Email is a critical channel of communication. Whether you are attempting to make contact with a prospect for the first time or sending information to a customer to resolve a service ticket – email is a communication method at the heart of your business. Because so much communication occurs over email, it’s imperative to log business-related emails inside of your CRM to maintain a 360 degree view of your customer. Figuring out the best way to do this can be daunting because there are so many options. This blog post will guide you through the various email options available on the Salesforce platform.
Basic Email Logging and Tracking Options in Salesforce
The most vanilla, out of box option, is to send an email from a Contact/Lead record on the Activity History related list on the record. You have the option to use a text or HTML template that can pull in information stored on the Contact/Lead record, such as the contact’s first name. When sending with a HTML template you can also see how many times the email has been opened. By default, emails are set via the Salesforce server but appear to come from the user’s email address. However, recipients using Gmail may notice a “sent via Salesforce” notation on the email.
Salesforce has an option to setup email relay so that emails are sent through your primary email server (ex. Gmail or Exchange server) too. The user clicks to send the email while on the Contact/Lead record in Salesforce, and the email is sent from your company server, instead of Salesforce’s server. This offers the added benefit of storing sent emails in your sent folder in your outbox.
Another option is for user to continue to use their existing email client, but set up an auto-bcc feature where emails are automatically related to Lead/Contact based on email address. For emails that are not found in Salesforce, the user has the ability to choose to relate the unresolved email to a record in Salesforce, or to discard them.
Salesforce for Outlook (SFO)
Email client plugins offer different levels of integration and features to integrate email with Salesforce. Salesforce for Outlook is a desktop-based plugin for Outlook that allows users to see and interact with Salesforce data including logging emails (with attachments), creating/editing Contacts, Opportunity information, and syncing Events and Tasks. Because the plug-in a desktop software installation I do not recommend my clients to leverage this option. Salesforce for Outlook is highly dependent on your operating system and many other system dependent features that it is very costly for a company to install and maintain.
Lightning for Outlook and Lightning Sync
There are also plugins for Exchange servers, Outlook, and Office 365. Salesforce offers the Salesforce App for Office 365 (recently branded Lightning for Outlook and Lightning Sync). Not to worry–you do not need to have activated the Lightning Experience to take advantage of the Lightning for Outlook or Lightning Sync. Lightning for Outlook, previously dubbed the Lightning App for Outlook is a cloud-based software plug-in that gives you contextual Salesforce information and the ability to interact with Salesforce from your inbox. You can search and view standard and custom object right from Outlook, log incoming emails with attachments, and it works on Outlook for Mac. You can simply install it once on your server, and deploy it remotely to all employee mailboxes, if desired. You need to have Outlook 365 server or Exchange 2013 Server or newer. Please note it does not matter where your Exchange Server it hosted—be it on Rackspace or somewhere else–you can still use Lightning for Outlook. The really cool thing here is that it works with both the desktop version of Outlook and the Office 365 webmail. You install, your employees boot up Outlook (or go to the web version) when they get into the office in the morning and the add-in will be there–it’s that simple! Also, make sure to check out Lightning Sync (previously in beta as Exchange Sync) which is great to use in combination with Lightning for Outlook to sync your Events and Contacts.
Note that Lightning for Outlook currently does not allow you to log an outbound email to Salesforce as you send it (known as Send and Log feature in Salesforce for Outlook). This feature is coming though. You can stay up-to-date here.
Salesforce Inbox: Advanced Email Logging and Tracking Options for Salesforce
Don’t worry Gmail users I didn’t forget you! The Salesforce Inbox Chrome plugin is ideal for you! Salesforce Inbox is particularly great for sales users. They can view when a prospect opens an email, set automated reminders for a certain email thread to come back into their inbox, and has great calendar integration to predictively suggest meeting times for a sales meeting. In addition, there is also a mobile app (iOS & Android) that you can use so that you can send tracked emails on the go! With Salesforce Inbox you can log all of your emails to Salesforce as you would expect, and leverage existing Salesforce templates too! You can also CREATE new records (both standard objects like Contacts and custom objects), as opposed to Lightning for Outlook where you can only view records and log emails. This product is one of Salesforce’s most cutting edge products in terms of artificial intelligence. Note: there is a fee for this plugin and mobile app.
Salesforce Inbox now supports Outlook too. You can use Outlook 2013 client or later, or webmail. You need to have a Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 or 2016 (or Outlook 365). There is limited functionality on Outlook for Mac and Microsoft Exchange 2013 Server.
Key Considerations When Logging Email to Salesforce
Email tracking gives users the ability to see when an email was opened, a link was clicked, or an attachment was downloaded. Both SalesforceIQ and 3rd party apps such as CirrusInsight provide this capability. In addition, there are other plugins such as Sidekick and Vision. Key considerations when choosing an email tracking solution are:
- What department will be using the tool?
- What email client is currently in use?
- Is the email client standardized across the organization?
- Are email tracking options required?
- Is mobile access required?
- What level of control should users have when choosing which emails to log?
Both Salesforce Inbox and CirrusInsight can provide the user a high level of control as to which emails to log in Salesforce. This is useful because there is no reason to log an employee’s email to their dentist in your CRM. In contrast, a 3rd party app called Vision by InsideSales.com, sits at the server level and, by default, logs all emails and the user has little interaction or control.
UPDATE: As part of the Spring ’17 Release Salesforce has announced Einstein AI integration with Email. Einstein will be able to read your emails and recommend prescriptive actions like reducing the probability of an Opportunity when a prospect mentions a competitors name. We should be learning more about this in February!
Email Logging and Tracking with Pardot
Finally, if you are already using the Pardot it will also give you great email client integration. Pardot has email client plugins for many clients including Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook, and Gmail. When using the plugins you can track clicks in these emails, as well as, have them logged as both a Prospect Activity in Pardot and an Activity in Salesforce. These plug-ins are officially still no longer supported or offers, but if you have an older Pardot account you can still download and use them.
For a small fee you can use the Pardot Engage tool. Engage empowers Salesforce users to send Pardot emails right from the Contact/Lead record in Salesforce.
Similar to the Pardot email client plugins a Pardot Activity is logged, and an Activity in Salesforce can be too, if desired. This is a great tool to leverage if marketing prepares content (slide decks, case studies, or white papers) and email templates to assist sales.
Pardot has some really great reporting features which can be accessed from both inside of Salesforce and in a desktop application to see the most recent Leads/Contacts engaging with your emails. This is great (albeit creepy) for being able to call prospects when they open a quote/proposal that you sent them. I have personally made a big sale after a prospect went cold opened my email again 6 months later, and I called him up and closed the deal!
As an added bonus Pardot also provides a plugin for Gmail that gives you context on your prospects, and also enables your sales reps to take action from Gmail such as adding a prospect to a nurture campaign or to send them a tracked, templated email.
An important difference between using Engage in Salesforce vs. in Gmail is that when sending from Salesforce it uses Pardot’s email server, but when sending from Gmail it uses your own email server. For that reason it is only recommended to use Engage inside of Salesforce with warm leads. It is against Pardot’s terms of service to use their email server to send emails to Leads who have not opted in.