We Discuss All The Leading CRM on the Market at the Present Moment Their Strength & Weaknesses Part 2
We go into a deep dive connected the differences between the leading CRM (customer relationship managers) We discuss all the leading player like MailChimp, ActiveCampaign and Drip plus a lot more
Join me Adrian Tobey CEO of Groundhogg connected to a training webinar we doing on Tuesday the 6th of October, 2020 at 9am PST “Three Essential Marketing Automation Strategies That Will Make Your Membership Site More Profitable.” We also will be answering all your questions connected to marketing automation during the webinar. You can REG here: https://www.wp-tonic.com/webinar/
This Week Show’s Sponsors
Johnathan: Welcome back to the WP-Tonic Show, it’s episode 532. It’s going to be an internal discussion between me and my great cohost Adrian. We are going to be finishing off our discussion around transitional and marketing emails and we’re going to move on to the discussion about what CRMs are, what the difference between Groundhogg and some of the SAS competitions, some of their strengths or weaknesses. It should be a great show and a great discussion. So, Adrian would you like to introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?
Adrian: Hi everyone. My name is Adrian. I am the CEO and founder of Groundhogg. We help small businesses that use WordPress, launched their funnel and grow their list and scale their business.
Johnathan: Yeah. And before we go into the main part of the discussion, I just want to mention one of our great sponsors and that’s Kingsta. Kingsta has been sponsoring the show for over three years now, it’s a great WordPress hosting provider. If you have a site yourself, or you have a client site, a WooCommerce site, a learning management system, not Lifter LMS, you need better hosting and that’s what you get with Kingsta. They’ve got all the bells and whistles, they’ve got Google framework, they got their own interface, which is lovely to use and they’ve got great support. So, if that sounds interesting for yourself or your clients go over to Kingsta, have a look at what they’ve got offer. I suggest that you buy one of their packages and also tell them that you heard about them on the WP-Tonic show. So, Adrian we went deep into the ins and outs of different types of email now we’re going to go on to CRMs. And as I was saying in our pre chat I think even the title causes some confusion because there’s different versions of CRMs aren’t there?
Adrian: There are. So, CRM is kind of like the catch all term we use in the industry to classify a large variety of types of software. So, CRM for anyone who does know boils down to customer relation management system.
Johnathan: Oh, just one thing Adrian, your sound is just a little bit too boosted, you just turn it down a notch.
Adrian: How’s that?
Johnathan: Yeah, that’s better.
Adrian: Better? Okay.
Adrian: So, CRM stands for Customer Relations Management System. It envelops a variety of tools simply because the names for these other tools are a mouthful. So, at the top end, you have something like Salesforce, which to all intents and purposes is a glorified database that contains all of your businesses customer information and there are add-ons and plugins that you can use to access that information in different ways. For example, managing a sales pipeline or building an email list, or providing a method for your salespeople to extract information if you’re doing like some sort of call center thing, you can pull data from Salesforce, put it on the computer and say, call this person and then track the activity and that person’s sales process. So, that’s what we call it kind of just like just the CRM component. There are a few CRMs for WordPress that are also just the customer relation component, which is you can view contact data, you can access that constant data, you can use that in a variety of ways either by clicking a call now button or sending them a one-off email.
And that is typically what a CRM is. Now, the term has expanded as there are more software companies entering the market with a variety of different tools that enhance the CRM component. So, customer information and collecting that and storing that in place is great but how exactly do we use that information and how do we use that information in order to turn a profit? How do we actually turn the information that we have into money? Because that’s what really important at the end of the day. So, then enter tools like InfusionSoft, HubSpot, Active Campaign, Convert Kit, Groundhogg are all businesses that have a CRM component as part of their software stack, but they also introduced something called marketing automation.
Now, marketing automation is what we use to actually turn the customer data that we have into something that can make money. By automating follow up emails to people who enter our funnel, by sending out broadcasting emails about sales, by sending text messages to people’s phones, as reminders for appointments. So, marketing automation allows us to automate a lot of customer communications so that we don’t have to hire armies of call centers to do that for us. And that’s a little bit confusing. Saying marketing automation platform is a little bit more of a mouthful than saying CRM, because if you just say MAP, Marketing Automation Platform, MAP doesn’t really convey, what we’re trying to talk about, but CRM is now kind of like this catch all term, but there are two kinds. So, there’s the one that has the customer database plus all of the automation features that allow us to use that data to communicate with them. And then there are just the CRM which [cross-talk 05:59].
Johnathan: Yeah, it seems obvious, but it does cause quite a bit of confusion because a lot of people say all Salesforce will do everything and I’m not sure about that, but I think it does cause confusion. So, would I be incorrect in saying that InfusionSoft was the kind of grand idea of this whole marketing automization platform? Was it one of the first on market? Would you agree with that?
Adrian: It was one of the first on market that was accessible to small businesses, but it wasn’t the first, but it was the first accessible one for the small business vertical. So, they were kind of like the granddaddy of the ActiveCampaign and the Convert Kits and all of that stuff, they certainly came first in the small business sector. Larger businesses had automated customer communication, but it was powered by literally legions of developers so it wasn’t exactly what I would call accessible technology. So yeah.
Johnathan: So, you say small businesses, but I got the impression and I don’t know if this was because of the actual complexity of infusionSoft. Reason I can ask these questions to Adrian is that he was a certified InfusionSoft consultant and he knows a lot about every aspect of this particular industry. So Adrian, you say small businesses, I suppose if you put it in the terms that you’ve just, I can see why you said small businesses, but I don’t know if it was a consequence of how the software was developed or it was a chosen business model, but they seem to really… you seem, unless you spend enormous amount of time and became a certified consultant yourself that you literally had to hire somebody like yourself to set up InfusionSoft. Am I correct in that impression or is that not totally the truth?
Adrian: I was a former InfusionSoft certified partner so I can only speak from my experience as also being a partner and I don’t have any sort of insight into their boardroom meetings in order to determine their specific strategy. Their software was above the heads of most typical entrepreneurs and you need a little bit of knowhow. They charged onboarding fees in order to train people and do the initial setup and also, they would highly recommend that you onboard us with a certified partner in order to help their small business with the majority of the setup. This was a win for the small business, this was a win for the agency and this was also of course a win for InfusionSoft, at least in their minds. It was a little bit of a higher investment, they didn’t really want to work with the solo promoter, DIYers. They wanted established businesses with teams and they wanted the people who could afford the higher price point.
Adrian: So, that’s where their market was and they associated and aligned their products and their fees with that. So, it didn’t, at least in the later stages until KEEP came around, InfusionSoft was really out of their reach…
Johnathan: And what is KEEP about then and how do you see KEEP in how it fits into the present market?
Adrian: Well KEEP, at least in my view was an attempt to bring it down back to servicing the small entrepreneurs and DIYers and having a product that was accessible to those people while maintaining a product that was accessible and usable by large organizations and kind of like the small business of 50 people and up. When we think small business, we think mom and pop like five people at most. InfusionSoft’s classification of small business is like more than a million dollars a year in revenue, multiple people, doing high volumes and sales and all of that good stuff. So, that’s where Infusionsoft is targeted and then KEEP was an attempt… I don’t really know if it was accessible because I’m no longer part of that community, but KEEP was an attempt to bring InfusionSoft down to a more accessible level for our conception of what a small business is.
Johnathan: So, let’s just move on to another big player in email marketing, and that’s MailChimp. So, MailChimp, I think I could be correct in saying it’s been a little bit slow about entering the marketing automization sector, but it seems to be determined like in the email side of its platform to become a big client. So, at the present moment, how would you classify MailChimp’s marketing automization and email platform?
Adrian: Basic. Here’s the thing about MailChimp. MailChimp is wildly profitable, they basically have a license to print money. Like I spoke…I was at a conference, a big conference Collision, the biggest tech conference in the world was hosted here in Toronto last year and I went and I pitched and presented. And I met the founder of a guy named Lemonade. Lemonade was an eCommerce provider, which was acquired by MailChimp. And he was walking around with heavy pockets because he was pretty happy and they have just like so much, so they can invest, they can throw as many developers at a problem they want an or make something that’s effective. Currently, as far as I’ve been following their implementation of marketing automation of the platform, it’s basic, but here’s the thing, who’s their user base? It’s basic. People who just want to like send out an email to the 500 people on their list you don’t see fortune 500 companies using MailChimp, that’s not what they do because then that’s not their audience.
So, they’re not interested in creating these massively complex and convoluted marketing automation tools because their core audience wouldn’t be successful with them. That’s why InfusionSoft has certified partners and I myself have a certified partner program and then ActiveCampaign has a certified partner program is because there’s people who specialize in our tools in order to help people adopt them. Mailchimp’s marketing automation doesn’t need certified partners because guess what? It’s simple enough that everybody can understand it and you know, kudos to them for developing a product that is usable by their core audience. And when people need more guess what? They leave MailChimp and they go get something else and they’re totally cool with that because they’re just as easily replaced. MailChimp does a serious amount of volume and their implementation of marketing automation I don’t believe is dependent on their success or their success is not dependent rather on having a marketing automation feature comparable to ActiveCampaign, for example.
Johnathan: Yeah, I think that’s a really good, fantastic insight and synopsis of them. So, let’s go on to ActiveCampaign. What do you see their strengths and weaknesses then Adrian?
Adrian: Active campaign is kind of like the one size fits all tool. You can go in as a small business and you can go in as a large organization and still be able to extract value from ActiveCampaign. It is both simple and complex at the same time so you can kind of get as powerful with it as you want, the only drawback I find to ActiveCampaign is the pricing. So, if you’re a larger organization and you’re not using ActiveCampaign to its fullest extent, you’re still paying for it. And ActiveCampaign can get quite expensive as your list grows. There are several people that I know who have lists of 25,000 people on ActiveCampaign paying close to a thousand dollars USD per year.
So, that’s quite the investment, especially if you’re not really utilizing its capabilities and you don’t have [inaudible 14:21]. So, the question becomes is ActiveCampaign making more money than what I’m spending on it? That’s the thing. So, it’s also hard to extract specific numbers because since it’s a SAS platform, it doesn’t really correlate data easily between orders, for example, your WooCommerce website, unless you’re doing all the e-commerce through ActiveCampaign, which they do support, I believe. So, if you’re using an external e-commerce source, it’s hard to correlate that data so it’s also hard to see the numbers like this email, for example, made a hundred dollars, which covers like my ActiveCampaign bill for this month or whatever, or this specific funnel or the specific automation is responsible for sending this amount of traffic to our pricing page, which then correlated into however many dollars. This is tracking that we provide in Groundhogg, which we find really useful is we’re able to identify which emails in which funnels are actually generating revenue if you’re using a payment platform like WooCommerce or EDD, for example.
Johnathan: So, what about Drip? Which was an independent company I think it was over two years now was bought up on lead pages. How do you see them in the market?
Adrian: Well, if you’re using an eCommerce website, like That’s Drip, Drip is ActiveCampaign specifically designed for eCommerce is essentially how I look at it. It’s pretty comparable to all the various different features that all of the other marketing automation providers do, it has some specific eCommerce features like specific abandoned cart sequences and stuff like pre activated pre-installed and it easily integrates with a lot of your like WooCommerce and your Shopify and your EDD and all of those different payment providers already, they have those integrations built out and ready to go. So, that’s how I would classify it as like, if you’re looking for a SAS platform that’s dedicated specifically to an eCommerce website, then Drip is kind of like, where you’d go if you’re on the SAS market. If you’re not in the SAS market, you want to, as a WordPress plugin, there are other, there are other solutions. There’s Groundhogg, there’s AutomateWoo, there’s like WooCommerce follow ups I think it’s called. So, there’s a few open source solutions for the eCommerce market specifically.
Johnathan: And… oh I forgot its name, that you mentioned it. The… oh God…
Adrian: Well there’s HubSpot, there’s…
Johnathan: Let’s mention HubSpot. What’s your feeling about HubSpot?
Adrian: So, HubSpot kind of has an interesting gimmick. So, they have their CRM component. So, I went on a whole spiel about how when you have to talk about CRM, it can mean either just CRM, so just a contacts area where you can look at contacts and not really do anything with it. And then there’s the marketing automation component, which actually allows you to use that data in some kind of useful way by creating conversation and driving them to your checkout page in order to generate revenue or take care of fulfillment. CRM on its own is not exactly useful or not incredibly useful. HubSpot’s CRM, so just that CRM contact database component, no matter how big your list is free, which is kind of a unique strategy that they’ve adopted. So, no matter how many contacts, if you might have a hundred thousand people in your CRM, it’s free.
Here’s the catch. As soon as you want to introduce pipeline funnels, marketing automation, email marketing, any of that stuff get prepared to empty your wallet because monthly cost for marketing automation for a list of 500 contacts… I actually have it on my pricing page, let me go pull it up. So, the monthly cost for the marketing automation component alone, not including all of their other features alone is $800 a month for 500 people on your list. So, that means if you got started with HubSpot and you put 10,000 people on your list in your CRM and you add marketing automation, you are going to be paying upwards of $2,000 a month right off the bat. And that doesn’t include the setup fee, which they also charge, which is like another $2,500 or whatever it is. So, the CRM component is free until you actually need to do something with that information. So that’s kind of like the gimmick that they got going on.
Johnathan: So, it’s a bit of a hybrid but soon becomes a very expensive hybrid.
Adrian: Yes very, very, very pricey. They can charge that because the kind of business that they work with is very specific. Specifically, businesses that shrug at spending $2,000 a month on something. That’s not you, that’s not me, that’s not a lot of people in the WordPress community, maybe some, but certainly not many. They operate in the medium business category so when you say small and medium SMB or SMB, that that’s where they are. They’re at the top of the small business too.
Johnathan: Between the five and 50 million?
Adrian: Yeah, that’s where they are.
Johnathan: Yeah. So really, they are in the same, in some ways the same ground as InfusionSoft really.
Adrian: Not quite. InfusionSoft is still under that. They’re still under that but yeah, they’re up there. It’s always crazy because I get people come on our Facebook chat on the website and they say, hey, listen, I’m currently using HubSpot. And I’m like, how? If you’re like…
Johnathan: Well, you do find they were very aggressive and I don’t know if they are less aggressive, but I know one, another cohost of a podcast I do and he’s grandfathered into HubSpot and he only pays like $50 a month.
Adrian: Yeah. So, that’s certainly not a plan that they provide anymore.
Johnathan: No, but I know when they were first in the market, they were much more aggressive about their pricing and they prepared to do deals, which you don’t get that impression now that they are. We’re going to go for our break folks. I got some more questions for Adrian about CMSes and this whole world of marketing automization. We’ll be ack in a few moments.
We’re coming back. Before I start off, I want to talk about our next sponsor, which is Groundhogg. Now, if you’re looking for a native client and I had been looking at various ones for a period of time, and then Groundhogg came on my radar and I met Adrian and I thought fantastic, we’ve got a serious developer here. Somebody that’s really committed and we’re going to get a quality product and we need it in the power of the WordPress ecosystem. And that’s what Adrian and his team have produced. I’ve personally believe it’s the top core to native CRM system on the market at the present moment,I think Adrian and his team are dedicated to improving it. It’s fantastic value as well and it offers an interface that I feel, and it is in the eye of the beholder, a much easier to use interface than some of the other CRMs that we’ve been talking about in the first half of the show.
Now, if that interests you and for your clients, and it should, I suggest that you go over the Groundhogg and have a look at their packages, try one of them out, and I’ll think you’re going to be blown away. And also tell them that you heard about them on the WP-Tonic show. Now another question that… I’ve had a few, I’ve been really blessed because I’ve been really busy the past month Adrian with new clients for WP-Tonic, but I’ve had a couple clients actually asked me this question. What is the… how can you use this stack and what are the differences in this stack? And they’re talking about is Groundhogg, WP-Fusion and Uncanny Automator. So, I think they’ve been going to the same webinars that we’ve been hosting or been going to or promoting, and they see these free great automatization companies. Can you explain how… first of all, can you use all three together logically to really improve your marketing automization? And then can you give some quick insight and how that would be achieved?
Adrian: Yeah. So, number one…
Johnathan: I’m getting these questions and I’ve given them my explanation, what I think but I would love yours.
Adrian: So, WP-Fusion and Uncanny Automator both have the marketing automation plastered on the website. So, much in the way, same way that marketing automation or is that CRM can mean a couple of things Marketing automation can also mean a few things. So, the kind of marketing automation that Groundhogg provides as part of the CRM component is the timing of emails. So, email marketing, the scheduling of text messages and essentially creating a customer communication channel in order to keep the conversation between you and your audience constant so that you’re always remaining top of mind so you can…
Johnathan: Yeah, I see [cross-talk 25:21] as the kind of trigger engine. If this happens and this happens do this…
Adrian: You can also look at it as the single source of truth. So, where all your data comes from in order to make things happen. At the end of the day, it really comes down to Groundhogg and marketing automation tools like it, InfusionSoft, ActiveCampaign, KEEP, HubSpot, et cetera, are all designed in order to maintain a constant customer communication so you’re always top of mind and then whenever they make a buying decision, you’re there. It’s about being there when they make that purchasing decision. A great example of this would be a cart abandonment sequence, where someone goes to your website, they adds in the car, and then their mom calls and they forget about it, an hour later there was a timed email that is sent out from Groundhogg that says, hey, listen, you left these things in your cart, click here to recover your cart and then go make the purchase.
But without that email, they may have never made that purchase or at least made it at a much, much later date, but we want it now. So, that’s what marketing automation from the CRM contacts looks like WP-Fusion is another marketing automation tool, however, it is not a source of truth. What they focus on is what we call market automation integration. They integrate plugins together with your CRM of choice. So, basically what they do is they handle the passing and the syncing of data between multiple platforms or multiple other tools with your single source truth, which should always be your CRM, your contacts database, that’s where you keep the data and then you use that data in the relationship or in the conversation so that you can keep that going. So that’s what WP-Fusion does is they take data from other places and then they stick it in the CRM and the secret CRM will give WP-Fusion data and they’ll stick it in other places.
Johnathan: And they do that by offering a sophisticated tagging platform. If I’d be correct in saying that.
Adrian: I mean, they do it in a variety of ways. Tags is one of them, they have web hooks, they have a variety of tools in order to make that happen. Uncanny Automator is very similar. They also do automation, although they can automate things beyond the customer conversation. So, they can hook into a lot of different platforms and plugins so they can go from, let’s say, gravity forms to Lifter LMS and then Lifter LMS to Groundhogg and then Groundhogg to Google sheets. They can do a lot of cool stuff for that kind of automation where you’re automating very specific tasks. So, it’s like if someone fills out this form, go add a Google spreadsheet somewhere so the sales person can view it there for example, is something that Uncanny Automator would be able to accomplish. So, it’s not necessarily marketing automation, although you can use it for that purpose, but it’s really more akin to a tool like Zapier, where you’re automating a very specific thing. So, it’s basically like no code for making things happen.
Johnathan: Yeah, that’s I’ve been saying, not as elegant as you just described it. I just say to people that Uncanny is the Zapier of WordPress.
Adrian: Yeah, that’s really how I would qualify it. WP-Fusion is not at that higher kind of abstraction level. They take it down a notch and they say what we do is we specifically sync data between your CRM and your other website properties. So, if you have an LMS and you have WooCommerce and you have Lifter and you have Gravity Forms and you have all of these different things that are taking [cross-talk 29:11] in data, we want to make sure that all of the data across all of your website properties is consistent so that the user experience remains consistent and they manage that process.
Johnathan: And the Groundhogg is the ActiveCampain, the other CRMs that you compete with, but you’re a native solution so that’s your stack in these free pluggins.
Adrian: Right. And Groundhogg acts the the custodian of all of that customer data so that other plugins and other softwares and services can use that data in order for their customer experiences and then you can also design your own customer relationship experiences within Groundhog itself using the funnel builder.
Johnathan: Yeah. And your API and your openness, is that another factor that people should be aware of like other WordPress, it’s easier if you ever wanted to move your data for Groundhogg it’s going to be a lot easier than some of the other SAS systems. Would I be correct in saying that?
Adrian: I think so. I’m one of the, one of the unique features that Groundhogg offers is that the barrier to entry for creating your own applications based on Groundhogg is very low because it’s open source and there’s lots of rest API, and there’s lots of plugin filters and we use the plugins API pretty much everywhere so it’s easy to hook in your own systems and processes and then build applications based on Groundhogg and your own custom user experiences base on Groundhogg. So, if that’s something that you’re interested in Groundhogg makes it really easy to do that and the process of moving over, because we have a lot of these tools available is a little bit easier than say migrating to something like ActiveCampaign from from InfusionSoft. One of the other ways that would make it easier is unlike all of the other CRMs, which have something in common, which is scaled pricing. So, the larger your list is the more you pay. That is something consistent across all SAS CRM and marketing automation providers. I call it the success tax because you get charged more based on the size of your list, which is not actually an accurate reflection of how well you are doing as a business.
You can have $50,000 for 50,000 people on the list and make no money from that. So, the fact that they charge more is really just a tax on… I would say it’s a superfluous tax basically that has no real implication in terms of their costs of supporting you. They pay the same in resources, if you have a 500-person list or a 50,000-purpose person list. And if they do have a difference, it’s marginal because the difference in like database sizes for contact records is kilobytes. It’s nothing. It’s like super small.
Johnathan: We’re going end it there for the podcast part of the show. Got a couple announcements. Adrian is leaving us for a little while, I’ve burnt him out, he’s mentally exhausted in trying to cope with me listeners and viewers. He’s begged that he had a little break from me for a month to two months, haven’t you Adrian. No, he’s actually having this big… I wouldn’t say improvements is the right word, but there’s a lot of work going in the background of the present moment to make Groundhogg even more powerful and Adrian is having to focus his time and energies on the management and also the working of these improvements. That would be correct, wouldn’t it be Adrian?
Adrian: We’re making big investments and big moves into improving the usability of our product and overall improving the user experience. By the end of this year, we should have something that revolutionizes the way that people can experience and build marketing automation from their WordPress website. I mean, we already did that technically because we’re one of the only people that provide that in WordPress at the moment but we’re going outdo ourselves and try to make it even more intuitive and provide people with nothing short of the best features that they might expect from ActiveCampaign or HubSpot or businesses with legions of developers and millions of dollars to spend. We’re going to try to do our best to bring those experiences down to the WordPress level and make them as accessible as possible to everyone who uses our products. And that requires bit more time and commitment from me in order to facilitate that. So, I will be taking a short hiatus while we work on that and get the ball rolling.
Johnathan: Steven, if you listened to my round table show, you should do, Steven one of our regular panelist will be taken over Adrian’s [inaudible 34:34] like one or two months, and then you plan on coming back don’t you Adrian?
Adrian: Yes, I do.
Johnathan: I will return.
Adrian: I’ll be back.
Johnathan: I’ll be back. So, we announce that Steven… we’ll be having a discussion with Steven next week, and we’re going to be talking about everything around hosting. Anything… if you’ve got any questions about hosting, send them in before next week show, we record these on Thursdays so send that in and we will answer your questions, but we will be delving deep into hosting. A final announcement on the 6th of October, Tuesday, the 6th of October at 9:00 AM, me and Adrian will be doing one of our regular webinars. We did our first one last month, it was a great success. I didn’t but in too much, Adrian managed keep the flow and I thought we covered a lot of stuff around using Groundhogg with your learning management system and making it more profitable, but we covered other areas.
So, it’s going to be a feast around marketing automization in general. You’re also going to be able to ask Adrian questions about Groundhogg and automization in general, it’d be a great hour plus. So, like I said that’s on Tuesday the 6th of October. How do you sign up? Basically, you just go to the WP-Tonic website and on the main navigation right on the far right there’s a button that says free webinar. You click that and you will be able to signed up and you will be able to join us. So, thank you so much for being my cohost. You’re not going away, you’re coming back and just thanks for your help, Adrian. It’s been a blast so far.
Johnathan: Right. We will see you next week folks for another WP-tonic show. See you soon folks, bye.
Every Friday at 8:30am PST we have a great and hard-hitting round-table show with a group of WordPress developers, online business owners and WordPress junkies where we discuss the latest and most interesting WordPress and online articles/stories of the week. You can also watch the show LIVE every Friday at 8:30am PST on our Facebook WP-Tonic Show page. https://www.facebook.com/wptonic/