A Brief Introduction to Salesforce Connected Apps

It’s easy to get lost in a conversation about Heroku and Salesforce Connected Apps with all of the technical jargon that gets thrown around. Of course the technical side of things is important, but what does connecting your app to Salesforce actually mean for you and your business?

The answer: a lot. That’s why in this article I will leave the tech-speak at the door and explain how Salesforce connected apps allow you to effortlessly scale, stay agile, and maintain a 360-degree view of your customer. At the end, I’ll show you a basic example of this in action to bring it all together.

Let’s get started.

Salesforce Connected Apps

There are plenty of ways to build apps with Salesforce but it’s important to make this clear: a connected app is simply a web and/or mobile app that is built off of the Salesforce platform. These are apps built using coding languages like Ruby on rails, python, go, swift, etc..

The reason it’s called a connected app is that we can connect these apps back to your Salesforce org using Heroku Connect. By being connected to Salesforce you can control what happens in your app from your Salesforce Org, and similarly, collect data in Salesforce from things done on your app. More on this later…

Heroku Platform, Connect, and Postgres

Heroku was acquired by Salesforce back in 2011 because “With Heroku, our platform can become the cornerstone of the next-generation of cloud computing” said Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff. Well, Benioff was not wrong.

Since then Heroku has released a ton of different products and expanded their offerings to become the leading Platform-as-a-service(PaaS). A PaaS allows you to develop, run, and manage applications without having to build the infrastructure that you normally need to run an app.

In this way, Heroku allows you to focus on the most important thing – your app – Without having to worry about the complexity of hardware and servers. Though, when it comes to connected apps, we are more interested in Heroku Connect.

Heroku Connect is what allows us to create a bi-directional sync between Salesforce and your app. This is essentially the same technology that powers things like iCloud: when you make a change on one side, it is instantly reflected on the other. This way if you make a change in Salesforce it is instantly reflected in your app – or vice versa.

What This Means to You

Agility and Usability

Connecting your app to Salesforce allows you to take advantage of Salesforce’s greatest feature: clicks instead of code. Essentially using Salesforce’s simple UI you are able to make changes that are instantly reflected in your web or mobile experience.

Things like changing banners, rewriting copy, sending notifications, automating tasks, generating usage reports, and much more can be done with the click of a button in your Salesforce Org. This gives the business a level of agility that is unmatched and reduces the level of expertise required to manage your app.

Complete view of your customer

If you’re already using Salesforce to run your business it would be a mistake to not connect your app back to Salesforce. We already talked about being able to use Salesforce to change things down-stream in your app, but what about the other way around?

Any and all of the data that is being collected from your app can be acted upon in Salesforce. This gives you the ability to create accurate forecasts, enrich your marketing campaigns, and give you a complete view of your customer in a single place.

Scalability

If you choose to deploy your app on the Heroku Platform you will be able to effortlessly scale your app as it gains popularity. You can enable autoscaling and Heroku will do the work for you, or you can add more dynos at the click of a button yourself.

An example

With a connected app, Salesforce becomes a unified place to run your entire business that can also control and manipulate your web and mobile app with a simple and intuitive UI. A place where without touching a line of code you can change the description of one of your products, send a push notification, and alter the price.

This sounds great but a question we often get when introducing this concept is “What does it look like?” or “How does this actually work?” So I figured the best way to explain this was to give a real-world example – the Membership registration portal that we deployed to Heroku.

I’ll use this app to give you a preview of how incredibly easy it is to manage an app that is connected to Salesforce.

If you would rather see a video explanation, head here: Trifin Labs Membership Registration App

The App

Some things to take note of is that the app gives users the ability to purchase a membership from the available tiers and create an account using Auth0. The app itself displays the name of the membership, a description of what’s included, the price of joining, and other information that someone would need to make a purchase decision.

So let’s say I wanted to offer a sale in which the membership would be 20% off and let people know in the description.

Because the app is connected back into Salesforce we can just sign into our org and maneuver to the “Membership Tiers” tab:

And here we see our list of membership tiers that we are offering. We can select the membership we want to edit:

And here we will see everything associated with that membership tier and how it matches up with what is displayed in the app. The description is accessible for users when they click on one of the membership tiers.

Now that we’re here all we would have to do is hit ‘edit’ in Salesforce, and our changes would be instantly reflected downstream in our application.  This may not seem like much but it really is one of the most powerful features of Salesforce connected apps. Imagine if you had to enter new surveys every day, or keep an event schedule up to date, or create fishing tournaments, and you needed to assign this mundane task to a developer.

Now to change directions we can take a look at what it looks like when someone signs up for a membership.  Once someone signs up we can head into Salesforce and look at new accounts that were created this week. Like so:

We can see that this week Scott Fielder signed up for a new membership, and an account was automatically created in Salesforce. When we click through to Scott’s account we can easily access all of the information that he has entered. Salesforce even automatically created an associated contact for the account:

And if we wanted to we can even look into what membership plan Scott is currently enrolled in:

All of this data is now directly actionable in Salesforce and can be seen alongside any other data we may have collected about Scott in the past.

Looking for More?

Okay now you have a basic understanding of Salesforce connected apps and you’ve seen an example of one in action.  If you’re looking to get a more in-depth explanation of how Salesforce connected apps work, the benefits they provide, and hear case studies of consumer-scale web and mobile apps we’ve built, check out this webinar:

Unlock Salesforce With Connected Apps Webinar

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About Shane Rostad

Shane Rostad is a marketing manager for TriFin Labs that loves to share his knowledge and learnings about tech through writing. When he's not reading you can find him exploring Florida's parks or loitering in a local coffee shop.

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