Capturing and interpreting the way your customers or leads interact with your website is critically important to close the loop between your sales and marketing efforts, and customer-driven engagement. When a customer/lead decides to type your website name into their browser, or click on a link in an email, or hit your website by clicking an advertisement, you want to capture that information in a system visible to your sales staff. Like a lot of other easy to state, but hard to implement goals, analyzing the way your customers or leads interact with your website, and transferring the results of that analysis to Salesforce, requires a few basic components:

  1. A shared key between Salesforce and your website.
  2. A website application that captures clicks and ties them to that shared key in a log.
  3. A method to take the voluminous log and summarize it into actionable, or at least understandable data, that can be transferred into Salesforce

Let’s take a deeper dive into these three components and see how you can put them together to leverage your website to drive marketing intelligence to your Salesforce instance.

Table of Contents

Shared Keys

Captured Clicks

Log Summarization and Integration

Shared Keys

Let’s begin with a simple fact:  out of the box, your website logs a massive amount of data that is of no use to your marketing effort. Every time a customer pulls up a web page, your website dutifully logs your customer’s IP address and the image, text or video that they retrieved. This is similar to having a log of every telephone number that called your call center, without knowing the name of the customer who called.

In order to understand customer/lead behavior, your website developers need to create a log that adds customer intelligence to the standard set of data captured by your web server software. Since almost any Salesforce-driven marketing effort will capture the email address of your customer, or potential customer, the email address is an excellent candidate for a shared key between Salesforce and your website. This is the key that will be used to enable your customer intelligence effort.  

No matter how you choose to gather the email address, your sales and marketing process must ensure that this key is stored in Salesforce and your web application:

  • On the website, this means that all of your customer/lead gates must require, at minimum, a customer email and name. If a customer/lead requests a white paper, if they sign up for a mailing list, or if they create a login to your site, these efforts must all gather email addresses and names. 
  • In Salesforce, you must have a two-way process that communicates with your website.  When a lead or account is established in Salesforce, you must require an email address. Similarly, whenever a new user registers on the website, a data pipeline must send that email and name to Salesforce, to be entered as a lead or an account, depending on how you treat website registrations in your sales process.

Xplenty’s first role in this website/Salesforce integration is to create the customer pipeline between your website and Salesforce.  Using Xplenty’s drag-and-drop data pipeline builder, you can create processes that push new email and customer name records from your website to Salesforce.  Depending on the position of your website in your marketing strategy, where this data resides in Salesforce will differ. If your website is mainly a marketing vehicle, your pipeline can simply check to be sure that a new customer email and name is already a lead or a contact associated with an account in Salesforce, and if it isn’t, create a new lead.  If your website is both a marketing site and an ordering site, you may want to convert leads, or associate contacts with existing Salesforce accounts and opportunities when a customer registers and orders.

Captured Clicks

Once your customer has created an account, given information in order to read a white paper, or signed up for a mailing list, your website needs to capture the next set of interactions from this customer.  The capture method depends on the interaction:

  • If the customer logs in to your website and then performs some action, your web app needs to log that interaction.  This doesn’t happen by default - as mentioned above, your web server software only records that some IP address requested text, images or video from your site.  Your web app needs to write a log that includes the customer’s email address for any relevant interaction so other systems in your organization (including Salesforce) can make use of that information.
  • If a customer clicks on a link in an email newsletter or solicitation, that link must include information that relates that customer interaction to the customer email address.  Since your company will probably use a third-party email service to send mailing list emails, you’ll need to be sure that there is some way to capture the customer email in that click in a log on your web server.
  • If a customer clicks on an advertisement, the best case is that your customer has logged in to your web app at some time in the past on the same browser.  If so, then your customer’s click to your website will let your site access data in the “cookie” set when your customer logged in. Your web application can then log the email address associated with the click on the advertisement.

There are many other ways that a known customer or lead can interact with your website.  Your goal is to make sure that every possible interaction can be linked back to a customer/lead email address.

Log Summarization and Integration

Now that you have all this customer interaction data in a log (or, worst case, logs) in some database on your website or another service, the next challenge is to get this data into Salesforce. This is another integration point where Xplenty can make your life easier. Generally, if you’re capturing customer interactions on your website, these interactions aren’t going to be transmitted 1:1 to Salesforce. For example, it is very reasonable for a website log to capture every product a customer considered before they made a purchasing decision since this data could be used to drive suggestions for further purchases. However, the sales staff may only want to know the products that the customer purchased, or even that the customer made a purchase on a given day.  In order to harvest this purchasing data from a stream of customer interactions, some sort of summarization or selection must take place. Xplenty’s data pipelines, which have a drag-and-drop interface that allows non-programmers to create selection and summarization logic, empower non-programmers to build pipelines that push only the key purchase data into Salesforce, in a way that makes sense for your organization. Xplenty can:

  • Populate a custom object (related to your customer’s opportunity object) that contains purchase and/or interaction summaries
  • Populate a “last website interaction” custom field in a lead or contact
  • Add a chatter post when someone associated with an account makes a significant order
  • Track responses to email solicitations associated with a Salesforce campaign

For any of these strategies, Salesforce users can access the data using their familiar reports and dashboards.  This data will be exposed for potential use by Sales Cloud Einstein for the generation of sales insights, and Einstein Analytics for data visualization and analysis.

Conclusion

Storing data in Salesforce is a relatively expensive proposition.  A smart integration plan will leverage a tool like Xplenty to push a summary of key website data into Salesforce, in a way that makes sense for your enterprise. If you want to understand how Xplenty can help your organization’s website communicate with Salesforce, we can provide a demo, a seven-day free trial, and a free setup session with our implementation team. Drop us a line at hello@xplenty.com or schedule a meeting.