Admins / Artificial Intelligence / RevOps / Sales

Salesforce Einstein Activity Capture for Gmail or Outlook: Pros and Cons

By Slava Bilan

Branded content with Revenue Grid

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). Let’s take a closer look.

Benefits of Einstein Activity Capture

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.

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.

Source: 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, as you need at least one paid EAC license (either purchased as an add-on with Salesforce Inbox, or included as part of other product offerings)

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 (yet!)

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 directly in Salesforce based on Einstein Activity Capture just yet – this will change however with the unified Activity 360 Reports which are currently in beta, aiming to become generally available in Winter ’24.

READ MORE: 3 Ways to Unlock Reporting with Einstein Activity Capture

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.

Source: 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. (This however will no longer be a challenge with the new Activity 360 reporting becoming GA as long as your organization has one paid license)
  • Need highly customized sync settings.
  • Have strict privacy & security policies for customer data.

Opt for EAC alternatives if your company:

  • 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

The Author

Slava Bilan

Slava is a Salesforce Consultant and BA, Certified Salesforce Administrator with 9+ years of experience. Currently working as the Director of Sales & Strategic Ops at Revenue Grid.

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