EMAIL TO LEAD: AUTOMATICALLY CREATE LEADS FROM INBOUND EMAILS IN SALESFORCE
Covered in this article:
- Email to Lead functionality in Salesforce
- Introducing Email-to-anything by Ortoo
- Configuring email redirection rules
- Field assignment: mapping email data to SFDC fields
- Structured versus unstructured emails
- Send emails from, and store email history in, the Lead object
- Implement lead scoring & prioritization with Q-assign
- An end-to-end lead management system
A strong lead generation program is an essential component of any growth strategy, and when the leads start rolling in you might be tempted to assume that you’re well on the way to achieving, or even over-achieving, your ambitious growth targets.
But generating the leads is really only half the story. Leads need to be converted.
Email to Lead
A barrier to success that many small and/or growing businesses often experience is inadequate response time. According to a survey published in the Harvard Business Review, “companies that try to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving queries are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers as firms that try to contact prospects even an hour later.”*
But many companies are not even in a position to respond to leads within an hour, because they are reliant on the leads being manually created in Salesforce before they can be assigned to an appropriate sales rep. So, the leads pile up in some poor admin’s mailbox until such time as he or she can get around to processing them. What is needed is an automated Email to Lead solution.
Email-to-anything is a native Salesforce app, developed by London-based Ortoo, which automatically creates leads from inbound emails. It’s a bit like Email to Case, only much more powerful, and it can be used to automatically create any object, including custom objects. But Email to Lead is perhaps the most popular use case.
Configuring email redirection rules
When configuring e2a, the first thing that needs to be done is to set up an email service for the Lead object. This is quite straight forward (indeed the support team at Ortoo will often do this on behalf of a customer, so making the configuration process somewhat of a breeze). During the set-up process, a unique email address is generated for the given Lead object, and it is this email address which enables a lead to be created from an inbound email.
After you have set up an email address for Email to Lead, you will want to set up a redirection rule on your email server/system to direct certain email addresses to the unique email address that you just created.
For example, Salesforce may have generated an email address for your email service that looks something like this:
But, more than likely, you’ll want to use a snappier email address to receive leads into the company, something like firstname.lastname@example.org. One method would be to set up each “public” email address as a mailbox (e.g. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or even both) and then to set up a redirection rule which auto-forwards the email to the Lead object in Salesforce. Alternatively, you can set up a distribution list for email@example.com and put both the Salesforce email service address (the long one) and a normal mailbox email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) in the distribution list. By adding a “normal” email address to the distribution list you are able to retain a copy of each email in a mailbox in your email system, as well as in Salesforce, so that if there are any issues with Salesforce you still have a copy of each incoming email – which is very much a best practice.
Field assignment: mapping email data to SFDC fields
You set up an email rule to tell e2a how to process any emails that are received in the Lead object. The Field Assignments section allows you to map various email fields (such as subject, body, sender etc.) to fields of the Lead object. You can provide unconditional, conditional or regular expression-based mappings between email and Lead object fields. E2a will then extract relevant information from any inbound email and automatically populate the relevant fields when it creates the Lead in Salesforce.
Structured versus unstructured emails
Where an email is structured (such as an email coming from a web form), then mapping email data to the relevant field in the Lead object is quite straight-forward. But e2a is also able to handle unstructured emails. Maybe a prospect has sent a “free text” email directly to the email@example.com. E2a will extract as much information as it can, including the email address and any other contact details that have been provided. E2a can also look for keywords and populate fields accordingly. So, if the prospect has stated that they are interested in getting a quote for 100 “blue widgets”, then the “Product of Interest” field in the Lead object can be populated accordingly. Likewise, if the location of the prospect can be determined, that too can be updated when the lead is created. This type of information can be used to automatically assign such leads to the correct sales rep or queue in Salesforce.
Send emails from, and store email history in, the Lead object
By implementing e2a, an incoming email inquiry can be converted to a Lead in Salesforce in a matter of seconds. We’ve already established that the faster a lead can be processed, the greater the chance that it can be converted, so e2a ensures that the sales rep in question can do just that.
But “speed of lead creation” isn’t the only factor determining whether or not a lead can be converted. E2a also comes with an advanced email editor which enables the sales rep to reply to a sales enquiry from directly within the Lead object in Salesforce. Not only that, but every outbound and inbound email relating to that Lead is captured and stored right there against the Lead in question, so the sales rep can view the entire email history without having to switch out of Salesforce and into Outlook (or whatever email system the company is using). This functionality can transform overall productivity on the salesfloor, and is especially useful where more than one rep, or indeed a manager, needs to work on a lead – for whatever reason.
Scoring and prioritizing your leads
We’ve seen already that e2a can provide a powerful Email to Lead solution in its own right. But things really get interesting when you add its sister app, Q-assign, into the mix. Q-assign is an automated assignment app which, like e2a, can support any object in Salesforce, including custom objects. Q-assign uses sophisticated assignment rules to route Leads (or Cases or any kind of Salesforce “ticket”) to the very best available rep or agent.
Q-assign can distribute leads using a simple round robin system, like a number of other apps on the AppExchange. But it really comes into its own when you create sophisticated and intelligent assignment rules to route Leads to different sales reps or queues, depending on the nature of lead in question.
Q-assign is perhaps at its most powerful when you use it to score leads. With automated lead scoring you can attach a score to any given lead based upon the information that has been gathered by Email-to-anything. The idea is that a lead’s “hotness” is reflected by its score so, for example, an enquiry from a CEO might score more points than one from an admin. Or, in the case of, say, an IT reseller, an enquiry for a high-end networking solution might score more highly than an enquiry for a budget laptop. Any number of parameters can be defined for the purpose of scoring leads, if every new lead is being scored automatically, then it enables you to prioritize the hotter leads, and ensure they are being processed not only quickly, but also by your best available sales reps.
An end-to-end lead management system
Email to Lead then is a critical component in any automated lead management system. Ensuring that leads are created automatically, and instantly, ensures that your sales reps have the greatest possible chance to convert them successfully. E2a provides that solution. And by coupling it with Q-assign, you really do have an end-to-end lead management system that can keep you one step ahead of the competition, and well on the way to achieving those ambitious growth targets.
*Harvard Business Review, March 2011
Both Email-to-anything and Q-assign are available to download from the AppExchange, on a free 30-day trial. To make things as easy as possible for you, Ortoo’s highly-regarded support team are on standby to help you configure either product to address your particular use case, should you need the help. If you are ready to jump straight in, please feel free to download e2a or Q-assign from the AppExchange now.