What does this mean and how can it help my business, I hear you ask! Let’s look at why you might want to let the sales team control web content, then look at some example technologies that help you achieve this.
Firstly, “drive” has several possibilities:
- Show actual web content that comes from Salesforce
- Personalize the website based on settings in Salesforce
- Control website login (authentication) from Salesforce
Actually, each of these scenarios requires many pages of technical explanation so let’s keep the discussion high level to avoid that.
I’m going to use Sitecore CMS, Salesforce CRM, and FuseIT’s S4S integration as example technologies as they include the necessary tools to start driving. If you are using comparative technologies, the same logic should apply.
Salesforce Content in Sitecore
You might like to surface Salesforce data as content on your Sitecore website because you have:
- Salesforce records you need to list for public or private consumption. These are typically Salesforce products, documents, cases, orders, invoices and/or contacts.
- Specific web content (text, images, sounds, videos, and animations) the sales team can show without them needing web authoring skills e.g. special deals, events, contact information etc. This often requires a custom object in Salesforce to host the web content in a suitable format for use on the website.
The sales team can make changes in Salesforce which are surfaced into Sitecore, or other CMS systems, letting them drive content without directly editing the website. Your IT management will also be happy not to open up the CMS to editing from dozens or even hundreds of non-technical users.
From a technical perspective, S4S provides tools to replicate the Salesforce data to Sitecore at regular intervals (sync), pull the data to Sitecore in real time as needed, and/or temporarily caching the data in Sitecore for future requests.
Website Personalization from Salesforce
A powerful website technology, such as Sitecore, includes advanced personalization features. As each visitor traverses a Sitecore website, analytics data is accrued on their most recent behavior. Selected web components are pre-assigned with several content versions and Sitecore looks at the accrued analytics data to determine which content version should be shown to the visitor.
An example on a photo equipment website is when to show amateur versus professional photographer branding. Website personalization automatically determines which of the two, or more, options are shown.
The automatic outcome is not always what you want so you can override the default Sitecore analytics behavior from Salesforce. Allowing the sales team to personalize Sitecore is a simple way to steer a client in a favored direction. Visitors returning to the website will see exactly what the sales team want them to see. This could be to up-sell or cross-sell products, focus them on a trade show, point them at a targeted white paper, or show a survey that will tell you more about their interests.
Any time you’d like Sitecore to display a particular version of content to individuals or to entire groups, from Salesforce, this type of personalization is possible.
Salesforce and Sitecore Portals
A Sitecore portal is a bunch of web pages that are not visible to the public and require authentication to access. Typically, web portal users are internal staff, or external customers, that login to access:
- Secure information e.g. wholesale price lists, contracts, confidential policies
- Different data to what is publicly available e.g. deals and offers, data from other systems like Salesforce
- Transactions e.g. banking and eCommerce
- Publish content to the website or external systems e.g. Sitecore, Salesforce
- Personal Content e.g. My Profile pages, communications settings
Any private records need to be protected by requiring the website visitor to log in to see them (the “portal” scenario). Visitors who log in to the website are often privileged customers, whose access is limited to their own account and contact record, or members of your sales team, who need to access to multiple records in Salesforce but do not have a Salesforce login.
A common use of the S4S integration is to store Sitecore usernames, passwords, roles and profile values in Salesforce contact records and have a Sitecore login control compare the values when a visitor wants to login to access Sitecore portal pages. The authentication data is only stored in Salesforce. This arrangement allows the sales team to control the website in another way. If suitably configured in Sitecore, the sales team can adjust the Sitecore role and profile values in Salesforce, to give the visitor a tailored experience immediately after login. Roles can be used to show additional Sitecore tabs, menus, and whole blocks of functionality. Profile settings often determine the content of those pages.
There is real business value in empowering the sales team with a measure of control over the website. At any stage in the sales cycle, it is likely that a prospect will return to the website to reaffirm their prospective purchase and this needs to be a positive experience. Driving good web content and website personalization from Salesforce can be highly effective when the prospect is known to the sales team.
Treating customers as individuals and exciting them with new ideas is an important goal of website engagement. Creating portal pages and driving tailored content by personalization can help keep the relationship with your customer alive.
FuseIT has worked with numerous Fortune 500 companies in the Sitecore to Salesforce integration space over many years. To learn more about how S4S can add value to your business please contact us now to see how this works with Sitecore and Salesforce!