Update your Salesforce Web-to-Lead forms by November 17, 2017

If your web site forms are posting Leads to Salesforce, and you are using the Salesforce-provided Web-to-Lead html code, you need to update your web site by November 17, 2017. If you do not, you will no longer receive new leads from Salesforce.

 

How do I know if I am using Salesforce’s Web-to-Lead code?

If you generated your form code by going to Setup | Build | Customize | Leads | Web-to-Lead | “Create Web-to-Lead”, or the existing forms on your web site begin with the following code:

<form action="https://www.salesforce.com/servlet/servlet.WebToLead?encoding=UTF-8" method="POST">

then you need to make this update.

If you have a custom-built form, ask your developer.

Form vendors such as Gravity Forms and Form Assembly should have made the changes to their systems to support the new endpoint already.

 

How do I update my web site?

  1. For any forms on your website that are Web-to-Lead forms, search the website HTML code for this code snippet:
https://www.salesforce.com/servlet/servlet.WebToLead

 

  1. Replace the “www” with “webto” so that the “form action” URLs in the Web-to-Lead HTML code display as such:
https://webto.salesforce.com/servlet/servlet.WebToLead

 

  1. Beyond just your “Contact Us” page or any inquiry forms, don’t forget to update landing page forms if you have them.

 

  1. TEST! Submit at least 1 test lead in every form, and check the results in Salesforce.

Only the web address to submit leads to is changing, so everything should continue working as before, but it is best to check in case a typo was made.

 

Why do I need to do this?

Salesforce will no longer be redirecting API calls to its www.salesforce.com endpoint, since this is used for its main web site. The new endpoint URL (webto.salesforce.com)  is already available, so updating as soon as possible is recommended to improve the performance and avoid the chances of losing any precious leads.

Note that if you have test forms that are pointing to Salesforce Sandboxes, no changes need to be made to those.

For more information, you can see Salesforce’s documentation on the web-to-lead changes.

 

Questions about Salesforce leads, forms, etc.?

Post any questions in the comments below and we’d be glad to help. Salesforce lead tracking is what CloudAmp is all about.

How to Automatically Assign Salesforce Leads to Campaigns

Salesforce’s Web-to-Lead functionality is a great way to get leads directly into Salesforce. And Salesforce Campaigns provide useful data on what happened to the leads and contacts produced from various marketing activities.

Besides making sure inquiries don’t fall through the cracks by using web-to-lead functionality with Salesforce, any additional data you can add to your web site forms can help your business. Source and keyword data can be added in through an app like our Campaign Tracker, and there are a number of other things that can be added to the form through hidden fields.

One easy addition is to hard-code a particular Salesforce Campaign value in your web-to-lead forms.

This is especially useful if you have many landing pages that are specific to certain advertising campaigns, but you can even do it with your standard “Contact Us” form. Here’s how to do it:

 

  1. Create a Campaign in Salesforce (or go to an existing Campaign)

  2. Copy the ID of the Campaign from your web browser’s address bar

  3. Have your web designer add the following hidden field to your web-to-lead forms, replacing the value with the ID you copied earlier.
    <input type="hidden" name="Campaign_ID" value="7010V000001ufMI">
    
    
    
  4. That’s it! (But run a couple of test leads!)

 

These instructions assume you are using the HTML Salesforce provides in its Web-to-Lead form builder, but it should work (with some degree of modifications) on any form that posts leads into Salesforce.

You can also automatically assign a Lead Source to a particular form, in much the same way.

Be careful of doing this if you are getting the lead source from somewhere else, such as a picklist field on the form that the user fills out, or tracking software. You don’t want to overwrite any other data.

(The CloudAmp apps use their own lead source fields (First UTM Source, Last UTM Source, Lead Source Type, etc. and so will never put data in the standard Salesforce Lead Source field).

<input type=hidden id="lead_source" name="lead_source" value="Contact Us Form">

If you use these tricks, let me know your tips and tricks in the comments below, or hit me up with questions there as well.

Happy Campaigning.

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.

Oct 8 Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup: Arrowpointe & Upshot Demos

At the most recent Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup here in San Francisco, we had some good networking as usual, followed by a demo of Arrowpointe’s geo-analytical application for Salesforce, Geopointe. Very cool mapping technology that overlays your Salesforce data. We also had an early preview of Upshot’s new Salesforce reporting app. Because it is not yet in beta, we did not video the presentation — you should have been there though, as it was very innovative.

Don’t miss the next meetup! Register FREE now.

Thanks to Arrowpointe for sponsoring the event and providing food and drinks, and to Geekdom by Rackspace as usual for allowing us to use their San Francisco meeting space.

The video below is by Aline. For all your video blog needs contact her at 415 377 0245

About our Speakers

Scott Hemmeter, CEO & Founder, Arrowpointe

Scott Hemmeter is the CEO / Founder of Arrowpointe Corp. Arrowpointe has been working with Salesforce solutions since 2006 and evolved from a professional services firm to an app-focused firm in 2010. Geopointe, the flagship, application provides mapping and geo-analytics solutions on the Salesforce platform. Geopointe has over 1000 organizations using it today and is the leading geo app on the AppExchange. Scott originally comes from Chicago, spent a couple years in San Francisco and currently resides in Orange, CA (SoCal).

Scott will demonstrate the Geopointe application and show how location information can be appended to Salesforce data and used in unique ways to provide productivity benefits and analytical insights.

Thomas Kim, CTO & Founder, UPSHOT

Formerly an engineer at Salesforce for 9 years.  Lead engineer on Salesforce Analytics.  Tech lead for Custom Report Types and many other reporting features.  Currently CTO of UPSHOT.  We are using NLP and Machine Learning to create a radically simplified way to query and explore your data.

Creating even simple reports in Salesforce is a complex task.  Even experienced users have difficulty creating reports with outer joins, exception reports, etc.  Our product UPSHOT lets you query Salesforce data in a simpler and more accessible interface.  Users who have never created a report in Salesforce before can use our interface immediately with no training.  Our goal is to enable every user in your organization to ask data questions without having to learn SQL or a complicated tool.  We’re currently seeking users to participate in a private beta of our product.

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.

Tracking Google Adwords Results in Salesforce

This post explores a simple way to see Google Adwords results inside of Salesforce, using Google Analytics Campaign tags. To set up custom campaigns, just add parameters (for example, utm_campaign and utm_source) to the end of your advertising URLs. Custom campaign values display in your Google Analytics reports, and you can capture them into leads in Salesforce using a tool like the Campaign Tracker for Google Adwords and Analytics.

You will be able to see which URLs visitors click to arrive at your web site and then become a lead, and which Adwords Keywords they searched for. As a bonus, if you get into the habit of tagging all incoming URLs to your web site, you will have better visibility not just into your advertising, but into any content or links you put out there — blogs, social media, sponsorships and more. Everything except Organic search engine traffic and some referral traffic can (and should) be tagged.

 

Adding Campaign Tags to Your Adwords Ads

  1. If you have Adwords autotagging enabled, please disable it (it can cause conflicts)

    AutoTagging

  2. Update the Destination URLs in all your Adwords ads with the campaign URL parameters.

    1. If you have a lot of ads, you can use the Adwords Editor client program to easily update / duplicate many ads at once. Adwords Editor makes it easy to copy / move items between Adgroups and Campaigns, and make bulk changes very quickly.

    2. Note that whenever you make changes to your ad text or URL, they are sent back to Google for review. Rather than modify an existing ad, you may wish to create a new one so that the existing ad keeps running while your new ad is under review. Once the new ad is approved, you can delete the old ad if you want.

    3. Redirects can also cause issues with Campaign tracking and Google Adwords attribution, so Google recommends updating the actual Destination URLs in your ads, instead of using a redirect.

GoogleAdwordsEditor

Example URL:

http://www.YOURSITE.com?utm_source=GoogleAdwords&utm_medium=PPC&utm_campaign=CampaignTracker&utm_term={Keyword}

  • utm_campaign = Adwords Campaign Name

  • utm_source = GoogleAdwords

  • utm_medium = PPC or SEM (keep consistent with whatever categories you have defined)

  • utm_term = {keyword}

  • utm_content = optional parameter, commonly used for adgroup tracking

 

For tracking specific keywords, use Google’s keyword insertion format in the Destination URLs of your Google Adwords ads. utm_term is the Google Analytics campaign parameter for the keyword, so use utm_term={keyword} and Google will automatically insert the keyword that triggers your ad into the URL, so it will be tracked when a visitor clicks through to your site and submits a form.

Note: This same URL format and {keyword} insertion works in Microsoft AdCenter as well.

Google provides a URL builder tool which you can use if you would like, but you can also simply copy and modify the URL above. There is no need to create the campaigns in Google Analytics ahead of time — when a visitor arrives on your site from a Campaign tagged URL, the campaign data is automatically recorded.

URL_builder

Once you have tagged all your Google Adwords URLs, then you simply need a way of integrating the tracking data into Salesforce. I am partial to the Salesforce app we built here at CloudAmp, of course,  Campaign Tracker for Google Adwords and Analytics. But there are plenty of other solutions to get Adwords data into Salesforce, including marketing automation software like Marketo  or Hubspot.

If you are not using web-to-lead forms, but have an account signup process or eCommerce system, then you may want to have your developers capture the campaign tags from referral URLs directly into Salesforce via custom code. One thing you cannot use, sadly, is the popular Salesforce for Google Adwords, which is being end-of-lifed (shut down, in software-speak) on May 1, 2013.

However you decide to go, tagging all your incoming URLs with Google Analytics Campaign parameters will allow you to track Google Adwords results, as well as the success of other advertising and marketing efforts, directly inside of Salesforce.

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.

excel analytics

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.

GADashboard-Installation-9

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.

Feb 6 Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup

We had a record crowd for our February 6, 2013 Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup — more than 75 people showed up for networking and to see two demos of the latest Salesforce analytics technologies.

Meetup02-06-13

Thanks to Woopra for sponsoring the event, providing the food and drinks, and demoing their new Salesforce integration. Woopra’s ‘Customer Analytics” — the merger of web analytics and CRM data — is definitely worth checking out.

I was also able to demo CloudAmp’s Analytics Dashboards, and gave a live demonstration of how the app integrates Google Analytics data directly into Salesforce and displays it in native Salesforce dashboards and reports. Videos of both demos are embedded below.

Thanks to Rackspace as usual for allowing us to use their Racker Rally Room at the San Francisco office, much appreciated.

The videos below are by Aline. For all your video blog needs contact her at 415 377 0245

John Whiteside, Woopra

John Whiteside is VP of Sales at Woopra. Mr Whiteside brings experience in Salesforce Integration and Analytics from positions at IBM, Cast Iron Systems and Boomi. Mr Whiteside was also Founder at DSLnetworks, one of the first ISP companies to deliver nationwide broadband access to enterprise companies.

John Whiteside will be demoing Woopra’s new Salesforce integration. Woopra is a real-time customer analytics service that provides solutions for sales, service, marketing and product teams. The platform is designed to help organizations optimize the entire customer lifecycle by delivering live, granular behavioral data for individual website visitors and customers. It ties individual-level data to aggregate analytics reports for a full lifecycle view that bridges departmental gaps.

David Hecht, CloudAmp

David Hecht is Founder of CloudAmp LLC, a Salesforce application, analytics and dashboard company focused on helping marketing and sales professionals improve their inbound funnel. David has been a Salesforce user and administrator since 2002, and has managed sales teams and inbound marketing organizations using Salesforce at startups such as Cloudkick and GoGrid. He is a Salesforce Certified Administrator, and is also the organizer of the Salesforce Integration & Analytics Meetup, a networking event and new technology showcase held every other month in San Francisco.

David will be demoing his CloudAmp Dashboard for Google Analytics, a Salesforce app which lets you easily see top level web traffic metrics from Google Analytics, directly in Salesforce in a standard dashboard. It was released in December 2012.

Google Analytics data into Salesforce: A Method to the Madness

When I tell people that one of my main goals in business is to centralize all marketing and sales data in Salesforce, sometimes I am met with strange looks.

“Why would you want to do that?”

“Aren’t you worried about all the limitations of Salesforce?”

“Why don’t you use real analytics and and business intelligence tools?”

While many businesses pull data out of Salesforce and other systems to store in a BI tool, data warehouse, marketing automation system, or even just a spreadsheet, I believe that data centralization inside Salesforce for all of your marketing and sales tools is the future.

data_silos2

I’ve even put my “money where my mouth is” as the saying goes, and focused my company CloudAmp on building apps that integrate data to display it in Salesforce Dashboards, in order to provide better analytics around the sales and marketing funnel.

Our CloudAmp Dashboard for Google Analytics connects to Google Analytics and then imports data automatically each day to display in a dashboard. Relatively straightforward (though not without some technical hurdles), yet no one had integrated web analytics data from Google Analytics into Salesforce in this way before.

Here are some of the challenges around centralizing marketing / sales data and analytics inside of Salesforce, as well some of the advantages to integrating and using that data inside of Salesforce that make it a worthy goal.

Salesforce Limitations

Salesforce has a number of limitations over external data warehouses and analytics tools. This is a valid concern for some applications, but in many cases these limitations can be overcome, or the value of integrating data into Salesforce outweighs the limitations.

1. Lack of functionality. For big data analytics, where very large amounts of data need to be processed, or complex analytical queries across multiple data sources are required, using Salesforce may not be possible. But for many uses, especially in the small / medium business (SMB) market, Salesforce works just fine.

Salesforce’s reporting and dashboard engine has come a long way, especially with the Spring 2012 Analytics release (Joined Reports, Cross Filters, and Bucketing — available in Enterprise Edition).

There are certainly many more features that can be added, and I know the Salesforce analytics team has a lot of increased functionality still on its product roadmap. But most basic data analysis and reporting queries are now covered, all within an interface that many Salesforce administrators and users are already familiar with (and paying for).

SalesforceAnalytics

2. Storage and API constraints. Salesforce does have caps on storage and API calls that at best could be called not very generous, at worst are a decade behind current standards. So if you are looking to import large amounts of data, it can be tricky.

You don’t want to have to pay for additional storage, but even more likely is hitting your API limit — at 1000 API calls/user/day, even if your integration is efficient and uses the bulk or SOAP APIs for some large data loads, it is easy to come up against the limit.

This means for many businesses, you will still need an external database or data warehouse to store much of this data, but it does not mean that you can’t integrate it into Salesforce. You may just need to be selective in what data you import, or just push calculated metrics into Salesforce rather than all the raw data.

Salesforce-API-Limitations

3. More difficult than Spreadsheets. Many marketing and sales people don’t use complex business intelligence tools but choose Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets to run their analyses.

There are certainly challenges to modeling conversion data in Salesforce — creating formula fields and setting up the reports correctly in Salesforce is quite a bit harder for most of us than creating spreadsheets.

It also takes more work to record historical snapshots in Salesforce — by default it always displays the latest data, whereas spreadsheets tend to be more static. But Salesforce can be updated by many people without versioning issues (certainly possible in Google Spreadsheets but still tricky), and always being updated to show the latest data is a real asset in many situations.

Many companies find that spreadsheets in practice get updated once a month, or maybe the 15th and 30th of the month in a best case scenario. So a Salesforce dashboard, even updating once a day and being automatically emailed to you, has a much greater chance of alerting you to trends you should know about, or problems with an advertising campaign etc. that would be a serious issue to find out about 30 days later.

Benefits of Data in Salesforce

Despite the limitations above, there are a  number added benefits come from centralizing data inside Salesforce.

1. Single Source of Truth. The most common reason to centralize data in Salesforce has been a goal of CRM systems since before Salesforce existed — have all your data in one place, a “single source of truth” for any information that might be relevant to your customers.

This may seem an impossible goal, with data living in so many different systems typically. But with today’s APIs, it is getting easier to integrate data from various SaaS applications into Salesforce. And to simplify the integration, it can often be done as a one-way push into Salesforce, rather than a bi-directional sychronization.

Having data from multiple sources inside Salesforce can give your team a 360 degree view of the customer, and reduce the need to log into disparate systems — or even better, allow them to easily view data that they might have skipped in the past, due to the inconvenience of it being in another system.

GoogleAnalyticsSalesforceLeadsDashboard

2. Self-Service Analytics. When external data sources are inside Salesforce, in addition to providing a fuller view of the customer that data now becomes accessible to a wider audience and can be used for more purposes.

The marketing team can run some its own queries and create reports on the fly to better understand the data, and selected data can be exposed to the sales team, giving them a fuller picture of their prospects and customers where they might need it.

If you want to see data on a particular issue that comes up, it is pretty easy to create a new report, or modify and save as an existing one. Depending on your sharing and security model, I have even seen organizations where enterprising salespeople create their own reports to better understand their customers or go deeper into areas where they think there may be opportunities.

Power-to-the-People-Dashboard

3. Use Data for Multiple Needs. When multiple data sources are brought into Salesforce, it not only becomes more accessible but can often be used for multiple purposes. For example, integrating data from an external chat tool is useful not only to customer support for case tracking, but can be used by marketing as another data point in lead scoring. In technical pre-sales situations that make use of online chat, this could be a deciding factor in scoring purchasing intent.

Coming back to our Google Analytics example, bringing web site traffic data into Salesforce from Google Analytics can be useful on many levels. There are some challenges to exposing this data inside of Salesforce, because the Google Analytics terms of service do not allow for uniquely idenitifying site visitors, so web traffic data will not typically align on a customer account level basis like most data in Salesforce (though CloudAmp has another app to help with that problem).

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However, even in aggregate, Google Analytics data exposed within Salesforce can provide a more complete view of the sales and marketing funnel, starting at the very top. Viewing unique visitors, page views, and other web analytics metrics in a dashboard alongside your other sales and marketing dashboards is useful in providing additional visibility. If you have a spike in lead volume, you can quickly see if that corresponds to a spike in web site traffic, or whether there are other factors at play.

So those are some of the challenges and advantages to integrating and centralizing data in Salesforce.

Maybe we are a bit early to this party, by building simple apps that push data into Salesforce, so anyone can do it without a complex integration project. I certainly hope not, as I think there is tremendous business value here.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or contact us.

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