The Washington Post reported talks between Google and Salesforce.com, a hosted CRM application vendor.
This move is another direct challenge to Microsoft, which offers CRM products, but also could add an element to Google Analytics that only a handful of other companies have: the ability to track offline conversions to online advertising.
Visual Sciences, formerly known as WebSideStory, is one such competitor that will be impacted by this alliance. Using the Salesforce.com API, an analytics company is able to pass the lead information along with the advertising info - thus creating a two-edged sword for improving ROI.
The first and most obvious advantage is the ability to improve spends for offline conversions. The second, and more attractive to large scale sales teams, is the ability to determine where the better quality leads originate, and thus pass them to the right sales people.
One wonders how far in advance this alliance was in the minds of the people at Google, or if the creative CEO at Salesforce.com saw it as a great way to partner with a company that could help it improve its market share against Microsoft's CRM products.
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