best for you
The best freemium business services for…
This award-winning CRM system has won plaudits for its easy-to-use format which gives you everything you need to manage your interaction with customers, prospects and sales.
The free option offers two main functions — a phone log and contact with clients is displayed chronologically, while its sales pipeline tool means you can map out and analyse future business prospects over the next three months. As your business grows, you can upgrade to the Premium or Enterprise editions, which start from £10 a month.
Since it launched four years ago, Dropbox has signed up more than 25 million users worldwide, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s a cloud-based system that allows you to store up to 2GB worth of files and documents for free, as well as share files with colleagues without the need to email attachments, making it ideal for project work.
Any file you save to Dropbox instantly saves to your computer, smartphone and the Dropbox website, meaning you can work on the move. If you refer new users, you’ll “earn” free space too. Upgrades are available from approximately £6 a month if you need extra storage space.
Want to keep in touch with your customers with regular email newsletters? MailChimp could be the solution. This clever site is essentially a free email marketing service, and has lots of impressive features to help you create sharp-looking email campaigns targeted to your business audience.
These include a wide range of design templates, tracking tools to monitor effectiveness, a social network function so you can integrate campaigns with social media sites, and even a translation tool. You can send up to 12,000 emails per month with the free option, or upgrades start from £6 a month.
Brightbook describes itself as the perfect bookkeeping solution for small-business owners, freelancers and contractors, and the site promises to take the pain out of accounting.
Features are fairly basic, but more than adequate for most simple tasks. The invoicing function allows users to send out professional looking invoices complete with company logo, and the Instant Insights tool sets out a clear picture of money owed and cashflow. Importing your bank details means you can also track payments going in and out of your business. At present, there are no paid extras.
Businesses planning to carry out customer satisfaction surveys, product feedback or general market research without paying hefty agency fees should consider SurveyMonkey, a simple online tool that allows users to create free, web-based surveys.
Signing up to the free service will give you ten questions per survey and up to 100 responses, plus round-the-clock email support. Data can be gathered via your website, Facebook or email. Upgrade options start at £24 a month, which gives you customised survey design and unlimited responses.