Integrating Salesforce Sales Cloud with Google Analytics: Benefits and Limitations [Part 1 of 4]
Salesforce and Google Analytics can share data in various ways, but sales teams are often surprised by the limitations of the official product integrations. This post details the way standard Google Analytics Salesforce integration works.
This post is the first of a four-part series about sharing data between Google Analytics and Salesforce. I will start by describing the benefits and limitations of the standard integrations provided by Google and Salesforce. Be sure to keep an eye out for more posts on how to overcome these limitations and supercharge your Sales Cloud with behavioral data.
How do Google Analytics and Salesforce Compliment One Another?
If you have a website, there is an 85% chance that you are already familiar with Google Analytics (source). For this article, what’s important to understand about Google Analytics is that it provides a comprehensive view of how groups of users discover and interact with your website and mobile applications. While it is possible to use Google Analytics to analyze an individual user’s behavior, the tool is certainly not built to be used this way (outside of a single report template: “user explorer”).
The Salesforce technology stack includes multiple products, but in this article, I will focus on the Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud. Here is a quick summary of each and what you get when you integrate them with Google Analytics.
[NOTE: As I write this, the integrations for Google Analytics 4 have not been released yet, so the links shared below will send you to the Universal Analytics documentation.]
Salesforce Marketing Cloud + Google Analytics
The Salesforce Marketing Cloud provides tools for engaging with your customers and creating personalized experiences for them (such as automated emails and product recommendations). This is done by creating campaigns that target groups of users.
When youintegrate the Marketing Cloud with Google Analytics, you are sharing campaign data with Google Analytics. This is done by simply adding UTM parameters to your campaign links in the Marketing Cloud and then pulling reports from the Google Analytics API to see how well those campaigns performed.
As mentioned above, Google Analytics (and the API used by Salesforce) is built for analyzing**groups**of users, which is exactly how the reporting in Marketing Cloud works. As a result, the two tools provide helpful information for marketers who need to compare the relative performance of multiple campaigns against one another (you can learn more about the benefits of this integration here).
Salesforce Sales Cloud + Google Analytics
The Salesforce Sales Cloud, however, has a very different purpose from the Marketing Cloud. It provides tools for understanding individual customers, recording detailed information about them, and providing your sales team with the required information to drive meaningful interactions with them and ultimately close deals.
When you integrate the Sales Cloud with Google Analytics, you send individual users’ activity to Google Analytics as it is modified in the Sales Cloud. Google Analytics does not send any information to the Sales Cloud because Google Analytics is not very useful for pulling information about individual users.
This integration is primarily used by B2B sites where the objective of the website or mobile app is to drive potential customers to submit a lead form, and then the transaction happens offline. This integration works by passing the Google Analytics ID (known as the “client ID” or “user pseudo ID” in GA4) into Salesforce when the user submits a lead form on the website or app. Then, Salesforce will fire an event back to Google Analytics when the sales team updates the Salesforce record to indicate that the deal was won.
Marketers love this integration because it allows them to compare the relative performance of their campaigns within Google Analytics and because they can use it to calculate the true cost per acquisition (rather than simply a cost per lead).
Unfortunately, however, neither of these integrations are very useful to Sales teams. In the next section, I will review the limitations of these standard integrations.
The Limitations of the Google Analytics Salesforce Integration for Sales Teams
Marketing and Sales teams measure performance in different ways. The standard integrations between Google Analytics and Salesforce are not as valuable for Sales teams (who manage relationships with individual leads) as they are for Marketing teams (who are concerned with groups of people). Here’s why:
Although Google Analytics is a treasure trove of individual behavioral data (pages viewed, documents downloaded, videos played, etc.), the Sales Cloud integration does not import this data into your lead records.
It is common to assume that the word “integration” implies that this type of data will be made available in Sales Cloud. But it just isn’t. I’ve explained this to many Sales teams, who often respond with surprise and frustration. The official solution to this problem is to use the Collect Tracking Code, but no one wants to duplicate all of their Analytics tags in a new tool, and even if you do, you’ve got to jump through a variety of complex hoops to make this work.
This is unfortunate because the data stored within Google Analytics could help sales teams in a variety of ways, including:
- Drive meaningful conversations: Quick and easy access to a customer’s website or app interaction history can reveal which products they are interested in or which challenges they are investigating with the support team.
- Prioritize time: Website and app interaction history can be used for lead scoring and help the sales team understand who is most likely to make a purchase.
- Respond to changes: Notifying the sales team when an old lead is back on the website can reignite stale relationships.
But don’t despair, because I’ve got some good news.
The Good News about Google Analytics Salesforce Integration Tools
Google and Salesforce have each launched new products in the past year that make data more accessible and transferable between systems. As a result, it is finally possible to access your Analytics data and import it to your lead, contact, and opportunity records within Salesforce Sales Cloud.
The following posts in this series will provide an overview of how behavioral data from Google Analytics can be made available within Sales Cloud records, detailed use cases of how your sales team can benefit from the integration, and an additional demonstration of how customers who have purchased Tableau CRM can take this to the next level!