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.

CampaignTrackerforGoogleAnalytics-Dashboard1-small

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Lead Tracking 101: Understanding Advertising ROI in Salesforce

Most marketers know they need to track their leads, in order to understand which advertising, blogs or social media are sending them the best ones – the leads most likely to convert to customers, to show a positive return on investment (ROI) from advertising, to drive long term revenue.

Aside from all the different technological approaches available, such as building your own tracking mechanism or using a Salesforce application that tracks leads from your web site into Salesforce CRM, the large amounts of data collected can be a somewhat confusing experience.

 This post explores some of the different tracking data available, and more importantly what it all means. It is focused around Google Analytics, Google Adwords, and Salesforce terminology, though many of these definitions will apply to any online advertising.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” — Attributed to John Wanamaker, 1838-1922

 

Google Analytics Campaign Tags

 

Google Analytics Campaign tags are parameters that you add to any URLs pointing to your web site that you have control over. You may be familiar with web addresses (URLs) that have words like utm_campaign= and utm_source= after the main part of the URL and a question mark – these are the campaign tags.

Example:

http://www.MYSITE.com/?utm_campaign=Retarget&utm_medium=Banners&utm_source=Adroll

 When a visitor clicks on one of these tagged URLs, those values are associated with the visitor in Google Analytics, as well as in many lead tracking solutions for Salesforce (such as CloudAmp’s own Campaign Tracker). By capturing the Source, Medium, and Campaigns of traffic being sent your web site like in the example URL above, you can identify the most effective ways to driving more visitors to your website.

Most importantly, by capturing that data not just in your Google Analytics reports, but into Salesforce for each individual lead, you can follow how leads progress through your marketing funnel or sales process.

  • Do leads from that Source, Medium, or Campaign convert from leads into Accounts with Opportunities?

  • What percentage of Opportunities from a particular Source are Closed Won?

  • What is the average and total dollar value of deals, compared across Source, Medium or Campaigns?

  • How many dollars are spent on advertising per dollar of revenue, broken down by Source, Keyword, etc.?

These and many other questions can be answered by tagging your URLs and tracking those visitors all the way  into Salesforce as leads. 

AdwordsGraph

There are the five parameters that make up Google Analytics Campaign tags – utm_source,utm_medium, and utm_campaign should be used in all links, and for tracking additional information utm_term and utm_content can be optionally used.

  • utm_source: Identifies the advertiser, site, publication, etc. that is sending traffic to your property, e.g. google, yelp, newsletter4, billboard. The last place visited before reaching your site.

  • utm_medium: The advertising or marketing medium, e.g.: cpc, banner, email newsletter. The method used to arrive at the source.

  • utm_campaign: The individual campaign name, slogan, promo code, etc. for a product.

  • utm_term: Identify paid search keywords. If you’re manually tagging paid keyword campaigns (and you should be), use utm_term to specify the keyword.

  • utm_content: Used to differentiate similar content, or links within the same ad. For example, if you have two different text ads, you can use utm_content and set different values for each so you can tell which version is more effective.

I recommend getting into the habit of tagging ANY and ALL URLs that you control, not just for destination URLs in your Google Adwords ads and other online advertising, but for every link in your email newsletters, links you give to a partner, sponsorships, blog posts, even social media such as Twitter and Linkedin.

 GoogleAnalyticsCampaigns

Not only will this give you better data in Google Analytics and your Salesforce lead tracking, but as a significant bonus you will cut down on the number of untracked leads — when someone forwards an email, copies and pastes a link from Twitter, or reposts a blog post without changing the URLs, you will be able to track visitors from those newly generated referral sources back to the original campaign links.

 

Other Traffic Types

 

Google Analytics categorizes your web site visitors into 5 main types:

    • Campaign: Visitors who arrived at your site via Campaign tagged URLs.

    • Referral: Visitors who arrived at your site from other sites but who were not campaign tagged.

    • Direct: Visitors who arrived at your site by typing in your web address.

    • Search: Visitors who arrived at your site by searching in a search engine. This category is further broken down into:

  • Paid: Google Adwords, Microsoft Adcenter, or other advertising on a search engine

  • Organic: The visitor clicked on a regular result (not an ad) to get to your site

GoogleAnalyticsTrafficBreakdown

Many lead tracking software applications (including CloudAmp’s own Campaign Tracker) have followed this categorization, due to the widespread use of Google Analytics and the general familiarity of these terms. Still, there are a variety of different ways of categorizing web site visitors and leads, so you may see variations on these occasionally.

Referral vs Referral vs Referrer

Any traffic that isn’t Direct to your site (typed in a browser bar) is known as referral traffic. So most traffic – Campaign, Referral, and Organic / Paid Search – is considered Referral traffic.

However, Google Analytics (and lead tracking software that uses similar definitions) defines Referral traffic as any Referral traffic that is not otherwise tracked as Campaign or Organic traffic. If Campaign tags are used, or data from an organic search at a search engine is received, the traffic will be categorized as Campaign or Organic, rather than referral. This is mainly just for clarity in dividing the sources of traffic, so that there is no overlap in the numbers.

Just in case this isn’t confusing enough, there is also a concept of the Referrer in all web browsers, and this is recorded in Google Analytics and various tracking software. The Referrer is the last page that the visitor was on prior to an event (like submitting the web-to-lead form into Salesforce). So in some cases the Referrer will be the same as the site that sent the visitor to you, but in other cases it will simply be the previous page on your web site (for any visitor who clicks around multiple pages before submitting the form).

 

(not provided)

Beginning in late 2011, Google made a significant change and started encrypting the organic search keywords of any users who were logged into a Google service while searching Google. What does this mean?

It means that instead of sending the keywords from the referral like it did previously, Google started sending a meaningless string of characters for all visitors who were logged into a service like Gmail, Google +, or Google itself while searching and then clicking on an organic result. So what did this result in?

 GoogleNotProvided

Approximately 70% of Organic visitors from Google now show “(not provided)” as the keywords from their search, so you no longer can see what really sent them to your site. This percentage will vary depending on your audience and how much they use other Google services, but it is about the average we have been seeing.

Luckily, Yahoo and Bing have not followed suit, and still send the keyword information from the Organic search visitors they send to your site. And of course, if any of your visitors run a Paid Search on Google (Google Adwords), the keywords from those visits still come through fine whether the visitor was logged in to Google services or not.

 

Untracked

Sometimes visitors come to your web site and submit lead forms and are not tracked properly. It shouldn’t happen often, but it will happen.

On the Internet, nothing is 100%, the numbers never match exactly, and not everything will be tracked completely. While we’d like to track 100% of visitors in an ideal world, really the point of tracking is to make generalized decisions about what online marketing works and what does not, and optimize spend on things like Google Adwords, where sometimes keyword cost per click (CPC) rates can seem nonsensically high, but make perfect sense from an ROI perspective given the revenue generated.

 So what causes a lead to not be tracked? Some users may be using strange old web browsers, or have their browser security levels set so high that they don’t allow cookies or javascript (two things necessary to most tracking technology, as well as required for most web sites to work properly).

For most other situations however, the reliability of cookie-based tracking is pretty good. If there are technical problems, they are more likely due to either the visitors settings or a failure of the tracking mechanisms that read the cookie, rather than the cookie placed at the time of the visitors click.



In conclusion, there is a lot of terminology around tracking and how to break down the types of visitors who come to your site (and hopefully become leads). As you start to build up data from tracked leads inside Salesforce, you will run across many of the values above. So hopefully this has been helpful — feel free to leave questions / comments below, and above all else, start tracking your leads today!

6 Challenges with Tracking Adwords Conversions in Salesforce

With the impending “end-of-life” of Salesforce for Google Adwords, I thought I’d dive a bit deeper into some of the challenges for tracking Google Adwords lead sources into Salesforce. Regardless of whether you choose a tool from the AppExchange or build your own integration, here are some of the considerations that are not always front and center.  

 

Getting Enough Data

Many companies are running thousands or tens of thousands of keywords in Google Adwords, but only receive tens or hundreds of leads a week. If you don’t have a high lead volume, and a portion of your leads are from sources other than Adwords, it can be a challenge to build up enough data for the results to be meaningful.

For example, your company may find that it has a few keywords with multiple leads, but that the “long tail” exists in your tracking as well — large numbers of keywords with one or two leads. In these environments, it is very common for it to take months to build up enough tracking data for it to be actionable. You will eventually have plenty data, but don’t expect this to come within a month or two, so best to set everyone’s expectations up front.

AdwordsLongtail

The best time to start tracking your lead sources was 6 months ago. The second best time is today, so don’t put it off any longer — get lead tracking for Adwords set up today.

 

Eliminating Waste vs. Optimizing Performing Keywords

Related to the challenge of collecting enough data is what kind of actions you are able to take and when. The reality is often a bit more complicated than the idealized promise of being able to optimize all of your Google Adwords advertising, where every keyword and bid is delivering the perfect balance of revenue without overbidding or waste.

As you are collecting data, you may find that you have a number of keywords with one or two leads attached to them. Are these valuable keywords, or just clicks that became leads by chance? Only time and more data collection will tell, as leads go through the conversion to opportunity and close process so you can relate those click costs to revenue as well.

AdwordsGraph

In the early stages of your Adwords tracking in Salesforce, focus on eliminating waste. The low hanging fruit you can easily take action on without months of data should be keywords that produce tons of clicks with no leads, as well as keywords that produce lots of leads that never convert. This is the waste that is poorly aligned with your products or services, and is the first area where you can confidently make changes based on preliminary data.

Eliminating waste will improve the efficiency of your overall Adwords spend and lower your cost per lead. As you continue to collect tracking data, you can then start to optimize bids, broaden your keywords, or make other optimizations based on more complete data.

 

Focusing on Wrong Metrics

For me being able to understand revenue / keyword inside Salesforce, instead of relying on CPC or CTR metrics, to be the primary goal of tracking Google Adwords results into Salesforce. Of course, understanding the trends across all of your metrics, CTR and CPC included, is important. But all metrics are not created equal.

Track-the-Most-Important-Adwords-Metrics

How critical revenue / keyword tracking is will vary depending on your business of course. If you only sell one product at a single price, it may not be as important — the sale amount and lifetime value of most customers is the same, so you are mainly optimizing the demand volume side of the equation. But if you have multiple pricepoints that vary significantly, a more expensive click that typically drives a large purchase can be far better than a more affordable click with an average revenue that is lower.

This importance is only multiplied if you are bidding on very competitive keywords. Bidding $25 or even $50 for a single click always seems painful, unless you can track those same clicks through to significant large purchases on a consistent basis. What seems crazy without tracking can be shown to make financial sense and drive significant revenue when properly tracked.

 

Picking a Source of All Truth

Where do you store your Adwords tracking data? Do you use Salesforce, Google Analytics, or both? What about duplicate / conflicting data?

I am partial to making Salesforce the single source of truth, but of course I build Salesforce applications to centralize data there. Google provides some great tools, especially considering many of them are free / advertising supported, but those systems are not designed to be a long term database, nor are they as customizable as Salesforce is.

Silos

One advantage to centralizing Adwords tracking data in Salesforce is that the data can be (potentially) useful to others outside of the marketing department. Sales reps might be interested in what keywords a lead was searching for, to better understand their intent. Or if you don’t want to expose that data to the sales team, you could still use it to drive lead scoring formulas that determine how views are sorted or which leads are visible to the sales team.

A corollary to the “single source of truth” is that to keep yourself sane, you should accept that if you use multiple systems, the numbers in different online tracking systems will never agree exactly. Even the numbers between Google’s different systems don’t match. As with other marketing metrics, it is the trend and the consistency that is more important — as long as the numbers are close enough, focus on any divergence or suddenly larger gap between different analytics systems, as that could indicate a problem.

Poor Lead Hygiene / Salesforce Processes

Another common challenge to tracking Google Adwords (and other online advertising) conversion in Salesforce is poor data quality and a lack of consistently followed processes for handling data. Duplicate leads, no consistency across the sales organization for when leads are converted to opportunities, and custom fields that don’t map anywhere upon conversion are all common issues we see with Salesforce usage that affect campaign tracking.

FindDuplicateSalesforceLeads

With so many systems integrated into Salesforce, and marketing automation systems increasingly inserting their own databases into the middle of things, we also see lead sources that get lost or overwritten, and a lack of proper reports / dashboards to give a holistic picture of the data.

If you are embarking on a project to track your Google Adwords or other online marketing leads in Salesforce, try to make data cleanup and process improvements part of the job. You’ll end up with better data and a higher likelihood that you are making decisions based on accurate data as a bonus.

 

Not Having Correct Tools

Finally, we come to the tools you use to get your Google Adwords data into Salesforce. Some companies have their web developers or engineers build a system to push this data into Salesforce. And if you have an eCommerce system or Account signup (instead of a lead process), custom building a solution may be your only real option unfortunately. But many of us don’t have development resources at our disposal, or the engineering team is too busy on customer-facing product development to work on internal marketing tools.

For those using standard Salesforce web-to-lead forms and processes, there is a new generation of tools available like our (CloudAmp’s) Campaign Tracker. Installable directly from Salesforce.com’s AppExchange, these tools can add in additional information like where a lead came from, what keywords they searched for, and more.

Google-Analytics-Campaign-Tracker-Header

Most importantly, this information becomes a permanent part of the lead record in Salesforce upon the form submit, so you can track those values throughout the lead lifecycle and see conversion and revenue data. Now you can get real ROI data on Google Adwords and your other marketing and advertising efforts, and know in detail which keywords or placements produce your best leads.

Despite the challenges, now is the time. So don’t wait any longer, start tracking your Google Adwords and other advertising lead sources into Salesforce today. Eliminate waste wherever possible, and reallocate funds to the top performing advertising, and your revenue and cost of sales can improve significantly.

Replacing Salesforce for Google Adwords

Salesforce for Google Adwords launched back in 2007, and for the first time made it easy to associate Adwords advertising data with individual leads inside Salesforce. I was one of the first enthusiastic users and a customer case study for Salesforce on their roadshow announcing the new application.

ServePath-Salesforce-for-Google-Adwords-Case-Study

Finally, we could permanently tie Adwords clicks to an individual lead, and track conversion all the way through from lead to account to closed opportunity. No more focus on Google Adwords CTR, CPC or other important but sometimes misleading metrics. We had arrived at the promised land: $ spent / $ revenue generated on a keyword basis. And we could now get this data even if the lead closed 6 months after the Adwords click and came in via Fax.

Some time ago Salesforce.com announced that the Salesforce for Google Adwords app could no longer be installed, and that support for existing users would be ending May 1, 2013. I don’t know all the details behind this decision, but this blog post is focused on what you can do to replace Salesforce for Google Adwords, and one alternative application that we have developed here at CloudAmp.

setup-lead-tracking

 

CloudAmp’s Campaign Tracker, launched in October 2012, is a viable alternative to Salesforce for Google Analytics. Just install the app into Salesforce, add a tracking code to the pages of your web site and insert some additional code in your web-to-lead forms, and you can start capturing data every time a new lead comes into Salesforce.

Campaign Tracker is designed to be simple, to minimize the number of things that can go wrong in the tracking process. There is no external database to sync to Salesforce, so leads go directly into your Salesforce org via web-to-lead forms, and your data never leaves your Salesforce org. We give you the tracking cookie javascript to host on your own web site, so there no third-party cookies that are often blocked.

Google-Analytics-Campaign-Tracker-Header

In addition, Campaign Tracker does not actually pull any data from Google Adwords or Google Analytics, so we don’t rely on data from those services or the availability of APIs. We simply make use of the Google Analytics Campaign URL format, and save the UTM values from the URL into a cookie that your web site sets.

When a visitor to your web site submits a Salesforce web-to-lead form, we parse the cookie and populate some hidden fields in the form with the campaign values. As a bonus, you have more complete campaign data in Google Analytics, since you should be tagging all of the inbound URLs that you can control.

 

After you have the tracking enabled on your web site, simply update your Google Adwords URLs in a format like that below, filling in your own values for the campaign etc., and you are ready to go. To make things easier, if you have a lot of ads to update, the Google Adwords editor (a desktop program for your PC or Mac) makes it easy to update many ads quickly.

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

The {KeyWord} at the end of the URL uses Google Adword’s keyword insertion to automatically insert the keyword into your URL, just the same way it can insert a keyword into the text of your ad. You can also use the 5th campaign parameter, utm_content, to record the Adgroups if you would like.

That’s it! So if you are looking for an easy to implement alternative to Salesforce for Google Adwords, check out CloudAmp’s Campaign Tracker — it installs directly from the AppExchange for a free trial. If you have any questions, leave a comment below, or contact us and we’ll be glad to help.

CampaignTrackerforGoogleAnalytics-Dashboard1-small

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.)

DashboardVisitorsandPageviews

  • 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.

DashboardSalesRepActivity

  • 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.

DashboardFunnelMetrics

  • 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.

CloudAmp to present at Salesforce Business Apps Bootcamp

CloudAmp will be presenting at Salesforce.com’s upcoming Business App Bootcamp here in San Francisco on January 29. The topic is “Garage to Glory: Stories from the Front Lines” — how to build and market Apps on Salesforce’s AppExchange. It should be a good event, so register here for free and come on down if you can make it.

 

BusinessAppsEvent

The enterprise app revolution is here and presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and developers. With a great idea and the right go-to-market strategy, you can build a revenue generating business in record time.

Hear from influential thought leaders about trends they are seeing and key advice for building the next big app for the enterprise. Join us for this free, half-day event and walk away with the tools and inspiration to transform your idea into big business in the cloud.

BUSINESS APP BOOTCAMP
Tuesday, 1/29, 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Terra Gallery, 511 Harrison Street, San Francisco

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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