FluentCRM$129/Single Site | Other pricing for more sites
- Beautiful user interface
- Easy integration with Amazon SES
- Outstanding automation builder
- Great support team
- 15% Discount: Coupon code - BEEM
- Needs more email opt-in form integrations
- Sending immediate emails is a bit slow
By the time you came here to read my FluentCRM review, I suspect you already know why a WordPress CRM Plugin can be a great idea.
Like you, I went through the traditional route of using email service providers and ultimately decided I was better off using my own platform to manage my email campaigns and email marketing automation.
I even tried using a different WordPress CRM plugin, but found that there's more to a good solution than the software. A bad experience with another vendor is how I ultimately ended up using and recommending FluentCRM.
If you decide that FluentCRM is right for you, keep reading until the bottom to get my 20% discount coupon code to save you a bit of money.
Who Needs Email Marketing Automation, Anyway?
If you have an online business that targets people in a specific niche, you need email marketing automation.
Notice the “automation” part of this answer?
That's what's missing from the ConvertKit or MailChimp free plans. Yes, you can send emails to a list of subscribers, but those free plans lack automation.
When we talk about automation, we're discussing things like:
- Email sequences
- Automatically adding or removing subscriber tags or lists
- Anything that runs as a process in response to an event
If you're a blogger who wants to send a weekly message to your audience, then you can get by without automation. It's not ideal, but having a system to blast out emails to a large audience is still important. It's not the kind of thing you can do from your personal account or web hosting server.
Do that and you'll get shut down and your emails will get marked as SPAM.
For those in business, you need a system that watches for events and automatically takes action. Let's say that you have Birthday information in your CRM database. Maybe you'd like to automate a birthday message to your subscriber. Give them a coupon code or free gift.
Essentially, email automation systems drive your business in the background so you're free to work on new products, services or other ideas.
Why Did I Choose FluentCRM?
I actually purchased FluentCRM in 2020 as a way to hedge my bets with Groundhogg. I had some doubts using Groundhogg, but it was working on my primary web site and changing email marketing systems is a major undertaking.
It turns out that buying FluentCRM when I did was a good insight.
In March 2021, Groundhogg suddenly stopped working on all of my sites. I could send emails manually, but all of the automation and scheduling failed because of problems responding to the cron-job that triggers something like sending an email.
Seems rather important, after all.
I contacted Groundhogg support with a ticket on a Sunday when I discovered the problem. They did not respond. Then I opened another ticket on the following Tuesday when I had a problem with another site.
Eventually, I got a response. They manually triggered my email campaign to send, but could not fix the underlying problem.
They blamed my host. They blamed the caching. They blamed the CDN. The only thing that they did not blame or investigate was the software update they provided just before the problem started.
I spent two weeks trying to get help from them, which lead to some unpleasant discoveries about their integrity and how the CEO likes to manage his reputation by deleting customer posts on their customer support group.
Meanwhile, one of the biggest affiliate promotions of the year was going on and I had no way to communicate with my audience.
It's safe to say that I did not want to change email marketing systems, but I had no choice. Groundhogg could not resolve the problem and, honestly, they weren't really trying that hard.
Initial Evaluation of FluentCRM for My Business Needs
Anytime you buy a product or service for your online business, one of the first issues you need to check is if it integrates with your other critical systems.
For me, FluentCRM checked some important boxes. It integrates with these business critical systems that I use:
- Wishlist Member
- Uncanny Automator
Some of my sites use the BuddyBoss platform and theme, which is a forthcoming integration. It wasn't as critical for me, as both BuddyBoss and FluentCRM work with Uncanny Automator. That means I can still integrate these tools within my site, and without spending money on Zapier.
Where FluentCRM doesn't have direct integrations with some important services for me, it does have webhooks.
That provides me with integration to ThriveCart and also some email opt-in form vendors. FluentCRM also integrates with middleware services like Pabbly, Integromat and the afore-mentioned and extremely expensive Zapier.
My biggest struggle with integrations using FluentCRM is with email opt-in form vendors. Most don't have native integrations with FluentCRM, but they're coming around.
Bloom, from Elegant Themes, as direct integration with FluentCRM. As I write, they have one small bug that I reported. All entries come in as Subscribers, rather than Pending until they click a link in a Confirmation email. It's on their radar for a fix.
ConvertPro works perfectly with FluentCRM via a webhook.
OptinMonster had problems with the FluentCRM webhook, but the two companies worked together and found a resolution using a script to match the data fields. Now OptinMonster also recognizes that integration with FluentCRM is important and they're adding it to their development list.
Your customer data stays on your WordPress server where you have control. That doesn't happen with ConvertKit, MailChimp or other SaaS email service providers.
Your FluentCRM is 100% self-hosted and it does not send any customer information to off-site servers, other than the emails you send with the data you choose. In other words, nothing siphons off the data that you need to protect.
FluentCRM has Easy Integration to Email Providers
When you use a SaaS provider like ConvertKit, you don't have to worry about integration with the actual services that send your email. The provider takes care of that.
When I first switched to a WordPress-based CRM like Groundhogg, I had to integrate with an email provided like Amazon SES.
It was an unpleasant experience.
That's because Groundhogg an Amazon both have poor documentation. In Amazon's case, they just don't write for consumers or non-technical people.
I have four decades of IT experience and I've dealt with a lot of technical documentation. Amazon has its own language that obfuscates simple tasks. I got it done with Groundhogg, but I was amazed how simple the same process was with FluentCRM.
That's because they released a plugin called FluentSMTP to simplify the process of connecting FluentCRM to Amazon SES.
It's a free plugin that really does one thing, and it does it very well.
FluentSMTP connects with any email provider. It keeps logs, resends emails and provides reports.
When I used FluentSMTP to connect to Amazon SES, I was done in 30 seconds!
All I had to do in Amazon SES was create my account, select a region and get my Access Key and Secret Key. That information goes into FluentSMTP and it does all of the work to integrate the systems together. It's brilliant!
If you need more than one sender integration, that's not a problem. You may want multiple integrations to separate transactional and marketing emails. Perhaps you have more than one service in case one fails, you can still send using another provider.
Having multiple options and easy setup – for FREE – makes this a great tool to keep around.
A Modern User Interface Makes Work Easier
Here's a look at the Settings user interface for FluentCRM.
This is something that's difficult to explain, but working with the FluentCRM user interface just feels easier and less oppressive than using the Groundhogg interface.
I used to fight with Groundhogg to find and use the things that I wanted to do. With FluentCRM, I feel like I'm flowing with the tool to achieve results. The items I need aren't hidden away in obscure places, and it just feels more comfortable to use.
Everything you need lays out in an intuitive user interface.
I won't go through every setting and screen, but let me show you a few things.
Beautiful Email Footer Design Area
Experienced marketers know that the email footer can be a gold mine. On the top row, I have Smart Links (which I'll cover in a bit) to some of they key landing pages on one of my sites.
Next, I can use any of a number of SmartCodes (available from the Green menu in the upper-right corner.
After that, the option to unsubscribe or manage email subscriptions blows Groundhogg away. You see, Groundhogg puts its list management under the Unsubscribe option.
The problem is that the user doesn't know he or she has a choice when they click the Unsubscribe button. Instead of realizing that they could just remove a List of emails, they're already bought-in to the idea of completely unsubscribing – and that's what most people do.
It's this kind of simple, yet incredibly important, attention to detail that can be the difference between helping or losing a lead.
Use Smart Links to Build Your Customer Profile
So what are Smart Links?
They're an opportunity to serve your audience and get them to share information about their interests or preferences. Let's take a look.
A Smart Link is something that can take simple action when a subscribed user clicks the link. You can provide a title and a URL to visit when the user clicks the link. So far, that's what an ordinary link in an email would do.
The power comes when you Add or Remove tags or lists when a user clicks a Smart Link.
Taking a look at the pages in my email footer, there's an opportunity for someone to click a link like Courses.
That indicates important interest, and I want to know about it. When someone who reads my email clicks one of those links, I want to add a tag to their account in FluentCRM, something like:
Profile – Interest in Courses
It's also an opportunity to add the user to an email list. You can then update them on Campaign emails about your courses, or perhaps use an Automation to add people on that list to a Sequence of emails that offers more information, or opportunities to convert their interest into a sale.
That's what I'm talking about when I discuss the power of email marketing automation, and this is just scratching the surface.
FluentCRM Allows Multiple Managers with Unique Permissions
There are a couple of important aspects of security to keep in mind. Your customer and lead data is precious, so you need to protect it by providing only enough access as someone needs to act upon.
FluentCRM makes allowances for this by creating manager rolls for specific users. Rather than sharing the all-powerful administrator account for everyone to use, you can create specific permissions for different users to act upon the various aspects of FluentCRM.
- No account or password sharing, so you know who did what.
- No excessive permissions, so people can only manage what you allow.
It's such a simple concept and yet so profound. You don't get this with many other CRM or email service providers.
I am a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), so this sort of thing is extremely important to me. I'm glad to see FluentCRM understands the importance of data access roles.
Click the button below to learn more about FluentCRM.
Elements of FluentCRM
I probably mentioned some terms earlier that weren't defined, so let's clear up any misconceptions. In this section of my FluentCRM review, I'll mention some key elements that you can use to organize and contact your customers, subscribers, leads or audience.
Contacts are the subscribers in your database. You can add them through email opt-in forms, import them from another email service, etc.
I'm only showing the header here, since my subscribers likely don't want their name or email address shared in a review.
You have options to Add, Import or Export your contact list in the upper right. In the next row down, you can filter the list of contacts by a number of criteria.
This makes it easy to find the contact you want, or to filter the specific list of contacts for a given organizational purpose that we'll cover next.
There are three ways that you can organize groups of your subscribers, so let's review each of them.
A list is little more than a collection of Contacts, ideally organized by a topic that relates to everyone in the list.
In previous systems, I tried to manage everything with Tags, but lists server a powerful purpose in FluentCRM. They're one of the best ways to trigger an event in Automations and collect people with a related interest or purpose.
Tags are basically keywords that describe information about your subscribers.
How do you know when to use a List or a Tag?
I have a very simple take on these two organizational elements.
- Lists are like Chapters in a book
- Tags are like the indices in a book
Another way to look at it is like this.
- Subscribers belong to a List
- Tags belong to a Subscriber
When you need to grab a collection of subscribers, then a List is the easiest tool for the job. You can easily add people to a list or remove them from it.
Likewise, you can easily add a Tag to a user or remove a tag from a user.
I add tags to a subscriber to describe information about that subscriber. Those tags show me their status, their history, their interests and other information I can use to develop a Profile
Dynamic segments are essential a List created by a query. You don't add people directly to or remove them from a Dynamic Segment.
Instead, they're automatically included or excluded based upon some criteria used to describe the subscriber.
By default, FluentCRM comes with a Dynamic Segment for WordPress users who are also in the contact list as subscribed.
Since I use LearnDash, I may want a Dynamic Segment for students of a particular course. You can create your own queries to define a Dynamic Segment.
Some other email marketing tools may refer to Broadcasts, but Email Campaigns are the same concept. These are emails you send to a defined audience in your Contact list on a one-off basis.
If you send a weekly email, that's a good use for a Campaign. Have a special discount or affiliate offer for a limited time? Another good use for a campaign.
After you sent your Campaign, FluentCRM provides you with stats to show:
- Number of emails sent
- Percentage of emails opened
- Percentage of clicks from links in the email
- Percentage of recipients who unsubscribed due to the email
There's also an option to resend the Campaign to people who didn't open it.
An Email Sequence is a collection of emails that you send to specific users. This works great with Automations and Lists.
When someone subscribes using one of my lead magnets (a free PDF download or something else), I can add them to a List. That addition to a List can trigger an Automation to begin.
From there, I can add Tags to track their status through the automation. I can then kick off a Sequence of emails welcoming them as a subscriber or explaining more detail to get value from their freebie.
You can specify how much time to wait between each message before sending the next one. Just enter an amount of minutes, days, weeks or months.
In FluentCRM, you specify this time based upon when the first email went out, not the time since the previous email went out.
So if I wanted to send a sequence as an email per day, I would increment the number of days for each email. (+1, +2, +3, etc).
I love automations. Let's start by deciding what kicks off an automation.
Give your automation a label. Then select the Category of trigger that can kick it off. Your list may look different than mine, depending upon which integrations you have in your WordPress system.
You will have WordPress Triggers and CRM at a minimum.
After you make this selection, the Trigger row appears and you can decide which specific item causes your Automation to start. I prefer List Applied in most cases.
Keep in mind that this automation must be in place to work for anyone who gets added to a Trigger. If I already have people who were applied to a List and THEN created the automation, they would not kick off the Automation.
After the automation is active, anyone who gets added to the specified List will trigger the Automation.
This is a simple Automation inside of FluentCRM. Here's what happens.
- Before this Automation, I have an email sequence that kicks off after the user confirms their email address and gets their download. That action adds them to the list Lead Magnet -Visual Stories.
- The first action after getting added is that I send them an Email congratulating them on their decision to get the PDF and share some more info.
- Next, there's a decision choice. I want to know if they are already a subscriber.
- If Yes, I remove them from the List that started this Automation (they don't need it anymore) and then the funnel ends.
- If No, I still remove the list and then I apply them to ANOTHER list that has ANOTHER sequence that talks more about the PDF details.
- Then the funnel ends.
I probably could remove them from the List before the decision point, but that's something to clean up another day.
In most cases, I have Automations that I build in sections. One kicks off another so I can keep track of what's happening along the way. After the Nurture list completes its Sequence, I'll add them to a Welcome list that talks more about what the site has to offer them.
Then they get tagged with yet another list for Weekly Digest emails, which I send as Campaigns.
Using the Email Editor in FluentCRM
If you're comfortable with the WordPress Block Editor (or Gutenberg editor), then you'll be fine using the editor inside of FluentCRM.
Give your email a title for your internal organization. I called this one TEST, but that's not the actual email title that goes in the subject field. You create that after you compose your email.
The editor uses the “/” command to bring up different blocks you can use. These are basic, essential blocks. While your WordPress system may have other Gutenberg blocks instead, they won't work inside of email. That's a limitation of standard emails, not FluentCRM.
You may want to use the “@” command to bring up the list shown in the image above. Those are fields that you can use to substitute user data in your email. If there is no data for that field, FluentCRM does not add anything.
There are other ways to insert a default word or string if the user data is empty.
Notice the four squares to the right of the Email Body section. Those change how you format your email for display. The last one allows you to import your own HTML template for use.
It's a deceptively beautiful editor that's easy to use. You almost don't have to think about the editor so you can concentrate on your message. It easily allows you to add fields to substitute user-specific data so it customizes the message.
Those fields work in the subject line, too.
After editing your email and providing a subject, you can specify who should receive the email (based upon the Organizational Elements mentioned above). Then you scan either schedule or send immediately.
FluentCRM Wins Torque WordPress Plugin Madness 2021
Every Spring, Torque Magazine pits a series of WordPress plugins against each other in a series like College Basketball March Madness.
Competitors square off and battle their way to the top to claim the prize of the Best WordPress Plugin.
That success is an extreme compliment based upon the satisfaction and enthusiasm of FluentCRM customers. They beat out very well established WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO, Elementor and more.
I'm very happy with FluentCRM, but this victory shows that the product has a plethora of satisfied customers who also recommend and support it.
FluentCRM Support is Great!
I started using FluentCRM after a support nightmare with Groundhogg, another WordPress CRM. Where Groundhogg's strategy was essentially to Blame, Deny and Defend, FluentCRM asked how they could help.
They have an active and friendly Facebook Group to post questions and share ideas with other customers. I've also had direct contact with people at FluentCRM who offer to help before I even send a ticket.
When there was an issue integrating with OptinMonster, I asked if they could work with the OptinMonster developer. They said, “Sure!”
Integration is a key consideration to buy, but the friendly support of the FluentCRM team is just an outstanding blessing.
Not only do they help with current issues, but they are actively interested in ideas for future expansion and development of the tool.
Where Could FluentCRM Improve?
Earlier in the review, I mentioned that I wanted Lead Scoring while using ConvertKit. FluentCRM does not have Lead Scoring (yet).
However, it doesn't have the same impact for a WordPress CRM than for a SaaS CRM. That's because I'm not paying extra for people who don't open my emails. I'd still like to keep a clean subscriber list, of course, but it's not hitting my wallet as it does with SaaS email service providers.
My other concern is to have better integration with more email opt-in form providers. I think it's getting better, but right now there aren't too many options.
FluentCRM comes with a light version of Fluent Forms. It's a very good tool, but it's a form builder, not an email opt-in tool. It doesn't do popups, exit intent, slide-ins and other common types of email opt-in forms. If Fluent Forms adds those features, I'd really like to try them out.
How Much Does FluentCRM Cost?
There are a few different options, depending upon how many sites you need to support with FluentCRM.
In addition to the cost of the software, you also need to factor in the cost of sending emails through your preferred email provider.
For one of my sites with just under 1,000 users, I spend less than $1 per month. A friend with over 30,000 subscribers spends less than $10 per month.
Now do you see why those price increases from ConvertKit and other SaaS email service providers are so maddening? It doesn't cost that much to send email or store data.
That's why the face of Email Marketing Automation is changing away from SaaS Email Service providers to WordPress CRM products like FluentCRM.
As indicated by the Torque WordPress Plugin Madness victory, a lot of people see the value in FluentCRM and the great team behind it.
If you decide to purchase FluentCRM, I'm an affiliate and have a coupon code that provides you with a 20% discount. When you check out, be sure to use the code below. I'll earn a small commission and you'll save 20%.
Who Should Not Buy FluentCRM?
Clearly, I'm happy with FluentCRM and recommend it. In fact, this site Suburbia Press is all about helping online entrepreneurs find and implement systems just like FluentCRM.
That said, I can think of two cases where someone may not be a good fit for FluentCRM.
You Want to Keep your Email and WordPress Site Separate for Continuity
Are you in fear of your WordPress site going down? If so, then you may not want your conduit to reach your subscribers to rest inside of WordPress. If it goes down, so does your line of communication.
On the other hand, it's extraordinarily rare for my site to go down. I have good hosting and optimization for my WordPress sites. In fact, it's been 7 years since the time I'm writing this to the time when one of my sites went offline while I was in St. Lucia.
That was a deliberate action by a former web host, not a failure of my site. I've since found better web hosting and haven't experienced any downtime since then.
You're Unsure You Can Integrate Systems in your WordPress Site
For some folks, that's a very rational concern. I'm very comfortable with integrating systems as I've done it for decades. Other people may find the idea daunting.
If this is you, trust your gut. I would not want to recommend implementing something if you're unsure that you can make it work and keep it working.
The downside of this choice is that you're left with the expensive option of a SaaS email service provider, and often with slow or poor support. However, you won't have to handle the technical operations.
My FluentCRM Review Conclusion
If you made it this far in my FluentCRM review, Congratulations! Also, thank you. I wrote this review for people who are interested in making a purchase decision.
You can tell I've had some ups and downs with other providers. FluentCRM is working great and well supported.
I happily recommend FluentCRM to online entrepreneurs working with WordPress.
To be open, I am also an affiliate for FluentCRM and will earn a small commission if you buy based upon my recommendation. There's no extra cost to you and my commission helps keep the lights on at home.
You're important to me, so I would never steer you wrong just to make a buck. FluentCRM is a great tool and I know you'll love it.
Click the button below to learn more about FluentCRM. Don't forget to use my coupon code if you decide to buy – BEEM.