A guide to the choices available to replace Salesforce’s Retired Outlook Connector

Salesforce for Outlook: the basics

Salesforce for Outlook is a Salesforce-native application that creates a simple data connector between Salesforce and Microsoft Outlook email, calendar, tasks, and contacts. The integration automatically updates Salesforce with customer data captured in Outlook, and makes that data available to streamline internal communication, enhance customer relationships, and close transactions.  

What is Salesforce for Outlook?

For businesses using both Salesforce and Microsoft Office, the Salesforce for Outlook app has offered a means to bridge the data gap between the two applications. With Salesforce for Outlook, contacts, events and tasks are automatically synced, effectively eliminating the need to manually port customer data from one application to the other. Once captured, Salesforce for Outlook makes messages, events and contacts visible in the Salesforce Activity Timeline to provide customer-specific context for use by all designated team members.  

Why is Salesforce for Outlook being retired?

In the simplest possible terms, Salesforce for Outlook is aging out.

Salesforce for Outlook was initially developed to connect Salesforce Classic and pre Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) versions of Outlook. With the advent of IE11, however, which communicates via APEX calls, Salesforce for Outlook – which naturally doesn’t – was made reliant on Lightning Experience to interpret IE11’s APEX calls.

While use of Lightning Experience satisfied the need for a technical workaround to the APEX call discontinuity between Salesforce Classic and IE11, it was always intended as a stopgap measure. Most customers have made the switch to Lightning, and Salesforce continues to refine its Microsoft Integration products. So, Salesforce is phasing out its support of Salesforce for Outlook now, in preparation for  its retirement in June of 2023.

The Salesforce for Outlook Retirement Timeline

In June of 2019, Salesforce transitioned Salesforce for Outlook to “maintenance only status,” which limited its availability to existing users only. This step marked the beginning of Salesforce’s phased retirement of the Salesforce for Outlook application. June of 2020 marked the next step in this phased retirement process, as Salesforce retired the Salesforce for Outlook Action Menu, which let users create new Salesforce for Outlook records from the Salesforce for Outlook side panel. Since that date, users no longer had access to the “New Records” button, eliminating their ability to create Salesforce records from Outlook through the Salesforce for Outlook application.

In June of 2023, Salesforce will officially retire Salesforce for Outlook. At that time, administrators will lose access to all remaining Salesforce for Outlook features – and all settings and user assignments saved in Outlook configurations. Fortunately, the app’s retirement won’t impact saved contact, event, task, or email data, which will remain available in their existing Salesforce and Outlook formats.

To learn Salesforce’s perspective on the retirement of Salesforce for Outlook, the following publications offer further details:

Salesforce for Outlook Timeline

Is there life after Salesforce for Outlook?

As luck would have it, Salesforce for Outlook isn’t the only data integration game in town. Third-party developers have created a range of options to accomplish – and in specific use cases outperform – Salesforce for Outlook as a tool for sharing vital customer data between Salesforce and Outlook email, calendar, tasks, and contacts.

From a performance perspective, each solution carries its own list of pros and cons. In most cases, those differences are reflected in the cost and capabilities of each solution. As a result, some solutions are better suited for the data integration needs of small companies, some are a better fit for mid-sized companies, and still others are ideal for use by large, highly-regulated enterprises with industry-specific data security, privacy, and compliance concerns.

While the retirement of Salesforce for Outlook is an inconvenient reality, it also presents an opportunity to re-evaluate your organization’s needs – and to seek the solution best positioned to meet them. Some key considerations include:

  • Budget – how important is reliable customer data integration, and how much is your organization willing to allocate for it?
  • Scale – how big is your organization – and how important is real-time synchronization of data?
  • Security – what level of data security and customer privacy is your organization required to provide?
  • Compliance – is your organization subject to regulatory oversight – and what are the reputational and financial ramifications of failure to comply?
  • Configurability– are your organization’s needs well served by a simple, plug-and-play data integration solution, or do you have specific expectations that will require advanced configurations and developer support?
  • Support – will your organization require proactive, around the clock critical response support, or will a robust knowledge base suffice?

In most cases, the size of your organization is a good – albeit generic – metric to assess your options. For comparison purposes, we’ve assembled this guide based on enterprise size, as indicated below:

As companies face the retirement of Salesforce for Outlook, there’s no better time to do an in-depth evaluation of your organization’s customer data integration needs. Download the Riva Enterprise Evaluation Guide – and get a head start on finding the right solution for your organization.

Riva (Large Enterprise)

Riva – the leader in enterprise customer data operations

Riva has created the leading solution for enterprise-level Salesforce-to-Outlook data integration – offering a powerful combination of real-world reliability, security, and industry-specific data compliance, all highly configurable to suit the specific needs of each client.

Riva’s power is derived from the Relationship Engine – its data operations platform that collects, conditions, and curates customer data from Outlook (and Exchange and Gmail) to optimize and empower Salesforce’s customer relationship management platform.

Designed to scale and sync in real-time, Riva’s pass-through architecture supports 150,000 simultaneous users, and more than 5 million calendar appointments per month. The Relationship Engine ensures the application of enterprise-specific rules to create secure, private, and compliant data flows between Salesforce and Outlook email, calendar, task, and contact applications – whether deployed on-site, or in the cloud.

Interested in a deeper dive? Read this to learn more about how Riva can replace – and dramatically improve upon – Salesforce for Outlook.

Features

  • Designed for enterprise-scale, Riva provides support for upwards of 150,000 simultaneous users, and more than 5 million calendar appointments per month
  • Riva monitors regional, national, and global regulations that govern the use of customer data in financial, healthcare, and governmental industries to ensure client compliance and avoid financial sanctions and reputation damage. Ex: https://rivaengine.com/stories/ny_c_jpm/
  • Riva is the only connector that has earned SOC2 attestation. Riva earns and maintains a long list of third-party data security certifications that reflect an unyielding commitment to regional, global, and industry-specific security requirements. Ex: https://rivaengine.com/stories/regal_na_bank/
  • As the only enterprise-level data integration solution to offer real-time data sync, Riva ensures access to up-to-the-minute information for team members throughout the enterprise, helping to improve customer service, prevent relationship missteps, and avoid missed sales opportunities Ex. https://rivaengine.com/stories/pernod-ricard/
  • Riva’s side panel bridges Salesforce and Exchange/Outlook by surfacing and allowing your staff to enhance, and secure data in real-time – right inside their inbox or calendars. With Riva, relevant, conditioned, and curated data (including data from custom fields) is always available via a seamless data flow between applications eliminating the need for task switching and data entry duplication. End users can extend our advanced, granular privacy and security settings for the sharing of material non-public information (MNPI) right through our side panel.

CRM ↔ Address Book

Bi-directional sync of:
  • Contacts / Persons
  • Accounts
  • Leads
  • Contact Notes
  • Custom Fields

CRM ↔ Calendar

Bi-directional sync of:
  • Appointments
  • Meetings
  • Recurring Events
  • Custom Categories
  • Resource Calendars

CRM ↔ Email

Sync Email and Attachments to:
  • CRM Contacts
  • Accounts
  • Opportunities
  • Cases
  • Contracts
  • Custom Objects

CRM ↔ Tasks

Keep Tasks in Sync, Front and Center, Across:
  • SalesForce
  • Calendars
  • Inboxes

CRM > Folders/HTML Email

Uni-directional sync of:
  • Opportunities
  • Cases
  • Contracts
  • Custom Objects to Mail Folders

Benefits for Business Teams

  • Relationship truth – we sync and surface data between Microsoft and Salesforce to deliver a true Customer360.
  • Low Friction Digital Selling –Data embedded in an advisor’s preferred workflow (whether Outlook/Exchange or Salesforce) provides critical context and saves time. 
  • Data Driven Decision Making: with a true Customer360, you get dashboards and KPIs fueled by ​signals vs. noise. 

Benefits for Technology Teams

  • Reduced Security Risk:  Riva has achieved SOC2 attestation and our pass-through architecture ensures that your data remains secure – whether in the cloud or in your data center.
  • Reduced Customizations: Riva maps key data models and flows so your applications just work – without any build on your part. We are highly configurable so we can meet the exacting specifications of our customers in regulated industries.
  • Reduced Project Risk: Our data operations team specializes in connecting these two platforms in some of the most complex enterprise environments in the world. Riva can safeguard your project to deliver value to the business on time and on-budget

Limitations

  • Due to the sophistication of its solutions and its capacity for customization, Riva is not ideally suited for organizations of 250 employees or fewer.

Pricing

Riva has two primary pricing tiers, Professional and Enterprise. Like most platforms, what differentiates the two is that Enterprise customers are given access to additional features, resources, and support—though each tier offers some flexibility based on these variables:

  • Sync & Surface Modules: Calendar/Tasks, Email, Contact
  • Deployment Method: On-premises, single-tenant cloud, multi-tenant cloud
  • Advanced Configurations
  • Seat Licenses
  • Implementation Requirements
  • Support Type

Best For

  • Mid- to large-sized enterprises, particularly those in industries like finance, healthcare, and government with elevated data security and regulatory compliance burden.

If you’re interested in learning more about Riva and which pricing package would work best for you, book a meeting here.

Einstein Activity Capture (Small- to Mid-Sized Organizations)

Einstein Activity Capture CRM

Einstein Activity Capture – Salesforce-native solution reduces setup time, and serves the data integration needs of small- and mid-sized businesses.

With Salesforce for Outlook on its way out, Salesforce is promoting Einstein Activity Capture as the heir apparent. To bridge the gap between Salesforce and Outlook emails, calendar events, tasks and contacts, Einstein Activity Capture adds new Outlook data to corresponding records in Salesforce, thus eliminating the need for your organization’s team members to manually enter customer information in both platforms.  Captured messages and events are then visible in the Salesforce Activity Timeline, where they provide key customer context for the entire team.

Once the data conduit between applications is established, Salesforce’s Sales Cloud Einstein analyzes the data stream, applies machine learning algorithms, and produces Einstein Opportunity and Account Insights to provide team members with relevant information  – and guide them toward appropriate action.

For administrators and managers, Einstein Activity Capture provides reporting on team member activities. These insights can then be used to identify patterns, and to replicate best practices throughout the organization. 

Once active, Einstein Activity Capture maintains logs of the past 24 months of historical Outlook data, capturing all emails, and calendar events sent or received during that timeframe in the cloud. These captured events are displayed in the Activity Timeline to provide a moving two-year history of the team’s relationship with each customer – associating all Outlook records with Salesforce Leads, Contacts, Accounts, Person Accounts, and Opportunities.

For more information on Einstein Activity Capture, these Salesforce publications provide additional details:

Features

  • Automatic Email and Calendar Sync captures every email, meeting, contact, and task created in Office 365, and shares that data with Salesforce
  • Activity Reporting provides data-driven opportunities to coach and incentivize team members with activity leaderboards
  • Fast & Easy Setup of a native application, allowing easy connection and sync with Outlook data
  • Sharing Settings allows users to define who can see emails and events, ensuring customer data privacy
  • Built-in Controls enable administrators to adjust sharing settings and control access to sensitive data.
  • Administrators can identify and blacklist specific domains and email addresses to prevent the collection and sharing of messages from and to sensitive sources

Benefits

  • Einstein Activity Capture is included in all Salesforce products. As a native Salesforce application, its use avoids the time and costs necessary for a third party data integration solution
  • Einstein Activity Capture provides administrators with comprehensive activity data to provide abundant team member coaching opportunities
  • Eliminates the need for manual data logging – and reduces the risk of missed connections and opportunities

Limitations

  • Not optimized for industry-specific compliance (e.g.: Material Non-public information)
  • Storage and display is limited to 24 months of captured activity data for Office 365 users and held in the cloud
  • If an organization elects to deactivate Einstein Activity Capture, the activities it captured will no longer be available in Salesforce record timelines.
  • Does not support deployment in on-premises data centers.

Pricing

  • Standard: No fee for Salesforce users, but access to key features are limited or restricted
  • Paid Subscription: $50 per user, per month 

Best For

  • Small businesses & Startups not subject to industry-specific regulatory compliance and costs associated with third party data integration solutions
  • Mid-sized businesses not subject to industry-specific regulatory compliance or worried about security issues in the cloud

Cirrus Insights (Mid-Sized Organizations)

Cirrus Insight CRM

Cirrus Insights – easy-to-install data Salesforce/Outlook integration for mid-sized companies

Cirrus Insights (https://www.cirrusinsight.com/products ) is a third-party data integration solution designed to share data between Salesforce and the Outlook email, calendar, tasks, and contacts applications your team members use to communicate – both internally and externally – every day. Once implemented, Cirrus Insights can track email and attachment opens, create personalized email templates, send email drip campaigns, set follow-up reminders, and schedule more meetings with customers.

Cirrus Insight’s Salesforce.api also offers a range of integration that leverage the link between Salesforce and Outlook, effectively eliminating the need to manually enter data captured in one application to the other. This seamless connection provides team members with a more comprehensive picture of each customer’s historical interactions with your organization – helping to save time, improve customer satisfaction, avoid missed opportunities, and make sales efforts more efficient and effective.

Once implemented in your organization, Cirrus Insights automatically syncs Outlook emails and calendar appointments to Salesforce, tracks email opens, and sets follow-up reminders. Cirrus can also create and update Salesforce records like leads, contacts, and opportunities – and can be used to schedule sales calls.

Interested in learning more about Cirrus Insights? This G2 article provides additional details.

Features

  • Simple, effective CRM-to-Outlook integration
  • Automatically logs Outlook emails, calendar events, and tasks in Salesforce
  • Syncs Outlook contacts to Salesforce, simplifying team-wide access to prospects and accounts
  • Supports automated email sequences and follow-ups
  • Allows tracking and notification of email opens, clicks, and engagement – directly in SFDC

Benefits

  • Easy installation requires limited IT support
  • Keeps team members informed and updated of all customer interactions, helping to leverage shared knowledge, improve customer satisfaction, and close transactions
  • Avoids missed opportunities resulting from the inefficiencies of manual data input to update Salesforce with Outlook data, and vice versa

Limitations

  • Meaningful integration requires time, persistence, and fine tuning
  • No ability to create custom data flows

Pricing

  • Free 14 day trial
  • Salesforce Starter Plan: $27 per user/month
  • Salesforce Closer Plan: $45 per user/month
  • Salesforce Rainmaker Plan: $72/month

Best For

  • Small businesses/Startups
  • Mid-sized businesses not subject to industry-specific regulatory compliance (e.g.: Material, non-public information)

LinkPoint360 (Mid-Sized Organizations)

LinkPoint360 CRM

LinkPoint360 – cost-effective email-to-CRM integration for mid-sized enterprise

Like its competitive counterparts, LinkPoint360 is a third-party solution designed to connect leading CRMs – including Salesforce – with the email, calendar, task, and contact applications its clients use. A capable alternative to Salesforce for Outlook, LinkPoint360’s LinkPoint Connect eliminates the need for duplicate data entry by enabling its users to view, create, and update Salesforce data within the screen context of their Outlook email.

LinkPoint360, which currently counts more than 90,000 registered users in more than 60 countries, enhances productivity by eliminating the need to switch between CRM and email applications.

Interested in learning more about LinkPoint? This review provides additional details:

Features

  • Provides accurate reporting of email openings
  • LinkPoint Connections is a built-in contact assistant that allows users to select which emails to easily select and share specified contacts with Salesforce
  • Integrated security protocols prevent CRM and server data compromise
  • Dedicated customer service team ensures smooth onboarding, training, and organizational adoption
  • Single-click email recording allows for easy email integration by both administrators and end users
  • Designed for custom Salesforce object and field detection
  • Optional email sync eliminates the need for manual designation of which emails to share with Salesforce

Benefits

  • Secure client-side deployment simplifies implementation, and protects sensitive data from compromise
  • Ability to track email openings assists in measurement of campaign conversion, and helps to determine appropriate follow-up

Limitations

  • To optimize performance, LinkPoint360 can require IT support and fine-tuning
  • For organizations that require customized data integration options, LInkPoint360s native functions may not provide adequate utility and flexibility

Pricing

  • Outlook Integration: $16 per user/month

Best For

  • Mid-sized businesses not subject to industry-specific regulatory compliance (e.g.: SOC2)

Visit their product page here.

Zapier  (Small and Startup Organizations)

Zapier CRM

Zapier – plug and play data integration for small business

Zapier is a web-based tool that forms data connections between disparate third party applications, allowing for the automation of repetitive tasks that would otherwise require users to transfer data manually. Designed for plug-and-play, Zapier shares data between Salesforce and Microsoft Outlook without the need for custom coding by developers. 

Zapier shares data in workflows called “Zaps,” which connect apps to automate repetitive tasks. Once a user sets up a Zap, Zapier monitors the app for the defined event. Each occurrence of the event in the app signals a “Trigger” to complete the defined action. Zapier pricing is based on Trigger volume, on the frequency of updates between designated apps, and on the range of capabilities available for use.

While its capabilities are somewhat limited, Zapier provides small businesses and startups with an economical alternative to Salesforce for Outlook.

Zapier provides users with a range of Salesforce/Outlook data integration actions, including:

  • Outlook calendar event starts
  • New and updated Outlook calendar events
  • New Outlook contacts
  • New Outlook emails
  • Highlighting when new outbound messages are received in Salesforce
  • Finding Salesforce records
  • Adding Salesforce contacts to campaigns
  • Adding Salesforce Leads to campaigns
  • Creating Salesforce attachments
  • Creating, updating, and finding Salesforce records

Features:

  • Bank-level encryption to ensure data security.
  • Easy, plug-and-play integration
  • Multi-app compatibility

Limitations:

  • Zapier does not provide industry-specific regulatory compliance support
  • Zapier offers a range of built-in apps that simplify workflows between a range of apps. These apps provide a lot of use case options, but they are not designed for nuanced, organization-specific customization. 

Pricing:

  • Zapier offers free plans and trials that limit the number of tasks a user can attempt in a short time span
  • Pricing levels range from $19.99 to $3,599.99 per month. Lower prices limiting the number of “Zaps” within a given timeframe, and the number of tasks per month (tasks exceeding monthly allocations are charged per use). Zaps are also synced based on package pricing – with lower-priced options syncing every 15 minutes, and top-priced options syncing every minute.

Best For:

  • Zapier is best used by companies with 10-50 employees, and $1-10 million in revenue

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