How to Customize Salesforce Communities

Branded communities are a powerful way to increase engagement with employees, partners and customers. And Salesforce Community Cloud is one of the best platforms in the business.

But can you customize it for your business? Absolutely.

Real-World Example: The Wish List

What are you looking for? Recently one of our clients felt they had outgrown their existing community. While it was useful for general CRM purposes, they wanted more customizability for:

  • Design
  • User experience
  • Scalability
  • Security

Since their users had to deal with multiple systems, our client wanted to make their Salesforce Community a central application for their partners. Plus, their partners weren’t exactly sitting in the office using desktop computers all day. They’re out in the field – and needed tools that work seamlessly in the field, too.

The Deliverables

Our job? The list was pretty clear:

  • Create a one-stop shop for partners to use for sales activities, product information, news and supporting applications.
  • Deliver a branded look and feel.
  • Implement responsive design for partners out in the field, using devices of all sizes (and sometimes unpredictable data speeds).
  • Support changing growth and security.

The Results, Tools & Tech

That’s exactly what we delivered. To ensure the best results for our clients, our team developed a custom community solution with responsive design, more customization and more control.

Here’s a closer look at the tools and tech:

    • Bootstrap for Responsive Design: We leveraged a mobile-first, front-end framework called Bootstrap for proven consistency and predictable results across a full spectrum of browser and device combinations. We also built out the site design within a Visualforce template. Using a template allowed us to support existing Visualforce pages in both standard UI and our custom community design. Plus, it created the proper separation between design and body content to maintain the design cleanly in one place.
Example: Product menu for mobile
  • New Content Management System (CMS): We developed the right CMS to organize the site from the ground up, support dynamically maintained menus and SEO-friendly pages, and support standards within Salesforce – such as list views, page layouts and more.

    We leveraged Visualforce dynamic components at the core for our CMS pages. From an administration perspective, the user dynamically creates pages in the CMS as records in Salesforce. The admin then selects a pre-built responsive layout for the page body and dynamically places Visualforce components in the layout.

  • Security & Publishing Systems: We created a smarter structure for a site that’s constantly growing and changing, secured with groups to give our client complete control over when and where information appears on the site – and who can see it.

    By using groups, we secured access not only to pages, but to the individual components, menu items and content within them. Groups allow for this granularity to be achieved and easily maintained.

  • Custom CKEditor Integrated with Salesforce: And we developed a custom implementation of CKEditor, allowing the client to author and integrate Salesforce files into their web content – including images, videos and documents.

    CKEditor is the content editor you have already used in Salesforce if you’ve ever used a rich text area custom field within a page layout. But Salesforce uses a very stripped down version of the editor that limits the actual html markup tags you can use and has no way to control and track what assets are included in your content. We customized the editor to track usage of all images, videos and documents back to their Salesforce Files.

    That means you can look at a file in Salesforce and know exactly where it is in use in the CMS. Our customizations also allow links to other CMS pages to dynamically resolve at runtime. So as you change your site structure and page urls, the links in your content never break.

Put it all together, and it creates a whole world of new possibilities for today’s devices. Remember, Salesforce Community Cloud has a lot to offer. But if you’re looking for ways to tailor it specifically to your organization, just ask. We’d love to help.

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Sundog: The Podcast 065- Design Thinking

Good design is more than just pretty pictures. There is a serious thought process and purpose behind every great design. On this episode, we’ve gathered all of our Sundog designers in one room to discuss design thinking; a creative, problem-solving process which helps people design meaningful solutions.


Eric Ista – Director of Design / Senior Creative Strategist
Matt Holt – Design Intern
Jena LaPlante – Designer
Crystal Aakre – Designer
Katie Schalow – Associate Designer
Amy Crews – Senior Designer
Lon Keller – Senior Editor, Studios Team Lead, Podcast Host


Listen with Stitcher and rate our show!

Subscribe to Sundog: The Podcast and give us a nice rating in iTunes!


Download MP3 File (53:13 / 48.9 MB)

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3 Takeaways: The Importance of Testing Across Major Browsers

Whether it’s Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or another option, we all have a browser we use most often. Many of us rely on personal preference, but sometimes our employers, schools or other organizations make the decision for us.

Because of this, it is imperative to test websites – not only in different browsers, but on different devices.

1. Know your audience’s preferences.

Compatibility testing is often one of the last things developers consider before releasing a site. At Sundog, we check with our clients to find out what browsers they will typically use to view the site. If they know the statistics of the most popular browsers used by their customers, the decision becomes immensely easier. Businesses need their customers to be able to see their content as consistently as possible, across different devices and in different browsers.

2. Work with those preferences in mind.

That includes testing across browsers and devices as you go – throughout the development process if possible.

3. Test, test and test again. (Tip: Try BrowserStack.)

The simplest way to do this is with a tool such as BrowserStack. It allows your development or quality assurance team to test multiple browser, operating system and device combinations.

For instance, when checking CNN, on my computer, I see this in the latest version of Google Chrome:


And this, in IE8-Compatibility Mode (not that I am condoning IE8):

While CNN is certainly not asking me for advice on compatibility, it definitely isn’t a best practice to have a website not work at all in a particular browser. It is far better to have browser- or device-specific Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) so you have proper fall-back compatibility for all users.

The best advice? Know your audience’s preferences, work with those in mind, and test browsers and devices often through the entire development process. You – and your customers – will be glad you did.

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Social Media Cheat Sheet: 5 Tips for Choosing Where to Post Content

If you’ve ever managed more than one social media channel, you’ve probably experienced the following situation: You have a message that you want to post on at least one of your company’s social media channels. It could be a product introduction, company announcement or strategic message from your latest campaign. How do you decide where to publish?

Here are five considerations to help you make the decision:

1. The type of content you’re posting.

Are you posting a text update, image, video or image gallery? Here’s a chart to help you decide.Blog_Table-01

2. How you want your followers to engage.

Do you want followers to like, repost or comment? Choose the right platform for engagement.


3. Whether you want to pay for promotion.

Do you have a budget for promoted content? If so, you might want to consider posting where you can use promoted posts for increased engagement.


4. Your post length.

What’s the length of your message? You might want to consider the ideal lengths (backed by data) for Facebook and Twitter, courtesy of Buffer Social (view the infographic). Unfortunately, there isn’t any official data available for LinkedIn or Instagram yet.


5. Page linking.

Often, the purpose of your post will be to direct users to a page on your website. It’s helpful to give fans a preview of what they will see. Facebook automatically pulls in your website title tag, meta description and images. You can manually do something similar with Twitter.


As you’ve likely realized, these considerations aren’t hard-and-fast rules that must be followed all of the time. Every post should be a part of a larger social media strategy. If you’re looking to develop your strategy, 8 Golden Rules of Social Media by Brianne Carlsrud, our social insights analyst, is a good place to start.

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How Competitive Is The Search Engine Industry?

The search engine business is cutthroat.

While Google still dominates with an iron fist, its competitors aren’t taking any punches lying down. Microsoft isn’t slowing down their marketing push behind rival search engine Bing, while privacy-minded upstart has been making slow but steady inroads. Meanwhile, Yahoo is still fighting for visibility, while foreign search engines overseas are gaining ground.

So what does the landscape look like – and what’s next on the horizon? We dug into the data to find out just how competitive the search engine space really is, challenging the idea that the struggle for search supremacy begins and ends in Mountain View, California.

Here’s a closer look:


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The Secret of Making Segmentation Work for You

What’s the secret to making segmentation work for you? It’s actually pretty simple: segment with conviction.

Marketing to segments may feel risky and take more planning time, but it cuts through noise and gives personality to your brand. Many advertisers only put one foot into the water, wanting to segment but afraid of leaving someone out.

But no business should be trying to market to everyone at any given time.

What Are Examples of Segments?

  • Geographic
  • Demographic
  • Psychographic
  • Behavioral
  • Journey position
  • Lifestyle
  • Product/service benefit

How Do You Begin the Process of Segmentation?

Start with an open mind. Let go of “the way it’s always been done” mindset. Once you know your segments, put yourself in their shoes. Consider that
specific segment’s perspective, as well as your CFO’s. What long-term value is possible, beyond immediate profit?

What’s the Magic Combination?

Honestly there are endless ways to segment your audience, and it might take some time to figure out the right mix. But when you are established in the
market, segmentation gives you a competitive advantage – it allows you to talk directly to your customers through advertising. Because here’s a simple truth: People want to buy from people who know them.

What Else Will You Find Out?

You may also have an epiphany or two once you start drilling into your segments. For example, you may find you have a gateway product. Gateway products may not give the highest returns on an individual basis, but they open doors for prospects to experience your brand. And just as important, they give you a chance to earn prospects’ trust.

All in all, when you fully commit to segments, your message will resonate a lot more with some individuals and may not be as relevant to others. That’s okay. Different messages to different segments won’t alienate your broad customer base. They will just drive home more relevant, meaningful messages to individual groups, rather than the whole. So try testing messages in various contexts, while keeping your customer segments in mind.

And when you find the right combination? That will be a secret worth sharing.

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Top Tips for Local SEO: Why NAP Listening Consistency Matters

Run a brick-and-mortar business? You probably face tough competition to turn search traffic into foot traffic.

But the majority of businesses fail to act on one of the most basic elements of local SEO: claiming listings on search engines and business directories. Not only that, but many also fail to maintain accurate NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) listings across those profiles.

The good news? With a little bit of knowledge and effort, you can develop a considerable advantage pretty easily.

How Does NAP Info Impact Local Search Rankings?

Search engines use instances of your business name, location, and contact information around the web to accurately understand who you are. Where you’re located. And how customers can reach you.

Since the number one goal of any search engine is to provide a quality experience, it’s important this information be accurate. That’s why they pay close attention to every detail of how your NAP information is formatted. Because if they present users with outdated or wrong information? It erodes trust between their service and the consumer.

Listen to our friend Dwight.
Listen to our friend Dwight.

When creating listings on local directories (as well as Google My Business, Bing Local, Yahoo Local and your Facebook page), it’s important to ensure that your business name, address and phone number are accurate everywhere they appear on the Web. This means all listings should match the syntax and formatting of these items on your website (and they need to be easily visible on your website, if they aren’t already).

Overall Tips for Formatting Your NAP

  1. Ensure your NAP information is included in the HTML of your website (rather than placed on an image file), so it can be crawled by search engines.
  2. Ensure the formatting is 100% the same (or as close as possible) all across the web. That means if your phone number started with a 1 on your website, it should start with a 1 on every profile and directory.

These may seem like minor details. But the tighter you can lock this down, the better your odds at achieving strong local search rankings.

Additional Tips for 4 SEO Avenues


  1. Google My Business (free) This service is a critical component of any local SEO strategy. Why? Google uses the information included on your page to determine how your site appears in local search results. You can access Google My Business through the same dashboard as the Google+ account for your business. When creating your listing, be sure to:
    • Select categories that accurately reflect your business.
    • Include a descriptive bio.
    • Upload high-quality photos.
    • Connect your Google My Business account to your Google Analytics account.
    • Make sure the name, address, and phone number matches the information on your website exactly.
    • Don’t forget to include your URL.

    NOTE: The Google My Business dashboard features a progress bar that will let you know when your page has reached 100% optimization. This should be your goal.

  2. Bing Places for Business (free) and Yahoo Localworks (free/paid options) Best practices for optimizing your profile are similar to Google My Business. Even if you rarely use these search engines yourself, neither should be ignored. With nearly 10% of total search market share each, the combined traffic could add up quickly for your business.

    Local search is competitive, and this is a battle of inches. Give yourself every advantage possible.

  3. Business Directories While directory links have long lost SEO relevancy for large websites targeting a national audience, they remain crucial for any successful local SEO campaign.

    Specifically, make sure your business is visible on these local directory websites:

    Not only will optimizing your presence on these directories improve your back link profile, they may also help send referral traffic directly to your site.

    TIP: You can use a premium Moz Local account to manage your data on all of the above sites and directories from one place. This will save you time, money and innumerable headaches in the long run.

  4. Other Websites In addition, consider other local directory and sites with business listing pages for links and citations, such as:
    • The Better Business Bureau
    • Your local Chamber of Commerce website
    • Local clubs and professional organizations
    • Local or regional industry directories

For more tips, check out some of our other recent SEO blogs.

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Sorry, Kids: Your Logo Isn’t Your Brand

So many clients ask for a logo, and then think, “Great, I’m done! Here is my brand.” Not to be the bearer of bad news, but actually, no. Your logo isn’t your brand. Of course, it’s one aspect of it, but it’s really not the most important part.

The Designer Perspective

One of my biggest challenges as a designer is creating logos. “Hey, can you just whip up a logo for me quick?” is probably my most frequent request. A designer’s specialty is conceptualizing how to convey your brand. In other words, no – I can’t just “whip up” a logo. (And you don’t really want me to.)

The Bigger Picture

There is a bigger picture to creating a good brand, and it’s not just visual. If you don’t know what your brand is, a designer can only do so much for you. In fact, a great brand can actually have little to do with design. But let’s be clear here: great design helps a whole lot. That’s why, before even diving in, a designer’s first priority is doing research and understanding the market.

The 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Here are a few questions that I want my clients to be able to answer:

  1. What is the feeling of your company? What do you do? How do you want your customers or clients to feel about your business? This is a key point for selection regarding the right color and fonts for your brand (and likewise, the colors and fonts to avoid). Some markets are easier for me to understand than others. For example, I’ve worked with construction and healthcare companies most of my career and understand their customers. There is no way I’m going to create a healthcare logo with paint splatters and dirt, or a construction company with a curly font. Industries do lay the groundwork for a particular look and feel, but that extra feeling behind your brand will make it stand out.
  2. What is your comfort level with design? At the end of the day, you need to like – or, better yet, love – your creative. Be proud of it. Share it. Logos can range from super simple to ultra complex. So how creative are you willing to get? This will also impact the collateral that goes along with your logo. We want design to reflect you as well as your brand, and we don’t want to veer too simple or too complex if that’s something you can’t accept. As professionals, we’ll make recommendations. But it ultimately is your brand.
  3. Who are your competitors? It’s important to know who you are, who you aren’t and who you want to be. But it’s also important to know who you’re going head-to-head with. The American Marketing Association defines a “brand” as a: Name, term, design, symbol or any other feature … that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Clients have come to me with work from their competitors, saying, “I want it to look just like that.” While there may be parts of another design to take into account, stand out on your own. You’re making a fight harder than it needs to be if you match everyone else.

The Takeaway

Design is easy when the identity of your business is clearly defined. Most of the time after doing the research, I can visually see a client’s brand. So what’s the moral of this story? Don’t just ask for a logo and call it a day. Logos, colors, typography, written and visual language are easy when you’ve focused on what you are, how you deliver that, and how you blow everyone else out of the water.

The logo and look will come.

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5 Ways to Engage Your Customers Along Their Buying Journey

The customer.

All this time, that’s the person you’ve kept in mind as you’ve carried out your marketing strategy.

But not every customer is at the same place in his/her journey.

Some might be reading a post about your company on Facebook. Others could be comparing your products to a competitor or looking for support. Maybe they are loyal customers who are making another purchase. Or they might be prospects who are still completely unaware of your product.

Each of these customers has a varying degree of product knowledge and technical aptitude, yet each of them expects a thoughtful, engaging and custom experience.

You’re starting to see the challenge. But there’s hope.

Here are simple five ways to start engaging your customers at the right time in their buying journey – right now.

  1. Use pay-per-click ads with landing pages. It’s a match made in heaven. Pair pay-per-click (PPC) ads from Facebook or Google Adwords and effective copy to attract buyers at a key part of their journey. Then engage them with a landing page that truly speaks to them. Suddenly, you don’t have a lackluster one-size-fits-all product page. Instead, you’ve created an individual destination that’s focused on what’s truly most important to the customer you’ve attracted.
  2. Use a bite, snack, meal approach. There’s a lot of depth on this framework, but here’s what you need to know most: You’re empowering your users to choose how deeply they’d like to dive into your product content. Users who want to merely understand what your product does can engage without a waterfall of feature lists and technical specs. You can read all about this approach in a recent white paper by Dean Froslie, our director of content.
  3. Intelligently target your blog content. Being strategic about your blog content is an easy way to make a big impact. There should be something for every kind of user. For each post, identify the customer you’re targeting. Then keep developing quality content for them.
  4. Choose your hero spots wisely. Hero spots are prime pieces of homepage real estate. But, too often, there isn’t much of a customer-centric strategy behind them. Use this important space to deliver specific messages to customers in different parts of their buying journey. Make sure the spot that shows up first in the rotation has the broadest appeal.
  5. Use your email list to bring back customers. Use your email list to match against users on Facebook. Using custom audiences , you can upload your email list to ensure your ads get to the right people. Facebook estimates average match rates to be 40-60%. Use the ads to draw past customers back with related products.

Remember, by thinking about your customers through the lens of an individual journey, you can meet your customers at exactly the right time. That rings true from the first time they experience your brand, all the way to the moment they become loyal customers.

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Everything You Thought You Knew About B2B Marketing: How Millennials Are Changing the Game

Millennials have set new precedents in consumer marketing, placing increased importance on transparency, relevancy and engagement. But do their shopping habits have an effect on how they prefer to engage with B2B marketers?

Based on the Millennial study series conducted by IBM, the answer is simple: absolutely. With Millennials influencing more B2B purchasing decisions for their companies than ever before, it’s even more critical that marketers understand how to effectively target them.

According to Carolyn Baird, a Global Research Leader at IBM Institute for Business Value, “Millennials, even more than Gen X or Baby Boomers, prize a hassle-free, omni-channel client experience personalized to their specific needs. They want data, speed and trusted advisors who are eager to collaborate.”

3 Key Takeaways for Marketing to Millennials 

So how do you make sure they have the experience they’re looking for?

  1. More Content – Not only do you have to offer diverse forms of content, but you have to provide a lot of it. Start by addressing their business challenges and answering frequently asked questions. Then share information about your industry and company. If your audience knows they can trust you as an expert in the industry, they’ll trust you as a product or service provider, too.
  2. More Accessibility – Millennials have a reputation for wanting to interact directly with vendors’ reps – far more than Gen X or Baby Boomers. When they are in the research phase, they want to know what it would be like to work with a particular vendor and make sure it’s a good fit for them. Then, once they have the info they need, they prefer to make interactions with vendors quick, easy and virtual. Make yourself accessible and take cues from them on how they like to communicate (via phone, email or in person). They want to hear what unique solutions you can offer them for their particular business.
  3. More Personalization – Millennials aren’t interested in hearing a one-size-fits-all sales pitch. Take the time to do your research, find out what’s important to them and help them make an informed purchasing decision. It will be worth it in the end. If you’re not willing to make interactions personal and targeted, you’re wasting your time and theirs.

The bottom line? Millennials want trusted advisors. They want to work with experts who are willing to roll their sleeves up and work together to solve tough B2B problems. And if you can deliver relevant content, be accessible and create a personalized experience, you’ll impress decision makers of all generations, not just Millennials.

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