Four Types of CRM Add-Ons

Types of CRM Add-Ons

If you’re considering a new CRM system for your organization, as part of the evaluation and selection process, you may have discovered a host of available third-party add-on functionality for CRM systems.

Types of CRM Add-Ons

CRM add-ons range from small utilities to complete productivity applications.

Not all add-ons require additional payment. For example, third-party vendors often provide free apps to connect CRM to their platforms.

Here are four general types of CRM add-on functionality:

1. Free Native Functionality

These are entirely free CRM add-ons that developers release for various reasons. Native means that the functionality runs entirely inside the CRM system.

Sometimes, vendors will offer these apps as loss leaders in order to subsequently market paid products.

In other cases, developers will post free apps out of altruism or a desire to be recognized — they’ve come up with something useful and want to share it with the world.

2. Paid Native Functionality

This type of CRM add-on generally adds a complete set of incremental functionality within a CRM application.

Examples are project management, accounting, commission tracking, and CPQ apps.

Since these are effectively entire applications within a CRM application, the vendors typically charge standard app prices.

3. Free Integration Between CRM and Standalone Apps

Third parties that offer products that run in a separate environment from CRM (i.e., non-native applications) will often provide their integration packages for free.

For example, email marketing, marketing automation, and eSignature vendors will generally not charge extra for packages that integrate CRM systems with their applications.

4. Paid Integration Between CRM and Standalone Apps

When third-party integration packages are developed by integration vendors instead of by the CRM or third-party ISV, there is an additional fee for the integration itself.

Sometimes, the add-on product ISV will charge extra for the CRM integration with their product. In these cases, three different payment streams are associated with CRM plus a third-party app.

For specific business requirements, evaluating CRM add-ons is critical to the overall evaluation process.

For example, ensuring the selected CRM system integrates seamlessly is essential if a marketing automation system is already in place. In other cases, the evaluation of CRM add-ons can be part of a later phase.

What Do CRM Professional Services Cost?

CRM Professional Services Costs

CRM user license costs are only part of the initial cost of a CRM system. Another cost is CRM professional services.

Some companies make the decision to self-implement their CRM system. This is usually because there are people in-house who provide a combination of CRM-related business analysis experience and the right level of technical aptitude to manage tasks ranging from system configuration to data migration.

CRM Professional Services Costs

Many companies look to third parties to perform some or all of their CRM implementation. Unlike the cost of CRM user licenses, the cost of CRM services is not based on straightforward unit pricing.

In fact, there is a very large range in what organizations pay for CRM professional services. Some companies use CRM with only some minor changes to the systems’ out-of-the-box configuration. Other companies consolidate functionality from multiple legacy database systems into their CRM system and develop custom integrations. These companies can end up spending well into five figures over the course of time.

Part of determining how much is spent on CRM professional services is how malleable the platform is. Often, a new entrant to the CRM space will have limited configuration and customization options. As the system matures, the configuration and development possibilities become more extensive.

There are several ways that CRM professional services can be quoted by service providers.

Flat Rate CRM Professional Services

CRM implementation firms sometimes quote a flat rate for what is variously called a QuickStart or a JumpStart package. The CRM vendor will tightly define the deliverables to protect themselves from scope creep. There may be a limit on the number of custom fields. It could be a defined number of training hours.

The price of a QuickStart package can range from $5,000 to $10,000 depending upon what’s included.

This quote type can appeal to a CRM customer, as it’s very predictable on the surface. Remember that any service work outside of the QuickStart’s parameters will normally require a change order.

A QuickStart-type package generally works best for smaller organizations. Mid-market companies and enterprises usually don’t fit into a QuickStart box.

Time and Materials Estimate

Even though there obviously aren’t materials involved with implementing a CRM system as there are with remodeling a house, the term “T&M” is often used for quotes that aren’t fixed prices.

A T&M estimate is usually crafted after one or more conversations.

Sometimes, the CRM customer will have defined and documented their business or functional requirements first. The more detailed the requirements are upfront, the more likely the CRM services vendor will be to provide what turns out to be an accurate estimate.

This is a sample template that was our starting point for estimates when we were in the CRM implementation business. We would estimate the level of effort for each task based on what we knew to that point. Invariably, there would be a “rob Peter to pay Paul” factor, as some tasks took less time than expected and others took more time.

CRM Professional Services Estimate Template

All professional services organizations have their own style in terms of how detailed they are in their pricing and how they describe the services that are to be delivered.

Some professional services organizations charge the same rate for any type of consulting service, whether it’s business analysis, system architecture, custom programming, or training.

Other organizations vary the rate based on the type of service or skill set. A senior consultant may command a higher hourly rate than a junior consultant.

A Pre-Purchased Block of Services

Certain CRM professional services organizations will sell a block of consulting hours at a reduced hourly rate. For example, if their normal hourly rate is $200, they may sell a 20-hour block for $3,600.

This is most useful after the initial CRM implementation when there’s a series of ongoing requirements that come up — but it’s not known in advance exactly what those requirements are going to be.

Five Levels of CRM Requirements

Five Levels of Requirements

Over the years, we have heard various terms that characterize a set of documented CRM requirements. Terms include a request for proposal, high-level requirements, blueprint, functional specification, specification plan, agile requirements, and more.

Labels aside, there are several levels of depth of CRM requirements. As we’ve maintained in previous posts, the deeper your team defines requirements before selecting a CRM system, the more successful your CRM implementation will be.

Five Levels of Requirements

1. Feature Requirements

A list of required system features has a format similar to the following, a format that can often be found in requests for proposals (RFPs). Feature requirements do not describe any specific behaviors.

They merely indicate whether the CRM system has some yet-to-be-specified degree of functionality in an area. Here’s an example of feature requirements.

The CRM system must support the following:

  • Contact management
  • Outlook integration
  • Google Workspace integration
  • Account management
  • Opportunity Management
  • Reports
  • Dashboards
  • Generative AI
  • Case management
  • Knowledge base
  • Chat
  • Field service
  • Workflow
  • Escalations
  • Email marketing integration

While creating a list of required features is a good starting point, it does not give CRM vendors enough information to tailor a demonstration to your company’s business requirements. In addition, it does not give service providers enough information to provide meaningful estimates.

CRM Features

2. Business Requirements

A high-level business requirements document analyzes current pain points and possible business solutions. It does not cover CRM product features per se. This document is usually derived from stakeholder and end-user interviews. The document can include problem/solution pairings and current state/desired future state pairings.

Ideally, the business requirements document should have an associated slide deck that can be used in a workshop to present and validate findings.

While business requirements are generally documented by someone who is a business analyst, some CRM experience can be helpful for the interview process and the assembling of interview information.

A general knowledge of what other companies have done to solve business issues and what’s realistic to expect from a CRM solution can help define business requirements.

3. Non-Functional Requirements

I have to admit that this requirements label is new to us. I discovered this label while reading Wikipedia’s definition of “functional requirements.” According to the Wikipedia article, “a non-functional requirement is a requirement that specifies criteria that can be used to judge the operation of a system, rather than specific behaviors.”

If we apply this label and definition to CRM, non-functional requirements can include criteria/requirement pairings such as:

  • Availability: 99.9% uptime
  • Scalability: Easily scalable to over 5,000 users and over 1,000,000 records
  • Backups: We should be able to download full database backups daily
  • Disaster Recovery: Redundant data centers with less than one hour of failover time
  • Location: Our information can only be in data centers within our country’s borders
  • Cost: The system must cost no more than $X per month

There is value in separating non-functional requirements such as these from functional requirements.

4. Functional Requirements

The functional requirements document takes the amount of detail to the next level.

Generally, functional requirements are expressed in the form “system must allow for doing this specific thing.”

  • Why the requirement is needed (what the current problem is)
  • A description of the required behavior
  • Details of a use case
  • Business results of addressing the requirement

We’ve developed a CRM functional requirements example document to get you jump-started.

5. System Design

Once again, citing a Wikipedia article, “the plan for implementing functional requirements is detailed in the system design.”

System design is, therefore, the process of defining and developing systems to satisfy specified requirements of the stakeholders and system users.

Also known as a blueprint or a specification, system design is the actual design of how the system should work. In the CRM world, this includes details like custom field names, data types, and picklist values. It includes workflow rules and data migration maps. Spreadsheets and flowcharting tools become a part of the document set.

It’s possible to combine several of the above levels. Functional requirements and system design can be part of the same document for smaller organizations.

CRM Marketing Campaigns vs. Marketing Automation Campaigns

CRM Campaigns vs. MA Campaigns

As the sales force automation and marketing automation worlds continue to converge, one of the issues that has arisen is a level of confusion resulting from the fact that salespeople and marketers have traditionally used the same words to describe different things.

CRM Marketing Campaigns vs. MA System Campaigns

One example of this is the fact that marketing automation systems variously refer to people as “Prospects” or “Contacts.” In the sales force automation world, a person or a company does not become a prospect until after interpersonal communication occurs and certain qualification criteria are met. Also, an unqualified person is typically a “Lead” before they are promoted to a “Contact.”

Something that has caused considerable confusion for marketers, especially when both a CRM and a marketing automation system are in place, is the word “campaign.” CRM campaigns differ from marketing automation campaigns in a number of ways. What “campaign” means also differs among marketing automation systems.

Traditional definitions of a marketing campaign include “specific activities designed to promote a product, service or business” and “a coordinated series of steps that can include promotion of a product through different mediums.”

CRM Marketing Campaigns

Just as different CRM systems have evolved differently over time, the concept of a campaign has been applied differently to different applications over time. CRM marketing campaign functionality was initially developed before online/inbound marketing was as prevalent as it is today.

Generally speaking, in CRM systems, a campaign is an entity or object that tracks a variety of information about an event, mailing, emailing or other marketing initiative. Leads and contacts can be members of one or more CRM campaigns.

Here is how to set up a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales campaign.

Here’s how to set one up in SugarCRM.

The following SlideShare provides an overview of a Salesforce campaign and also provides excellent insight into the CRM vendor perspective on campaigns.

A CRM campaign can include fields such as cost, expected revenue, start date and end date. A campaign can also have activity history associated with it. Common CRM elements such as custom fields, workflows and validation rules can be added to a campaign.

In CRM, it’s very common for users to manually add leads and contacts to campaigns and for administrators to import lists into campaigns.

Read about how to measure the financial success of your marketing →

Marketing Automation Campaigns

Unlike in CRM, a person can only be a member of only one campaign in most marketing automation systems. Also, Contacts are typically not manually added to campaigns or imported into campaigns as they are in CRM.

Instead, people become members of campaigns as a result of certain behaviors. For example, the submission of a specific form can result in a website visitor being associated with a particular campaign. Registering for an event can trigger the association with a marketing automation campaign.

Across marketing automation systems, “campaign” can range from a generalized reference to a rich area of functionality.

In Pardot, a campaign is a persistent item within the application, but a campaign has limited characteristics. A campaign is mainly used as a unifying element, as all forms, landing pages, email templates, prospects, etc. are required to be related to a campaign.

In 2019, Salesforce introduced Connected Campaigns for Salesforce and Pardot. This allows for building, “a 1:1 relationship between Salesforce and Pardot campaigns.”

ActiveCampaign‘s term for an email send is “Campaign.” A new Automation can be created from the Campaign menu. An Automation can be crafted into a marketing campaign.

ActiveCampaign Campaign Types

HubSpot has a relatively rich concept of a campaign. HubSpot offers examples of the types of campaigns that can be run using their Campaign App.

Feature-laden Marketo offers Smart Campaign functionality. With a Smart Campaign, “the second someone does something,” a flow (series of steps) can be triggered.

CRM Campaign and Marketing Automation System Interaction

Because of differing concepts of what “campaign” means, with CRM and marketing automation system pairings, campaigns do not synchronize bi-directionally, as many marketers may naturally expect.

Instead, a CRM campaign lead or contact can become a part of a marketing automation segment or list via an import or a rule.

Depending on the level of integration, a marketing automation prospect or contact can be added to a CRM campaign via a rule, which is an explicit acknowledgment by marketing automation vendors that CRM campaigns are different animals.

Before adopting a marketing automation system and integrating it with a CRM system, marketers should be aware of the differing concepts of what the word “campaign” means in different applications so that they can better prepare and best execute on essential marketing tasks.

8 Ways Your Business Can Benefit From ActiveCampaign Integration With Salesforce

ActiveCampaign Salesforce Integration Mapping

ActiveCampaign’s built-in CRM is sufficient some organizations. However, other organizations that use ActiveCampaign need the full power of Salesforce. While Salesforce is generally perceived as a high-end CRM, Salesforce Essentials is an affordable option for small business.

Conversely, for Salesforce small to mid size business customers that have made the decision to adopt a marketing automation system, ActiveCampaign is a surprisingly powerful customer experience platform that’s worth considering. It also comes at a lower cost than other popular marketing systems.

ActiveCampaign released direct integration with Salesforce in 2019.

Tailoring the ActiveCampaign Salesforce integration

The AppExchange app for Salesforce has a number of integration options. You can decide whether to synchronize only Salesforce Leads with ActiveCampaign Contacts or to also sync Salesforce Contacts. You can choose which standard and custom fields to map between platforms.

ActiveCampaign Salesforce Integration Mapping

Layering On More Value

Through the use of custom fields, Salesforce Lightning Process Builder and ActiveCampaign Automations, you can add a lot of business value to the stock integration between the two platforms—without the need for hiring a developer.

Part of this value is pre-baked into freely available ActiveCampaign recipes.

The following will serve as examples of how the integration can be tailored. You will likely come up with your own set of requirements and resulting configurations.
1. Qualify website Leads before sending them to Salesforce

If a visitor to your website submits their information through a form and is then added to an ActiveCampaign list, you can require that the Contact take further action before they’re synchronized to Salesforce as a new Lead.

For example, the Contact must open a follow-up email or they need to make a return visit to your website before they are passed through to sales.

This will allow your salespeople to focus on the highest quality leads.
2. Enrich website leads prior to and after sending them to Salesforce

Before an ActiveCampaign Contact is passed through to Salesforce as a Lead, additional information can first be added to that Contact. This information can be synchronized with Salesforce. Upon Lead creation in Salesforce, a Process can be used to add even more information to the Lead.

For example, the name of the form that the Lead filled in can be added and synced to Salesforce. The Lead Source can be set to “Website Form” on Lead creation.

Your salespeople will be better informed when following up with Leads.

ActiveCampaign Salesforce Lead Enrichment
3. Allow your salespeople to add a Lead to an ActiveCampaign email sequence

A salesperson has a conversation with a Lead. The Lead’s organization is a fit for your products or services, but the timing is not right. You may want to send an informative email out to the Lead every month or quarter to stay top of mind.

A salesperson has access to a button that lets them select any ActiveCampaign Automation that has been labeled “Salesforce.”

Send Salesforce Lead to ActiveCampaign Nurture
4. Allow salespeople to subscribe a Lead to your blog

If you manage your blog subscriptions in ActiveCampaign, with the Lead’s permission, a salesperson can add a Lead to your blog subscription list.

This is another way to keep your brand in front of a Lead or a customer.

Subscribe Salesforce Lead to Blog
5. Halt an automated follow up series of emails when a salesperson makes progress with a Lead

A website visitor downloads a checklist or other digital asset in exchange for their name and email address. You have set ActiveCampaign to automatically send two or more follow up emails. But if a salesperson gets into direct contact with the Lead, the automated emails should be suspended.

You can instruct ActiveCampaign to halt an automated email sequence when a Lead progresses to a Status such as “Contacted”, “Working” or “Qualified” in Salesforce.
6. Automatically add Contacts at new customers to targeted email lists in ActiveCampaign

An Opportunity is marked Closed Won in Salesforce by a salesperson. You now have a new customer. The new customer Account has associated Contacts with different roles within their organization. Moving forward, you want to keep Contacts current with information that’s relevant to their role.

For example, “buyer” contacts can receive upcoming renewal notifications. Technical contacts can receive security alerts and similar notifications.
7. Inform salespeople of customer website activity

If you add ActiveCampaign tracking code to your website, the website activity of Leads and customers can be displayed in Salesforce.

Salespeople can use the information about someone’s website engagement to direct the next email or conversation.
8. Manage partner referred Leads

If you receive leads from referral partners, you can create an efficient end-to-end process for capturing and tracking partner referred leads. You can also ensure that partners are compensated for those valuable referrals so that partners keep the referrals coming.

In a future post, I’ll outline the mechanics for capturing and managing partner referred leads using ActiveCampaign and Salesforce CRM.

Sales and marketing agreement on functionality

These are just a few examples of how you can take the ActiveCampaign to Salesforce integration to the next level.

There should be ongoing conversations between the sales and marketing teams to define and refine the rules that determine what information is transferred between systems and under what conditions.

If you’d like to discuss integration requirements specific to your business, please contact us.

Behavioral Segmentation for SMB Marketers Made Easy

Marketing Segments

Marketing SegmentsBehavioral segmentation is the process of grouping an audience based on how they interact with your emails, your website posts & pages and through other actions that you can measure.

The idea is that once a group is created, members of that segment can receive more targeted and relevant (to them) communications in the future. This, in turn, can increase engagement, improve customer retention and generate more sales opportunities.

Read more

How to Set Up a WordPress Blog Subscription Using ActiveCampaign

Subscribe to WordPress Blog

Subscribe to WordPress BlogMany company WordPress blogs do not offer an email subscription to readers. This is a missed opportunity for better engaging those who have found benefit to your blog content.

Companies that do offer email subscriptions may be using the subscription feature of Google Feedburner (as we did until recently). While Feedburner’s subscription function is convenient, marketers can take greater control of the process by managing WordPress blog subscriptions within their marketing automation system.

Read more

Visual Workflow Builders: ActiveCampaign vs HubSpot vs Pardot

Marketing Automation Visual Flow Builder

Marketing Automation Visual Flow BuilderMany marketing automation vendors have added visual marketing workflow builders to their platform at one point or another.

Three vendors with similar offerings on this front are ActiveCampaign, HubSpot and Salesforce Pardot.

Aside from making the implementation of rules & logic easier for marketers, these builders help ensure that the right person gets the right message at the right time. They also allow marketers to perform their own behavioral segmentation.

Read more

Why Effective B2B Marketing Segmentation Is Difficult and What to Do About it

B2B Marketing Segmentation

B2B Marketing SegmentationMany B2B marketers are guilty of blanketing a wide variety of prospects with the exact same outbound content, regardless of a prospect’s industry, job role or company size.

Similarly, a lot of marketers send the exact same email message to all customer contacts, regardless of a contact’s role or which of their company’s products or services a contact’s company is currently using.

In both these cases, there’s low to no marketing segmentation—which means one big target for each.

When too many email recipients frequently receive irrelevant (to them) information, there are several consequences. One consequence is a high unsubscribe rate. The other is fewer email opens. A low ratio of opens to sends can lead to an overall decline in sender reputation for a company.

Segmenting B2B leads and contacts into smaller groups and creating more diverse content results in more relevant, targeted communications. But effective B2B marketing segmentation is easier said than done.

Let’s first look at what factors make B2B segmentation difficult. Then we’ll look at some potential solutions.

Barriers to effective B2B marketing segmentation

The data source for marketing segmentation is often a combination of a CRM system and a marketing automation system. Many businesses use best of breed CRM & MA solutions and synchronize them with one another.

But even with these tools in place, effective B2B marketing segmentation can require a lot of time and effort. Here are some of the reasons.

People’s job titles are all over the map

Customer Happiness ManagerIf you target customer service managers with one of your products or services, wouldn’t it be great if every customer service manager in your target list had the exact same job title on their business card?

Try exporting a list of contact titles from your CRM system and then pivot on the titles in a spreadsheet. You will likely be surprised by how many job titles in a list are unique from the rest.

I recently pivoted on one of a customer’s target contact lists and found out that all but 18 of 383 contacts in the list had a unique title.

Buyers in different size companies have different job roles

B2B marketers may need to target different job roles in companies of different sizes.

For example, while the CFO at a smaller company may be directly involved in the purchase of one of your company’s products or services, this may not be the case at a larger company.

B2B companies sell into multiple sectors

Another dimension for many B2B companies is industry or sector.

Some companies have different flavors of their offering for different industries. It’s common for a product or service to solve different types of problems across sectors.

Different buying responsibilities across target companies

Buying decisions for the same product or service may be made by different roles, depending on the organization.

A example is CRM buying. Sometimes CRM is a purchase driven by the VP of Sales and sometimes it’s an IT purchase.

A lack of online profile data

As consumers, we’re constantly providing a valuable flow of our demographic, psychographic, behavioral and geographic data to B2C marketers. Where we drive, what we purchase, what streaming series we watch, who we vote for, what we post, and a lot of other inputs—this is all data that is being collected, fed upstream, and used by B2C marketers to digitally target us.

But as business employees or owners, we’re not feeding nearly as much useful data upstream. The B2B marketer’s vision of us is much more obscure.

Incomplete business data

If customer purchase history is locked up in an ERP system and not available in a CRM system, it’s very difficult to target people based on what product or service their company has from us—and, more important, what they could be buying from us.

❓The CEO may have asked why we are not selling more B widgets to our A widget customers.


Not enough time to strategize and plan

For busy marketing departments with many competing priorities, it can seem that there aren’t enough hours in the day to strategize on a segmentation approach.

A lack of internal resources

Even if there’s a solid strategy and a plan for segmenting contacts, a company may not have the resources to make all the necessary record updates.

Also, the beauty of sending the same message to everyone is that only one message needs to be authored. With segmentation comes a greater content development effort and therefore more resource requirements.

Approaches to Better B2B Segmentation

SegmentsOne level of solution is to devote resources to consolidate and normalize the important dimensions in CRM and marketing automation databases.

When it comes to the available data values for a given dimension, less is often more for better segmentation.

Role buckets

If you distill an unmanageably large number of different job titles into a much smaller number of roles, it will be easier to target the right people with your marketing messages.

Step 1 is to define the roles and then Step 2 is to map titles to roles. This takes a lot of manual effort but may be worth it in the long run.

Automatic role assignment is a good use case for artificial intelligence. An AI could consume existing mappings and learn from those to perform future mappings.

Company size (revenue or number of employees)

Revenue is a dimension that can have a large number of different values. If the company size or revenue field is a dollar amount, there could be 100% unique values across records.

In finance, simple company segmentation is small cap, mid cap and large cap. Consider dividing your market’s company size into two or three buckets.

Industries or sectors

Different big data sources can have varying names for the same industry.

Start by coming up with the right set of target industry or sector names as they apply to your company. Then map external data source names to your naming conventions.

Your internal list of target industries or sectors may differ substantially from the default list of industry values that your CRM system comes with. You can effectively ignore a CRM system’s out of the box industry pick list values.

Behavioral segmentation

Hubspot Workflow Sample ActionsWith the right tools in place, email recipient and website visitor behaviors can be captured.

Whether you’re using actions in a HubSpot Workflow, a Pardot Engagement Program or an ActiveCampaign Automation, there are many ways you can turn behavior into useful data points for refining segments.

Tools like these allow for automatically updating Contact records with new field values, tags, list membership, campaign membership and more.

🎯 Behavioral segmentation is an underutilized “secret weapon” that’s available to many marketers within their company’s marketing automation system.


Allocating time & resources to pull it all together

If marketing can make a business case that more targeted outbound communications will result in more marketing qualified leads and more cross-sell opportunities, it will be easier to allocate time and obtain resources.

One approach is to start by segmenting contacts on one dimension and then measure results. If there are positive results, expand segmentation to other dimensions.

CRM Cost Calculator

CRM Calculator

Use this CRM cost calculator to estimate your organization’s total CRM investment over the number of years you specify.

CRM Cost Calculator

The total cost of CRM is more than just the CRM subscription fees. We have considered multiple levels of expense.

The fields contain default values. You can input/select your values.

If you do not plan to subscribe to add-on products, you can set that cost to 0 or blank.

This will vary depending up on which CRM you select. See what popular CRM vendors charge here.
Many organizations subcribe to add-on products. Learn more about add-on products here.
The estimated per user cost of professional services for CRM implementation. In mid-sized companies and enterprises, it's not uncommon for this to be at least $1,000 per user.
The estimated per user cost for ongoing CRM modifications after the first year.
All CRM systems involve some level of ongoing administration. If you plan to have a full time administrator, this should be 100%.
According to, the median salary for a CRM administrator is $85,000. You can change the salary.

Remember that the per-user cost of implementing CRM can vary widely depending on how customized the solution is.

How To Set Up Salesforce Files Connect for Google Drive

Salesforce Files Connect for Google Drive allows specified users to add Google Drive files to the Files section or a Lightning Page component of any record.

The Salesforce Files tab will show Google Drive as a Connected Source. A custom tab called Google Drive can be created. This tab can have list views like any other tab.

Google Drive Files on Lightning Page Component

Setting up Files Connect for Google Drive requires administrative access to both Salesforce and the Google Cloud Platform console (the same admin login as Google Workspace).

The same username should be used for logging into both. This may mean temporarily making a Google Workspace admin a Salesforce System Administrator or vice versa.

While the following may seem like a lot of steps, the ability to set up secure server-to-server integration in about 30 minutes represents a small sliver of time compared to setting up other types of system integrations.

📝 Cloud vendors frequently make changes to their user interfaces, so what you see in Salesforce and the Google Cloud Platform console may not precisely match all the screenshots below.

⚠️ Access to Shared drives is not officially supported.

Salesforce Files Connect Setup

In Salesforce Setup, search for the words files connect. Click on the Files Connect result.

Search for Files Connect

Enable Files Connect with the following settings:

Files Connect Settings

Salesforce Permission Set Setup

In Salesforce Setup, search on the word permission. Click Permission Sets.

Salesforce Search Permission Sets

Create a new permission set named Files Connect. Leave the License field value as None.

Files Connect Permission Set

In the Permission Set, select System Permissions. Click the Edit button.

Files Connect System Permissions

Check the Files Connect Cloud checkbox and then save.

Files Cloud Connect System Permission

Assign the permission set to users:

Assign Files Connect Permission Set

Salesforce Auth. Providers Setup

In Setup, search on the word auth. Click on the Auth. Providers result.

Salesforce Setup Search: Auth. Providers

Create a new Auth. Provider.

In the Provider Type field, select Open ID Connect. In the Name field, enter Google Drive. Add placeholder values to the four required files shown below. Click Save.

Salesforce Create New Auth. Provider

After saving, a Callback URL will be assigned in the Salesforce Configuration section.

Salesforce New Auth. Provider Callback URL

Copy/paste the Callback URL into a text editor.

Callback URL Text Editor

Google Cloud Platform Setup

In Google Cloud Platform, click on Select a project (or an existing project name) and then click New Project.

GCP Create New Project

Name the project Files Connect Google Drive.

GCP - New Files Connect Project

Search for and select the Google Drive API.

GCP - Search For Google Drive API

Click the Enable button to enable the Google Drive API.

GCP - Enable Google Drive API

While still in the Files Connect Google Drive project, click the Create Credentials button.

GCP Project - Create Credentials

Select OAuth client ID.

GCP - Create Credentials

Click the Configure consent screen button.

In the consent screen, under Application Type, select Internal. Give the application a name, such as Files Connect for Google Drive.

GCP - OAuth Credentials

Under Authorized domains, add Click Save.

GCP - Authorized Domains

Select Web Application. In the Name field, enter Salesforce. Paste the callback URL from your text editor into the Authorized redirect URIs section. Click the Create button.

GCP - Creat OAuth Client ID

A client ID and client secret will be created.

GCP OAuth ID Client Secret

Copy the client ID and paste it into the Consumer Key field of the Auth. Provider Edit screen. Copy the client secret and paste it into the Consumer Secret field.

Salesforce Auth. Provider URLs

Copy and paste the following URLs into the corresponding fields in the Auth. Provider Edit screen (above).

Authorize Endpoint URL:
Token Endpoint URL:
User Info Endpoint URL:
Default Scopes: openid email profile

Salesforce External Data Source Setup

In Setup, search on the words external data. Click External Data Sources.

Salesforce Setup - Search on External Data

Create a new External Data Source.

Salesforce New External Data Source

In the New External Data Source Screen, enter the following values:

External Data Source: Google Drive
Name: Google_Drive
Type: Files Connect: Google Drive
Authentication Provider: Google Drive

Leave the default values in the other fields.

Salesforce Google Drive External Data Source

Click the Save button. You will be taken to the Google Workspace sign-in screen. Select your Google Workspace account and enter your password if prompted.

Sign In With Google

After logging into your Google Workspace account, you will be returned to External Data Sources and will see your Google Workspace username in the Administration Authentication Status field.

External Data Sources Validate Sync

Go back to the Files Connect permission set and add the External Data Source you created earlier to the right-hand Enabled External Data Sources column.

Files Connect Permission Set External

Salesforce External Object Setup

In the External Data Source for Google Drive, click on the Validate and Sync button. This will synchronize the Google Drive schema to Salesforce. Don’t worry, it will not synchronize files into Salesforce.

An External Object will be created and the bottom section will appear.

External Data Sources External Object

Click the Edit link under Action. In the edit screen, give the Google Drive external object a user-friendly label such as “Google Drive”.

Salesforce External Object Google Drive

Salesforce Google Drive Tab Setup

In Setup, search on the word tabs. Click Tabs.

Salesforce Setup Search Tabs

Click the New button.

Salesforce New Custom Tab

In the Object picklist, select Google Drive. Select a tab style or upload your own icon.

Salesforce Custom Tab Object Style

Complete the setup by assigning the tab to the appropriate Profiles.

Users will now be able to add Google Drive files to Salesforce Files. They will also be able to create list views of Google Drive files in the Google Drive tab.

Sales and Marketing Synergy: How Can it Be Achieved?

Sales & Marketing Synergy

Sales and marketing synergy is a regularly covered topic in business media. The concept is often discussed within organizations.

Over the years, sales and marketing departments at many companies have been at odds with one another. In some businesses, the relationship between marketing and sales is downright contentious. Each complains about the other behind their backs.

Sales & Marketing Synergy

It’s a well-documented problem. Many have written about breaking down “the wall” between sales and marketing. Ultimately, the two departments are on the same team.

As professions, marketing, and sales tend to attract different types of people — people who operate differently and are incentivized differently. Marketers and salespeople don’t always spend much time hanging out together at the office or outside of work.

Sales may feel that marketing is not communicating the right message in digital collateral like PDFs. Marketing may feel that their developed messages are not adequately communicated to buyers.

There can be financial tension between marketing and sales. Sales may disagree with the size of the marketing budget. Sales may also feel that products are priced too high.

Defining “Synergy”

Sometimes, the term “improve sales and marketing alignment” is applied to the idea of resolving conflicts and differences.

Alignment is defined as “arrangement in a straight line, or in correct or appropriate relative positions.” This definition seems a little narrow for the optimal end game.

Synergy means “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

The strategy should go beyond getting marketing and sales to see eye to eye. The strategic goal should be a whole that’s greater than the sum of the parts.

The Differences Between Marketing and Sales

To understand how to achieve sales and marketing synergy, it’s essential first to identify and accept the fundamental differences between marketing and sales roles—and, therefore, why a wall exists in the first place.

English businessman John Edmonds asked over 300 managers and business owners whether they knew the difference between marketing and selling.

According to this video, about 90% of business owners and managers could not articulate the difference between selling and marketing.

Edmonds says, “Marketing is bending product and services supply towards the mind of the customer. Selling is bending the customer’s mind towards product and services supply.”

In addition, marketing has a much broader scope in most organizations than sales. For product companies, the marketing department is responsible for everything from product design to production to pricing to distribution.

The activity of selling has a much narrower scope. Edmonds goes as far as to say, “selling is a small part of marketing and not the other way around.”

Ways to Achieve Sales and Marketing Synergy

So, how can actual sales and marketing synergy occur?

First of all, senior management needs to have a clear idea in their own minds of the difference between marketing and sales. Management should, in turn, internally communicate these differences and explain the complete role of the respective group to members of the other.

Marketers can tell salespeople whom they’ve identified, through research, to be the ideal buyer for a given product or service.

Marketing relies on sales as the final leg in the journey from product inception to a new customer to a repeat customer. Salespeople rely on marketing to make their job as easy as possible.

Salespeople can provide valuable insights to marketers about the customer’s mind, as they’re having daily conversations in the field.

Salespeople should have a way to communicate to marketing what they believe they need but are not getting.

Here’s a humorous look at how sales and marketing can be in “a strong, healthy, loving marriage.”

There must be a forum or vehicle for this information to be exchanged. The conversations are not going to just happen on their own. Monthly or bi-weekly meetings should be arranged.

These meetings should focus on resolving differences and on proactive sessions such as jointly strategizing on growing major accounts.

Technologies such as Slack can be leveraged for more ongoing sharing of information and feedback.

Marketing to Sales Lead Handoff

Marketing should never blindly feed salespeople all incoming leads. The marketing team should only hand off to sales those people who have expressed a need for the company’s product or service or who likely have a need.

When a website visitor’s contact information is captured, marketing can use big data sources to enrich leads and to let salespeople know which person they should ultimately be approaching within an organization that the visitor represents.

The visitor may indicate a product or service need within an organization, but that person may not be the best sales contact.

Marketing technology has opened up new avenues for sales and marketing synergy. It’s easier than ever to control the lead flow.

With closed-loop reporting, marketing can understand what sources, content, and offers ultimately resulted in the highest close rate.

The data from integrated marketing automation and CRM systems can facilitate more significant synergies across marketing and sales.

A Combined Marketing and Sales Funnel

One of the symptoms of the long-standing division between marketing and sales is that each has its own funnel representation.

If both departments are working toward a common goal and are in regular communication, there’s no reason that there shouldn’t be a single combined funnel that represents a continuum of marketing and sales stages.

Marketing and Sales Funnel

A starting point for greater sales and marketing synergy within your business could be to develop a combined visualization of the sales and marketing funnel.

Marketing to Your Influencers vs. “Influencer Marketing”

Influencer Taking Selfie

Influencer marketing is a long game that involves outreach to “important” people, most of whom will ignore you.

Influencer Taking Selfie

You could always try Gary Vee’s approach to Instagram influencer marketing…

…or maybe not. Especially if you’re in B2B marketing or sales.

This post, therefore, is not about influencer marketing. It’s about marketing to your existing influencers—mainly via content.

It’s unlikely that any of your existing influencers are scantily-clad celebrities. However, you already have a lot of fully and well-dressed, non-celebrity influencers. Your important people include:

  • Customers
  • Vendors
  • Social Media “Acquaintances”
  • Former Co-workers
  • Friends & Family

We often think about content marketing as marketing to people we don’t know. What about creating valuable content for people you do know? Can this produce results for your business or for your sales efforts?

Marketing to Your Influencer Customers

In what ways can a customer be an influencer? Well for one, they can refer you or your company to someone they know.

Your content for this influencer group should not be about “upsell/cross-sell.”

It should be about staying top of mind with your customers by supplying them with valuable information.

We are a business customer of The Hartford. The Hartford doesn’t pummel us with upsell/cross-sell promotions. They consistently create and share solid advice around many facets of running a small business. As a customer, we in turn share a lot of their content.

Marketing to Your Influencer Vendors

If your company resells vendors’ products, who at those vendors can influence your success? Do vendor salespeople bring you into deals?

If so, how can you help these influencers with your content?

You can create content that helps them with their sales efforts—content they can share with a prospect that helps them penetrate a new account or move a deal over the goal line.

Achieve either of these, and you’ve got their attention.

We got some mileage out of this approach by working in close collaboration with one of our marketing customers.

Marketing to Your Social Media Connections

Your social media connections are a very broad audience. This group includes people you don’t know. But it also includes your former co-workers, your vendors, and your friends & family.

Curating and posting other people’s quality content along with your own content will keep many of your connections more engaged.

On LinkedIn, you can periodically remind or update this group of influencers about what you’re up to.

And if you must message someone on LinkedIn whom you don’t personally know, please make it a two-way street. If you ask for something, offer something in return—as Jim Dickie did here:

Sales Mastery Survey

Marketing to Your Friends & Family Influencers

This isn’t a reference network marketing—no, you’re not selling them The Dream.

But you can keep your friends & family current about what you’re up to in the business world.

Other Types of Known Influencers

Depending on what industry you’re in, you may have other groups of influencers. For example, structural engineers are often influencers for people in the construction products business.

Physicians are influencers in the medical device world.

Maybe it’s time to rethink influencer marketing. Especially since you are already surrounded by a community of influencers.

These are the important people.

Why You Should Be Using Sales Orders in CRM

CRM Sales Orders

CRM Sales OrdersFor many types of businesses, the creation of a CRM sales order is (or should be) the logical next step in the CRM process after an sales opportunity is marked “won”.

In this post we’ll look at the business benefits of using CRM sales orders. We’ll then look an example implementation of orders in CRM.

While the information in a CRM order can be used to generate a traditional confirmation document for a customer, this post will focus on the internal usage and value of orders.

Read more

8 Examples of CRM Data Validation Rules

CRM Data Validation Rule Examples

Data validation is a process for ensuring that database entries are both meaningful and correct. In other words, data validation helps prevent wrong information from being entered into a database, including a CRM system database.

Because of CRM’s role in an organization, some types of data CRM validation can increase revenue.

CRM Data Validation Rule Examples

What is Data Validation?

A typical example of data validation exists on almost every online signup or registration form. That is, a valid email address is required:

Online Signup Form Data Validation

A drop-down list is a data entry control often used with data validation rules. A field or cell value must be selected from a predefined list.

Most CRM systems have some built-in data validation. One example is requiring a properly formatted email address — similar to a public-facing form.

However, not all CRM systems have the ability for an administrator to add custom validation rules. The ability to add specific rules may be a part of your CRM requirements.

Applying specific data validation logic that matches your company’s business processes helps with the overall success of your CRM implementation. Benefits include

  • More meaningful reports
  • Higher system adoption
  • Improved customer service
  • Increased revenue (examples below)

Here are eight examples of use cases for data validation rules.

Examples of Custom CRM Validation Logic

Enforce a two-character U.S. state or Canadian province abbreviations – Display an error message if “Mass” is entered for Massachusetts rather than “MA,” for example.

Ensure that all ten digits of U.S. or Canadian phone numbers are entered – Prevent users from taking shortcuts and entering only the seven-digit portion of a telephone number within their area code.

Require proper formatting of an Employer Identification Number – Ensure that an EIN is entered in the XX-XXXXXXX format.

Require a reason for lost opportunities – If a sales opportunity was lost, the salesperson must enter why it was lost. “Why we lose deals” is valuable marketing and sales management information.

An opportunity close date must be in the future – Prevent a salesperson from entering an opportunity close date that’s in the past. If a salesperson edits an opportunity that has a past close date, require them to update the close date with a future date.

Allow only the record owner to change specific fields in a record – Specify fields within a record that can only be edited by the owner of that record.

Disallow discounts over a certain percentage – Display an error message if the discount added to a product line item exceeds a specified discount limit.

Ensure that a billable task includes the time spent – If a task is billable, time spent on the task must be added before completion.

Data Validation Capabilities of CRM Vendors

Here are some of the CRM vendors that allow for customized validation rules:


Zoho allows users to create a wide range of custom validation rules. Users can create rules with conditional logic (if this/then that) and create alerts when conditions are either correct or incorrect.

CRM Validation: Excessive Discount

Zoho provides a detailed overview of how their data validation system works on their website.


Creating data validation rules in Microsoft Dynamics 365 is more complicated than in other CRM solutions. It requires users to use a combination of synchronous workflows and business rules to create an effective validation loop.

For more information about how this is done, a beginner’s guide is available on the Dynamics community site.


Basic data validation is possible in Creatio but is not an “out of the box” feature. Enabling data validation requires users to modify some of the default settings and code in Creatio.

This task is ranked as “medium” difficulty (one rank below the most difficult) on the Creatio Academy web page.


Salesforce allows users to create custom data validation rules using formulas. Users can specify custom error messages when validation fails. Several example data validation formulas on the Trailblazer community site help users get started.

An overview of how data validation works in Salesforce can be found here.


HubSpot introduced public beta validation rules in September 2022 and has since released a set of validation rules.

Data validation is an essential part of any CRM system. Businesses can improve their efficiency, productivity, and decision-making by ensuring that the data entered into the system is accurate and consistent.

The examples of CRM data validation rules discussed in this blog post provide a starting point for businesses looking to improve their data validation practices.

Is Buying a New CRM System Always a Good Idea?

Pondering the idea of a new CRM system

One of the unspoken assumptions our prospects have when they come to us to discuss help with CRM evaluation and selection is: whichever product is selected, it will be better than what’s currently in place.

But recently, one of our consultants was asked an interesting question.

The question was, “Is one of the possible outcomes of your evaluation a recommendation that we not invest in a new CRM system and leave things the way they are?”

Pondering the idea of a new CRM system

It was an excellent question.

Are there circumstances under which an organization will be better off by continuing to rely on legacy systems, spreadsheets, and Post-it notes?

After consideration, the answer we came to was “yes.”

Under certain circumstances, a business will not benefit sufficiently from implementing a new CRM system to warrant the cost. Some CRM implementations are doomed to failure, no matter which product is selected.

Here are some things to watch out for in your business that might indicate that you shouldn’t invest in a new CRM system soon.

No Clear Direction Or Strategy

Many businesses purchase a CRM system because they believe that simply doing so will improve their business. This is not a mindset that leads to a successful CRM implementation.

CRM is a tool built to solve particular problems businesses face around customer management and communication.

If your business doesn’t spend time defining the problems upfront, then there won’t be a clear path for a new system to help solve them.

No Executive Buy-In Or Sponsorship

If your business’s leaders and executive team don’t care about CRM, neither will your employees.

A commitment to change needs to start at the top. C-level team members need to be involved at every stage of the process. When this happens, a cultural shift around new processes and workflows can develop organically rather than being dictated half-heartedly.

When management doesn’t commit, the result can be disastrous. Employees who want to use the system are frequently unsupported and left frustrated. Those resistant to change tend to pay lip service to the new tools while secretly (or openly) circumventing them and using the same legacy systems they’ve always used.

Limited Resources And/Or Budget

It’s important to know beforehand that subscribing to CRM software is not the same as subscribing to applications like Google Workspace, Slack, or Box. With CRM, there is some assembly is required.

Not only that, but for a CRM system to truly live up to its potential, there needs to be a dedicated budget and resources for ongoing maintenance and improvements.

Ideally, your business will hire and/or train a dedicated system administrator. This person’s job is to keep the system working, make improvements where possible, and be the go-to problem solver if things go awry.

When no one is given ownership of CRM system administration (or too many people are given ownership), and no budget has been allocated to maintenance, the system will eventually fall into disarray.

Assuming a CRM System Can Do Something It Can’t

One of the assumptions we hear repeatedly is that a new CRM system will be able to replace complex legacy quoting systems — right out of the box. Homegrown quoting tools and ERP quote functionality often have a lot of baked-in functionality that cannot be easily replicated with native CRM quoting functionality.

The other assumption is that cloud CRM will easily integrate with a legacy accounting system like QuickBooks Enterprise.

In such cases, we often tell people who contact us, “don’t shoot the messenger, but…” One message is to slow the buying process and dig into advertised functionality. Another message is, “this could take more time and money than was proposed.”

Don’t Fool Yourself

If any or all of the above conditions are true for your business, don’t invest in a new CRM system right now. Change needs to be wanted and welcomed, not tolerated and enforced.

Subscribing to CRM software that nobody wants, for which there’s a limited budget, and that there’s no strategy behind will be as effective as taking the same amount of money and throwing it out the window each month.

Failure is An Option

Even under favorable conditions, CRM implementation failure is always a possibility. Large multinational companies have tried and failed to get a CRM system off the ground.

The takeaway is that for CRM to succeed, all parties involved need to be fully committed. Proper planning and preparation are crucial.

When Is CRM The Right Choice?

With insight into when buying CRM software is the wrong choice, there will hopefully be clarity about when it’s the right choice for your business.

CRM is not a magic bullet. For most businesses, there comes the point where they realize organically that one or more of their internal processes is being limited by the tools available to them. In searching for a solution, they discover CRM and do an evaluation.

It’s important to understand a business’s challenges and the solutions it needs before any formal selection gets underway.

21 Business Blogging Mistakes That Reduce Lead Volume

Business Blogging Mistakes

With more marketers focusing on blog content for attracting website visitors via organic search results and social promotion, it’s a greater challenge than ever for a business blog to stand out in an ever expanding sea of web content.

This, in turn, means it’s more important than ever for business bloggers to avoid the mistakes that result in less traffic and fewer conversions than would be otherwise possible.

Business Blogging Mistakes

While there are many forms of content marketing, blogging can be one of the most effective forms when done correctly.

Here are 20 common business blogging mistakes that can stop sales leads before they start.

Writing mainly about your company’s product, service, news and events

According to content marketing speaker and best-selling author Ann Handley, most companies struggle to create engaging B2B content. Ann once said during a webinar (paraphrased):

Corporate bloggers can’t help blogging about what their company does. It’s the default mode.

It’s okay to include some content about what your company does. But your company’s product or service should not be the primary focus of blog content. The key is to overcome the natural tendency to self-promote.

In fact, not all your content needs to be directly connected to your business offering. You can write content that’s of interest to your audience and then subtly inject your value proposition within the content.

Blogging about downward trending topics

It makes a lot more sense to write about a topic that is gaining in popularity than one that’s waning.

Writing a quality blog post optimized for cloud computing in 2008 could have secured a high ranking and seen ongoing visitor growth. Writing the same post in early 2011 would not have been as effective.

Not doing keyword research

If a blog falls in the forest, will anyone read it?

Many business bloggers fail to supply their content with the fuel for creating what I call organic permanence.

Organic permanence is the content gift that keeps on giving. With the right approach, a business blog post can secure and maintain the #1 organic search result for one or more keywords—for years on end.

After a recent study of 1 billion pages, Ahrefs concluded that 90.88% of all pages on the web don’t get any traffic from Google search—zero.

Unless you have a popular corporate or personal brand, a post without a specific keyword will get very little long-term traffic. It may get some short term traffic through promotional efforts.


Avoid keywords for which the first page of the search engine results is plastered with ads and other elements that push organic results below the fold.

Simple Keyword Example: According to Ahrefs, the keyword polycom vvx 600 has U.S. traffic potential of 800 visitors per month (for the #1 ranked page) and would need only a few backlinks to rank in the top 10.

Keyword Example: Polycom VVX 600

If a business blogger was author an extensive, keyword optimized review of the Polycom VVX 600 Series business media phones, depending on their website’s Domain Rating, just a few backlinks could put that post ahead of Polycom’s own VVX 600 Series product page.

Trying to identify your audience for digital content without data

Some marketing automation vendor bloggers and SEO experts may advise you to simply identify your personas and write content that appeals to them. That’s easy for the experts to say, as they’re marketing to marketers.

Marketing Director Persona

It may be difficult for you to attract the decision makers for your particular product or service with content. What if the decision makers for what you sell don’t spend much time reading business blogs? What if the roles of influencers associated those decision makers vary substantially across prospect organizations?

You may need to initially cast a wide net until your inbound marketing efforts give you more data about the roles of sales qualified leads that are captured through your business blogging efforts.

Failing to answer your audience’s questions

In his book “They Ask, You Answer” Marcus Sheridan describes how he saved his swimming pool business in 2008 by answering questions.

They Ask You Answer

Most people’s natural tendency is to exclude information from their company’s website in order to save the information for the sales conversation. The topic of price is a classic example.

According to Marcus, on average, buyers get through 70% of the buying cycle before they talk to a person. If a potential buyer never contacts you, you’ll never get to answer their questions.

Marcus’ recommended approach for B2C and B2B companies:

Brainstorm all the questions you’ve been asked by prospects and customers. State them exactly as the customer would ask them or search for them—not the way you as the seller would ask them. Use this list as the foundation for your business blog, videos and other content.

Under-marketing your marketing

You can prime the SEO pump by sharing your blog post on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.


Share your post on your LinkedIn company page. Include an image that contains the post title. Ask your team to share the page post on their personal profiles.

If you have a customer newsletter, you can let your customers know about new blog content.

If you’re a host or a guest on a podcast, this is a great opportunity to promote a recent blog post.

If you can work a link to your content into a blog comment, a subreddit thread or a forum without coming off as spammy, that’s another option for promotion.

Presenting the reader with nothing but dense text

In today’s short attention span world, blog posts that read like novels are not as effective as blog posts that read more like a page from a “For Dummies” series book—with icons, images and brief paragraphs.

Many readers will turn away if confronted with this:

Dense Blog Text

A number of experts recommend that you “let your content breathe.”

Underestimating the role of images in search

Many business bloggers do not think about image SEO. If there are images, they may have cryptic filenames and no alt text.

An image at the top of every post will provide visual reinforcement of your topic. An image is an additional keyword opportunity. Make sure to use the post’s keyword in both the image filename and alt text.

If you compress your posts’ images using a free service such as TinyPNG, your content will load faster for visitors. Page load time is a Google ranking factor.

TinyPNG Image Compression

Using a slow web hosting service

While we’re on the topic of load time:

WordPress is an excellent business blogging and general website platform, but it’s inherently slow for a number of reasons. Using the shared hosting WordPress service of your domain registrar could result in page load time that is unbearably slow for visitors.

Specialty hosts such as WPEngine focus on optimizing WordPress for faster load time. Using WPEngine is good enough to make WordPress perform perceptibly well for humans.

Even with a hosting service that’s optimized for WordPress, a site may not be fast enough for Google as it pertains to the site performance component of Google’s ranking algorithm. As such, WPEngine offers a number of ideas for improving site performance beyond simply subscribing to their hosting service.

Even marketing automation vendor Marketo’s WordPress blog does not get high marks from Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Marketo Google PageSpeed Insights

Of course, WordPress is just one of many options for hosting a blog. Ironically, WPEngine uses Bootstrap, the leading web framework, for its blog. But a web framework requires developers to maintain.

Having too few words

Generally speaking, a 150 word blog post is below Google’s word count threshold for ranking on the first page. The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress encourages authors to include at least 300 words in every post.

Yoast SEO: Below Minimum Words

All of Neil Patel’s posts are over 3,000 words, but we aren’t all as naturally prolific as Neil.

Maybe because of that, Neil only recommends 2,000+ words for mere content mortals. 1,500+ words is a more reasonable target for many business bloggers.

Writing too little evergreen content

News-oriented content quickly becomes stale.

If your blog is news heavy, consider mixing in some evergreen content. Evergreen content that ranks well will give you more organic permanence.

Leaving the Meta Description blank

It’s always worth taking the time to add a meta description to your blog posts.

The meta description is a keyword opportunity and it lets you control what’s displayed in the snippet on search engine result pages (SERPs). A catchy meta description may make the difference between someone clicking and not clicking the search engine result.

Here’s an example snippet from a SERP.

Meta Description in SERP Snippet

Overlooking the importance of backlinks

Links from other sites (backlinks) to your content is an important ranking factor. Search engines use this information to gauge the level of authority of your blog. A backlink from Forbes is much more authoritative in the eyes of Google than a backlink from a small business blog.

There’s no long term substitute for natural backlinks—creating content that others naturally want to link to.

Certain types of content lend themselves more to natural backlinks. Compiled survey results are one type. If someone can support their content by linking to your data, that can result in a high authority backlink.

Writing a blog post about “the history of your industry” is another type. Our Brief History of Customer Relationship Management post got a backlink from a site with an Ahrefs Domain Rating of 91 out of 100.

Backlink 91 Domain Rating

There are many tactics for getting backlinks. Cold outreach has a low conversion rate. You could instead let people in your network know about content that they might be interested in or that people in their network might be interested in. More awareness in your extended network will increase the probability of getting a backlink.

Not including internal links

Internal links reduce your website’s bounce rate by keeping more visitors engaged. A lack of internal links can hamper a page’s ability to get crawled and ranked.

Here are several rules of thumb for internal links:

  • Include two to four internal links in every blog post
  • Make the links useful and relevant to your visitors
  • Don’t include two links to the same page within one post

For a deep dive on the topic of internal links, check out this Rand Fishkin Whiteboard Friday post and video.

Not including external links

The use of external links is good for general SEO. Marketers at sites you link to may see traffic that you drive to their site when they examine their Google Analytics.

You can control the text that shows in the Google Analytics of linked-to sites by using campaign parameters.

While some visitors will be annoyed if links to external content open in a new tab, setting what’s technically the “target=_blank” option on external links will keep more visitors on your site.

Open External Link in New TAb

Ignoring your blog’s Google Search Analytics

Google Search Analytics (different from Google Analytics) provides invaluable insight about how people are finding your content.

You can pull Search Analytics data into a Google Sheet with a free Chrome extension for easier analysis.

This sheet is sorted descending by number of impressions and filtered for position #6 or greater. We can see that we accidentally ranked for “crm integration” in a post about CRM CMS integration. If that was a query with an associated keyword that we wanted to rank higher for, we could re-optimize this post or write a completely new post.

Google Search Analytics

Failing to refresh old blog content

Sometimes information is dated. Google Search Analytics can reveal some blog posts that could be re-optimized for better search results.

It’s often easier to rewrite sections of an old post than it is to come up with brand a new idea.

This post is a refresh—make that a re-write—of a post from 2015 named “9 Common B2B Blogging Mistakes.”

When there are periodic minor updates, a common practice is to include an Updated On date below the Published On date.

Not encouraging your salespeople to leverage blog content

Some of the great content you’ve created can be used by your sales team to accelerate sales cycles.

Sometimes a link to a blog post in a follow up email can go further to spark the interest of a prospect than attaching a corporate brochure. I was recently emailed a question by a website visitor about our CRM selection process. My answer was effectively, “this blog post will answer your question in detail.”

The reply was effectively, “that’s exactly the type process I envision.” A meeting quickly ensued.

Missing social sharing buttons

Some visitors want to share your content with their social media followers and connections.

There are plenty of free and paid social sharing plugins for WordPress, the most popular blogging platform. We use a lightweight plugin called Scriptless Social Sharing.

Only writing about topics directly connected to your industry

The Hartford is an insurance company. The company’s blog, Smallbiz Ahead, has a variety of categories that have little or nothing to do with insurance, including: Business Management; Managing Employees; and Marketing. These topics are of value to The Hartford’s audience: small business owners and managers.

The Hartford SBA Blog

The Hartford attracts their audience and then presents a sidebar call to action that has a Learn More button. Which leads to the last common mistake in our list:

Excluding one or more calls to action

It’s not difficult to find company blogs that do not include any sort of inline, sidebar or end of post call to action. If you’ve taken the right steps to attract visitors to your blog content, why not try to convert some of those visitors into sales leads?

The call to action could be free downloadable content, “Get a Quote” or even a simple “Schedule a Call With Us.” There are many possibilities.

Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365: The Ultimate Objective Comparison

Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365

Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365

Updated: December 1, 2020

This is a fact-based comparison of Salesforce® and Microsoft Dynamics™ 365.

For those who work for an organization that is moving toward a new CRM solution, the information below is a starting point.

While we have attempted as much as possible to keep this analysis a statement of facts, we expect that advocates for each solution will find areas that appear slanted in the direction of the other.

The analysis primarily focuses on out-of-the-box functionality. We have intentionally limited the number of references to third party products.

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Don’t Be That Marketer – Include All Activities In Your Process Maps

Car Dealership CRM

Car Dealership CRMI recently listened to an excellent episode of Doug Burdett’s Marketing Book Podcast. Doug interviewed Mark Schaefer about the most recent edition of his book, The Tao of Twitter.

Included among a lot of great marketing information was an interesting story that Mark told near the end of the podcast.

As do many small business owners, Mark leases a car rather than purchasing one.

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