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Engage: Integrate Online and Offline Customer Data with Sitecore

Posted: April 04, 2017

Your CRM solution, social media accounts and other digital assets all contain a wealth of customer data. By combining these sources on a platform connected to your website, your business can:

●       Develop and customize messages to users' specific interests.

●       Deliver advertisements that align with customer journeys.

●       Ensure customers only see videos, articles and other content that appeal to their desires.

Integrating online and offline data is a key component of the "Engage" stage within Sitecore's Customer Experience Maturity Model and among the last steps needed to establish lifetime brand evangelists.

Sitecore actually gives you the tools necessary to collect and place this information on a centralized platform, so your website can deliver personalized customer experiences. What sort of resources does the platform provide, and what will it demand of your IT department?

Aggregating data between CRMs and Sitecore

Given that both Sitecore and Microsoft Dynamics CRM are built with Microsoft technologies, it's no surprise that Sitecore offers a Dynamics CRM integration tool.

Dubbed Dynamics CRM Connect, how the API interacts with Sitecore depends on the integration settings you apply to your tenant. A tenant is an item that allows you to configure how Sitecore interacts with Dynamics CRM. Here's what the process looks like:

●      Create a tenant: Open the Content Editor, go to Data Exchange, and create a name for your tenant.

●      Add a connection string: Talk to your CRM administrator to get the value you need for a connection string, and then add it to the Sitecore server.

●      Add an entity repository set: This function controls how Sitecore and Dynamics CRM communicate. Go to the Tenant Settings, click on Dynamics CRM and visit the Repository Sets section. You'll see a field called "Connection string name" where you can enter the connection string you created in the previous step.

●      Configure the endpoint: Go to Dynamics CRM Entity Endpoint under Sitecore's Dynamics CRM section. You'll see a field called "Entity repository set." Underneath it is the entity repository you created in the previous step. Select it, and save the item.

●      Enable the tenant: Revisit the Content Editor, find your tenant and click the "Enabled" checkbox.

This process gives you some pretty tight control over what sort of data you want Sitecore and Dynamics CRM to exchange.

While the procedure is applicable to Dynamics CRM, Sitecore didn't shun Salesforce and other popular CRMs. The Sitecore Experience platform integrates Sitecore with Salesforce via S4S, a connector developed by FuseIT, allowing the two systems to share objects via bi-directional communication.

Gathering customer data via social media connectors

Chances are your CMO wants the website to be capable of referencing social media feeds when adjusting customer experiences in real time. The first step to doing so involves installing Sitecore's Social Connected module, which gathers visitors' profile information from one or more of the following platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

From there, you have to create a social network application. The process changes depending on the platform to which you want to connect.

For example, if you want to collect information from a web visitor's Facebook profile, you need to go to Facebook's developers' subdomain, which allows you to create the application. Fill in the required fields, such as your website URL, mobile site URL and your Content Delivery and Content Management Domains.

Then, you can make your app publicly available. After finishing this step, you need to:

●       Create a Sitecore item for the new application.

●       Configure access to the visitor's profile information.

●       Request approval for Facebook app permissions.

●       Configure and add the social network log-in control to your site.

These are just a couple examples of how to connect online and offline data to your Sitecore site. The more customer information your website's content management platform has to reference, the better it can deliver relevant experiences. Check out a list of Sitecore's connectors to learn which technologies you can integrate with the Experience Platform. Need help getting up and running? Let’s talk on how we can help you achieve customer experience maturity.