Go HIghlevelStarts at $97 a month
CRM's are everywhere.
If you are running a small business and looking for a CRM to automate your business, there are a plethora of options and it is simply impossible to try and choose the right one.
Thankfully, there are CRM's built now exclusively for certain niches specifically for a certain customer journey.
HighLevel is a new product targeting the same customer base with a different approach.
It's a really interesting direction for a new SaaS product to take. Although the market is not very huge, there isn't a similar product like this apart from a few SEO, reputation management tools, etc. There are similar products such as Close, Outreach, etc. but they serve a different type of customer and not specifically local marketing agencies.
HighLevel promises to bring a lot of functionality under a single tool that will enable a marketing agency to stop using many other individual tools designed for a specific purpose like email marketing, two-way text messaging, etc. Is it possible? Well, let's find out.
The sign-up process was fairly straight forward with just the basic information requested. There are a few done for you set-up features available for an additional cost which might be useful for many agencies that do not have the time to get used to and learn the tool.
Upon completion, you are instructed to join the official Facebook support group. Overall, a nice and uncomplicated sign-up process.
The dashboard on the first login is clean and intuitive with a minimalistic UI design. It is quite a refreshing approach as CRM's add more and more functionality, the dashboard can become cluttered and sometimes completely confusing.
The first thing to be done before the tool even gets usable is to connect the details of your Twilio account. HighLevel uses Twilio as the back end service provider for text messaging and calling features.
Once the Twilio account is connected, it is now possible to add the account of your clients, agency team members, etc.
There is a neat way to add accounts by searching the name of the local business and it pulls in all the information from the client's Google My Business listing. It definitely saves a lot of time. Of course, you can always add the information manually as well.
The next step is to add the Mailgun API key for sending emails. Quite straightforward but it is important to add the TXT records in the DNS settings of your domain provider. Mailgun has detailed tutorials on how to do this for all major domain providers.
One of the cool features in Mailgun is the built-in email validation. HighLevel has this API integrated and the feature can be turned on for each location based on your preference. This really helps to improve the email deliverability and maintains the list of your clients clean.
The final important thing is to add a phone number from settings that will complete the set-up to start using the software.
Again, the clean and minimalistic UI makes the initial set-up process quite a breeze.
The dashboard offers a great graphical representation of the marketing funnel for each client with stats and numbers on prospects, pipeline value, opportunities, appointments won, conversion rate, etc. It shows a great bird's eye view of everything that is happening that results from your marketing efforts for your clients.
It also gives a clear view of which stage of the marketing funnel the client is losing prospects and potential customers so that your agency can focus more on that specific stage.
Campaigns, as the name suggests, is the place where all the outbound activities including emails, text messages and voice calls are set up.
The first thing to do in a campaign is set up a time window so that all the marketing messages and emails go out within a specific time interval. It is very important to set this up so that the customers don't get messages in the middle of the night which might really annoy them and perhaps spoil your client's reputation.
There are two options to set this up. First is a "when" condition, which means that a lead will be added to a campaign only within a specific time interval to fire up the triggers and automation. The next one is an "if" condition, which will add a lead only if it is brought in within a specific time interval and if it out of this interval, it will never be added.
The next step is to set up users. If there are many users or teammates in your agency, the leads coming in will be assigned in a round-robin.
Then comes a really cool feature called "next campaign". What this offers is a way to forward the leads of this campaign to a separate and different campaign. This will be greatly useful if the results of the current campaign are not so encouraging and yo would want the leads to go through a completely different nurturing sequence.
Another important feature to turn on is "stop on response". This shuts down and terminates the automation sequence once the goal of the response is achieved.
For example, let us consider the goal of the campaign is to get a booking and the campaign has an email, a text message and an automated voice call in sequence. If the customer responds and confirms the booking just with the first of contact, which is the email, the subsequent text message and voice call will be turned off.
The following elements can be added in a campaign,
- SMS or text message
- Messenger text
- Manual SMS
- Manual call
All these elements can be set up in various configurations to fit your client's use case to form a really powerful marketing campaign.
Reviews are an integral part of gaining a presence online for local businesses.
HighLevel makes it extremely easy to generate reviews by sending out review requests to customers at a defined time limit that can be set.
It also integrates with invoicing tools like QuickBooks that makes it very useful.
There is also a review widget which can be installed on the client's website that will pull the reviews from Google and Facebook. Conditions can be set on the minimum stars allowed to be displayed.
HighLevel has a built-in funnel builder that is incredibly easy to use and build an entire marketing funnel for your clients including forms, landing pages, etc.
So, if you would need to run a promo for a client that would involve a landing page with a form connected to it and a thank you with a booking calendar, all of this can be achieved within HighLevel without ever leaving once.
That is really great as it saves a lot of time and money by avoiding the use of so many different tools for all the functionality that puts a funnel together.
Although the pages built are mobile responsive by default, the various elements in a page can be optimized easily for desktop and mobile mode separately. It is even possible to hide or show different sections only in desktop or mobile mode.
The steps you build in each funnel can be easily cloned into other funnels and campaigns to save a lot of time in building funnels for multiple clients in the same niche.
Another really unique feature in the funnel builder is the ability to import the funnels from ClickFunnels directly into HighLevel's builder. This is of great help when you have all the funnels set up in ClickFunnels and have to transfer everything to HighLevel. Importing from more landing page builders like Instapage and Unbounce are to be added soon.
The sections that are built inside a funnel can be saved as a template and reused in different pages. This is extremely useful for an agency that has many clients in the same niche as one section template can be used in different funnels for all the clients.
Native stripe integration is in place, so it is easy to make checkout pages and sell your products and services.
The stats of each funnel including page views, opt-ins, sales, and earnings can be reset at any time so that you can start a new campaign from scratch with the same funnel.
There are snapshots planned for 30 different types of local business niches including real estate, home services, restaurants, dentists, etc., which can be used as a starting point for any funnel that will include the whole funnel from landing pages, campaigns, etc.
HighLevel also lets you install a live chat widget on your funnels. Just copy the code you can get from support documentation and paste it in the body tag of the funnel and you are good to go.
It is highly important to track and get the statistics of the calls that are set up in a campaign to get the metrics of how many and which call brings in the leads.
HighLevel has this feature built-in and hence it is not needed to use a third-party tool like CallRail.
Facebook messenger ad campaigns
In addition to SMS and voice calls, Highlevel also allows automating your Facebook messenger ads with two-way messages. This is a really unique feature which none of the similar CRM's offer.
Just connect your Facebook account and the messenger ad to set up the follow-up sequences. Of course, it is not as powerful as a standalone chatbot platform like Manychat or Chatfuel, but it is a nice additional feature that covers the basics.
The number and robustness of the integrations could make or break such a tool. Thankfully, additional to many native integrations available, HighLevel has a well tested Zapier integration that makes integration with almost any other app possible.
HighLevel also has integration with Yext Listings which is great in easily updating the contact information of local businesses across so many channels & directories Yext has a partnership with.
It also improves the search rankings of local businesses by building citations. These citations act as backlinks to the local business websites which will tremendously improve their search engine optimization.
There are two plans available.
The single location plan costs $99 a month and as the name suggests, can be used only for a single location. The agency plan costs $297 a month and has unlimited access to a number of locations.
Agency plan gives the most value for money as you can serve many clients across various locations.
There is a white label plan as well that costs an additional $497 to the agency package, so it is $794 a month. You will get a fully white-labeled mobile app and also a custom zap set up for your brand in zapier.
This is something HighLevel absolutely excels in. The customer support to solve issues for users and getting feedback to improve the product further is simply fantastic.
The official Facebook support group is highly engaging where many issues are discussed and fellow users help each other with tips and solutions. Even the founder is very active in the group answering any potential issue that users need help with.
There is a dedicated ideas board where all the users actively give out ideas for new features and the founders are really responsive to these. The most voted ideas are monitored, taken into consideration and implemented depending on the priority.
There is a good level of helpful documentation available that provided answers to most of the general queries.
Additionally, there is also a Slack channel for any support queries discussions and that is extremely active as well.
Apart from the co-founders, users can also interact directly with the development team to get issues sorted out. That's not many SaaS companies do, even early-stage startups, so massive praise for it.
There are many new features that are released very frequently. Although it is good to know that the founders and developers are at their toes, it could overwhelm the users.
Although there is a power dialer for automated calls, a predictive dialer is missing. Although it's quite a challenge to build a robust and fully functional predictive dialer, it looks like the team is working on it to be released later.
Also, there is occasional slowness while refreshing the app that has been reported by a few users.
SharpSpring has been setting the standards for an agency CRM for quite a few years now and could be a great alternative for the following reasons.
- A more robust and reliable product as it has been in the market since 2014 and thousands of agencies using the platform.
- The agency plan comes with 3 licenses included along with a license for your agency. Considering each SharpSpring license for a small business costs $700 when paid monthly, the profit potential for an agency is really huge as you scale up the number of clients.
- Built-in email marketing and powerful marketing automation and hence no need for an external SMTP service.
- Built-in blogging platform for more effective inbound marketing.
- Dynamic landing pages and dynamic form builder.
- Built-in sales dialer. Although native voicemail drops and text messaging is not available, there is a huge array integration with tools like SimpleTexting, Aircall, Upcall, PhoneBurner, CallHub, and a lot more via zapier and PieSync.
- Built-in social media management tool to mage the social media accounts of all the clients and charge for it.
- Custom reports and analytics with lots of great widgets to choose from.
Based on your agency's use case you could choose either of HighLevel or SharpSpring. I would suggest taking a free trial of HighLevel and a free demo from SharpSpring to choose based on the feature set that would match your agency's requirements.
So, is it good?
Absolutely. It is a fantastic tool for agencies that serve local businesses. It is easy to use, has a lot of functions and possibilities for time-saving automation capabilities.
Yes, there is room for improvements to be made as with any new SaaS product, but the core idea and execution of it are absolutely spot on.
Definitely worth a try to run your agency more seamless and effective.