Following last week’s Salesforce Champions Webinar, we review the ways that Salesforce can integrate with your website to help you connect your data and move away from data silos.
When considering your options we highly recommend that you write down your requirements initially, to understand :
- what data you collect,
- how you want to collect it,
- how you want to see,
- how you want to use it and how frequently.
This will enable you to properly weigh up your options of whether it’s a website or Salesforce functionality. Salesforce can do similar things to a website, so you will need to evaluate your requirements, understand both options, and then make an informed decision.
Here’s a review of what we discussed::-
Collecting and Transferring Data Real-time Straight into Salesforce using Online Form Applications
If you want to capture people’s data online for example via an online application, enquiry, or feedback form, and send it straight into Salesforce, without storing it in your website, then consider the following solutions.
- Third party Salesforce App like Form Assembly, Clicktools, Fastforms, GetFeedback.com or Timba which offer click not code solutions.
- Salesforce native products like web-to-lead and web-to-case or their new survey tool, or
- Salesforce visual force pages, which use code, rather than clicks.
These options allow for real-time data transfer of one record at a time. The solutions tend to provide a lower entry to market with an annual fee that can be managed by a non-technical person, with the exception of visual force.
The right solution, will depend on which objects in salesforce you want data to flow into? Do you need to identify and match data on transfer? How do you want to brand the forms and embed them on a website?
Transferring Data between a Web App and Salesforce using Middleware
Do you use two different web apps e.g. woo commerce and Salesforce and you need to transfer data from this app to your Salesforce system. Middleware products include Zapier, Workato etc where they have created the facility to connect two (OR MORE SYSTEMS) systems via the API and create recipes to transfer data in a certain pattern real-time.
From a performance point of view, it can be beneficial to move all this to a middleware. These middleware products charge per transfer of data to you need to understand your volume of transactions and pay the monthly charge. There are lots of apps available to match so it can be a cost-effective solution that that can be managed by the internal admin.
Transferring Data between a website CMS and Salesforce in Batch with:
ETL Tools – Extract/ Transpose/ Load
These tools are normally used when migrating data from one system to another as a one-off task, or can also be used to move large data sets in batch.
You will need to consider how often do you want the data transfer to happen, what is the quantity of data to be transferred, does all of the data need to create records in Salesforce? What is the mapping behaviour e.g. does it need to look up to existing data? ETL Solutions include: Talend, Jitterbit, Informatica
Similar to ETL. Salesforce Connet pulls data from another system into Salesforce, the difference is it doesn’t store the data in Salesforce, and instead references a URL link to an external data record within another system, so it creates the linkages between systems. If you still need access to large amounts of external data, ETL might still be the best option for performance point of view. The considerations are similar to above, and on integration, it creates a new record in Salesforce, but doesn’t pull in all of the data, it just creates a link to it.
Transferring Data between a Website and Salesforce Real-time using API:
Salesforce has an open API, which means other website platforms e.g Drupal and WordPress, which have an open API can push and pull data between two systems via the back-end. This can be real-time so when a record is created on the website it automatically pushes it into Salesforce. (NOTE: This is an example of a webhook. When the event (record being created in WP), it sends the message to Salesforce API.) This often means you have two data storage areas, however, data is stored at the back of your website and also in Salesforce.
It is essential that the data in the 2 systems are kept in sync.
The risk of this is that you have two records that represent the same data and it is essential to keep them up to date. For example, if someone updates an address in Salesforce, you would use this to update the address on the website. If a customer updates their address on the website you would want this to update the address in Salesforce. One common way to mitigate this is to make use of an external id, so the two records can be matched up and sync together.
Areas of consideration include the volume of records that need updating, the number of possible updates to records one or two way on a daily basis, and whether this would hit Salesforce API limits. Would you also be pulling data from Salesforce in real time to an website?
Exposing Data from Salesforce onto a Website with Force.com Sites
Force.com Sites lets you create public web applications and websites that run natively on Force.com
It can also be used to expose data from CRM records onto a website to allow Realtime exposure and updates. It is possible to pull data from one or more objects on to a website.
This approach removes the need to push or pull data between systems as it is exposed on the website.
Force.com sites, can be custom designed and branded, here are some examples :
Salesforce Communities allows you to create a branded customer area
Salesforce communities are typically used to create a secure virtual environment for customers, volunteers, associates etc. They can be fully branded so it has the look and feel of a website.
Users can either read documents and files, edit/read data and records or participate in an online forum using Chatter. This facility reduces the need to transfer data between a website and CRM. Take a look at The Hive for an example of this.
Pardot Marketing allows you to track individual website behaviour and capture information into Salesforce
Pardot enables your organisation to track user behaviour on a website at a granular level or capture information in web-forms and transfer back into Salesforce.
This enables you to understand the level of engagement of customer in a certain area of interest through scoring and levels. Through customer journeys, you can then select material and news of interest to them – a marketers dream! This reduces the need to transfer data between an external e-marketing tool, website and CRM.
Further resources to help you :
Salesforce CRM Consultancy Support – POA – email firstname.lastname@example.org
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