Connecting a CRM to WordPress may not be an obvious next step for your business, but I’d held off too long doing it. It became even more important as I have a client that needs the kind of support it offers in an easy to use package.
What exactly does CRM mean? First of all, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and according to Wikipedia
Customer relationship management is an approach to manage a company’s interaction with current and potential customers. It uses data analysis about customers’ history with a company to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth.Wikipedia
What is CRM good for in WordPress?
A WordPress site owner wants to increase their readership. They do that by collecting email addresses with an opt-in form. That information is used to populate a mailing list for ongoing correspondence.
For a blogger or shopping site that may be all that is needed, but what about a business owner who needs to interact more with their clients, or a website owner who keep track of those interactions, documenting and building a relationship, how about doing a data analysis of your clients (who visits the most, you should I focus marketing dollars on), or targeting your marketing campaigns.
You’ll not only need to capture names and email addresses but also pertainent information that will help you achieve those goals by putting it into something a little more robust than a mailing list, a CRM.
Just remember, no two CRM is the same; but, basic information, Company, address, contact information, telephone number, mailing list (or campaign) support are fairly standard. The CRM you choose should be able to capture the information you need to run your business.
Choosing the right tools
For WordPress and the functions that were needed, I identified the following requirements:
- Email capture (Lead Generation)
- Mailing List
The first three were easy to answer.
- Email Capture – I could use a simple form or popup
- Mailing List – I’m currently using MailPoet and have been for years
- Newsletter – MailPoet has been supporting that too and also offers email service
Unfortunately, for what I wanted to accomplish my current tools won’t work. Tools with more features and better integration with a CRM are a must.
Yes, part of what I needed could have been answered with a Lead Generation plugins, but I would still need to address the last three items on my list.
By the way, one of my requirements was free. The solution had to have a free tier. Whatever solution, it had to be easy for a novice to use with minimal moving parts.
After some research and integration testing, I settled on four potential solutions:
- Elementor Forms with Hubspot CRM
- Hustle with HubSpot CRM
- Hustle with Mailerlite
- ConvertPro with Hubspot CRM
I could have added integration to Zapier, but I wasn’t ready to go that route just yet.
Hustle with Mailerlite was a fallback option. If I could not connect a CRM to WordPress at minimum, a newsletter needed to be generated and sent periodically.
OptinMonster would have been nice to include, but without a free tier they fell off my list.
Hubspot kept coming up in my research. I’ve had the account for years and really not used it because I already have a CRM I use to manage the sales and contract process. HubSpot CRM doesn’t do the same thing, but it is a SaaS solution with a free tier and it supports the integration I’m looking for.
The only way for me to find out which would fit my needs was to test all of my options.
Using an Elementor Pop-up form was ideal and my first choice. The available pop-up options are beautiful, but the Lead Generation functions leave something to be desired. The integration with HubSpot required installation of the HubSpot EMail Marketing plugin which oddly could have been the solution. That plugin presents the entire CRM in WordPress including the analytics.; however, once I connected the form to HubSpot, It wasn’t as impressive as I would have liked. I decided to move on.
Hustle seemed a good option. It was easy to setup a form with their editor, but the default templates are dull and don’t offer a lot of flexibility (at least from my initial review.) Still, I found the ease of connecting to Mailerlite refreshing. Connecting to HubSpot was not as easy, but we’ll discuss that later. One key benefit of Hustle was it also allows saving the leads in more than one place at a time. By default the WordPress database and then I added HubSpot. It looked like I found the solution.
A new contender
As I was going through my list of available options to connect to HubSpot I noticed ConvertPro was on the list. As it turned out I’d purchased a lifetime subscription from Brainstorm Force that included ConvertPro, so I decided to try it.
ConvertPro, like Hustle has an impressive list of services it can connect, providing connectivity to both email maling lists and CRM applications. Like Hustle, it also easily connected to Mailerlite. The editor provided much better control over the placement of the pop-up and a lot more control over how the opt-in form will appear on my website. Ultimately, it became my first chose but integration with HubSpot was proving problematic.
Connecting to HubSpot CRM
A CRM is a complex piece of software as are mailing lists. A good example is MailChimp, navigating MailChimp is not always easy.
Creating, configuring and testing the Lead Generation form was easy, and then came the integration. Connecting that to HubSpot. In the past, it was just a matter of creating the mailing list and pointing the form to it. It was that simple with HubSpot.
The instructions appear fairly straight-forward in both ConvertPro and on the HubSpot site but something was missing. My email lists were not showing anywhere in WordPress. I read the HubSpot and ConvertPro documentation and it should have been easy. I even put in a support ticket with Brainstorm Force.
I assumed the problem was ConvertPro and I was not happy with HubSpot either as I was only able to connect one of the test solutions to it, their WordPress plugin.
Since I was getting nowhere with ConvertPro, I decided to try to test connectivity with Hustle, the alternative. While configuring the connection, I noticed a warning just above the field. “Static” List?
I’d not seen any documentation that mentions a static list before. A quick search for “Static Lists” in the HubSpot documentation told me that there are two types of lists; Active and Static. HubSpot by default creates Active Lists which are dynamically populated based on filters. There were only Active lists.
To create a Static list I needed to click on a dropdown (just above the filter selection) to change the default to “static.” All of that has to be done before you try to add the list to your form in WordPress.
Now that the problem was solved, adding and testing the solution was simple.
- Create the Lead Generation Form
- Connect HubSpot
- Connect the correct HubSpot Mailing List
- Take care of any required field mapping
Workflow automation is a part of HubSpot CRM, as a new contact is created HubSpot sends a welcome message to the new subscriber.
Newsletters can be created and sent to all contacts in the mailing list and HubSpot handles the delivery. It also captures analytics on your mailings. People have the ability to respond back if they have any questions.
What I really like about this solution is my client has limited WordPress expertise and there is no need to log in to WordPress to send the newsletters. The interface is simple and easy to use. They can manage both the newsletters and mailing lists. As a Small Business, it also gives them an easy place to maintain their client contact information.
I’m just starting to dig into what is possible with this solution, but now that I’ve figured out “how” to connect a mailing list I see a lot of possibilities; connect contact forms, product requests and more creating separate mailing lists but handling all the contacts in one place.
The WordPress integration landscape is constantly changing, so choosing this route will provide an immediate and supportable solution, one that can be implemented now and revisited if needed.