A Real Comparison Starts with Comparison Criteria
I want to help you choose the right WordPress CRM but in this post I won't be telling you which one is right for you. The focus of this article is to simply discuss the comparison criteria. In a follow-up post, I'll grade several plugins against this criteria. I'm telling you this because I don't want you skimming this thing looking for an “answer.”
What is a WordPress CRM plugin?
You might wonder what I mean by a WordPress CRM plugin? I'm talking about plugins that you install on your WordPress website and they deliver the functionality of a CRM without having to integrate with another external SaaS product.
So instead of buying ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, Klaviyo, or some other solution, you could run the CRM directly on your site.
In the old days, I'd never recommend this approach. But over the last few years, several solutions have appeared that are quite performant and offer tight integration.
Each one is different and, like I said before, I won't be comparing them in this post. But I do want to define the criteria I'll be using to compare them.
Two Other Plugins Worth Knowing About
Before I get into the comparison criteria, and since I'm talking about CRMs, there are two other plugins you need to know about.
The first is WP Fusion – a plugin that connects your website with any CRM. It doesn't matter if it's a SaaS like the ones I mentioned earlier, or it's a WordPress CRM plugin. It connects with all of them and moves data back and forth.
Why is that important if you're using a WordPress CRM plugin? Because you can put that CRM on a single WordPress site, and then use WP Fusion to connect it to several WordPress sites. That's really awesome if you run a site for an online store, another site with your online courses, and another set of business sites. WP Fusion can help you connect all those sites with a single CRM.
The second plugin to know about is Uncanny Automator. While the different CRM plugins have different automations available to them, Uncanny Automator extends each of them with additional opportunities for automation that your CRM may not have a direct integration with.
If you want to automatically create a coupon for someone who buys a specific variation product, the WordPress CRM plugin you choose may not have that feature available to it, but with Automator, it's no problem.
What's Important as You Choose the Right WordPress CRM?
Before I define my decision criteria (I know, get on with it already!), I should also be super clear that this is my criteria. You may differ. What you want and what you need may not match what I'm considering as I think about this space.
So now let's get to it.
Contact Profiles / Custom Fields
For me, the first dynamic when choosing the right CRM is how well they support a wholistic view of the contact. Whether I'm using an eCommerce plugin or running an online course, I want to see everything about the buyer or student inside my CRM.
I also want to add my own custom fields and be able to store all sorts of other data that I care about. Any solution that doesn't let me create custom fields and map my imported data to those fields is not going to make the cut.
One of the reasons I would look at a WordPress CRM plugin instead of a SaaS is because of how tight the integration would be with my own site. That integration isn't just about seeing that data in the same site, it's about activity tracking. If you log in, visit pages, make purchases, start a course, complete a lesson, or anything else, I want that tracked in my CRM.
An added perk would be the ability to track it for a period of time before the contact becomes “known” in my system. In other words, capture the visitor's behavior on my site and when they become known, put that data into the contact record. For other visitors who never take action, eliminating the data so my site doesn't get weighed down would be perfect.
Tagging & Triggering Events
As you might imagine, I think about this criteria in sequence. So right after activity tracking, I think about tagging and the triggering events available to me.
What I mean by this is the ability to add a tag to a contact automatically when they take a specific action. So a visitor navigates my site three days in a row, then makes a purchase of an expensive item. The earlier criteria would put those page visits into the record. This criteria might add a “big spender” tag because of what was purchased.
The trick here isn't just the ability to add a tag. It's the events that the CRM plugin “watches” and makes use of, when adding (or removing) a tag.
Manual & Dynamic Segmentation
Let's say you're running an eCommerce store. When a customer makes their first purchase, I would love that contact to automatically get put into a “First Time Buyer” list. That's automatic segmentation.
But when I say dynamic segmentation, I also want that customer to get removed from that list and added to the “Second Time Buyer” when they make their second purchase. Without me having to do anything.
Of course I would also like to be able to create a segmentation for customers who have purchased 3 or more orders, with a total amount spent more than XX in the last 12 months.
And I might manually want to put specific customers into a “Friends of Chris” list.
In other words, when I'm trying to choose the right WordPress CRM plugin, segmentation is critical.
Campaigns & Email Composition
The whole point of having all those custom fields, tracking, tags, and segmentation in place is so that I can send email campaigns to the right people at the right time.
That means I want the ability to compose those emails quickly and easily – whether that means templates to make my stuff look good, or an email composition builder that makes emails easy to write.
Automated Workflows & Rules
One of my favorite features of SaaS CRM solutions is the move all of them have made to workflow-based campaign builders. I like seeing and configuring simple and more complicated workflows (including conditional logic).
Of course I want to be able to use everything I've already listed out, as part of that workflow.
I covered this when I told you about anonymous personalization (and I know I am mentioning personalization here even though it's the next part of the criteria). But if you watch that video, you'll see the workflow dynamics that I'm talking about.
For personalization, my main desire is to be able to send the right email to the right person at the right time with the right message. Trust me, it's not easy. But if I can imagine it, I want the plugin to be able to do it.
Normally this means being able to bring in any of the custom field data, or event data, into the content of the email. And I don't want to get ahead of myself, but it also means data from those other plugins (like WooCommerce or LearnDash) – but that's an integration thing.
When it comes to integration, I want the WordPress CRM plugin to work with WP Fusion and Uncanny Automator. But I also want it to integrate with all the eCommerce plugins, form plugins, learning plugins, video plugins and more.
The more integrations the better. The more places in those plugins (more events, more triggers) that it connects to, the better.
The last criteria, and this is truly the last one for me, is price. I know I'll have to spend money. I don't need it to be free. But I also don't want to pay more than I would a SaaS. And I prefer not to pay based on how many contacts I am storing in my database (since I'm paying for hosting already).
I think each of these dynamics is critical when you want to choose the right WordPress CRM. Did I miss one? If you're reading this in your email, hit reply and tell me what I missed. If you're reading this online, use my contact form to share your thoughts.
And make sure to come back when I compare these CRM plugins.
Sign up for free content. People still do that.
Thousands of folks (7000+) regularly get my posts in their inbox. For free.