When your data lives in organizational silos, at best, that can put up walls keeping you from the type of data analysis and insights that you need. Without combined data analysis using multiple data sources, that makes it that much harder to make decisions that will actually impact your business’ bottom line. If the data silos are really ingrained in an organization, these walls can seem like gaps as big as the Grand Canyon.
But this gigantic gap can be closed in certain instances. In this instance, if you have Salesforce Sales Cloud and GA360, you can build a bridge to ensure that your critical Salesforce data makes its way back to Google Analytics for true closed-loop analysis.
Building off of some our previous insights on the Salesforce integration, my goal is for you to come away with a clear picture of:
- What is the Salesforce Sales Cloud integration?
- What value can the integration add to your company?
- What do you need to complete the integration and what is the typical process?
Before I dig into this further, I do want to note that Google has built out a comprehensive help article for this process, which has a ton of great technical details. I hope to make this post a bit more high-level and make it easy for any marketing executive to understand the process.
What is the Salesforce Integration?
The Salesforce integration involves taking both GA360 and Salesforce Sales Cloud and bringing these data sources together in GA360.
How is this done? Client ID. For those who are less technical, the Client ID simply is an anonymized and randomized string that indicates a specific user that has visited your site. This string cannot be used to identify a specific user however, so it is not personally identifiable (sending personally identifiable information, or PII, is a violation of Google’s Terms of Service). Here’s a simple visual of what this process looks like when completed.
The data that is sent from Salesforce to GA360 ties back to your Salesforce Lead and Opportunity fields to GA360. This data is sent as an event when a user moves along the Lead and Opportunity milestones in Salesforce. These milestones mark stages within a Lead or Opportunity that designate how early in the process they are, from progress to a completed deal, to an actual Salesforce conversion. Google does a fantastic job of laying out how this shows up in your Google Analytics interface via the Category/Action/Label/Value table in this post.
You may be saying now, “great, but why does this integration matter to my business?”. Let’s chat on that.
Why the Salesforce Integration is Valuable to You
Having these data sources together can be incredibly value, and can aid your business in the following ways:
- Analysis Value: Once these event milestones are passed to GA360, they can be used as any other data point in GA can. This means they can be used for segmentation, goal creation, and regular ole’ data analysis. The Client ID associated with the milestone data allows you to tie back these steps to the user's previous online interactions as well.
- Funnel Value: Using GA360's custom funnels functionality, you can then evaluate pre-Salesforce (what’s happening on the page before a form fill) and post-Salesforce actions (with up to 5 stages in a funnel based on your milestones) to segment user drop-off, and long-term remarket to these audiences as well.
- AdWords Value: In addition to the pure remarketing value, you can then use this data to create audiences and export data to AdWords (whether via pure segments or sending goal data based on Salesforce events into AdWords itself).
Even beyond that, imagine how valuable it could be to show the true impact of your marketing channels. Not just how many people filled out a form, but how many people lead to a closed deal, and what monetary value that generated. That’s true marketing ROI.
The Salesforce Integration Process
I’ll be doing a deep dive into the integration process itself, but let’s talk about what you should have before you even start. These items are critical to ensure that you approach this process as efficiently and effectively as possible. You should have:
- Full Buy-In From All Teams: This process will likely, at a bare minimum, involve a development team (for on-page hidden form field changes), an analytics team (to create the linkage in GA360), a Salesforce team (for creation of new fields and data QA within Salesforce), and a legal team (to ensure that everyone on your team is familiar with what data is being passed where - and ensure that this process is acceptable for your business).
- Process Kickoff Project Plan: You should have a full project plan built out for each step estimating how long each step will take, which team will own which tasks, any potential reliances or roadblocks, and potential pivot points if needed. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and is ready to proceed in a simple and systematic way.
- Process Kickoff Meeting: To get all teams on the same page, head into a single kickoff meeting with all parties and then delegate tasks (assigning ownership) and noting a point person to run the full process are all key steps. This ensures as little confusion as possible.
- Client ID Implementation: You technically don’t need the Client ID surfaced in GA to do the integration, but you are going to need it to do pretty much any analysis at all. Using GTM to create a custom dimension is the ideal way to do this, and the always excellent Simo Ahava breaks out exactly how to create this custom dimension in GA.
If you have these four things heading into the process, you’ll be ready to proceed confidently.
Step #1: Create New Salesforce Fields and Map to Lead and Opportunity Objects - Owner: Salesforce Team
Three fields must be created in Salesforce:
You need to actually pass values to the Client ID (defined above) and Track ID (this is just your Google Analytics Property ID). User ID is optional, but the field in Salesforce still must be created regardless of whether you will utilize it or not.
These fields must also be mapped to the entirety of your Lead and Opportunity fields to allow for proper syncing of the data across the milestones.
Step #2: Update Hidden Form Field - Owner: Dev Team
Based on whatever action on your site creates leads/opportunities in Salesforce (typically a form fill of some type), you are going to need to create hidden form fields to pass at least Client ID and Track ID to Salesforce. This is how the fields in Step #1 are then populated in Salesforce.
Google’s documentation directly outlines this process under the Edit your lead form section, so I’ll defer to their very detailed process.
Once this is done properly and implemented on page (but not visible to the user on the page, merely on the back-end of the integration), these values will then pass to Salesforce upon your form submit, and move along the Lead and Opportunity milestones accordingly.
Step #3: Link GA360 + Salesforce - Owner: Analytics Team + Marketing Team
Once you have an email account set-up with both edit access for Google Analytics and authorized access to the Salesforce instance to read these Lead and Opportunity fields, you can then use Data Import at the property level in GA360 to create this linkage. This process allows you to do several things, such as:
- Choose which Salesforce milestones will generate events to pass into GA360
- Chose any optional attributes or product data to import (you can use custom dimensions and/or custom metrics for this)
- Preview the data from Salesforce that will pass into GA360
- Set up the cadence of the recurring import (hourly is the highly recommended default)
Step #4: Data Validation & Analysis & Insights - Owner: Analytics Team
From there, it can take up to over a day for your first Salesforce data to appear as events in GA360. Once it does appear, you can start to QA the data vs. your Salesforce instance, use the events as you would any other GA data point, and find your useful insights. Using great data visualization tools like Google Data Studio, Tableau and PowerBI you can then show these results in easy to understand ways.
Keep in mind, this is a heavily simplified version of the process, and I strongly suggest anyone who is approaching this integration to read Google’s documentation (likely several times, bookmark it, hang it on your fridge, memorize it so you can spread the Salesforce + GA360 gospel, etc.)
How To Ensure You Hit Your Timeline
From my experience with this integration, I think there are a few key things you can do to ensure that you hit your timeline:
- Have All Teams on the Same Page - This has been reinforced several times, but not having clear ownership, timelines, and knowledge spread across all teams for this process makes it so much harder. Have a full kickoff with all teams, share your knowledge with everyone involved and encourage questions from all teams to get everything on the table as the process is taking place.
- Have A Clear Understanding of Value - People in your organization will be more likely to care about this integration is they clearly understand the value. Hopefully after reading this post, you can now easily communicate that!
- Identify Issues Right Away and QA at Each Step - Look for potential roadblocks either in cross-team communication, any customization to your Salesforce set-up, etc. This will ensure that you have a set plan to adjust on the fly and execute what you need to do.
Now with this information, you have what you need to build your bridge between Salesforce Sales Cloud and GA360.
If GA360 seems like something you’d be interested in, Seer is a GA360 Premium Reseller: