One of the most important features of a good chatbot is its ability to integrate with a CRM system. This means that the interactions that take place with the bot can be properly managed by CRM users, without the need for manual uploads or other messy and time-consuming methods of data transfer.
There are a number of ways to get your chosen chatbot solution talking to your CRM. Some methods can be pretty technical and will need programming knowledge to get things running smoothly.
In most cases though, chatbots can be integrated easily. Usually this is done using Zapier, a platform that facilitates easy information transfer between applications, so actions that otherwise would have been completed manually can be automated. Integromat is a similar platform which also has a large number of available integrations.
While the ways chatbots integrate with CRMs are platform-dependent, the principles behind a useful integration are the same:
- Ease of set up, so you can get at least basic information into your CRM as soon as your chatbot is live.
- Accuracy of information, so that attribution and reporting remain clear as conversations are actioned further down the line.
- Ability to customize, so you and your team can segment with the degree of complexity you’re used to when working with other channels.
This article will outline the basic setup of these integrations for the most popular CRM systems out there. We’ll also shed some light into some of the more complicated routes to integration, including how out-of-the-box integrations can be made even more effective with a few technical adjustments.
Connecting a chatbot and CRM system with Zapier
Almost all chatbot providers use the power of Zapier to build integrations with the popular CRM systems. The platform makes it easy for chatbot developers to build integrations, and even more importantly end users who just want to connect something and see it working with minimal hassle.
Instabot is like many other providers in choosing to build integrations in Zapier. Zapier integrations work by providing the user with a set of pre-built triggers and actions that can be combined to automate a workflow.
For example, a trigger like “New Goal Completed” can be paired with the action “Create Record” to record an inbound lead that comes through your chatbot.
Triggers can come either from your CRM or your bot, so the workflow can be managed in both directions. An example of this might be using the “Updated Field on Record” trigger and the “Send a Message” action to send a personalized message to a prospective customer.
Zapier integrations like this can be considered the industry standard and it’s easy to see why. Setting up the integration is a four-step process that takes literally minutes, allowing a newly installed chatbot to bring in meaningful data as soon as it’s been set up.
Integrating chatbots with Salesforce
Chatbots integrate with many different CRM and marketing automation platforms, but it’s Salesforce integrations that are by far the most in-demand.
Luckily the popularity of Salesforce means that integrations are almost always well taken care of. Some conversational marketing platforms will have a native Salesforce app which can be activated and used from within the platform itself (with the ease of use depending on the platform – not all are set up to be used with minimal expertise).
Automation tools like Zapier and Integromat are also used very frequently to connect chatbots with Salesforce. The actions you can automate will include adding leads and updating contacts – all the triggers and actions you need to get leads moving from one application to the other.
Build your own chatbot CRM connections
Occasionally a chatbot won’t have an available integration for your CRM system. If you use a less commonly used platform, or have specialist requirements that get in the way of a standard integration process, you may have to create your connection using webhooks and an API.
Using webhooks to send data
All chatbot integrations use webhooks to send data between applications.
Webhooks are the “triggers”, carrying a message (or “payload”) based on an event. They are customizable and more or less any action can be a trigger, so if you have the resources to create your own webhooks you can very closely control what actions are used as triggers between your chatbot and your CRM.
Webhooks can be used as part of a completely custom integration, but can also be used from within an automation platform. Chatbots that support webhooks should come with detailed documentation on how to set them up.
Integrate using an API
All automated actions between separate chatbot and CRM applications need an API and webhooks to exchange information and set up useful automated actions.
In simple terms a webhook is a messenger sent from one app to another. An API is a kind of doorway or opening that allows the message to be received and understood.
All integrations use a combination of APIs and webhooks to do the actions expected of them. When you want to create your own integration you will have to use the APIs provided by your chosen platforms. The API documentation will provide details to your developers on how it can be used.
Using your own webhooks along with APIs is a far more specialist area than simply connecting your chatbot and CRM using Zapier, which requires no coding at all. However, if you have the resources for more complicated custom integrations you can build a tool that does exactly what you intend, and for larger businesses this kind of integration is likely to be what’s needed to have your chatbot bringing in the same information in the same format as other channels.
Chatbots and UTM attribution
Using UTM parameters to maximize the power of your chatbot is a topic we’ll be writing on in more detail in future articles.
For now though it’s worth highlighting that the information your chatbot sends to your CRM is only as good as the information it receives.
When you’re trying to attribute lead sources, a conversation from an anonymous chatbot user might not tell the whole story. For example, a lead source might be attributed to “organic” when the user actually reached the chatbot via a specific marketing campaign or advertisement.
Not only do you want to get an accurate picture of how your marketing and other campaigns are performing, you want sales teams to get an accurate picture of who they’re talking to (as well as the right team taking the credit when the lead becomes a customer).
Instabot can be used to attribute anonymous visitors on your website to marketing, advertising or email campaigns using UTM attribution. This works by passing data from clickthrough links directly into Instabot, which will save the data and then pass this on to your CRM.
Choose a chatbot with the right CRM integrations for your team
When it comes to choosing a chatbot with the right integration capabilities, you have to consider your choice of platform, what technical resources you have, and how complex your integrations need to be. If you have sales processes working alongside marketing, it’s important to choose a chatbot that fits into your current operations with as little friction as possible.
Instabot is a chatbot that easily integrates with Salesforce and other CRM systems via Zapier, while also offering the sophisticated developer tools you need for customization and scaling. Contact Instabot today to start a free trial.