5 Big Ways to Maximize Your Salesforce Dashboards (Guest post on the Salesforce blog)

Today we published a guest post on the Salesforce blog titled “5 Big Ways to Maximize Your Salesforce Dashboards”. The post details a number of high level steps you can take to really make the most of Salesforce dashboards, including links to a number of free dashboard packages on the AppExchange and other resources.

So much of our critical data is stored in Salesforce, and dashboards provide an easy visualization tool that automatically refreshes with the latest data, no spreadsheet updates required. If you are a Salesforce user and you are not using Salesforce dashboards, check out the post and then get started!

The 5 topic areas covered, that will help you make optimal use of Salesforce dashboards, are the following:

  1. Agree on Metrics
  2. Start with Existing Templates
  3. Have Main KPI / Executive Dashboards
  4. Bring other data into Salesforce
  5. Email Your Dashboards

Check out the guest post now on the Salesforce blog.


 

Other resources mentioned in the article:

If you are new to Saleforce dashboards, check out our other recent post on How to Customize Salesforce Dashboards.

Setting Goals for Your Site: An Intro to Google Analytics Goals

Setting goals for ourselves is one of the best ways to achieve things personally and professionally — so why should your web site be any different? This quick introduction shows you how to use Goals in Google Analytics to measure some target objectives you have for your web site.

Goal-setting in Google Analytics is simpler than many goals we have in life. A Google Analytics goal is just a measure of how often visitors to your web site complete a certain action, such as spending a certain amount of time on a page, visiting one page after starting on another, or events such as form submissions or eCommerce transactions. Each time a user completes one of the Goals you have set up, it is recorded as a conversion in Google Analytics.

GoogleAnalyticsGoals

Setting Up Google Analytics Goals

You can create up to 20 Goals per View (formerly called Google Analytics Profiles). To create a Goal:

  1. Cick Admin, then select an account, property, and a view.
  2. Click Goals, then Create a Goal.
  3. Choose a Template to start with some prebuilt goal examples, or choose Custom to create your own goal from scratch.
  4. There are 4 basic types of goals you can create:
    1. Destination – a specific location loads, or path taken through your site
    2. Duration – how long a visitor session lasts
    3. Pages/Screens per session – how many pages or screens a visitor views
    4. Event – something happens such as a video play, social share
  5. Optionally set a Goal Value, which is the monetary value of a user completing the Goal.
  6. Click Verify to test the setup of your goal
  7. Save the Goal

Once you create a Goal, it starts recording data for all current and future sessions. Goals cannot be deleted, but they can be turned off, or edited to become a different goal.

If you have set the optional monetary Goal Value, you can start evaluating goals by that measure. But even without it, you will start seeing Goal Conversions (a visitor session that completes your goal is considered a Goal conversion in Google Analytics).

Note that Goals related to Ecommerce tracking require additional setup and configuration. Event Goals may also require that you set up Event Tracking in Google Analytics prior (especially as they relate to events such as events such as downloads), which often needs to be done by a developer.

 

Viewing Google Analytics Goal Conversions in Salesforce

If you are using Salesforce in addition to Google Analytics, you can import Google Analytics Goal Conversion data to Salesforce, for web site conversion visibility alongside the conversion metrics that are the mainstay of Salesforce (leads to accounts, and opportunities to closed won deals).

Our CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards application automatically imports a number of metrics daily from Google Analytics and displays it in Salesforce dashboards. All 20 Goal Names and Goal Conversion numbers from each Google Analytics View are imported and displayed in 2 Salesforce dashboards. The Google Analytics Goal data is also stored natively in a Salesforce custom object, so you can also use it in other reports and dashboards if you wish.

CloudAmpGAMetrics-Goals1-10_small

The “goal” of the Analytics Dashboards app is to make it easy to have daily visibility into the conversion Goals you have set up for your website, right inside Salesforce where you work on a daily basis. Getting this visibility before visitors would typically enter Salesforce as leads can help improve your conversions and optimize marketing efforts earlier in the funnel.

Questions? Have some favorite Google Analytics Goals you like to track? Please leave them in the comments below.

 

How to Customize Salesforce Dashboards

In this post I am going to show you how to customize existing Salesforce dashboards, such as those provided in apps you install from the AppExchange, or dashboards you may have inherited from a coworker or Salesforce consultant.

For examples I will be using two of my own Salesforce apps,

but the tips and techniques here are applicable to any Salesforce dashboards and reports.

This post also assumes you have the proper Salesforce permissions to modify Reports and Dashboards, and have some basic familiarity with Salesforce reports. If not, you may want to start with Salesforce’s Reports and Dashboards Quick Start documentation.

With all that out of the way, let’s get started!

Clone / Save As

The first rule of customizing dashboards and reports — and this is especially important if you are new to Salesforce’s reporting capabilities — is to ALWAYS make copies of the dashboards and reports you are modifying. That way you always preserve the original copy, in case you need it later.

For Dashboards, just click the “Clone” button that is above every dashboard. This creates a full copy of the dashboard you can rename and save.DashboardClone.png

For reports, after you click the “Customize” button, be sure to click “Save As” to make a copy of the report before going any further. This is even more important than cloning dashboards, since a report could be used in one or more dashboards, so modifying a report that you did not create might cause changes you did not expect in dashboards where that report has been used.ReportSaveAs.png

Changing Date Ranges or Date Groupings

One of the simplest changes to make in your dashboards is adjusting the date ranges displayed in the charts. Sometimes date ranges are just based on personal preference, but often you need to modify them based on your business. If you measure sales on a monthly basis or want to be able to see the immediate impact of a campaign, you may want to see shorter time periods, but if your sales cycle is long or you want to understand longer term trends, then seeing longer periods makes sense.

To edit the date range in a Dashboard chart, simply click on the chart to get to the underlying report, modify the “Time Frame” drop down, and click “Save As” (you can also do this through the “Customize” button, but Salesforce gives you the option of changing date range without changing the underlying report as well).ReportTimeFrame.png

Depending on how much data you have of a particular kind, you may also want to change the groupings of the dates. Salesforce Summary or Matrix reports can be grouped by any field in the report, which cause reports to be summarized by those groups — for example, you could group leads by Lead Source, or by Created Date.

When you group by a date field such as Created Date, you have a choice of multiple date ranges to group by — everything from days to years. As you can see by the graphs below, two charts showing identical data look quite different when one changes the grouping from daily to weekly. Changing the grouping to monthly would decrease the number of data points even further. It would smooth out the curve to show the month over month trends more clearly, but for some purposes it might not show enough data (for example, if you had atypical traffic spikes on a particular day, those events would not be visible in the monthly graph).

DashboardsGroupedDailyversusWeekly.png

To change a report date grouping, go to the report and click “Customize”. The groupings are shown in the shaded blue sections. Click the down arrow on the left side, and then select “Group Dates by” and change how you wish the range to appear. If you click “Save”, the dashboard that uses the report should automatically refresh the chart when you return to it. If you click “Save As”, just go to the dashboard and drag the newly named report onto the appropriate chart to update the dashboard.

DashboardDateGroupings.png

Remove Charts you don’t need

Some existing Salesforce dashboards will have a number of charts for areas where your company may not have data. For example, the CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards have charts for all 20 goals that you can define in a Google Analytics account, but most organizations only have a few goals set up for their web site.

In these cases, after first cloning the dashboard it is easy to remove unused charts from the dashboard, and reposition the ones that are in use. Simply click “Edit” on a dashboard and click the “x” in the upper right hand corner of the charts you wish to remove. Any charts below will shift up when you delete a chart, so you may have to drag the remaining charts to reposition them as you wish.

RemovingUnusedCharts.png

Change Chart Types

I prefer line graphs for most of my dashboards, but you may prefer bar charts. Or perhaps your boss just loves pie charts. Depending on the type of data in your report, it may not be advisable (or technically possible) to switch to a certain type of chart, but generally it is quite simple to change a chart type in Salesforce dashboards.

After cloning your dashboard, just click “Edit”. Then go to the “Components” tab in the left hand side, select the type of chart you want, and drag it over where your current chart/report is positioned. That’s it.

ChangeComponentType.png

Use Charts Elsewhere

A final common task when customizing existing dashboards is the need to add certain charts to other dashboards. You may have an executive dashboard where you may need a certain chart of a key performance indicator (KPI), or be tasked with building a dashboard for the marketing department to review in a weekly meeting, where everyone just wants to see the high level reports.

If you don’t have a pre-existing dashboard, a good way to start is to find a dashboard that has some of what you want, and click the “clone” button (shown above). You can then delete charts you don’t want (also shown above), move some charts around, and you have a good starting point.

To add a chart to a Dashboard, and click “Edit”. Drag the Data Source (report) you want onto the dashboard, then drag the Component (chart type) on top of that to format it (or start with the Component and then the Data Source — it doesn’t matter which one you drag and drop first). You will see a blue box with a dotted line highlight the places you can place the new chart as you drag it.

AddReporttoDashboard.png

There are many other options for customizing Salesforce dashboards and reports, but those are some of the basics. Questions? Favorite dashboard customizations? Leave them in the comments below, and thanks for reading.

New Spring ‘14 Release of CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards

Here at CloudAmp we try to release new features for our Salesforce apps three times per year, with some minor updates and bug fixes in between, much in the same way that Salesforce updates their platform.

Today we are pleased to announce a significant upgrade to our CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards app. The new Spring ‘14 release contains two significant enhancements that were requested by our customers: customizable date ranges for the initial import of Google Analytics profile data into Salesforce, and new Google Analytics goal conversion metrics and dashboards in Salesforce.

Customizable Date Ranges

Previously, when you added a new Google Analytics profile to the CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards, it automatically imported the past 30 days of data from Google Analytics. Now, for each of the 5 Google Analytics profiles or web sites that the application supports, when you first add a profile you can select how much historical data to import, up to a maximum of 2 years worth of data. The options are:

  • 30 Days

  • 60 Days

  • 90 Days

  • From January 1st of Current Year (for Jan 1-March 31 it will be previous year)

  • From January 1st of Previous Year (for Jan 1-March 31 it will be 2 years ago)

  • 2 Years or back to when the Google Analytics profile was created (whichever is lesser)

ImportRangePopup2

After the initial large data import from Google Analytics into Salesforce, the automated daily imports are scheduled and will proceed as usual. Each day between 2 and 4 AM local time (as defined in your Salesforce org), the previous day’s metrics will be imported into Salesforce automatically.

Each daily import of metrics from Google Analytics into Salesforce is stored in a custom object called “CloudAmpGA Metrics” and takes up approximately 2k, so storage is generally not an issue – even if you import 2 years of data from all 5 Google Analytics profiles, that will still only take up about 7.12 MB inside Salesforce. Since each Salesforce Enterprise Edition user license gets 20 MB of data storage, with a 1 GB minimum per Salesforce org, it should not be a significant impact on the storage limitations of Salesforce. Note that if you are testing the CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards in a Salesforce Developer account, those are limited to 5 MB of data storage, so you may not want to import the maximum historical data when adding a Google Analytics profile.

New Goals Dashboards

Also new in the Spring ‘14 release of CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards is the addition of Google Analytics Goals to the data import and dashboards. We’ve added the ability to import all the Goal names and Conversion metrics from each Google Analytics profile (up to the maximum of 20 per profile), and have designed two new dashboards for each profile (Salesforce dashboards  for goals 1-10 and 11-20).

Goals in Google Analytics are a way of measuring the effectiveness of your web site, by setting up certain objectives and then measuring the conversion of visitors with those goals. Completing a form would be a common goal, but other goals might measure the visits to a particular product page from the home page, or a certain duration or number of page views per visit that a visitor spends on your site.

CloudAmpGAMetrics-Goals1-10

For this reason, adding Goals to the metrics that we import from Google Analytics into Salesforce was a common request from many customers. With the new release you can now import all 20 Goal Names and Goal Conversion numbers on a daily basis from up to 5 different web sites / Google Analytics profiles, and see it in your Salesforce dashboards and alongside your other Salesforce data.

Now you can get even better visibility into the top of your funnel (visitors) and conversion process (goals) prior to leads coming in to your Salesforce system, and have that visibility right inside Salesforce.

CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards sets up in less than 5 minutes and has a 7 day free trial. Give it a try today and let us know what you think, or add a comment below if you have questions.

Importing Google Analytics Data into Salesforce

This is a tutorial on how to manually import Google Analytics data into Salesforce. It is designed for customers of the CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards, who might want to import historical data beyond the last 30 days that is automatically imported when you first install the application (soon to be customizable for different time periods), but it will also work for any Salesforce setup.

If you are not a CloudAmp customer, keep in mind that you would need to create a custom object and fields to hold your Google Analytics data inside of Salesforce.  You could always try CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards free for 7 days, since it takes just a few minutes to set up. It might be just the thing you are looking for, since it gives you all of the data and dashboards preconfigured, not to mention automatically loading your Google Analytics data nightly into Salesforce. But obviously I am biased here. 😉

Anyway, with that plug out of the way, how can you import Google Analytics data into Salesforce, either as a permanently manual process or to supplement data from an existing integration?

Here is a step by step tutorial. Please note that steps 1-3 are optional. If you like to live on the edge, you can simply export data from Google Analytics and then match up the columns when importing into Salesforce, rather than create an import template first.

Building an Import Template

1. Find the prebuilt report called “CloudAmpGA Metrics Export Report” (or create your own).

Google Analytics Import 1b

2. Export to CSV

Google Analytics Import 2b

3. Prepare the CSV file to become an import template. The main reason we exported was to get the appropriately named header row, and some of the profile data.

Google Analytics Import 3b

  1. Delete all rows of data except for the header and first row

  2. Delete these columns, since they will be auto-generated by Salesforce when new data is imported

    1. CloudAmpGA Metrics: Metrics Number

    2. CloudAmpGA Metrics: ID
      Google Analytics Import 4

  1. Delete all other data from first sample row, except for

    1. Profile_Id

    2. Profile Number

    3. Profile Name
      (you want to save these values to match with the Google Analytics profile(s) that you will be importing).

Exporting data from Google Analytics

Log into Google Analytics, select the profile you want, and set the date range to the periods of data that you wish to  import into Salesforce. Export the relevant data from Google Analytics for the metrics and date ranges you want into a CSV file.

This step can be the most difficult, as different metrics are stored differently of Google Analytics. Google Analytics limits which dimensions can be related to which metrics, so creating exportable reports that will be formatted in a useable way can be a challenge for some of the data. For the CloudAmpGA Metrics custom object in Salesforce, for example, where daily records are stored for the CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards app, not all of the metrics are cleanly exportable as columns in a CSV file.

  1. Go to the “Customize” button and create a Custom Report.
    Google Analytics Import 6

  2. Select “Date” for the dimension

  3. Select the metrics that you wish to export.
    Google Analytics Import 7b

  4. Save the report and export to CSV.
    Google Analytics Import 8b

Important Notes:

  1. Only 500 rows of Analytics data can be exported at a time into CSV format. Google has some tips for exporting larger data sets in the Google Analytics help documentation.

  2. Note that not all metrics are available in custom reports, or at least not in an easy-to-export way. You many need to create additional reports and manually move data around, and/or use some formulas in certain columns of your spreadsheet to calculate some metrics. In the Custom Report example below, for example, adding “Traffic Type” as a second dimension produces some of the data we want (Organic Visits, Referral Visits, Direct Visits) but as multiple rows per date instead of a column.

  1. Google Analytics Import 11Google Analytics Import 10b

Preparing the Google Analytics data CSV file

  1. To prepare the CSV file, make sure column headings are as close to Salesforce field names as possible. Either use the CSV template created in the first part of this tutorial, or manually update the column headings to match the Salesforce field names.
    Google Analytics Import 9

  2. (If importing into the CloudAmpGA Metrics object): Ensure that the Profile Number is populated, and the Metrics Date column is populated by the dates from Google Analytics, so the new records will match up with existing data in Salesforce.

  3. You may need to change the dates into a valid date format for Salesforce:: MM/DD/YYYY since Google sometimes formats the dates as YYYYMMDD, and this can cause an import error.

  4. Double check the rest of the file for accuracy and any remaining cleanup issues.

Importing the Google Analytics data CSV into Salesforce

  1. Open a data loading app. I personally like MuleSoft’s Dataloader.io, though there are others as well. API access to Salesforce is required for all of these tools, but if you are using CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards you need to have Enterprise Edition of Salesforce, so that includes API access.

  2. Log into Dataloader.io using your Salesforce credentials

  3. Click on “New Task” on the top left
    Google Analytics Import 12b

  4. Choose the type of job (most likely “insert” for creating new records) and select the object in Salesforce where your Google Analytics data will be store (“CloudAmpGA Metrics” for CloudAmp customers)
    Google Analytics Import 13

  5. Select the CSV file you wish to import.
    Google Analytics Import 14

  6. Check to see that the column headings in your file were properly matched to the Salesforce fields. Unmapped fields will be indicated and give you a chance to select a mapping, or ignore and they will not be imported.
    Google Analytics Import 15

  7. Proceed to run the import. We recommend importing a small test file of 5-10 records initially, in case there are any issues.
    Google Analytics Import 16

  8. When the import has finished, Dataloader will update you as to the number of successes. If there are any errors, click to see what the issue was. You can always update the CSV and run the job again if records did not import due to a formatting issue or other problem.
    Google Analytics Import 17

  9. Spot check some of the imported records for accuracy and completeness. Refresh the appropriate dashboard(s) to see the changes from the imported data

So that is a lot of steps, but once you import data this way into Salesforce a few times, it will become an easier process. Combine that with a tool like CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards which automatically imports the previous day’s Google Analytics data into Salesforce every night, and you will have the best of both worlds.

Questions, or problems not addressed in the tutorial? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to address them.

New Version of CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards Released

CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards, the AppExchange app which integrates Google Analytics data into Salesforce, has released a major upgrade today. The new version now supports up to 5 different web sites or Google Analytics profiles, automatically importing data for up to 5 profiles into Salesforce daily to be displayed in 5 sets of dashboards.

Simply install the 7 day free trial from the AppExchange, click a button to connect to Google Analytics, log in through your Google Account, and all Google Analytics Profiles available to that Account will be displayed for you to select. In less than 5 minutes you can see your web site traffic and visitor source breakdown, all displayed in Salesforce dashboards.

GADashboard-Installation-10-v2

With this new upgrade to the Analytics Dashboards app, not only can you choose to see data for up to 5 different web sites, but Google Analytics profiles (being renamed to Google Analytics Views) can also be filtered versions of a single web site’s analytics data. Common use cases of Google Analytics profiles / views include:

  • Exclude/include a certain section or directory of a web site

  • Exclude/include visitors from certain geographical areas

  • Exclude/include traffic from certain domain names

  • Any other filters you can apply in Google Analytics

This means that even if you only have one web site which you wish to keep track of in Salesforce, with support for 5 profiles you can now have geographical or content area filtering in some of your Salesforce dashboards.

Marketers wishing to focus on geographically targeted campaigns can now see the top of their funnel (web site visitors) in multiple sets of dashboards, typically an “All Website Data” profile as well as a geographically filtered profile. Salesforce users in larger organizations could select a profile of just the subsection of their corporate web site that they are responsible for.

CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards imports aggregate data for 13 different web analytics metrics daily, and displays it in prebuilt dashboards. It includes 5 sets of 3 different dashboards, with over 100 reports behind them. All data is stored natively in Salesforce, so everything can be modified and used in other reporting and dashboards. Try a free trial today, contact us for more information, or post any questions in the comments below.

Using Google Analytics Profiles to Model Your Funnel in Salesforce

Google Analytics is a great tool for understanding the top of your online marketing funnel (web site visitors). But did you know you can easily highlight different segments of that funnel, by creating multiple Google Analytics Profiles?

Google Analytics Profiles (in the process of being renamed to Views in the documentation, but not in the app yet) are customizable layers between the reporting and the raw data that is collected. By creating multiple profiles for a single property (web site), you can focus on particular areas of your web site analytics, and more closely relate that to particular marketing efforts that affect your funnel, leads in Salesforce, and more.

Before we jump in, a best-practices note: Google Analytics automatically creates a default profile that is an unfiltered view of each property (web site). You should not modify this original profile, but make a copy of it or create additional profiles to add filters to — because filters exclude data, you want to always have at least one profile with all of your raw analytics data.

Some Google Analytics Profiles I created for CloudAmp.com

Some Google Analytics Profiles I created for CloudAmp.com

Use Case 1: A Section of Your Web Site

One of the most common uses of Google Analytics Profiles is to create a filtered version of your web analytics that only shows a section of your web site. You can easily create profiles that only show a particular subdomain or directory of your web site, to get more specific visibility into your marketing efforts.

Maybe you work at a large company, and are only responsible for a particular section of the web site or product line. Creating a profile for that directory of the web site will better reflect your marketing efforts, and insulate the reports you see from other product launches or events that might affect the larger site trends.

In addition, many marketers use landing pages for their Google Adwords and other online advertising destination URLs (and if you don’t, please consider doing this immediately!). By creating a Google Analytics profile filtered to /land/ (or whatever directory on your web site holds the landing pages), you can see just the visitors and analytics for these pages, and get a more accurate understanding of trends and conversion rates into Salesforce leads.

A Profile with a Filter only showing analytics for the /products/ directory on CloudAmp.com

A Profile with a Filter only showing analytics for the /products/ directory on CloudAmp.com

Use Case 2: Geographical Focus

In the age of the Internet, many businesses are selling globally, or at least in a number of countries. But if you want to see your web analytics data just for a particular country or set of countries, you can easily create a Google Analytics Profile and filter it for those countries.You can also create a profile that excludes certain countries.

Maybe you are running a new advertising campaign in a particular geography and want to better understand its impact, or you want to exclude traffic from countries where you don’t sell your products in the analysis of conversion from a blog content effort.

A Profile with a Filter only showing analytics for visitors from Canada on CloudAmp.com

A Profile with a Filter only showing analytics for visitors from Canada on CloudAmp.com

How does this all relate to the funnel in Salesforce? Well, many successful online marketers are using Salesforce as the CRM system to hold their lead data and manage their marketing funnel. As Salesforce becomes the standard for managing your marketing and sales funnels, marketers want to get more visibility into what happens just before the leads get into Salesforce — and Google Analytics, with multiple profiles to segment the funnel, is the key there.

Plus, here at CloudAmp we’ve published an app on the Salesforce AppExchange that automatically integrates and imports Google Analytics data into Salesforce called CloudAmp Analytics Dashboards. And coming soon in our next version, you are going to be able to import multiple Google Analytics profiles into Salesforce, and get a set of dashboards and reports for each individual profile. You can try it free for 7 days, it takes just a minute to install and connects to your Google Analytics data with the click of a button.

So there you have it – try creating some additional profiles with filters on your Google Analytics data today, and get a better understanding of different parts of your marketing funnel tomorrow. Already doing cool things with Google Analytics Profiles? Have questions? Let us know in the comments below.

6 Reasons You Need Web Tracking and Analytics Data in Salesforce

If you are doing online marketing and using Salesforce, chances are there is some important information missing from your Salesforce organization. Hopefully you are tracking your web site lead sources into Salesforce (if not, get on it here or read this now). But what about understanding your web site traffic, visitors, etc. directly inside Salesforce? Here are 6 things that you might be missing out on, or at least need to think about.

 

1. You Need to See the Big Picture

Web site traffic and visitors are the top of your inbound marketing funnel. For many marketers, and especially those of you spending a significant portion of your budget on Google Adwords and other online advertising, this is where most prospects first engage with your brand.

 conversion-funnel2

So how many people are on your web site, and where did they come from? You want to be able to see total web site traffic, and the breakdown of the different types of visitors by Campaign, Referral Source, right where all your other marketing and sales data lives — Salesforce. This is the top of your “funnel”, people on your web site, and understanding this big picture and up / down trends will keep you much more on top of how your marketing is performing. Many of us track our leads, but how many keep on top of the big picture and can see those who did not submit a form as well?

Seeing the top of the funnel in Salesforce not only makes this data more front and center, but also gives you the advantage of being able to compare it to trends in the rest of the funnel — how many leads are generated via web forms, how many of those leads convert, etc.

 

2. Your Conversion Rate Does Not Matter

This isn’t 100% true, it mainly makes a good heading. Target conversion rate matters somewhat, and we can all agree that achieving a 10% conversion rate is better than 5%. But there are some Internet businesses where 0.1% conversion is considered a job well done. Hence the dreaded question from the CEO or other executive, “What should our conversion rate be?”

As marketers, we know we should be measuring conversion rates at multiple points in our funnel. And the main way we are likely to be successful in “moving the needle” of sales and revenue is by making incremental improvements in these conversion rates at multiple places in that funnel (though we may still secretly hope for that one breakout campaign that just buries the Sales department in qualified leads). So the trend in the conversion rate is really more important to understand on a daily basis than the target (though less sexy).

ConversionRateDiagram

By having web analytics data in Salesforce to better model various conversion points (Web site vistor > Lead, Lead > Converted Lead, Converted Lead > Opportunity, Opportunity > Closed Won and all the Sales process stages in between that are specific to your company or industry), you get one more critical conversion point that is typically missing from Salesforce. And since positive or negative trends in conversion rates are generally more important to doing your daily job as a marketer, having trendlines of web site visitors alongside the leads in your dashboards can be very useful to monitor.

 

3. Your Web Site is Broken

And I don’t mean those javascript error alerts that no one understands, or Internet Explorer display issues the web developers refuse to fix out of religious protest. Even on the simplest web sites, downtime caused by hosting problems, issues created by new content, or some cutting edge new templating language that looks cool but won’t load properly for half your visitors can be hard to know about quickly enough.

You can get all of this data by logging into Google Analytics, but how many of us do that daily? If the data is in Salesforce, and nicely displayed in dashboards where trends are easier to see, you can be on top of the really big screwups that much faster and save yourself heartache and lost revenue. Even if your overall visitors don’t change too noticeably, seeing the bounce rate suddenly spike or page views per visitor fall precipitously could alert you to a potential problem.

 JSTrackingError

One side benefit, for those of us engaged in lots of online advertising, is that you can (hopefully) spot problems with tracking much quicker as well. When that new landing page goes live, and somehow the template got changed to not include your tracking code, having real-time visibility in Salesforce should let you catch it early (versus running a report at the end of the month and noticing something amiss then, when it is too late to get that tracking data back). 

 

4. Your Lead Data is Dirty

Really, whose isn’t? But this isn’t so much about duplicate leads and other garbage that has plagued almost every Salesforce instance in history ever (and CRM systems in general for decades before Salesforce.com came into existence, but those were harder to get data into generally). It is more about cleaning up your reporting to more accurately reflect the relationship between the top of your funnel (web site visitors) and leads.

 Salesforce Find Duplicates

Ideally, you want those spikes in web site traffic to parallel spikes in leads, both nicely tracking each other in Salesforce (though they don’t always, as discussed in #5 below). But when there is more divergence than normal, having the complete picture of the top of your funnel can prompt you to dig deeper.

Maybe your inbound lead reporting shouldn’t have those 1500 tradeshow leads that were just imported in the same graph. Or that new Sales Manger hire got clever and somehow imported his “rolodex” via CSV file. Time to set some filters in the reporting and keep the funnel and conversion rates accurately reflecting your online marketing efforts. 

 

5. Your Quantity is Increasing Over Quality

Sometimes you can’t blame that new Sales Manager or scanner-happy tradeshow booth staff for declines in data. As you ramp up online marketing efforts, the quality of your web site visitors (and possibly leads, though hopefully not) is bound to change.

 Salesforce Sales Funnel

Yet another reason why it is better to focus on the trend rather than an absolute number for conversion rates (see #2 above) — your conversion rates are bound to get worse when you pour on the gas with advertising, especially if your previous efforts were more organic such as blog posts and customer referrals. Conversion rates, bounce rates, pages/visitor all get worse when you start bringing in lots more people, since by definition you will need to widen the net.

So this means you need to keep careful track of both data on individual leads, as well as overall trends in traffic and conversion. Having all the top of the funnel data there in Salesforce alongside your lead tracking will help you do that. 

 

6. Your Boss Wants Pretty Reports

Finally, there is showing the boss what you are up to (also known as proving that your efforts are paying off, justifying your job, etc.). If your web site traffic and lead volume are spectacularly up and to the right, having all that data in Salesforce makes it easy to schedule a weekly or monthly email of the dashboard to people in your organization.

Or if an executive simply wants to see your web site traffic, it isn’t possible to have a nicely formatted email with graphs generated by Google Analytics, but if you have all the data in Salesforce that last step is pretty straightforward. Instead of a zipped CSV file from Google, or an Excel spreadsheet that you have to update by hand, they can receive a dashboard emailed from Salesforce, complete with all the graphs and charts, right in their inbox.

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Use Case 1: Automating Manual Imports into Salesforce

We’ve talked about the general philosophy of centralizing data in Salesforce, and the advantages and challenges of making your CRM system your analytics platform and “single source of truth.” In this series of short blog posts, we focus on some of the use cases of apps to integrate data into Salesforce, both obvious and surprising.

What do you do if you want to integrate data into Salesforce, but don’t have the budget or IT resources for a data integration platform?

In many cases, someone in marketing is armed with CSV files, and manually imports data into Salesforce on a daily or weekly basis.

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After all, Salesforce provides import wizards for Leads, Contacts or Accounts. And for importing data to other objects or custom objects, the Salesforce dataloader (or newer tools like Dataloader.io or Jitterbit) works pretty well.

But what happens if you forget to run the import, or are out sick?

And how much time are you spending preparing the CSV files, doing manual imports on a daily or weekly basis?

A new class of enterprise applications, like those Salesforce apps published by CloudAmp, make it simple to automate the importing of data into Salesforce. These apps also provide the data model (objects and fields) to receive the data, as well as reports and dashboards to display and make sense of the data.

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These apps typically use modern webservices APIs, as well as OAUTH, so you can install them and get the automated data imports up and running in just a few clicks. Data is imported directly from the source into Salesforce, with no configuration or data connectors needed. And when data is being synced to Salesforce automatically, you can schedule reports or dashboards to be refreshed and/or emailed just after the import schedule, resulting in reporting that always shows the latest data with no human intervention needed.

For a small monthly subscription you not only save a lot of time, but the quality of your reports and completeness of your data improves as well. So put down those CSV files, and go check out the AppExchange today.

The Emailed Dashboards School of Management

Today we have access to increasing amounts of data and analytics, from all kinds of systems and applications that were not easily accessible to business users even 5 or 10 years ago.

“Big Data” it is sometimes called, though more because it sounds cool than the actual size of the data in many cases. With all of this data however, understanding the “meaning” of the data is increasingly difficult.

We all need a way to quickly spot trends, and gain actionable insights from all that data that helps us manage the people and processes in our daily work.

One method I have found to be particularly effective in making use of data is having a series of dashboards automatically updated and then emailed to me nightly or weekly. Hourly between midnight and 4 or 5 AM, Salesforce updates my dashboards and emails them to me, graphs and all, to be reviewed while having my morning coffee and cleaning out the inbox.

Getting dashboards emailed to me eliminates the need to remember to log in and check the correct reports, and makes it easy to spot any anomalies or trends early. If I need more information about a graph or chart, clicking on it in my inbox takes me directly to the underlying report in Salesforce.

And having all the data centralized in Salesforce (hopefully) makes it easy for the data to be up-to-date without any human intervention to combine data sources or update spreadsheets.

Some Dashboards I like to see daily:

  • Website traffic via Google Analytics into Salesforce – how many unique visitors, page views, etc. did I get yesterday and where did they come from? How did that big blog post do? Anything that doesn’t look right? (Yes, I know I can log into Google Analytics and see this high level data plus a whole lot more, but I probably won’t — unless an email dashboard alerts me to something that warrants deeper investigation.)

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  • Registrations via backend database integration – if visitors are signing up on a web site or registering for an account with a SaaS product, I want to push that to Salesforce (within a few minutes ideally), so I can correlate visitors with registrations and have a clear view of the top of my funnel.
  • Leads via Salesforce’s Web-to-Lead form and other sources – how many inquiries are we receiving, and what is happening to them. This should include lead sources, ideally set by an automated tracking system (and yes I have one that I favor), as well as anything sales reps or marketing people enter into Salesforce clearly identified as such for separation in reporting.

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  • Sales activity via Salesforce – How many calls, emails and other activities are happening, and which reps are performing best. Don’t think of this as big brother or keeping the Sales people honest, but more as understanding your business’ sales productivity. And if you haven’t worked in sales before, you have to witness the data to understand that one Sales rep really can make 5 times more calls than another rep (and generally close 5 times as much business, though not always) even though both reps appear productive anecdotally.
  • Online Advertising Performance – If you are advertising online, Leads or Registrations with daily graphs broken out by advertising publisher is a particularly useful dashboard. You do need to keep some of those ad networks or blogs honest in terms of the impressions they are running and traffic they are sending you. Plus you will be able to see right away if your conversion tracking code was accidentally left off that new landing page, rather than at the end of the month when the numbers are run and it is too late.

Some Dashboards I like to see weekly:

  • Usage data – Integrating usage data from SaaS products or other customer behavior or purchasing information into Salesforce accounts is critical for both lead scoring / account ranking, as well as aggregate numbers on how the business is doing overall. I like to see a dashboard that has total usage (or whatever the key metric that shows customer adoption is) across all customers, as well as a list of top accounts, new accounts with high usage, and potential churn accounts whose usage / purchasing has recently dropped off.

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  • Conversion funnel – what are the trends in terms of lead conversion / opportunity creation, and how does the top of the funnel look in terms of volume.
  • Sales Pipeline – what Salesforce Opportunities are open, if there are free trials which are expiring in the next week or two, how many deals are at each stage, and is anything neglected or staying open forever without movement?DashboardGauge
  • Revenue – If you have a billing or other financial system integrated into Salesforce, it is nice to have some revenue dashboards as well. It isn’t a substitute for financial reporting (and won’t make the accountants happy), but can help you see total revenue, new sales, and understand some high level financial trends, even if it isn’t accurate to the penny.

By reviewing daily or weekly dashboards emailed from Salesforce, you can start each day with a quick overview of your business, and an easy opportunity to understand any trends and spot problem areas or successes. In addition, building these dashboards will ensure that you have all or most of the data that you need in Salesforce for other people to use, so it can make the chances of success much greater if you are just rolling out Salesforce CRM.

You may need to dive back into any one of a number of systems to see further details in the data, or use more sophisticated analytical tools to understand the correlations between different data sets. But ultimately having the data summarized, automatically updated and emailed to you in dashboards is a great way to stay on top of the top line numbers and trends in your business.

How are you using dashboards, and do you get them via Email? Let me know in the comments below.

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