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Automattic Enters the CRM Game

The WordPress universe just got a little bigger… again. Following last week’s acquisition of Tumblr WordPress.com owner Automattic has acquired CRM plugin, ZBS. The latter is a top plugin on the WordPress platform and will now join Automattic’s arsenal of software.

The amount of the deal was not disclosed, but we do know that ZBS CRM will get a new name. Once fully integrated, it will be known as Jetpack CRM — a component of Jetpack. The functionality will mostly remain as is: a tool for WordPress sites to support SMBs with contact management.

Notably, this brings a core SMB function into the fold for Automattic. CRM is critical for lots of business segments, but its common pain point is adoption friction and ongoing “activation energy.” That’s especially the case for time-starved and tech-averse SMBs who don’t have bandwidth for data entry.

But they do recognize CRM’s importance and are moving towards cloud services like ZBS to scratch that itch. According to LSA’s Modern Commerce Monitor Survey, 39 percent of SMBs plan to shift to cloud-based CRM systems. This was the second-highest result behind marketing and advertising.

One potential outcome of the ZBS acquisition is easier CRM integration with WordPress sites. And given the overall reach of the WordPress platform — 30 percent of all websites — any impact will be widespread. As we wrote last week, Automattic is the top onboarding source for WordPress sites.

This is also a clear sign that Automattic is broadening functionality across its software suite. So far, it has lots of popular WordPress plugins. Automatic owns website management tool Jetpack, e-commerce plugin WooCommerce, and several other top plugins that it has assembled over the years.

This notably brings Automattic one step closer to a one-stop-shop play for SMB functions that go beyond just web presence. According to the same Modern Commerce Monitor survey cited above, most SMBs (79 percent) prefer to get all cloud-based operational support functions from one vendor.

This raises the question of what functions Automattic could build or buy next? If we were to guess based on gaps in its current plugin suite, analytics and SEO plugins could be next. MonsterIsights, for example, is a strong and well-rated plugin that already integrates with WooCommerce.

Either way, Automattic is in an advantageous spot given that the installed base of WordPress sites gives it a sizeable addressable market of SMBs to target with an expanding set of functions. That now extends to CRM and we’ll likely see more if its acquisition momentum (and our speculation) are any indication.

As for the real impact of the ZBS acquisition, and our theory that it could create easier CRM integrations, that’s something we’ll have to watch and see. Though that’s speculative at this point, the fact remains that CRM for SMBs does need to be fixed in terms of alleviating friction points.

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