Sitecore & Salesforce Integration: The Art Of The Possible

The trend of needing to integrate with Salesforce among our new and prospective clients - for which we are building websites on Sitecore - has been increasing to the point that it has become an almost mandatory requirement. Here our Solutions Architect Kate Orlova examines the different options available.

Sitecore and Salesforce Integration

As an agency who understands both of these powerful platforms it makes complete sense to us to make them work together. But the degree to which you would actually integrate them can vary significantly.

We also see a lot of confusion about what can be integrated, and our clients often ask questions saying they get different messages about how much time and effort is involved in integrating the Sitecore Experience Platform with different Salesforce products.

In this post I try will explain what integration options are available, highlight the differences between the different Salesforce Connector options and clarify what integration work requires custom development.

Sitecore and Salesforce Integration: Anything is Possible

Before I begin, I would like to say that when it comes to integrating Salesforce and Sitecore, anything is possible. The level to which you can integrate these two great platforms purely depends on how your business plans to use them and what Salesforce product you want Sitecore to integrate with.

Sitecore can be integrated with Salesforce through the following set of tools:

#1 Sitecore Connector for Salesforce CRM

The Sitecore Connector for Salesforce CRMs can be used for the pre-configured, two-way exchange of data between Sitecore and Salesforce for Contacts and Sitecore interaction.

This connection can be utilised to bring the data captured through website forms to the Salesforce CRM with reduced development effort.

Example

We pushed the lead information captured from the Sitecore website forms into the Salesforce CRM for one of our clients in the property sector.

The connector was configured to append the Sitecore xDB profile scores to enrich customer records. In addition to names, emails and telephone numbers, the client then received user interests gleaned from the content they consumed while on the website.

Sitecore Connector for Salesforce CRM

#2 Sitecore Connect for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Sitecore Connect for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud can be used to synchronise media assets from the Sitecore Media Library, so that assets become available in the Salesforce Content Builder.

This connector can be utilised to bring images from the Sitecore Media Library folders into the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Installing and configuring this connector is easy and once this is done and the folders for synchronisation are configured, uploaded assets become available in the Salesforce Content Builder for selection.

This integration is only one way and assets will show in Salesforce in a read-only view.

*Please note that all images need to be manually pushed from Sitecore into Salesforce, similar to publishing changes in Sitecore.

Sitecore Connect for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Example

We pushed property gallery images from Sitecore into the Salesforce Marketing Cloud for one of our clients, who then used them in their email marketing communications. They could then create personalised email templates and continue conversations using the same visual assets.

Both of these two connectors are also natively supported, which means that all new releases and updates are available to the clients that purchase them. They are also easy to use and install and require no, or very little levels of development to start using them.

However, as you may have already noticed, these connectors do have their limits. For example, for more complex and custom integrations you will need to use the next two Sitecore and Salesforce features.

#3 Salesforce RESTful API

The Sitecore RESTful API can be used for any type of integration and content sharing across the two platforms.

#4 Data Exchange Framework (DEF)

The Data Exchange Framework (DEF) is an ‘Extract, Transform, Load’ (ETL) tool for Sitecore XP for standardising data integration and reducing workload via reusable components and patterns for you to follow.

The DEF is used for data synchronisation and ad-hoc interactions with multiple external systems (not just Salesforce), and utilising it means we can transport data from and to any Salesforce entity without limitations.

Example

We used the Sitecore Data Exchange Framework and the Salesforce RESTful API to transport property, prices and staff information from Salesforce into Sitecore in near real-time for one of our clients in the property sector.

The frequency of the data exchange is configurable in the Sitecore pipeline. Integration can be either real-time or in defined time intervals.

Conclusion

I started this post by saying anything is possible when it comes to integrating Salesforce and Sitecore. Even though some connectors described above have limitations, mixing and extending them gives you complete freedom and flexibility to integrate these two great platforms.

If you’d like to know more about Sitecore and Salesforce or need some further advice or support with integration and other areas you can get in touch with our team via email: hello@deleteagency.com.

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