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Advanced CRM integration for VersaBox

written by

Maks Piechota

Senior Developer​ Freelancer at SoftwareSupport

Software Developer with 6 years of experience from low level C embedded to distributed cloud Node-based systems.

In my case, the team did a great job by implementing CRM & Marketing Automation + their two-way integration via AWS. All the information flows work flawlessly, sales & marketing teams sees all their activities on accounts, contacts, opportunities.

So to sum this up, if you care to work with professionals, if you expect them to advise you on the optimal solution (ROI), if you are fed up of being surprised by system limitations only after its purchase, or simply the box solutions are just too expensive for you, meet up with SoftwareSupp Freelancers.

Marcin Szwajka, CRM Manager at VersaBox, the Client

About the client: VersaBox develops world-class, advanced technology solutions for transforming global manufacturing and logistics. They put autonomy to work for their clients by implementing the Smart Intralogistics platform based on autonomous robotic units.

Time of the project: 3 months


  • Setting up and configuring Pipedrive and ActiveCampaign accounts
  • Designing data structures in systems
  • Integrating systems with lead sources and lead acquisition tracking 
  • Configuring and optimizing marketing and sales funnels
  • Designing a process for managing the database
  • Developing a dedicated integration of Pipedrive and ActiveCampaign systems
  • Testing, troubleshooting, and tailoring integration to customer requirements  

Effect: A tailor-made integration of Pipedrive and ActiveCampaign systems to manage sales and marketing processes. Dedicated service to synchronize and maintain data integrity in both systems.

It's well known that combining different scientific disciplines can bring tangible benefits. This was also the case with this project, which allowed us to combine marketing operations with development and create a robust sales and marketing management system.

First, SoftwareSupp's marketing and development experts teamed up to configure both systems from scratch, and in the next step, integrated them into a bespoke service to provide VersaBox with extraordinary value. Let's follow the process to see how our client got rid of information distraction and organized daily sales and marketing operations.

Configuration and optimization of Pipedrive

Until now, our client didn't have a single system for managing end-to-end customer relationships. VersaBox wanted to gather information about the customers, which would allow for effective management of the customer database and appropriate planning of sales and marketing activities. So, we decided to implement the Pipedrive system and adjust it to the specificity of VersaBox's business. 

At first, it was necessary to define and shift the entire sales process to Pipedrive. It needed to be consistent with the existing model of conducting sales activities in VersaBox. We discussed the sales process during many conversations and meetings with the client and created a sales funnel in the CRM system with these stages in mind:

  • Lead
  • Prospect
  • Qualification
  • Technical Concept
  • Offer
  • Offer Analysis
  • Forecast

Within the aforementioned funnel, we distinguished two teams working together: Sales and the bid office. Moreover, we had to design the workflow between them so that both teams were equally involved in the process. Marketing SoftwareSupp expert defined the activities, areas of responsibility, and interdependencies between the sales and bid office teams.

We created a sales workflow between teams and automated the scheduling of actions for every deal at all stages of the sales process. From that point, the deal first goes into the hands of the salesperson, where the lead is qualified in the BANT methodology. Then, it goes to the bid office, where the initial concept and offer are prepared. Finally, depending on the next steps, notifications are sent to the bid office or sales as the goal is to close the deal. 

Creating the funnel and the dependencies between the teams was only part of the operation. It was important that individual sales deals were automatically matched to the appropriate stage in the sales funnel based on the activity and scoring. Therefore, we automated the activity planning for every deal at different stages of the sales process. Additionally, we automated sending messages to the bid office team after a sales deal hits the next stage of the sales funnel. 

Marketing SoftwareSupp expert has defined custom fields in Pipedrive required to be completed during the sales process. These fields include basic contact information and acquisition sources, daily activity, scoring, newsletter subscriptions, and participation in marketing campaigns.

The next step was to configure labels to enable effective follow-up and lead qualification. We added the appropriate labels to Pipedrive so that VersaBox can qualify contacts as a customer, hot lead, warm lead, cold lead, standard, and partner. In addition, the labeling process has been automated depending on the current sales stage. This will definitely make it easier to filter the data later and highlight those most interested in VersaBox's offer.

Due to the nature of the client's business that sells an end-to-end solution for AMR-based automation, we decided to mirror their offering in Pipedrive and configure the Products. Pipedrive provides the relevant fields associated with product variants or product codes so that the implemented Products are consistent with the actual state. In addition, we synchronized Pipedrive with the database so that the offer is always up-to-date. 

Next, we tackled importing the remaining data from external tools used by the client into Pipedrive. The SoftwareSupp experts were able to add information from Excel files, contacts from Outlook and GetResponse, and other databases to Pipedrive. This allows VersaBox to have all the information in one place and not have to switch between systems.

It was important for the client to track deal sources properly. So, we structured them with one-choice and descriptive fields in Pipedrive. From now, they're automatically populated based on the marketing activities documented in ActiveCampaign. We defined custom fields named Source, Medium, Type, and Campaign to best reflect the specifics of the sales deal. Now, the VersaBox team can freely use this information to optimize sales processes.

To realize the full potential of the CRM system, SoftwareSupp experts decided to integrate customer email inboxes with Pipedrive and move all email conversations there. An integrated inbox for the entire organization allows the sales team to track clicks and opens of emails. Additionally, Pipedrive's built-in AI Sales Assistant can suggest the next sales steps based on email communication. 

The entire process was topped off with security settings to keep all the client's data and know-how in one place. The SoftwareSupp experts configured security settings, including data leak alerts and suspicious login alerts, to prevent data leakage.

Configuration and optimization of ActiveCampaign

In ActiveCampaign, as in Pipedrive, we had to define custom fields with the disclaimer that they must match the fields in Pipedrive. This allowed us to take the final step in the project, which was to implement a dedicated system integration.

The Versabox team wanted to send emails to their contacts while avoiding blocking the domain. As it happens, ActiveCampaign allows you to define a dedicated domain to send emails to your customers. Additionally, it gives you the option to remove "Sent on behalf of" from the email to increase credibility. In this case, SoftwareSupp experts came up with a solution to define users, domain, aliases, and addresses for sending emails and getting feedback to ActiveCampaign. In this way, we protected the main domain from being blacklisted.

Our client was previously carrying out email marketing activities using GetResponse platform. We suggested moving to ActiveCampaign as this tool works better with Pipedrive and allows the client to expand their marketing efforts into other areas, such as marketing automation, CRM and Sales automation, or Service and Support activities. After discussing this issue with the client, we began exporting data from GetResponse and importing it into ActiveCampaign.

We also automated the process of sending emails to existing contacts. ActiveCampaign allows us to schedule automated emails to be sent to potential and existing customers based on actions they take, such as signing up for a newsletter or visiting a website. Additionally, the integration with Pipedrive, which will be discussed later in this case study, gives the sales team access to information about marketing efforts and all messages sent through ActiveCampaign. Finally, we took advantage of available resources and imported currently used HTML email templates into ActiveCampaign.

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ActiveCampaign platform provides a compelling way to build marketing campaigns. There's nothing more fascinating than figuring out who paid attention to our brand and what channels they used to reach out to us. Versabox wanted to start monitoring the sources of leads within marketing campaigns. Our experts structured these sources with one-choice and descriptive fields that are automatically populated in ActiveCampaign based on marketing activity. It's worth recalling that these fields also correspond to fields in Pipedrive, so there are Source, Medium, Type, and Campaign.

Now that we knew we could identify lead sources in ActiveCampaign, the next step was to integrate communication channels into the system. We started by integrating existing contact forms on the homepage and landing pages as the main channels for acquiring new leads. Next, SoftwareSupp experts used ActiveCampaign's built-in progressive web forms. They allow collecting potential customers from the website and targeting them with appropriate marketing activities in the next step. Additionally, these forms have been integrated with Pipedrive to generate new sales deals for the sales team.

Other communication channels we integrated with ActiveCampaign were paid lead generation sources, such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and we did this with Zapier. This allowed for even more precise marketing messages and a higher conversion rate. 

Another communication channel was social media profiles. Versabox wanted to target marketing efforts to a specific audience on Social Media. That's why we integrated social media with ActiveCampaign using Zapier and built Facebook Custom Audiences. From now on, our client can freely plan campaigns to selected contacts from the ActiveCampaign database. Additionally, ActiveCampaign allows you to add or remove selected contacts to Facebook Custom Audience based on the activity of those contacts, such as when they visit a website or open an email.

Our client was particularly interested in the behavior of website visitors. Gathering data about visitors is an essential indicator in website development and provides a basis for making changes to its design, navigation, or categories. In addition, it's possible to identify people interested in a particular product, segment customers, and run scoring to send relevant marketing and sales messages.

We used ActiveCampaign's site tracking feature to get information about visited pages, time spent on the page, or interest in selected products. Additionally, VersaBox can monitor clicks and newsletter opens, as well as returning users.

 The term "scoring" has been mentioned a few times already, so at this point, it's worth explaining what it's all about. VersaBox wanted to measure potential customers' behavior to manage the MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) process accordingly. So, SoftwareSupp experts created a contact scoring system based on attributes and activities of leads, such as a contact type, call progression level, actions performed, or stage in the sales funnel.

Together with the client, we defined specific scoring goals that trigger selected automation, such as sending an email, taking action, or sending a notification to the sales or marketing team. With Pipedrive integration, when a specific goal is met, leads are converted to sales deals with a notification sent to the sales team. This makes work much faster and more efficient.

Pipedrive and ActiveCampaign dedicated integration

At this point, we had Pipedrive and ActiveCampaign configured for user hierarchy, approval process, and access rules. We also completed the creation of the appropriate custom fields, sales process automation, and lead qualification.

The last and crucial step in this project was to integrate and synchronize Pipedrive and ActiveCampaign systems based on the prepared specification. The main goals of this integration were:

  • Adding a new contact, updating, or completing data in one tool automatically populate customer data in the other platform.
  • A lead who performs certain actions is to be automatically converted into a sales deal.
  • Pipedrive is supposed to automatically collect data on the marketing campaign and selected lead activities, e.g., email openings, newsletter sign-ups. This data is visible on the sales deal in Pipedrive, which allows the salesman to have an insight into it. This enables better-tailored communication with potential customers and increases the effectiveness of sales efforts.

Our work resulted in real-time updates of contacts, attributes, and customer relationships in both systems simultaneously.

Detailed integration process

In the first phase of integration, we wanted to use the Zapier platform. However, this platform proved to be insufficient for the client's needs. It doesn't utilize all the capabilities of both systems and isn't suitable for two-way synchronization. Therefore, a SoftwareSupp development expert proposed creating a dedicated solution.

We used this technology stack to deliver a solution:

  • AWS 
  • Serverless 
  • Node.js 
  • Nest.js  
  • Typescript 
  • Platforma Ubuntu 20 LTS

In a nutshell, we built a dedicated service using the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. This service uses the system's native API, which provides much broader capabilities. First, the SoftwareSupp development expert implemented a technique called "semaphore" to avoid a problem known as an "endless loop." The idea is that the system that first updates a resource reserves it for itself for a specified time (30 seconds to be exact). During this time, updates from the other system are ignored.

How does this bespoke system work?

  1. All developed system code is available in a repository on the AWS platform.
  2. The system is deployed on the AWS platform using the Serverless Framework (under MIT license). The configuration file for Serverless is located in the root directory of the repository. Our client can use this file to deploy the system again, e.g., in case of changes in the code or moving to another AWS account.
  3. The system uses the AWS API Gateway service to communicate. Once the system is deployed, the Serverless Framework provides a URL link to invoke the system.
  4. The system uses REST API for communication and provides appropriate endpoints for Pipedrive and ActiveCampaign. This makes it possible to handle notifications (webhooks) from ActiveCampaign and Pipedrive.
  5. Both systems were configured to send notifications to the appropriate URLs defined by the SoftwareSupp expert.
  6. While testing the system, our expert noticed the phenomenon of "race condition," which in extreme cases resulted in duplicates. This meant that notifications related to "create" or "update” of data sent at the same time, attempted to create a new record simultaneously. This problem was resolved by using a mechanism called "debouncing." Additionally, the client and members of the marketing and sales teams were trained to wait until the record matched back to the corresponding record ID in the other system before making any further changes.

The system is tailored to the client's needs and uses client-supplied access passwords and searches for custom fields available only in the two systems.

Dedicated system development

The whole process was to merge two different systems to manage sales and marketing more efficiently. The main benefit of this migration is that VersaBox can work in the same environment and work together to close deals and increase sales. From now on, sales and marketing teams can conveniently add and change customer data without losing consistency across both tools. SoftwareSupp's experts have a wide range of marketing or development skills and can take a comprehensive approach to your project to provide you with a tailored solution. 

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written by

Maks Piechota

Senior Developer​ Freelancer at SoftwareSupport

Software Developer with 6 years of experience from low level C embedded to distributed cloud Node-based systems.

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