Up to now, many businesses have used Salesforce for Outlook to automatically sync emails, contacts, events, and tasks between Salesforce and Microsoft Outlook. However, the action menu was removed in 2021, and the product is scheduled for retirement in June 2024.
If you’re affected, you’ll need to prepare for Salesforce for Outlook’s retirement and consider an alternative tool to sync your emails and other Salesforce data between Outlook and Salesforce.
To simplify this process, this post will look at the impact the product’s retirement could have on your business and the alternatives you could consider.
History of Salesforce for Outlook
Before looking at these alternatives, let’s first look at a brief overview of Salesforce for Outlook’s history. Salesforce for Outlook was first released in the Winter 11 release of Salesforce. It was designed to automatically sync email and contact data, while Salesforce’s other option, Connect for Outlook, allowed you to sync these items manually.
Over time, the product was continuously improved, and new features were added. However, technology evolves and moves on, and since 2020, there have been announcements of Salesforce for Outlook’s retirement.
Why Is Salesforce for Outlook Being Retired
Salesforce for Outlook entered a maintenance-only phase in 2019. This simply meant that it wouldn’t be available for any new users, and no new features would be implemented. The product’s full retirement is now scheduled for June 2024, and after this date, users and admins will no longer have access to its features.
The reason for the retirement is that Salesforce for Outlook has always relied on Lightning Experience to interpret APEX calls made from Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) for users working with both Lightning Experience and Salesforce Classic.
However, Salesforce is ending its extended support for IE11 for Lightning Experience. As such, and because certain Salesforce for Outlook dependencies rely on IE11, its functionality will be impacted. This means that APEX calls made to IE11 will be blocked, resulting in calls made to Salesforce for Outlook being blocked as well.
Impacts on Organizations
Even though there won’t be any impact on your existing contact, event, task, or email data as a result of Salesforce for Outlook’s retirement, there are some other impacts you can expect.
For one, users and admins will lose access to all their Salesforce for Outlook configurations. As such, they won’t have access to any settings that determine how users sync, which users sync, which features users have access to, and other product settings.
More importantly, after Salesforce for Outlook’s retirement, you will lose access to all of its functionality. The gist of this is that you won’t be able to connect to Salesforce from Microsoft Outlook and sync contacts, events, or tasks between the two platforms.
Future Options for Organizations
As a result of Salesforce for Outlook’s retirement and its accompanying loss of functionality to sync data between the two platforms, you’ll now need to consider alternatives to replace these features. We’ll now consider some of these alternatives in more detail.
Salesforce Outlook Integration
The first alternative is Salesforce’s Outlook integration, which aims to replace many of Salesforce for Outlook’s functions. In fact, the Outlook integration offers productivity features that aren’t available in Salesforce for Outlook.
It allows you to work with Salesforce records and features while working in your Outlook calendar or email. As a result, the product replaces the Salesforce side panel experience you had in Salesforce for Outlook.
Let’s now consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of using Salesforce’s Outlook integration.
One of the first major benefits of the integration is that it’s completely free. To get it is as simple as searching for the add-on on the Office store within Outlook and adding it to the platform. Once installed, you’ll be able to work with your Salesforce data directly in Microsoft Outlook.
Pro: Allows Users to Have a Window Into Salesforce When Working Out of Outlook
As mentioned earlier, the integration allows you to work with Salesforce records and certain Salesforce features while working in your Outlook email or calendar. As such, you’ll be able to:
- Log Outlook emails to Salesforce records as emails and tasks
- Log events to Salesforce
- Draft Outlook emails using Salesforce templates
In addition, if you’re working with Lighting Experience, you can build custom Outlook integration panes for different users using customized layouts and features. You can also add Lightning components, including those downloaded from the AppExchange, to your integration panes.
This way, you can control the Salesforce data every user sees.
Pro: Create Leads, Contacts, Accounts, and Other Records from Outlook
In addition to logging Outlook emails to Salesforce records, the integration also allows you to create leads, contacts, accounts, and other records directly from Outlook.
This is available as quick actions, and you can change the quick actions based on the needs of your users.
You get complete control over what your users can or can’t do in Outlook while increasing their efficiency and ensuring consistent data.
Con: Work Must Be Done Manually
One of the major disadvantages of the integration is that, while it allows you to log emails, you’ll need to log emails to records manually. Understandably, this process is slow and inefficient.
To be able to automatically log emails to their related Salesforce records, you’ll need to set up Einstein Activity Capture. This allows you to capture emails and see sharing options from Outlook. We’ll deal with Einstein Activity Capture in more detail later.
Con: Each End-User Must Set Up the Add-On Themselves and Keep it Up-to-Date
When using the integration, every end-user will need to go to the Office store, find the add-on and add it to Outlook. They’ll then need to configure it and ensure it always stays up to date. This could become challenging to manage.
The second alternative to replace Salesforce for Outlook is Salesforce Inbox. It’s a paid tool that requires the Outlook integration discussed above but offers several additional features. These features all aim to make you and your users more productive when working with emails.
Pro: Allows Users to Have a Window Into Salesforce When Working Out of Outlook
Because Salesforce Inbox requires the Outlook integration, it offers many of the same features. As such, you can log Outlook emails and events to Salesforce records as emails and tasks, and you can draft emails in Outlook using Salesforce templates.
In addition, by using the integration, you can build custom Outlook integration panes for every user using unique layouts and features, and you can also add Lightning components to your integration panes.
However, Salesforce Inbox gives you access to various other features, including email scheduling, creating shortcuts, and knowing when email recipients click links in emails.
Pro: Adds Read Receipts to emails
Another added feature of Salesforce Inbox is that it allows you to add read receipts to emails. This then allows you to see when a recipient has opened an email in Salesforce. Remember, however, that you’ll only receive notifications when a recipient opens an email and follow-up reminders when a recipient hasn’t replied when using the Salesforce Inbox mobile app.
Pro: Users Can Send a Calendar With Their Availability
Another feature that Salesforce Inbox adds to the feature set of the Outlook integration is giving users the ability to send available times for both internal and external meetings. This helps your team check and ensure their availability and, as a result, that meetings aren’t missed.
Pro: Create Leads, Contacts, Accounts, and Other Records from Outlook
Like the Outlook integration mentioned earlier, Salesforce Inbox also allows you to create leads, contacts, accounts, and other records directly from Outlook. Once again, you can change the quick actions available to your users to do this. This results in increased efficiency and consistent Salesforce data across your business.
Con: Work Must Be Done Manually
Similar to the Outlook integration, you’ll need to log emails to Salesforce records manually. As such, while Salesforce Inbox gives you the ability to log emails to records, it does so in a way that’s slow and inefficient. To log emails automatically, you’ll need to implement Einstein Activity Capture.
Con: Each End-User Must Set Up the Software Themselves and Keep it Up-to-Date
Like the Outlook integration, every end-user will need to set up Salesforce Inbox themselves and ensure that it stays up-to-date.
Einstein Activity Capture
Einstein Activity Capture, or EAC, can replace the email and event sync functionality of Salesforce for Outlook. It automatically captures and adds any emails you send or receive to the activity timeline of a related account, contact, lead, opportunity, contract, or quote record in Salesforce.
In addition, it also syncs events between Salesforce and connected Microsoft accounts. Here, when it syncs these events, they become Salesforce records and are available to use in reporting and other Salesforce features.
Moreover, EAC also syncs contacts between Salesforce and your Microsoft account. As is the case with events, these contacts then become Salesforce records and can be used in Salesforce reporting.
Ultimately, this sounds like a much better option than logging emails manually by using the Outlook integration or Salesforce Inbox, so let’s now consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of EAC in more detail.
Pro: Unlicensed Version is Free
A benefit is that EAC is available as an unlicensed version, or EAC Standard, that’s completely free. However, this version is only available to users who don’t have the Performance or Unlimited Editions of Salesforce or Sales Cloud Einstein, Inbox, High Velocity Sales, or Revenue Intelligence license. Users of these products can use the licensed EAC version.
This inevitably means that you’ll forgo some of the features you’ll find in the licensed version. For example, with EAC Standard, the Activities dashboard will only be available in read-only mode, and the amount of data available is limited to 90 days.
Likewise, with EAC Standard, you won’t have access to Email Insights by default, and you won’t be able to create custom email insights. In contrast, with the licensed version, you’ll have access to these insights and the ability to create custom insights.
Con: Emails Are Stored Outside of Salesforce
A serious disadvantage of EAC is that, for every data type you enable, it will capture the data from your connected Microsoft account and store it using Salesforce’s AWS infrastructure. In other words, this data is not stored on the Salesforce platform.
When it comes to email data, this leads to several drawbacks. For one, when email data is stored externally, it can’t be used to create Salesforce records. This means you can’t use your email data in standard reports or other Salesforce capabilities.
As a result, if you use email extensively to communicate with your accounts, the inability to include email data in reports could be a significant drawback and might mean that EAC is not the best solution for you.
Con: Emails Disappear from Salesforce After Six Months or Two Years
Many businesses rely on Salesforce records that are accurate for more than 6 months and in some cases, far more. If you’re one of these businesses and you rely on accurate records to do business, EAC might not be the best option for you.
This is simply because EAC does not store email data permanently. When you use the unlicensed, Standard version of EAC, it will only capture and store activity data on your activity timeline for a maximum of six months.
When using the licensed version of EAC, it will capture and store activity data on your activity timeline for 24 months as default. You can, however, contact Salesforce support to extend this to a maximum of five years.
Con: No Way of Knowing What Was Processed and Matched
Unfortunately, when EAC captures and syncs emails between Salesforce and Outlook, it adds them to the activity timeline of a specific account or contact, where you’ll find a summary of the activities on each account. It then also pushes the data to the Activities dashboard.
The problem with this is that it’s challenging to know which emails were, in fact, processed and matched to accounts.
Con: Does not upload attachments
Another major drawback of EAC is that, when syncing emails, it doesn’t upload attachments. If you thus use emails as part of your core business processes and attach documents and other important information to these emails, EAC might not be the best option for your business.
Con: Reporting on Email Data is Pushed to Einstein Analytics, an Inflexible Reporting Tool
When syncing data between Salesforce and Outlook, and because EAC doesn’t allow you to use email data in standard Salesforce reporting, EAC, as mentioned earlier, pushes data to Einstein Analytics and gives you access to the Activities dashboard.
Unfortunately, Einstein Analytics is an inflexible reporting tool and, due to some of the limitations mentioned earlier, doesn’t give you the accurate insights you need.
Match My Email
Finally, we’ve come to Match My Email (MME). It’s an AppExchange app that allows you to log and sync your emails to Salesforce automatically. In doing so, it eliminates manual data entry and makes you and your team more efficient while ensuring that you retain accurate Salesforce data.
In fact, by using MME, the average Salesforce user can save up to 1 hour every week. Further simplifying the process of syncing Outlook emails with Salesforce is the fact that it has an easy and intuitive setup process that requires only three clicks.
Although its core functionality, the syncing of emails, sounds similar to what EAC delivers, MME uses an entirely different approach and uses more sophisticated algorithms than EAC to sync your emails and calendars to Salesforce automatically.
This results in several benefits and the tool being more effective. Let’s look at some of these benefits in more detail.
Pro: Works 100% of the Time
A major benefit is that the MME doesn’t require apps or plugins. It’s as simple as activating your account with your username and password. From there, MME runs in the background, automatically syncing your emails to Salesforce, without you needing to do anything else. As such, MME is less work to maintain, and it works 100% of the time.
For those times when there might be any issues, MME also has an exceptional support team that can answer your questions or solve any issues you encounter.
Pro: Comes with a transparency dashboard
Once you’ve synced your Outlook email data with Salesforce using MME, you can turn it into actionable insights viewable from a central dashboard. This gives you complete transparency over your activity and communication data. In turn, these insights can help you improve your processes and make your sales team more effective and efficient.
Pro: Incorporates Lead/Contact recommendation tool
With MME, you’ll have access to a wealth of information relating to contacts, accounts, leads, and more. For example, you’ll be able to see contacts and leads who have not emailed or been emailed during the past week. Likewise, you can track accounts that have been active during the past 24 hours and even create lists that show which emails have not been replied to.
Ultimately, this makes it possible for you to see, at a glance, which contacts or leads need attention and makes it easier to capitalize on opportunities.
Pro: Stores Emails Permanently
Unlike EAC, which stores email data externally on Salesforce’s AWS infrastructure, MME uploads email data to the Salesforce platform. This has a few benefits. For one, it allows you to store your email data permanently, which is a vast improvement over EAC. Also, because email data is stored in Salesforce, you and your team can find it easily.
Pro: Unlocks Email Data Reporting in Salesforce
Another benefit of storing email data in Salesforce is that, unlike EAC, you can use it to create standard Salesforce reports. This ensures that you can gain better insights from your email data, which, in turn, helps you improve your sales processes and make your sales team more effective because they can rely on more accurate insights.
Pro: Uploads attachments
Oftentimes, some of the most important information contained in an email is found in the attachments. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, EAC doesn’t upload attachments when it syncs emails from Outlook.
In contrast, MME does and gives you the ability to store attachments in Salesforce. In addition, it allows you to customize the upload rules based on your requirements. For example, you can choose to ignore attachments or to upload them, and when you do, you can also specify the maximum size for attachments.
Pro: Central Administration
Unlike the Outlook integration or Salesforce Inbox mentioned earlier that need to be manually set up, MME features simple and intuitive central administration that allows you to configure the app for all end-users without them needing to take any action.
Con: Costs Money
Unlike the Outlook integration and Standard Einstein Activity Capture, MME does come at a cost, as you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription to use the tool.
However, it’s important to consider the value you’re getting in return. Simply put, when a tool can make your sales processes more efficient, improve your sales team’s performance, and give you deeper insights into your sales activities, it’s well worth the price.
Con: No Read Receipts on Emails
Unlike Salesforce Inbox and the Outlook integration, you can’t add read receipts to your emails. Unfortunately, this means that you won’t be able to tell if a recipient has opened an email from Salesforce. Of course, you’ll still be able to see this in Outlook.
Now that you know what you’re up against as Salesforce retires its support for Outlook, it’s time to find a suitable alternative. Whether you choose one of Salesforce’s apps or switch to a more efficient solution, we hope emails from happy leads keep pouring in!