by Elliot Christenson on November 8, 2017 - 11:43pm

You need a website. You need to send an e-mail newsletter. You need to track (potential) volunteers, donors, or customers. You could use Drupal, Mailchimp and HubSpot. Or you could do it all in Drupal.

We've been using the tools above in our own organization, and we continue to use them. Yet, we've been toying with the idea of moving more of our daily usage to a more Drupal based solution. I'll try to outline some of the pros and cons of each approach. I think you'll see for many organizations the Drupal solution could end-up on the winning side of the decision!

The Heavyweight Single Purpose Tools

We've used a number of we based services at myDropWizard to help keep sales, projects, and customer communication on track.

I'll outline just a few that we use that are very popular. that would make for a good comparison with a Drupal solution.

MailChimp

Currently, we use MailChimp for newsletters. I think MailChimp is a champion product with low prices and great features. MailChimp is probably the most used email newsletter platform, so it's strengths are well known.

Pros

  • Deliverability: Email deliverability is huge, and MailChimp has great deliverability results due to their scale and their policies.
  • Simple & Good Looking Emails: MailChimp has templates for the most common types of mailings, and it has great customization tools.
  • Integration: Because it's so popular, there is the ability to interoperate with other software solutions relatively easily.

Cons

  • Contact Management: You have to find a way to import and keep users up-to-date and in-sync with your other records.
  • Integration: Yes, the integrations are there, but you have to determine which ones you need, why, and how to exactly implement them.

HubSpot

HupSpot is one of several popular sales based CRM solutions. It's what we currently use to track clients from initial contact to on-boarding. It's a pretty great product.

Pros

  • Feature-Rich CRM: HubSpot has all sorts of features, support and tracking tools - especially for very sales oriented organizations.
  • Integration: It has good integrations as well, and it's been a decent workflow for us to utilize.

Cons

  • Price: Depending on your required feature-set, it can get expensive fast!
  • Extensibility: You can add additional fields, but if you need deeper data tracking or integrations it will be difficult and/or costly to implement.

I think these are great products, and some of the "pros" or "cons" I would choose would be myDropWizard specific needs. Hopefully my brief "pros & cons" assessment is fair and makes some sense.

Drupal Solution

The Drupal solution we are specifically talking about is our Drupal 8 + CiviCRM project. Marrying the flexible content system of Drupal with the powerful contact management features of CiviCRM is a well-proven concept, and it's quickly becoming a great solution with Drupal 8!

Email

Drupal 8 + CiviCRM have some great email capabilities built-in. Also, they are open source, so new capabilities are being added all the time!

Pros

  • Contact Management: At the very least, the tight integration of the email newsletter system with CiviCRM allows for simpler and more accurate tracking of users.
  • A/B Testing, : With some of the most recent updates to CiviCRM, the creation of good looking emails is even easier than before.
  • Integration: By coupling Drupal 8 + CiviCRM, some integrations are unnecessary - but others are easily done - and all integrations are possible!
  • Ecosystem: There is a ton of assistance available for you. There are books written about both Drupal 8 and CiviCRM. There are conferences for both. There are people who can help you - sometimes for free!

Cons

  • Deliverability: You will need an outside service - like MailChimp's Mandrill or similar - to handle the deliverability.
  • More Complex to Setup: While the communities and our own work are pushing to change this, there are some complexities to getting things configured properly.

CRM

Drupal brings a lot of flexibility to the table for a public facing website, CiviCRM brings powerful, time-tested CRM features.

Pros

  • Community: There are CiviCRM conferences, there are Drupal Conferences, there are agencies that specialize in these products, and there are countless (free) online resources.
  • Feature Rich: CiviCRM handles users, events, reservations, and much more. Drupal handles landing pages, blogs, and much more.
  • Under Constant Development: More features are being added every minute.

Cons

  • Complex: While we're working to change this, the initial configuration of Drupal 8 + CiviCRM can be complicated.
  • Integrations: If you have other integrations you need to make - things that aren't handled by the feature set of Drupal 8 + CiviCRM, integrations can be done - but they can be more difficult or costly.

So, Which Should I Pick?!

If I were a small business or nonprofit with appropriate support available (shameless plug for myDropWizard here), I think the costs and benefits of the Drupal 8 + CiviCRM solution are very compelling.

myDropWizard along with many others are working to improve the "pros" and reduce the "cons" of the Drupal 8 + CiviCRM feature set. What do you think? Please feel free to share your perspective in the comments!

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