Salesforce Einstein Activity Capture for Gmail or Outlook: Pros and Cons
Salesforce CRM is often referred to as the ‘single source of truth’ for most organizations when it comes to customer and prospect data. It is also where most revenue operations teams create dashboards and reports and use them to examine current and historical data to make informed decisions regarding pipeline growth, revenue forecasting,and revenue trends.
This has made capturing sales activity even more important. Recent statistics show that 91% of data in CRM systems is predicted to be incomplete, stale, or duplicated each year. This means that the challenge of getting all the information into CRM is ongoing. Salesforce has offered several tools for data capture in the past – the most recent tool is Einstein Activity Capture (EAC).
Einstein Activity Capture enables you to capture the right data from Gmail and Outlook and add it to Salesforce, which is great for syncing data between these platforms. In this guide we will cover:
- Einstein Activity Capture benefits.
- Considerations when implementing Einstein Activity Capture.
- When Einstein Activity Capture isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
- Practical recommendations on how to make your Salesforce data accurate and complete.
Benefits of Einstein Activity Capture
Einstein Activity Capture connects Salesforce to Gmail or Office 365, which means that events and emails will automatically be captured and added to the correct records in Salesforce.
Let’s get into the details of the three major benefits of EAC.
1. You don’t need to manually enter your email data in Salesforce
Einstein Activity Capture acts much like Lightning Sync, i.e., it helps connect Salesforce to your Gmail or Office 365 accounts. Data is automatically captured and added to the corresponding records in Salesforce.
All your inbound and outbound emails will also be auto-captured and displayed in the activity timeline of related account, contact, lead, opportunity, contract, and quote records. You no longer have to transfer data manually.
2. You’ll see activity metrics and provide email insights
As a licensed Einstein Activity Capture user, you have access to the Activities Dashboard and Activity Metrics. The Activities Dashboard showcases your data with various charts and filters. After turning on Activity Metrics, you can use activity data with Salesforce platform capabilities, such as triggers and list views.
Because email data in Einstein Activity Capture is processed by the Einstein AI layer, its Activity Metrics and analytics are helpful. It gives you a clear view of your sales activities, such as last activity date, last call date, inactive days, and more. It also suggests the next action you should take based on email content, and guides you through the process of writing a more tailored response to your customers.
Note that metrics and analytics are supported for Einstein Activity Capture paid versions only. It’s not available for Standard Einstein Activity Capture users.
3. You can send emails directly from Salesforce
Einstein Activity Capture allows you to send emails from Salesforce’s email servers. The recipient will see your email address but won’t know you sent it from Salesforce. However, you can’t send emails from Salesforce using an org-wide email address.
That sounds great, right?
But, why are Salesforce Admins and Sales Ops lashing out at Einstein Activity Capture?
The Challenges of Einstein Activity Capture
Many companies were excited to implement the new functionalities of EAC and present them to their teams. But users quickly discovered that something strange was happening with the Salesforce data in EAC.
1. Sales Activity data is not reportable via Salesforce reports
It appears that the captured activities are not logged as Tasks and Events in Salesforce. And without these activities logged into the standard Activities Object, there is no way to include them in any of the Activity Reports. It also means that there is no possibility to build reports in Salesforce based on Einstein Activity Capture data.
2. EAC tracked data is only reportable for a maximum of 24 months
With Einstein Activity Capture, the captured data is accessible for only six months by default and 24 months in the paid version. After the data retention period has passed, the data is removed from the system permanently. For example, if the data retention period is 24 months, any activity that occurred more than 24 months ago (regardless of when you added it to Salesforce) is deleted from the server and the activity timeline.
This means that you don’t have the proper backup for your customer data. And, if you decide to move away from Einstein Activity Capture in the future, any activity data that was captured and associated with your Salesforce instance will be deleted.
3. Data is stored in a third-party database, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Yes, you read that right. Captured data is not physically stored in Salesforce; instead, the data is collected and stored offsite in the Amazon Web Services server farm.
Below is the Einstein Activity Capture data flow. When data moves from the connected account to Salesforce, it follows the same flow from the user’s email account to Salesforce, regardless of which email service is connected to Salesforce.
Your data is stored on the Salesforce AWS servers and databases, which are hosted by Amazon Web Services behind an AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). This will be shown as virtual records on the Timeline and Activities Analytics dashboard.
Data storage on third-party servers leads to several negative implications for EAC users, including:
- You do not own your data and, hence, cannot control its application fully.
- You can’t deploy EAC on premises or on your private cloud, which makes your data. vulnerable to security threats.
- You can lose your Salesforce data when switching from EAC to another platform.
4. EAC offers limited customization options for capturing data.
EAC doesn’t allow much room for customization, and this can be frustrating for companies that need specific syncing options. Even now, EAC can’t link leads or contacts to specific opportunities. Instead, in Opportunities, it syncs emails with everyone on the Opportunity Team. If you have external partners attached to Opportunities, all emails from these partners will be synced with those linked Opportunities automatically.
By default, EAC is set up to sync events and contacts, and there are minimal options to change this. While it can be disabled, there are few options for customization. For many organizations, syncing contacts by default is a deal-breaker.
Also, custom objects are not supported with EAC. When emails are sent from a custom object, the email is logged on the activity timeline of the associated contact. Similarly, email attachments are not supported and will not be synced to Salesforce.
Is EAC the Right Choice for Your Organization?
Having investigated the advantages and drawbacks of EAC, it’s quite understandable if your organization is having second thoughts about using it, or even considering other alternatives altogether.
If this is the case, we’ve prepared a short checklist to help you solve the dilemma.
EAC is the right solution if your company does not:
- Require standard Salesforce reports or any other reports of sales activities.
- Need customized sync settings.
- Have strict privacy & security policies for customer data.
Opt for EAC alternatives if your company:
- Needs to build comprehensive and customized Salesforce reports.
- Wants to keep Salesforce data for more than 24 months.
- Has strict security & privacy policies that call for complete ownership and protection of customer data.
- Requires advanced sync settings and other customization options.
What advanced functionality is available?
While EAC may fit your company’s basic needs (like syncing standard records, tracking email communications, and automating your processes), other organizations may have more advanced needs.
For example, Revenue Grid offers specific advanced features and customization options for Salesforce users like:
- Reportable data: Revenue Grid captures and saves data directly to Salesforce. This means that you can easily build any Salesforce reports according to your needs.
- Data accessibility: Your captured data is always accessible in Salesforce and will not be lost after 24 months or any other period. Your data will be retained even if you migrate to another solution.
- Data ownership: Revenue Grid can be deployed on-premises or in a private cloud. This guarantees complete security of your customer data, and puts your security officers at ease.
- Customization options: Revenue Grid offers maximum flexibility for capturing data, like emails, calendar events, and anything else that can be synced to your custom objects in Salesforce; email attachments are captured and saved in Salesforce however you need.
From important considerations and useful benefits to practical recommendations, I hope this exploration of EAC has provided some valuable insights as to whether it’s the right tool for your organization. As mentioned, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, so it’s worth taking the time to review the pros and cons before forging ahead.
Learn more about the differences between Revenue Grid and Einstein Activity Capture.
One of the main differentations between Salesforce and other CRM systems is the integration with email – it’s seamless, but only if you are on Outlook server or Outlook 365. I’m a Consultant working with mostly small companies in rural areas that rely on local internet service providers for their email – mostly POP/IMAP and they are frustrated that they don’t have any options for email other than paid, and even then it is very limited. I could not find any info on Thrive on the AppExchange, and their website has limited information – will it work with POP/IMAP email servers?
While Salesforce is recommending to use the on-demand Email2Case solution, you still have the option of using their legacy on premise Java Client that allows you to work at the POP/IMAP level. In fact, it is much more comprehensive and is better equipped for error handling and notifications than the on-demand counterpart. This might be something that you can consider for your scenario. What is the best part? It is FREE as long as know how to set it up (which is not that difficult either).
Hi Tonya, yes we also support IMAP. We are in the process of going live on the AppExchange so more information will be available there soon. For now, these companies can just sign up through our website http://salesforce.thrive.email and will receive further information by email.
Greetings, my implementations have often relied o apps like cirrus insight and ebsta for email syncing effectively and as a means of targeting sfdc’s email limitations. I am definitely curious in knowing how thrive can resolve many issues with email to Salesforce such as mass emails, campaigns, record updates and more. But I am glad you brought up the issue because it’s something many sfdc users struggle with.
Hi Medhanie, yes the alternatives you mention are well known but rely on an implementation in the front-end. We have some features specifically aimed at mass emails as well, so happy to have a discussion about this. Feel free to send me an email at [email protected] if you’d like to go into detail.
I agree with you that email is the primary source of communication and the current models are lacing or expensive. I’d be interested in knowing more about your thrive project (but the link above wasn’t working when I clicked it.)
Hi Dave, sorry to hear that the link wasn’t working for you. Feel free to just shoot me an email and I’d be happy to tell you more personally. ([email protected])
wow…It is some thing interesting.
Thanks Ben, great article! Even after being told today to have a user utilize email or survey monkey to collect feedback from people Attending an event that our company will be conducting throughout the year. The mentality is find the quickest solution and don’t spend too much time on such a small request. The reality is, this was the perfect opportunity to develop a process for any of our other 600 users that may be in need of a solution that will be fast and allows them to gather the necessary data using sakesforce’s platform in creating a custom solution. Not to meeting, acquiring new leads for the company as a whole,
Service Cloud solutions also need email features that are currently very limited and is a great pain for Customer when they find out. I agree that every touchpoint needs to be available inside Salesforce and linked together to offer business inteligente.
I find there are many oficial options for sales such as Salesforce for Outlook, Salesforce IQ, Google apps for Salesforce… Service only has Email to case but it’s too limited.
I would love to know the differences between Thrive and Match My Email?
Hi Trevor, thanks for your message. Thrive and Match My Email are in some ways definitely similar, mainly because both are solutions that work automatically in the background. However there are also clear differences, like for example that Thrive can be used without installing a managed package into your org, and that it covers much more than just email (contacts, accounts, meetings, tasks). Happy to tell you more about it if you are interested. Send me an email on [email protected]
Our company desperately needs to use email conversations or threading, so that if there are 10 replies back and forth on one email, we only want to see one. We will also need to search on any words within the emails. What are the best, cheapest and free options please?
This app in no longer free.
If I can just get email notifications sent by workflows to be copied in Salesforce to verify they went out that would be great. Will this app do that?
Our professional exp. using it was pretty poor, esp. in the reason months. We are actually working on sunsetting it entirely since the reliability is not there at all.
Daniel, would you be interested in trialing Revenue Grid? Over 90% of our customers shifted from the native salesforce solution and find it far more robust
One of the biggest issues that I have found with EAC is the inability to remove emails once they have been stored. This significantly hampers the ability to use EAC in many instances where a potential or current customer may send personal information (financial or health). The only option is to completely remove a contact from having their information included which kills any future email capture.
Wow! Thank you for sharing. I’ve been looking into options relative to Salesforce/Outlook integration this week and this is eye-opening.
With so many “evolutions” and restarts among its email integration tools Salesforce has created a confusion mess.
Perhaps someone can clarify, are these issues also present within Salesforce Inbox (any version)? Are those two products one and the same for purposes of email syncing?
One thing I haven’t seen this article note (or others), is whether EAC requires all emails to sync be default or whether the sync can be turned off by default so that a user can selectively choose when to sync emails. That tends to be my preferred practice.
Can you elaborate more on the comment below? I ask because I have org-wide email addresses set up and have sent emails from them in Salesforce and the sent email is captured in the activity timeline on the record.
“However, you can’t send emails from Salesforce using an org-wide email address.”
Syed Tahir hassan
Best alternative for this is Riva Engine.
I’m curious what happens if the MS Configuration changes from two different servers to one as a org merge is completed. Do contacts, events, email remain or are they wiped from the previous server configurations.
This is a great article. Thanks for putting it together.
I think it is also important to note manually logged emails will be stored in the EmailMessage object in salesforce and will only be deleted manually. I think it is also possible to pull reports from the EmailMessage object.
However, in a use case that needs this to be done automatically, RevenueGrid is the way to go!