For both large brands and small freelancers, the relationship with the client is one of the keys to success. There is nothing worse than misplaced budgets, unpaid invoices, customer service with no history, or not keeping your books up to date. Good CRM software is the best solution for all these tasks.
What is CRM
CRM is the acronym for Customer Relationship Management, and, in our case, it refers to software that facilitates this management.
The concept of customer relations is quite broad and largely depends on the nature of your organization. But in almost all cases, it includes, at a minimum, the following factors :
- Lists of clients and potential clients with all their relevant data
- Budget and invoice management
- Segmented mailings (by type or category of client)
- History of communications and purchases by customer
- Tracking leads in your conversion funnel
The great advantage of a CRM is that it interrelates all these aspects so that you can extract precious business information both at a general level and in the detail of each client.
Suppose you receive a call from one of your clients to claim a service they hired you for nine months ago. Imagine that during this time, he has been treated on other occasions by two of your colleagues.
In this situation, just by opening your customer file in your CRM, you could know at a glance what product he hired, under what conditions, what problems he has had, who and how he has solved them if he is up to date with payments, the value he has as a client for the company and many more details. This makes the quality and precision of your attention much higher, so it is more aligned with the business needs.
Even if your management is much simpler than the previous case, a CRM can help you to centralize the sending of budgets. In addition, the CRM can record the acceptance of the proposals and store them for future checks.
In the same way, you can create sales invoices in your eCommerce, send them by email, tracking payments, and create automated customer files with each sale. This would give you the ability to, for example, make a mailing to all customers who bought a mobile phone two years ago to offer them the new model of the same brand.
Many CRMs allow you to install payment gateways so that customers pay the invoice directly upon receipt, and it reflects in your accounting reports. So at the end of the year, you will be able to find out who your best customers are, who owes you money, or which are the best-selling products, just taking a look at the CRM reports.
CRM SaaS or self-hosted?
CRMs have for years been the domain of companies that offer them in SaaS or software as a service format. It allows you to work with a cloud application designed specifically for this task. Some of the best-known examples are Salesforce, Sugar, Microsoft Dynamics 365, or Suma CRM, very widespread among SMEs in recent years.
These SaaS are very advanced complete suites, with many functions and a quite steep learning curve. They usually start from relatively high prices that increase according to the number of users in your organization that can access the system. Other aspects such as the volume of mailings or invoices, the number of reports, and the support coverage are also determining factors in the monthly cost.
Faced with this model are self-hosted CRMs, which you can install on your servers where many of these parameters are unlimited: users, storage, shipments, report generation, etc.
In these cases, development teams offer extensions with extra functionality purchased per installed site, which is usually significantly cheaper. In addition, they have the advantage that you keep the most relevant information of your organization private and controlled.
Therefore, if you are looking for a system that allows you to adjust its operation to suit your needs at the best price, and support is not a priority in an initial phase, I recommend that you start with a self-hosted CRM.
CRM on WordPress plugins
Among the self-hosted CRMs, those that work on WordPress, the most used content manager in the world, stand out.
Being a software that requires few resources allows the CRM to work on very cheap conventional web servers. A shared hosting specialized in WordPress would be more than enough for the most frequent cases. Even if you need more power and control, a VPS SSD is still a very affordable option for your company, and you can share the system with other web services in your business.
If you make intensive use of the CRM, I think it is better to dedicate the installation exclusively to customer management. Otherwise, you will find a website with a lot of extra tables in the database. For example, Jetpack CRM adds more than 30 new tables to your WordPress. This is not bad per se, but it can complicate things if you also use WooCommerce. The Events Calendar or plugins of that type, heavy and with many calls to the DB.
However, if your website is of a corporate type, you will not suffer too much from the CRM reload, and it will simplify updates, backups, and even the cost of the system.
Let’s look at some of the most popular CRM plugins for WordPress and their main features.
Jetpack WordPress CRM is one of the most exciting options to create a CRM with WordPress. Serious, powerful, and very modular.
It was recently known as Zero BS WordPress CRM, but precisely thanks to its quality, it has been acquired by Automattic. This company is one of the most relevant in the WordPress ecosystem, responsible for the well-known multi plugin Jetpack. From the latter, it inherits the name, although both maintain their independent development.
It is a free plugin that offers premium-type extensions with specific functions. This allows creating a system tailored to each situation, containing the investment.
Its basic installation (free) allows you to start with a complete contact book (leads, clients, or whatever you want to define) at the level of detail. You can link them to quotes, transactions, and invoices. You can also create forms and manage a simple calendar of tasks linked to each contact.
If this is not enough, you have about thirty extensions that cover most of the cases. These are some of the most notable:
- Sales data analytics panels to know the health of your business.
- Visualization of conversion funnels.
- Link with WooCommerce that creates customer files with each sale.
- Link with OptinMonster to bring your leads to the CRM.
- Connection with Stripe and with Paypal to recover all the data of the received payments.
- Communication with Gravity Forms and Contact Form 7 for data ingestion of your forms.
WP ERP CRM
WP ERP – Complete WordPress Business Manager with HR, CRM & Accounting Systems for Small Businesses: behind this “simple” naming lies a complete business management package.
In this case, we are not only talking about a CRM, but the plugin also offers the possibility of managing human resources (HR) and accounting for your organization. You can keep track of your employees’ vacations and your company’s credits from the same place where you manage contacts with your clients.
The development team also maintains WP Project Manager, which perfectly complements WP ERP to help you with project management.
Like Jetpack CRM, it is a freemium plugin and has a functional free version in the official WordPress repository. However, its great potential lies in the remarkable range of premium integrations with other tools such as Mailchimp, WooCommerce, Zendesk, Gravity Forms, and payment gateways.
WP ERP is fully modular, so you can disable the full HR and Accounting features if you don’t need them, adjusting the plugin to suit your needs.
In my opinion and, although it is a great plugin, it does not make sense to use it if you are only interested in a CRM. However, it will be best if you need at least two of the three modules.
WP-CRM is a simple and very minimally invasive plugin for the WordPress dashboard. All its functions are located in its own menu.
It is fundamentally focused on the business contact book, capture by form and management of communications through newsletters (even by user groups).
Instead, it lacks the advanced features or extensions of its competitors. However, if you need a simple solution, it may be your ideal alternative.
Hubspot – CRM, Email Marketing, Live Chat, Forms & Analytics
The HubSpot WordPress plugin is actually a connector between your website and HubSpot’s own CRM. And the truth is that it does its job very well because it manages to link your forms with the contact book, allows you to use a live chat on the web (even with chatbots), build automated newsletters, create complete analytical reports and launch popups.
One of the significant advantages of HubSpot is that it integrates with more than 300 applications on the market and, if this were not enough, you could connect it through Zapier with almost anything.
The most basic of HubSpot CRM is free, although with a limited number of connections available. However, the true power of your marketing tools depends on the monthly payment accounts that give access to a more significant number of contacts and actions.
WooCommerce Customer Relationship Manager
This WooCommerce customer relationship management plugin is clearly focused on online stores that want to identify their highest-value customers.
The plugin allows you to expand the amount of data linked to each customer, segment it, group it, send it using WooComerce email templates, emails with dynamic content and even make phone calls from the control panel of each customer (using FaceTime, Skype or similar).
It is a premium plugin marketed in Codecanyon, Envato’s market. The developer published a demo on their website, but currently, the link does not work. According to the comments on the Envato website, it seems that there are users with problems to make it work, so it does not seem to be the best option precisely.
CRM and Lead Management by vCita
vCita is another reference in the customer relationship management market and has also developed its own vCita CRM connector for WordPress.
In this case, it is little more than a link between your website and your vCita account, although its development team has created 5 other plugins to complete its functions. In this way, you can manage your calendar with clients, book appointments, design and connect forms, or manage online payments.
The biggest limitation of this option is that vCita is a paid CRM that does not offer more than a 14-day trial period to test the tool, and you may be short on it.
As you have seen, there are a good number of possibilities to build your own CRM, and the best of all is that it does not have to cost you anything to start.
Whether you have already been using it as a SaaS or if you prefer to keep all your information under your control, WordPress can serve as a point of contact with your customer relationship management tool. If you need advanced functions, you can choose the CRM that best covers them with its extensions and grow from there step by step.
If the core of your business is in WooCommerce, you will not have any problems because all CRM for WordPress integrates it in their premium extensions. But if you need SMS notifications, connections with a specific payment gateway, monitoring of your ticket system or things like that, it is important that you first analyze the functions of these extensions before choosing the base plugin that you are going to install.
If you are not sure where to start, Jetpack CRM is one of the most complete and very flexible. It will be difficult for you to find any need that your extensions do not cover, so it is worth spending a couple of hours.
Do you use any CRM? Have you tried any of these plugins? And what do you think? I wait for you in the comments to expand the content of this article.