Salesforce SMB service helps lead gen

If your e-commerce site is an important source of customer leads, a new service could be just what you need to streamline the work of turning a new lead into a new customer.

Salesforce Group Edition is the successor to the company’s Team Edition customer relationship management service. The major enhancement is its tight integration with the Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) advertising service. The integration with AdWords is the best I’ve seen, as it allows you to easily determine which search engine advertising keywords deliver the most new customers and added revenues to your business. You will need to make a few modifications to your Web site to take advantage of this feature, however.

Complete AdWords Integration
A PPC ad service can drive more visitors to your Web site. You write text ads that display next to the results for specific terms, or keywords, that people enter in search engines. You pay for each visitor who clicks on your ad and is then redirected to your Web site. (Read more about AdWords at “Search-Engine Ads”.)

The ability to track the trail of PPC ad clicks, from the initial site visit to the sales lead and ultimately to a sale, is not new. Generally you can see this information in several places: your AdWords account, your Web server logs, and a CRM application.

The elegance of Salesforce Group Edition lies in the way it seamlessly assembles the data from all of these sources in one place so that viewing and analyzing the results of your PPC ads is easier. You can readily see which keywords bring you the biggest bang for your advertising buck. Since the lead-source information updates every 15 minutes, you can track results almost as they happen.

Tracking leads from other sources
Unfortunately, Salesforce Group Edition isn’t integrated in the same way with other PPC ad services, such as Microsoft adCenter and Yahoo Search Marketing; though you certainly can use Salesforce Group Edition with these services, the reports aren’t as complete. However, you can also employ the service to track other leads, such as telephone inquiries, e-mail, trade shows, and referrals from other Web sites.

Automate visitor tracking
To make full use of the AdWords feature, you need to add a new Web-to-Lead inquiry form to your site to collect information from visitors, such as name and contact details. In addition, you must insert a bit of JavaScript tracking code into each page of your site. Salesforce Group Edition generates code for both new elements that you can copy and paste into your Web editing application.

You must also enter your Google AdWords Customer ID and password into Salesforce Group Edition. If need be, you can create an AdWords account from within Salesforce.

Group edition: Right for you?
If you don’t require sophisticated lead tracking or AdWords integration, a simple online CRM service such as Highrise may suit you better.

Also, Salesforce Group Edition lacks features available in’s more expensive products — and unlike NetSuite, which offers a complete end-to-end online business management service, Group Edition concentrates on CRM. For example, you must enter the amount of a sale manually; the service doesn’t automatically generate a sales invoice. You can, however, enable integration with third-party accounting apps that do include invoicing, such as QuickBooks, via one of the add-on services available at Salesforce AppExchange.

Salesforce Group Edition costs US$600 per year for five users. A free seven-day trial is available, and you may be eligible for a $50 AdWords credit if you establish a new Google AdWords account via Salesforce. Normal Google AdWords advertising charges apply.

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