Making a great Sitecore website is only half the job. Real success is measured by how many visitors make themselves known, usually by completing a web form. This post looks at creating leads from web forms in the context of Sitecore and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Sitecore Analytics

First, a note about Sitecore analytics. This data captures each visitor's behavior and is useful intelligence for the sales team when responding to the new lead. Knowing which pages the visitor has seen, the number of previous visits and their overall level of engagement helps prioritize leads, segment them into marketing campaigns, assign leads to reps, and critically, provide intelligence prior to making contact. There is real value in providing Sitecore behavioral data to the sales team when a web form is submitted.

Sitecore and Dynamics

Where Should Form Data be Saved?

When a visitor clicks the form submit button there are choices around where to save the lead information.

  • Write it to a local database: This could be the Sitecore forms database or Sitecore xDB however this does not make the form data readily available to the sales team. It remains siloed in a system whose primary function is web content management. Exporting the data is also difficult. Sitecore does have segmentation capabilities but, unless Sitecore EXM is used, cannot generate automated and personalized emails to prospects (marketing automation)
  • Send it directly to Microsoft Dynamics 365: Better! Dynamics is designed to store customer data, record interactions from other sources, progress leads through the sales pipeline, and provide workflow capabilities. To automate digital interactions e.g. by email requires Dynamics to be connected to a marketing automation system
  • Send it to a Marketing Automation System: Microsoft Dynamics 365 has several extensions that allow users to orchestrate personalized journeys that strengthen prospect relationships by delivering tailored emails, social media content, etc. These include ClickDimensions, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing. These systems have the segmentation and workflow features required to initiate and automate digital interactions

Of course, many other factors can come into play e.g. which system is the preferred single source of truth, but in general, we recommend web form leads should go directly into Dynamics 365 and then get shared with the marketing automation system. Dynamics can segment the leads, process them in volume, set various staging statuses, create follow-up reminders, enable workflows to be created, and accept easily transact data with other systems. Further, Dynamics provides the sales team with a complete picture of the lead and how they have previously interacted with the business.

How Should Form Data be Saved?

Sitecore forms are not the only way to get form data into Dynamics 365.

Microsoft Forms

This approach uses a standard Microsoft form and a "Create a new record Dynamics 365" save action. Once created, the form can be shared via a link in an email or web page, an iframe, or a QR code on a mobile device. This approach has a few gotchas:

  • The form is not native to Sitecore so it needs to be branded to match the website
  • Only leads can be created
  • No attempt is made to match or update an existing lead
  • Mapping is unaware of lead conversion
  • No duplicate detection is in place
  • Sitecore analytics cannot be pushed to Dynamics
  • Some developer involvement is required

Microsoft Marketing Forms

These forms are built in Dynamics 365 Marketing and create or update leads and contacts. The form comes in three types, landing page, subscription center, or forward to a friend. The challenges of using these forms are:

  • The form is not native to Sitecore so needs to be branded to match the website
  • Only leads and contacts can be created
  • Mapping is unaware of lead conversion 
  • Sitecore analytics cannot be pushed to Dynamics
  • Some developer involvement is required

Sitecore Connect for Dynamics CRM

This is where native Sitecore forms are created and the Sitecore Data Exchange Framework (DEF) is used to sync the form data to Dynamics. The data is initially stored locally (e.g. as Sitecore items or xDB facet values) and then synced to Dynamics. The challenges around this approach are:

  • There is no easy way to create or update leads (only contacts are out-of-the-box)
  • Mapping is unaware of lead conversion
  • Delays in syncing can cause good data in Dynamics to be overwritten
  • Pushing Sitecore analytics to Dynamics is challenging
  • Higher complexity with development effort required

FuseIT S4D

S4D includes a sophisticated wizard that maps Sitecore web forms to Dynamics 365. It overcomes many of the challenges of other forms by pushing data in real-time. S4D does not require developer involvement and Sitecore editors do not require knowledge of Dynamics. Some of the features include:

  • Multiple entities in Dynamics can be created from a single form
  • Website visitors who submit a Sitecore web form can be added to one or more Dynamics campaigns if the mapping is to a lead or contact record. When in a campaign, prospects can be processed in bulk e.g. mass emailed with personalized content
  • The mapping wizard can populate a hidden "Assigned To" field in Dynamics to alert form owners that a new lead has appeared
  • The wizard's Dynamics Field Matching Rule prevents duplicates by creating matching rules that identify and update an existing entity in Dynamics rather than creating a duplicate
  • Different forms on the website can be mapped to different Dynamics instances

S4D is a new product that replicates much of the functionality in S4S, the Sitecore to Salesforce integration. FuseIT is currently extending S4D so it pushes Sitecore analytics to Dynamics. 

Conclusion

Sitecore's powerful form builder is ideal for capturing leads from the website and these should go directly into a system designed to process them i.e. segment, stage, share, etc. Dynamics 365 meets these requirements and more. The question then remains, "How should this data be saved in Dynamics?".  If the intent is to use native Sitecore forms, then S4D has the enterprise features, real-time processing that creates better data, solid support, and is easily the fastest way to get up and running. 

FuseIT specializes in Sitecore to CRM integration. Our enterprise S4D integration enables the real-time exchange of data between Sitecore and Microsoft Dynamics 365. Please contact us for more information or to see a demo of this in action.