“Hi, I’m looking for a WordPress CRM plugin that can…”
That’s the start of many group posts in the WordPress space, and there’s a reason that it keeps coming up. As WordPress site owners, we know that we’re working with a powerful and extensible platform that can do almost anything we imagine.
But there’s also a reason that you might not have found the perfect WordPress CRM plugin for your business yet, so let’s dive in and I’ll share my best recommendations at the end.
What Is a WordPress CRM?
First, let’s get on the same page and make sure we’re talking about the same thing. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and although that’s a mouth-full it’s a pretty central part of most businesses these days.
A WordPress CRM plugin keeps track of your potential customers and current clients’ data, so you can better serve them.
That usually includes their name, company, email address, physical address, and then any number of additional fields that are relevant to your type of business.
For example, you might use your CRM to track which phase in the sales process a prospect is in, or which products and services they’ve expressed interest in.
What Are Your Goals for Your CRM System?
Although we can all agree on the definition of a CRM system, not every company uses their CRM in the same ways… which is part of the problem when selecting the right WordPress CRM plugin.
Here are just a few different ways that you might be planning to leverage a CRM system:
- 1–1 Sales: You have a personalized one-to-one sales process, where you need to book calls and keep track of potential clients in a pipeline.
- Follow-up: You need to be able to follow-up individually or with groups of people, and make sure that your follow-up is timed properly and contains the right information.
- Team Collaboration: You have multiple people in your organization who need access to client information, and who might be interacting with customers, too. You don’t want anyone stepping on toes, or customers falling through the cracks.
- Automation: You want to stop doing repetitive tasks, and have an automated process that walks customers and prospects through your on-boarding or sales sequences.
- Integration: You have other tech tools and systems that need to “talk to” your WordPress CRM and either push or pull data… and help keep everything in sync in one central location (usually the CRM itself).
- Saving Money: Whether you’re trying to save money by choosing a self-hosted WordPress CRM or you’re moving from a more costly solution… a CRM can not only save you money but also make your business money in the long run, with more successful sales.
- Modernizing: You might still be trying to track all of the data you need on paper, across spreadsheets, or even in your head! With a world class CRM solution, you’ll be able to leave some of your old ways behind.
If you’ve identified a few key WordPress CRM plugin goals you’re after, that will help you narrow down the options to choosing the right one.
Why You Haven’t Found The Right WordPress CRM Plugin Yet
Okay, so let’s talk about the very real reasons you might not have found the WordPress CRM plugin for your business yet.
1. The WordPress CRM Marketplace is Still In Its Infancy
The first reason is that the WordPress CRM plugin marketplace is still nascent… and that’s because the CRM space has primarily been dominated by bigger corporate CRMs like SalesForce for years.
Now don’t get me wrong: things are changing and you can see how many new options are opening up in my full CRM Comparison guide.
But the reality is that it’s only been a few years since developers started creating WordPress CRM plugins to address the needs of small business owners.
Some CRM plugins are being updated frequently, but if you look at the number of installations for many of them… it’s obvious that they aren’t taking the WordPress world by storm. Without a ton of uptake, it’s hard to make plugins more competitive and useful.
So you end up with WordPress CRM plugins that are a little too bare bones for most people.
On the other hand, some WordPress CRM systems are trying to do too much – like WP ERP, which includes CRM functionality but is also an enterprise planning system that includes HR and accounting functionality.
2. You’ll Still Need Another Email Marketing System
Another rather important part of the WordPress CRM plugins conversation is that you’ll often still need to pay for an additional email marketing system like ActiveCampaign or Mailchimp.
If you’re trying to save money by self-hosting your CRM system on WordPress, you might be better off choosing an email marketing platform that can also double as your CRM.
Some examples of CRMs that could serve this function well include ActiveCampaign, Drip, Ontraport, and Keap. When it comes to email marketing automation platforms, there’s no lack of options but you need to make sure it integrates with your set up.
Even if you want to use your WordPress site to send follow up emails through your WordPress CRM plugin, often you’ll realize an unfortunate reality:
So you’ll still want to use a 3rd party email add-on like Amazon S3 to send your emails on WordPress. Either way, it’s one more thing to figure out.
3. WordPress CRM Plugins Put The Onus on You To Adhere To Security and Privacy Laws
With more strict data privacy laws coming on the scene like GDPR, managing your customer data is becoming increasingly complex.
When you’re tasked with keeping your customer data safe on your WordPress host and also complying with laws where you need to be able to fully erase client data… it can get tricky.
Whether you’ve got backups that might be keeping client data around longer, or you’ve managed to find a way to comply and keep things tidy… it’s still an extra task on your plate.
If you’re working with a hosted CRM, it’s their job to stay on top of changing regulations and they’re going to be able to develop the necessary infrastructure for it because that’s their sole focus.
You, on the other hand, have a business to run!
4. A WordPress CRM Plugin Is One More Thing To Manage and Maintain
Following on from the previous point, when you add another plugin to your WordPress site or even set up a dedicated site just for your CRM… it’s one more thing to manage.
So when your CRM plugin comes out with a new version, you need to backup your data before upgrading and make sure that everything went smoothly.
There’s both a pro and a con here: you get to decide when you want to do this maintenance, and it’s fully in your control. But it’s also another task on your already long to-do list!
5. The WordPress CRM Marketplace Isn’t Focused on Integration
Another big issue with finding the right CRM, no matter what platform you choose, is the integration piece.
If you’re able to find a CRM that integrates with the other important aspects of your business (like client booking, payments, delivery, etc.) then you’re in great shape.
Unfortunately, not all WordPress plugins have this integration-first approach. Sometimes integrations are bolted on at the end, are a little clunky, or don’t do what you really need them to do.
6. Even Top WordPress CRM Plugins Might Slow Down Your Website or Contribute To Bloat
Depending on how you plan to use your CRM, you might have thousands if not tens of thousands of prospects and customers to keep track of.
That kind of data might contribute to a site slowdown, especially if you keep everything on your main WordPress website.
A better approach would be to have a more dedicated site just to manage your client data, and possibly to integrate with a membership aspect if that’s part of your business model.
Any time you add new plugins, you’re contributing to bloat on your website. Of course, I’m not saying that you should never install plugins because that would defeat the purpose of an extendable platform like WordPress.
But choose wisely, and your site’s speed will not be impacted as much.
7. You’re Busy Running Your Business, You Don’t Have Time to Test Each Different WordPress CRM Plugin On The Market
Finally, the real reason you haven’t found the right WordPress CRM plugin yet is likely because you’re busy and you don’t have time to do a trial run of all the possible plugins out there.
Especially when some of them have paid add-ons, and you don’t want to invest both time and money buying and installing each of these.
Recommendations On What To Do, Instead
If you’ve decided that maybe in your quest to save money by choosing a WordPress CRM, you might be sacrificing ease of use and scalability… then you might want to look at some more traditional cloud-based CRM options.
Here are a few of my best recommendations:
If You’re Starting Out as a Blogger
ConvertKit is a great automation marketing platform for bloggers and content marketers. It has everything you need out of the box, and you won’t get lost in any of the complexities of the other options.
If You Need Sales Force Automation
ActiveCampaign is great for more visual email newsletters, and if you want some flexibility in your automations, with a lightweight solution that won’t bog you down.
If You Do One-on-One Sales
Keap is a great marketing automation platform for converting your incoming leads into clients. It’s ideal for small businesses interacting 1:1 with their clients. If you have a 1 to many business model, I’d recommend taking a look at the other systems in this review, unless you plan to use AccessAlly to support your e-commerce and affiliate management needs.
If You Want to Hire a Specialist To Set Things Up For You
Infusionsoft by Keap is still the “big kahuna” in a lot of ways with what it can do, but chances are you won’t want to take on the learning curve yourself and you may want to hire someone to set it up for you. We do all of our own Infusionsoft setup, but we’re also techies.
If You Need Ecommerce with an Affiliate System
Ontraport is a great option if you what it all, and you highly value email deliverability. I think they’ve come a long way, and are a very strong contender in the all-in-one marketing automation and CRM space. I also think their community is super supportive and positive!
If You Want Advanced Streamlined Geeky Functionality
Drip offers a lot of geek-level functionality that makes it very powerful under the hood, without overwhelming you if you don’t want to use all of these bells and whistles yet. I think this platform offers a lot of room for growth.
Remember, in some cases even if you were to go with a WordPress CRM plugin you might still need one of these systems to send emails or do automated follow-up.
So it might save you some time and headaches to go straight for some of these and see if they might suit your needs from the get-go.
Our WordPress CRM Plugin Recommendations
Here are our top picks for WordPress CRM plugins, based on our research:
Zero BS WordPress CRM: Free with add-ons, this plugin has over 1000 active installs and boasts frequent updates and releases. What I like about this plugin, beyond the simplicy and effectiveness is that it was designed by EpicPlugins to be used internally. That’s always a good sign for a WordPress plugin. This plugin has a clean and organized interface, and it does a lot of what you want for free and for a paid add-on can really add a lot of flexibility and overcome the integration issues of other WordPress CRM solutions.
WP-CRM System: Free with add-ons, this plugin has 500 active installs and is also fairly frequently updated. Some of the benefits of this plugin include the ability to import contacts easily, and some of the paid add-ons that can really make it shine for integrations. They’re also one of the few WordPress CRM plugins that specifically address the GDPR issue.
WP CRM: Free with add-ons, and not to be confused with the WP-CRM System plugin above. It has over 4000 active installs and is actively being updated. This plugin is very much contact-form focused, and will allow you to have people fill out a form to enter your CRM. You can also customize the “custom fields” you’d like to keep track of for your clients.
Presspoint CRM: A premium plugin that starts at $550/year, which means we don’t know how many active users they have. But one thing I appreciate about Presspoint is that it really has thought through what works well in cloud-based CRMs and brought into the WordPress ecosystems, without any of the fee-per-contact limitations. It also has events and opportunities related add-ons, to create a fully functional CRM.
WP ERP: Free with add-ons, it has over 10,000 active installs and is frequently updated. Although this plugin does a lot, it has been around for many years which means they’ve had time to work out the kinks and develop a lot of useful paid add-ons that make it a really strong contender. What I like especially about it, is that you can see all of the important client information at a glance and also import from other systems easily.
UpiCRM: Free with add-ons, it has 2000 active installs and is frequently updated. This plugin integrates with existing form plugins and allows people to add themselves to your contact database. The interface isn’t stunning, but you can do a lot with this plugin from assigning leads to different team members and tracking the lead source through UTM links.