Integrating .Net CMS with CRM Systems – Which Platform is best?

Here at i3 Digital we’ve got plenty of experience of integrating .Net CMS platforms like Sitecore, Kentico and Episerver with CRM functions.

Integrating .Net CMS with CRM systems

In this article we look at how these systems facilitate common types of integration and disclose which CRM systems prove to be the best bedfellows.

Web To Lead

This is the most common type of integration we see. Lots of companies have connected their website forms to their Lead modules of their CRM’s.

Integrating .Net CMS with CRM systems Our project with Foran Pet Care included a web to lead integration with Salesforce

The logic behind doing it is really simple. You avoid the possibility of web enquiries going missing or being handled badly by passing them into an existing lead management process.

For most businesses with one centralised sales force or customer services team creating this functionality is really simple. All that is needed is for the fields in the form to map to fields in the CRM.

However, there are some web to lead integrations that are more complex. For example:

• If we need to capture who the customer is as part of the web form (this often means that it needs to be assigned to a particular Account Manager)
• If the form is rules based and can lead to a leads being sent to specific departments depending on the data added (E.G. Customer services for complaints vs Sales for new customer enquiries)

These integrations tend to take a little longer to configure but in the overall CRM integration spectrum, they’re still relatively easy.

Which CRM? As most CRM’s have a lead function we tend to see customers needing this functionality selecting their CRM on price. Hubspot, Zoho and Sugar are popular in this area.

Which CMS? Any of Umbraco, Sitecore, Episerver and Kentico can do this sort of functionality relatively easily. The one drawback on Umbraco and other open source systems like WordPress is that the lack of form management tools means that the rules based form approach will require more web developer effort.

Customer login areas

These integrations tend to be more diverse than web-to-lead. Typical information integrated from CRM into front end customer login experiences include:

• Customer Name
• Customer Address
• Organisation Name
• Email Address
• Phone Number
• Name of Account Manager
• Email / Marketing preferences
• Sales Orders
• Complaints / Enquiry correspondence
• Trial statuses
• Previous Purchasing history
• Reward Points (often through integrations with rewards systems)
• Event tickets / bookings (often with additional ticketing platform)
• Policy documents / document uploads (often via additional document management system integrations)
• Delivery statuses (frequently with integrations with logistics partners)

Customer login integrations are frequently much more complicated to specify and require a much broader UX approach. Where most companies fall down is that they feel, logically, that it makes sense to integrate with all web services available. This means that not enough time is spent on the integrations which have a larger impact on the overall customer experience.

Integrating .Net CMS with CRM systemsFound out how we created a complex B2B login area for the National Lottery.

Frequently, user frustration in customer login areas is due to the way that out of the box CRM and CMS integrations work. A common example of this is enquiry processes which are overly long because we need to capture information in a certain way for the integration to work properly. In this situation, an integration specialist or a BA can help to specify how the logic of both systems can be changed to improve the overall experience.

Which CRM? Customer login areas range in size substantially. For more comprehensive integrations and integrations with high levels of end-customer usage, the bigger CRM’s like Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce tend to be more popular choices.

Which CMS? We tend to see Sitecore and Kentico dominate in this area. Sitecore has some great out of the box connectors with Dynamics and Salesforce whilst Kentico has a flexible integration bus which allows developers to create complex and robust integration quickly.

Product data, conversion tools and pricing information

Integrating .Net CMS with CRM systemsFound out how we created a complex pricing integration for JP Corry.

OK so this isn’t the sort of thing that you would normally expect to see in a Customer Relationship Management system but for some businesses (especially B2B organisations offering eCommerce) products, pricing and customer relationships are inextricably linked.

These integrations tend to include:

• Product data (name, images, sizes, colours, etc)
• Product specifications
• Delivery availability
• Stock availability
• Basket abandonment
• Complimentary product recommendation based on previous purchases
• Special customer pricing (validated as part of a login process)
• Credit application processes (via integrations with credit checking partners)
• Credit limits (often through additional integrations with accounting systems)

With these sorts of integrations the CRM needs to either provide a direct interface for the data they are providing or integrate with an eCommerce structure. Working without this and trying to apply individual product integrations at a page level is a world of pain to be avoided.

These integrations are normally complicated and have workflow rules attached to online customer activity to support the speed of the service. Examples of this might include putting time pressures on CRM users to accept / reject pending credit applications within a certain timeframe. Organisations with this size of eCommerce requirement are also likely to be doing so much volume that stock management becomes a more regular challenge. This can mean that the CMS requires reporting controls which help to spot significant changes in customer demand before it becomes a major operational headache.

Which CRM? For this sort of requirement the biggest CRM’s like SAP, Oracle and Dynamics proliferate. However we often see hybrid solutions with smaller CRM systems like Hubspot, Sugar and Goldmine working alongside cheaper ERP solutions.

Which CMS? Episerver and Kentico stand out in this area with their strong inbuilt eCommerce platforms. Sitecore is also strong due to its integrations with MS Dynamics and uCommerce and its inbuilt conversion tools.

You may be interested in…

Watching the replay of our recent ‘What is the Best eCommerce Solution’ Webinar;

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