We Needed a Feature-rich, Affordable CRM
If you’re like me, when you saw an open sourced “Infusionsoft” (as I called it) available a few years ago, you jumped at the opportunity. Any business owner loves the idea of saving money, right? Mautic seemed to offer the cool features of marketing automation without the price tag. So what caused me to look for an alternative to Mautic?
Let’s get one thing straight: This isn’t a smear campaign. It’s still an excellent choice for many. The self-hosted version just happened to not be the ultimate choice for us.
There are 3 versions of Mautic: Free, paid and self-hosted. The free plan doesn’t allow for basic things like importing existing contacts. Instant deal-breaker. The paid plan costs a minimum of $100 a month. Too much for most small business owners. The third option is self-hosted and it’s what we’re talking about here.
We’ll tell you why we had to look for an alternative… but first, some things we liked:
What We Liked
We liked the features. But the installation?
I’m a long time IT guy. Started back in the days of Novell NetWare 3 (Novell, you were wonderful). Tech isn’t new to me. Granted, I’ve since moved to more of a web design skill set, but not foreign to server administration.
Installing Mautic can be a challenge. Especially if you’re not a LEMP server pro. I’ve documented the steps, but it’s still a pain. If you’re not a tech head and want Mautic on your own domain, this alone will push you to look for an alternative to Mautic software.
If you want software that is easy to keep up-to-date, Mautic might cause you stress. They include an update button within the app, but all too often it simply wouldn’t work.
The upgrade process would start and hang. The solution? You had to jump out to the server command line to update. Again, not cool. This alone will push many to looking for an alternative to Mautic. Something that doesn’t require command line access to your linux server for routine updates. You also have to configure cron which can require command line editing.
This was the largest issue that forced me on the hunt for an alternative to Mautic!
Sending pretty emails was suicide. Trust me, I tried multiple things. Raw HTML in their Code template. Pre-building templates and saving them. It was all just a massive time suck that never matched up to the likes of MailChimp. Not even close.
My wife has her own business and needs to be able to edit her own email automation. I feel so bad for making her slave away in html-coded emails. The poor woman! She stayed positive and trusted me, but this alone demanded an alternate solution.
Lack of Campaign Window Scheduling
As of v2.12 of Mautic, when structuring a campaign, there was no easy way to specify time windows and/or day exemptions.
Example: Let’s say you don’t want emails delivered on Sundays. Or maybe you don’t want them delivered between 10PM and 8AM so they’re not buried in the inbox. You can’t do that with Mautic campaigns (unless there’s a hack or plugin available). Was this enough to consider an alternative solution? Kind of. It’s a big deal.
Hunting for a New Solution
Unless you want to drop the big bucks, finding an alternative to Mautic is no walk in the park.
I tried a couple other offerings like ConvertKit and Drip. It took 5 minutes with each to setup a trial account and realize neither offered the robust features needed. I had also tried the UkuuPeople CRM for WordPress, but it didn’t support custom fields or text marketing, and support for the plugin was pricey.
The Big Leap
After crashing and burning with available options, I decided to do something radical. Something that has taken way more time than originally planned. The solution?
Create a CRM.
“That’s crazy!” You might be saying. You’re right, normally it would be. But I wasn’t just making the decision for my wife’s business. Jon and I had originally planned to roll out Mautic for any of our Outer Gain customers who wanted a serious CRM with marketing automation. With Mautic out of the picture, we needed an alternative CRM that was cost effective, had the features we needed and didn’t have senseless bloat.
Introducing Follow Hook™
The decision to develop our own CRM was made at the end of 2017. After many months of development, Follow Hook has finally launched! We couldn’t be happier.
If you love WordPress, this is the CRM for WordPress you’ve been looking for. It’s feature rich and easy to get a grasp on. Plus, the Follow Hook plugin with all features, updates and support has a very low annual cost. Most WordPress solutions start out as free or with a low price tag, only to rake you through the fire with the add-ons you need to make it functional. Not the case with Follow Hook. One flat fee for everything including support!
If you know anything about WordPress plugin development, you know many authors can be a bit lazy. They pull in massive PHP libraries for small tasks. Hundreds of lines of code that should only 30. We coded Follow Hook to be a lean, lightweight plugin. Features without the bloat!
Follow Hook supports custom fields, campaigns, touchpoints, groups and more! It’s designed to integrate with Project Broadcast and MailChimp for best-of-class email, text and postcard marketing automation.
And that’s just Follow Hook version 1.x!
The Final Decision
As I mentioned above, the Mautic offering and community has a lot going for it. But if server administration, key feature limitations and lack luster email tools are show stoppers for you, Follow Hook is an alternative to Mautic that is well worth a look!