23 Best CRM Tools for WordPress to Boost Your Business
John Russell, the President of Harley Davidson, once said, “The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.”
But when you have random sheets of paper, Excel spreadsheets, and Rolodexes of customer info to contend with, this wasn’t always a realistic goal for some businesses.
Luckily these days, customer relationship management (CRM) tools have made engagement with and data collection from customers a reality for businesses of all sizes.
This idea behind CRM tools is simple:
- There’s much be learned from the interactions you have with your customers.
- These interactions are no longer relegated to a phone call or an in-person meeting. You now also have to keep track of visits to your website, social media engagements, live chat portals, emails, and more.
- CRM software can help bring organization to the relationship you have with your customers, both new and old.
Regardless of what sort of business you run, your main goal is to retain current customers, increase sales, and provide outstanding service to anyone you come in contact with. There is no better way to achieve all these things at once than with a CRM.
The CRM Low-Down
According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2015 report, unsuccessful sales teams are twice as likely to rely on Excel, Outlook, or a physical paper trail to track customers as well as potential lead information. The failure, in this case, isn’t necessarily because of poor salesmanship; rather, the issue lies with the quality of tools used. Without the ability to quickly and accurately track all information, and without a centralized location where the entire team can have access to it, these teams are failing due to insufficient resources.
The Purpose of CRM
The name “customer relationship management” says it all: it is a tool by which you—and all members of your team that have access to it—can effectively manage the relationships you have with customers and prospects. CRM tools are not just a place to store your customers’ contact information. They serve a much more comprehensive business purpose than that.
Collection & Centralization
One of the problems with the way customer information was previously aggregated was that it mostly existed in the hands of just one person—in a Rolodex, in a spreadsheet, printed out on sheets of paper and stuffed into a file cabinet, etc. CRM solves this issue by providing centralized storage and global company access to client and account information.
While the account or sales manager may be the main point-of-contact for your customers, your business is ultimately responsible for supporting and growing that relationship. Without access to the details, you cannot accomplish that.
Access to the full picture of your business is essential if you want to understand what’s making it run and then use that information to grow from. So while on the one hand CRM tools are extremely useful for keeping tabs on current customers, they’re equally as useful for keeping track of potential leads:
- What platform did they engage with you on?
- Do they fit the audience you thought you were targeting?
- Why do you think they’d be interested in your business?
- What can you do to best cater to their needs now and in the future?
The more information you can gather on your audience, the better prepared you’ll be to identify, acquire, and convert more leads.
What happens when one of your sales representatives, account managers, or marketing admins goes on vacation, calls out sick, or leaves their position permanently? Without a centralized system for keeping track of their work, their communications, their relationships with customers, there is bound to be part of your company’s historical record that goes missing along with them.
Keeping your customers’ experience top-of-mind, think about how easy it would be to provide coverage for a team member or to bring in a replacement if you had the entire history of an account all in one place. Your customers may need to get used to interacting with a new contact, but all of the previous conversations and transactions wouldn’t need to be repeated, saving you time and saving your customers the frustration and inconvenience of having to repeat themselves.
Running a business can be difficult enough, but when you have to oversee the activity and manage the goals from a number of different departments, it can become downright tedious. One of the departments that may require extra monitoring is the sales team. With so many people contacting customers and prospects every day and bringing in varying amounts of revenue, it’s especially important to have a way to track their activity as well as to establish goals.
CRM tools can help you keep tabs on all of that at the most granular level—tracked by customer, by sales rep, by transaction, by timeline, by date, and more.
The activity from marketing efforts are so closely tied to those of sales that it would seem silly not to have a way to integrate marketing into the same tool. Tools that do offer marketing integration usually do so around the purposes of email marketing campaigns, though there are others that connect social media, website landing pages, and other marketing efforts to the CRM. The main purpose being that it’s more effective to gather all leads and communicate with customers from one source rather than several.
Perhaps the most important purpose of CRM tools is their ability to help businesses keep track of all data and analyze it more easily, more quickly, and more efficiently than ever before. Big data no longer has to be a big problem for businesses that have a tool that automatically gathers and processes information on their behalf.
You’ll find a variety of functions and features associated with different CRM tools, so make sure to do your research carefully beforehand. When looking into a CRM solution for your business, consider which of the following features are going to be the most important to have access to:
Collection & Centralization
- Account tracking and allocation
- Customer contact information and notes
- Internal communications around notes
- Transaction/revenue recording
- Prospective lead contact information and notes
- Follow-up activity tracking
- Historical record of all activity with customers, prospects, and other contacts
- Calendar for appointments, follow-ups, internal meetings, and customer milestones
- Task management lists
- Call tracking log
- Note tracking for each customer and prospect interaction
- Personal and company goal tracking
- Email marketing campaign integration
- Social media campaign integration
- Website communication integration
- Other marketing campaign efforts integrated
- Sales pipeline tracking
- Marketing and sales expense tracking
- Lead collection and generation tracking
- Identification of trends for forecasting
- Report preparation and export options
- Data backup
Once you’ve identified what your business needs in the way of customer relationship (and engagement) management, it’s time to start looking at your options.
CRM Software Tools
CRM tools can come in many forms. For those of you looking at a software solution, it’s important to understand the difference between the two major types you’ll find:
- On-premise software: This is software that you’ll need to purchase and install on-site and on the machine of everyone who needs access to your platform.
- Cloud-based software: This is software that is hosted by a third-party provider. No installation or upkeep is necessary. You’ll simply need the Internet to access it.
According to research conducted by Capterra, 27% of businesses surveyed currently use on-premise software while 73% use web-based software. There are pros and cons to either option, though the advances in cloud-based solutions (greater security, dedicated support, less reliance on hardware, etc.) are making hosted CRM tools more attractive with each passing year.
Whichever route you choose to go, your main goal needs to be in finding the CRM tool that best fits your needs, includes the features you require, and is within your price range. Some of these tools can become very expensive if not used as intended, so make sure your team is onboard and ready for the transition before making any major investments.
Most Popular CRM Software Providers
Some of these names you may already recognize (especially if they provide tools that cover other parts of your operations). Take your time in researching all options—software and otherwise—to ensure they fit with your overall business plan as well as with the other tools you use (like WordPress).
Here is our list of the CRM software providers worth looking into in 2016:
Apptivo gives you the opportunity to choose the level of customer relationship management you seek, so if you’re just looking for a tool to manage contacts, if you’re looking for more advanced sales tracking and prognostication, of if you want a more comprehensive system, they’ve got you covered. They also offer mobile integration, website integration, and other customization bonuses.
Act!’s CRM promise is pretty straight-forward: If you need a way to better keep track of your contact information and activity, then Act! is the solution for you. This is a much more simplified offering than some of the more popular ones mentioned on this list—and that’s perfectly fine if that’s all you need.
When sales is your main priority, but you want to make sure it’s done right—with authentic interactions and more effective planning—a sales-focused CRM is the way to go. Contactually’s platform helps you narrow your focus for improved engagement and conversion rates.
Much like other Hubspot solutions, their CRM splits solutions in an intuitive fashion. They have three different sales solution packages based on the level of support and automation you’re looking for in your CRM (the focus here being on simplifying and improving the sales process).
If basic contact management and team collaboration/communication is what you’re in search of, then this is a CRM worth testing out. Less Annoying CRM’s goal is to make contact management as well as the management of your sales pipeline much more simplified.
For businesses who are focused on the customer relationship more than on the management of the details surrounding the sale, the Maximizer CRM platform promises just that. With customizable options, businesses of all shapes and sizes can make the CRM work for their business (and industry) to make sure they’re tracking the right information to build the right relationships.
Microsoft is already a well-trusted brand, so for those of you who are fans of their product portfolio, this may be a no-brainer. Unlike some CRMs whose big push is “sales,” the Microsoft CRM’s focus is on customer engagement, so their offering is more focused on helping you better engage with customers—through all avenues, including social media and your mobile device—so you can sell easier and provide them with a better experience.
Oracle is no stranger to creating solutions to help businesses run better, so when they promise to help businesses integrate all customer touch-points into one solution, they mean it. For those of you with an extensive reach of customers and prospects, a more comprehensive solution may be what you’re looking for.
For smaller businesses who are more analytically inclined, the Pipedrive CRM was made for you. The sales pipeline and the easy interface through which you can view and manage it is going to be the biggest draw for this tool. All other features of this CRM serve to bolster that central hub of the pipeline.
Presspoint CRM is a fully functioning customer relationship management tool that knows how to cater to its audience. This CRM solution is fully integrated with WordPress and offers a ton of features: contact information collection, smart lists, email marketing, opportunity management, ecommerce, custom form builds, and more.
A lot of the tools on this list are more well-known providers who can provide comprehensive sales and marketing CRM tools. However, there are others—like Really Simple Systems—who realize that large companies are not the only ones in need and have developed a fairly extensive CRM solution for smaller businesses.
Salesforce is perhaps the most well-known and consistently high-ranked of all CRM tools. With a cloud-based platform that covers the breadth of your sales and marketing needs, you can be assured that your organization’s data will be well-organized, easy to manage, and ready for analysis.
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If you’re unsure about moving all of your sensitive sales information into a cloud-based software, SAP offers both an on-premise and cloud-based CRM solution. SAP’s CRM also focuses on integration so you can manage all aspects of the customer relationship and engagement through a single tool.
If your main focus is on sales—automation, productivity, and results—then the Zoho solution is a good pick. While this CRM does have other integration capabilities, the main focus here is on managing, automating, and improving the sales process.
The Pros of CRM Software
As you can see, there are a lot of CRM software providers available, each covering a different set of offerings for different types of businesses. What doesn’t change among them though are the benefits:
- Stronger Customer Management: Management of the customer relationship goes beyond just a smile and a friendly phone greeting. By having a true understanding of who the customer is and what they want, you can better attend to their needs—as well as others like them. CRM tools help you collect all that information so you can learn from it and grow.
- Higher Conversions: According to research from VentureBeat, 77% of businesses using CRM tools experienced greater conversions of leads.
- Centralization: Many CRM tools provide businesses with a way to centralize all information from sales, marketing, and customer service into one place.
- Organization: No more random pieces of paper or documents mistakenly saved in the wrong folder. Everything is intuitively laid out and easy to find.
- Automation: Many CRMs integrate with other tools—WordPress, Google Docs, newsletter platforms, and more—so lead information, purchases, and other customer information can automatically be pulled in. Many of your sales processes can be automated, too.
- Real-Time Access: So long as you’re working with a web-based tool, you can have anytime, anywhere access to your customer data—in the office, on the road, from home, on your mobile device, wherever. With real-time access to data, you can make better choices and take instant action that will positively affect the relationship you have with your customers.
- Scalability: Web-based tools also offer businesses the ability to scale their CRM systems as their business or needs grow.
- Better Insights: Your business’s customer and leads information no longer resides with the person who captured it. Most CRMs offer reporting and management capabilities so you can study your customer relationship history, see what’s happening in the present time, and make accurate predictions for the future.
- Security: With all of your customers’ relationship documented in your CRM software, backups of that information will ensure you have an accurate historical and present-day record for your business.
The Cons of CRM Software
While there are many benefits to employing the use of CRM software, there are also some drawbacks worth noting:
- Price: According to Capterra, only 14% of CRM users are concerned with price. However, that doesn’t mean that the often high monthly or yearly fee associated with CRM software is not a deal breaker for some.
- Too Much Automation: Some sales and marketing team members will be hesitant to rely on a CRM. Why? Because it may feel like all of that automation is taking the personal touch out of their work with the customer.
- Lack of Integration: Your website is on WordPress. Your newsletter is on another platform. And now you’ve got to find a CRM software that will hopefully work with one, the other, or both. Wouldn’t it be better if they could all just work together?
- Setup: If you’ve chosen a cloud-based CRM, you won’t have to worry about too long or extensive of an installation period. However, with any new tool—especially one that’s inherently tied to your business processes—it can take some time to get your team fully trained and the tool fully integrated. In information provided by Capterra, 80% of CRM users claimed it took 18 months or less to have their system fully operational.
Most Popular CRM WordPress Plugins & Tools
While there is a lot to be said for CRM software, it may not be the best solution for your business right now—especially if you’re working with a tight budget. WordPress is equipped to work with a number of other tools already, so let’s explore the possibilities.
The Apptivo CRM Plugin is not meant to serve as a substitute for the full software tool (mentioned above). This plugin, however, aims to help you create contact forms, newsletter signups, and testimonials on your WordPress website that will then link up to your Apptivo CRM.
For those using vCita LiveSite, this is the compatible CRM plugin that will help with capturing leads and managing the customer relationship and data. As vCita is also a payment and portal solution, those capabilities are also included in this plugin.
While not a traditional CRM solution, Leadin does assist with lead generation in a creative way. If you’re looking for a way to find out more about your site’s visitors, Leadin will track their history on your website and upload it to their contact record once they fill out a form so you have a history of what piqued their interest before you ever speak to them.
If you’re looking for a strictly contact management tool that can be integrated into WordPress, the UkuuPeople plugin does just that. You can manage your contact list, track all interactions, create email lists, and communicate with other team members all from within the plugin.
The UpiCRM plugin’s focus is on lead generation and making the process of collecting your lead information easier. You’ve already set up forms on your website, so why should you have to set them up again for a new tool? UpiCRM will map the form fields you currently have on your site and pull in lead contact information based on that.
The WordPress Leads plugin can work in conjunction with the WordPress Landing Pages or WordPress Calls to Action plugins, or it can work on its own. The purpose of this plugin is to track all of your visitors’ activity before they fill out a form on your website. This way you can learn more about who they are, how they found your website, what they did once they were on your website, and more.
For those of you who are already using Salesforce and want to reduce the amount of data entry between your WordPress website and your CRM, this plugin will help with that. By creating a connection between the forms on your website and Salesforce, you can automatically capture and filter all lead information into your CRM.
The WordPress CRM plugin was created in order to improve the organization and collection of contact information. If you’ve already got a CRM solution and are just looking for a more organized way of keeping track of all the contact information that comes off your website, this would be a great add-on.
While many of these software and plugin tools offer to help businesses with better customer engagement, the Zoho plugin is taking that piece of CRM quite literally with a live chat integration. By having live conversations with your customers and engaging with them in real-time, you can increase your conversions. The plugin also comes with visitor tracking so you’ll collect real-time information on who you’re speaking with while you speak with them.
The Pros of CRM WordPress Tools
Similar to what we saw with the CRM software solutions, CRM WordPress tools serve to improve the customer relationship management process. With most of these tools, however, the benefits aren’t as comprehensive since each plugin serves a smaller piece of the puzzle. When looking at these tools as a whole though, the following benefits are clear:
- One Platform: So long as you’re not subscribing to a separate CRM software, these plugins will help you keep everything within WordPress.
- Cost: If you’re seeking out these plugins, you’re either looking for a plugin to complement your software or for a more affordable solution. Either way, these WordPress plugins will fit the bill.
- Less Data Entry: Writing down customer information by hand and then typing it into your system can be tedious. So can copying and pasting the information from one system to another. If you’re using a WordPress plugin, the information will be gathered where you need it.
- Greater Insight: With CRM software, you get greater insights into your customers. However, with CRM plugin tools, you get greater insights into your WordPress website customers: how they found you on the web, what they did on your website, etc. This info is not only valuable in managing your relationship with them, but it’s also valuable for your marketing efforts and the upkeep of your website.
- Real-Time Access: With WordPress plugins, you’re going to have instant access to what visitors are doing on your website. Some of these plugins even help you communicate in real-time with them.
The Cons of CRM WordPress Tools
Many of the cons associated with CRM software do not apply here (which is why you’re probably turning to these in the first place). However, there are a few points worth noting:
- Tech Support: If a plugin doesn’t work as expected or malfunctions and you lose out on opportunities due to a lack of data importing, there often isn’t a dedicated technical support team to assist.
- Limited Purpose: For the most part, these plugins are fairly limited in what they do. Some offer contact management while others are focused on lead generation. If you’re looking to plugins to substitute a software solution, you may need to sign on with a number of them (which won’t likely integrate with one another).
- Security: If you’re not using an encrypted plugin or don’t have another way of backing up the information you collected, you may be putting your company’s information at risk.
Regardless of whether you decide to go the route of a full CRM software, a partial but more focused tool, or one of the many WordPress plugins and integrations, your business is sure to reap the benefits. In the Capterra CRM user research study, they found that various parts of business were positively affected by the use of a software solution:
- 47% respondents indicated a change in customer retention
- 47% respondents indicated a change in customer satisfaction
- 45% respondents indicated a change in sales revenue
- 39% respondents indicated a change in upselling
That said, make sure to do your research before investing in any one tool. The ramp-up time, cost, features, and available support are all important considerations in the decision-making process—especially for a tool that won’t produce much ROI if not used in full and in the way it was intended.
Remember: Information is power. The more you can learn about your audience and your company’s history, the better you’ll be able to serve your customers, reach new ones, and increase the growth of your organization.