It seems that within the last year, the topic of Salesforce is coming up more and more frequently with both our current and potential clients. Don't get me wrong, it has often been part of our conversations with clients who have a need for an enterprise CRM, but the need to integrate a Sitecore application with one or more of the many Salesforce products has become almost a regular requirement at this point.
It makes a lot of sense to marry these two powerful platforms. Both Sitecore and Salesforce have recognized this as well, announcing in November of 2017 an official partnership to specifically connect the Sitecore Experience Platform with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, as well as a new Connector to enable the integration.
Are you confused by the different Salesforce Connector options?
This announcement did lead to some confusion because of pre-existing connectors, those offered by Sitecore as well as third-party partners. Understanding which connectors do what, and when they should be used, versus building something from scratch via the Salesforce and Sitecore APIs, is important to understand. I aim to do that in this series.
First thing to keep in mind is the Salesforce products. As mentioned, there are dozens of products in the Salesforce ecosystem, but the key products that tend to come up often in conjunction with Sitecore are:
- Sales Cloud: this is their CRM solution for managing contacts and sales opportunities
- Service Cloud: this is a service portal around case management, self-service, and personalized support of customers
- Marketing Cloud: this is Salesforce's enterprise digital marketing offering for customer journeys, personalized cross-channel marketing campaigns, and consumer segmentation
- Community Cloud: Salesforce's goal with their community offering is a quick to market stand-alone community that allow an organization to leverage out-of-the-box templates and components to build out a community portal for various types of end users, including a knowledge base, faqs, forums, messaging, activity notification, and self-service.
Essentially your options for integrating Sitecore and Salesforce can be broken down as the following, and your decision will depend on what Salesforce product you want to integrate with, what you intend to do with the integration, as well as how much you want to reinvent the wheel versus leveraging something pre-built and time-tested (and potentially costly):
- Custom build integrations between Sitecore and any of the Salesforce suite of products and potentially leverage one of the free toolkits out there on github
- Try out one of the Sitecore Marketplace tools for Salesforce. I don't recommend this. Note that these are rather dated and haven't been touched since 2015. With advances in both xDB and Sitecore Experience Forms, these are probably not worth even considering.
- Configure and customize one of the add-on licensed Sitecore connectors to Salesforce, of which there are currently two: one to connect to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud and the other to connect to Salesforce CRM.
- Purchase one or more of the products offered by FuseIT which include S4S, S4S List Builder, S4S EXM, M4S, and S4MC
At first glance, it is not entirely clear what the difference is between all of these options. I have firsthand experience with some of these and have done research on others and will give you the lowdown. I'm going to skip over the Marketplace tools, because as mentioned, they are outdated and don't provide much value anymore.
In my next few posts, I will thoroughly break down these options, but a cheat sheet summary of what each accomplishes is as follow:
Cheat Sheet Summary of Integration Options
Custom Build Integrations: leveraging the APIs of each platform, you can pretty much accomplish anything, within the bounds of your time constraints to learn those APIs and build the integration.
Sitecore Connect for Salesforce CRM: pass data bi-directionally between Sitecore and Salesforce Sales Cloud for Contacts, Salesforce Tasks, Sitecore Interactions, Sitecore Email Messages, and Salesforce Email Tasks. With a recent Aug 2018 update, this connector must now be purchased from Sitecore separately.
Sitecore Connect for Salesforce Marketing Cloud: push Media Item content from Sitecore to Salesforce (one-way, read-only) for use in Journey Builder and Email Studio. With a recent Aug 2018 update, this connector must now be purchased from Sitecore separately.
FuseIT S4S Connector: Although a licensed connector, it is efficient and robust, allowing for easy bi-directional access of data between Sitecore and any Salesforce objects, authentication with identity stored in Salesforce, shares all kinds of analytics and xDB tracking data with Salesforce, enables creation of Sitecore contact lists from Salesforce campaigns, updates marketing cloud subscribers from Sitecore forms, and optional add-ons will push email analytics back to Salesforce campaigns and store select Salesforce Data in a local xDB database for offline access/storage.