Creating Salesforce lead forms: AppExchange vs Zapier or Make

There are several ways to add or update Salesforce records, leads, and objects based on form submissions – each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

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Salesforce is a sprawling, sometimes overwhelming, super app. It stores and organizes all of your customer data; every webinar they signed up for, every question they asked your sales team, every support request they submitted, all of it.
Your team could manually update every field after every customer touchpoint to keep everything up to date. But for the vast majority of use cases, it makes more sense to build forms that turn submission data into new or updated Salesforce records.

Building Salesforce forms for people outside your organization

You have three options to build forms that leads, customers, and business partners can use to create or alter data in your Salesforce CRM. There’s Salesforce’s built-in HTML form generator, a no-frills option with essentially zero customization. Then, there are third-party integrations from the AppExchange app store, which are best when you’re already invested in a form builder. And, finally, there’s the Zapier or Make route, for when you need to create multi-step and multi-app workflows.

Salesforce web-to-lead and web-to-case forms

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Web-to-lead and web-to-case forms are extremely basic HTML Salesforce forms that you can embed in your website. To create a web-to-lead form, open the Quick Settings in your Salesforce dashboard (the gear icon in the upper right corner), search for `web-to-lead` or `web-to-case,` and click Create Form. Add or remove available fields, customize where the form leads after submission, and hit Generate.

Pros and cons of web-to-lead and web-to-case forms

The best thing about these types of forms is how easy they are to create. Just pick from the short list of field types, add a post-submission URL destination, and you’re set. There are more than a few drawbacks to this option, though. Web-to-lead and web-to-case forms have essentially no design customization, form logic, or input validation features to speak of. They also cannot update existing leads and cases.
Salesforce Experience Cloud and Lightning Web Components provide far more advanced and customizable form options but require work from an experienced software developer. If you don’t already have a developer familiar with the Salesforce platform, it almost always makes more sense to go with a non-Salesforce form.

Third-party form integrations in Salesforce’s AppExchange

AppExchange predated Apple’s App Store by a full three years, with Marc Benioff actually owning the trademark for “app store” before gifting it to Steve Jobs in 2008. Since then, AppExchange has grown to include tens of thousands of native integrations that connect third-party apps, including form builders, directly to your Salesforce CRM.
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AppExchange form integrations are both easier to install and more advanced than HTML web-to-lead forms. Go to, search for your form app, click Get It Now, and install it in your production environment.
To access an installed AppExchange integration, head to your Salesforce quick settings, click on the 3x3 grid of dots in the upper left corner, and choose from the list of installed apps. That will let you create a form using the third-party builder, inside of your Salesforce environment.

Pros and cons of AppExchange form integrations

AppExchange integrations are reviewed and approved by Salesforce, guaranteeing a certain level of reliability and stability. They’re also accessible from inside your production environment, letting you jump back and forth between your form builder and CRM in the same window. But even though native integrations are generally better, they aren’t perfect.
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The amount of work it takes to get an integration approved for AppExchange tends to filter out form builders with the most generous free tiers. Jotform, Typeform, and Formstack, for example, all have native Salesforce integrations. But it’s hard to use them in any business case without shelling out at least $50 per month.
Then, each integration comes with its own limitations. Typeform’s integration doesn’t “support lookup fields or file uploads…and it doesn't automatically push new responses into Salesforce (it needs to have a set refresh).” And when Jotform’s integration encounters an error, it doesn’t “flag this in any way, nor send any alerts.”
And if you want a multi-step integration (e.g. step one is a form submission, step two is another third-party tool, and step three is an updated Salesforce record), you’re once again stuck developing a custom solution inside of Salesforce. For those use cases and a few others, you’re better off creating a Zapier or Make automation.

Connecting form apps to Salesforce with Zapier or Make

Note: Fillout’s Enterprise plan now includes a powerful, native form integration with Salesforce. Create new records or update existing Salesforce records with a Fillout form, all without coding. Supports custom objects, object relations, creating multiple records in a single form and many other Salesforce-specific features.
Zapier’s Salesforce integration is more than a decade old, with Make’s (Integromat at the time) coming five years after that. For both platforms, turning web form entries into new or updated Salesforce records has always been among the top use cases – even today.
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With the free tiers of Fillout and Make, you could create or update Salesforce records 1,000 times per month (Zapier’s free tier is limited to 100 task executions per month). Each platform uses its own terms and phrases but the setup process is essentially identical. You’ll set up the event that kicks off the automation (e.g. a new form submission) followed by the events that come afterward (e.g. finding an existing Salesforce lead and then updating it).
After your automation is up and running, it’ll run independently in the background. As long as mapped fields remain unchanged in your form and in Salesforce, there’s no need to update the automation. If you updated a validation rule for a specific form field, for example, submissions should continue to be added to your CRM without any issues. Conversely, you might update the automation by, say, adding a filter step, without opening your form app or Salesforce.

Pros and cons of Zapier or Make form integrations with Salesforce

Even if a form app has a native Salesforce integration, there are still reasons aplenty to go a different route. Plain old customization is arguably the most obvious benefit of creating a Zapier or Make automation. If your salespeople are the only ones working in Salesforce, you could send submissions there, along with a company-wide Slack notification for other teams. Automation platforms help you escape the limitations of Point A to Point B workflows, and there’s a lot you can do with that.
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Multi-step automations, for instance, would let you add an intermediary step to filter, parse, or format submission data before adding it to your CRM. Or to combine a user’s form responses with existing information from another app, before adding it to Salesforce.
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If your lead form has an email field, multi-step Zaps are also how you’ll update existing Salesforce records. Use the email address from the submission in a Find Record step, and Zapier will automatically pass the corresponding ID to the Update step. Another benefit of taking this approach is that Zapier and Make log errors and send detailed notifications when something breaks, an important feature that some AppExchange integrations do not include.
Zapier and Make are also arguably better for creating automation workflows that are triggered by a Salesforce event. While Salesforce’s Flow feature does the same thing, it’s often easier to open a platform like Zapier, pick the Salesforce trigger (e.g. new record, updated record, etc.), and then pick what you want to happen. That route also gives you access to more third-party app actions than Flow. Fillout’s Send Form action in Zapier, for example, lets you automatically send follow-up requests after a Salesforce record is created or updated.
The drawbacks of using automation platforms in place of native integrations are added costs and complexity. But both of those come with some asterisks.
Zapier and Make may actually save you money if they allow you to ditch a pricey form builder for a more affordable alternative. Otherwise, simply adding it to an existing subscription will incur an extra $15-30 per month.
On the complexity front, three apps are more than two. So there’s that. But compared to custom development in Salesforce, drag-and-drop automation builders are a piece of cake.

Build Salesforce forms with higher conversion rates

At the end of the day, what matters most is that people fill out and submit your forms. If a basic HTML web-to-lead form gets the best results, that’s the one you should use. But since almost every use case sees better results from forms with more advanced features and design options, you’re stuck choosing between AppExchange and automation platforms.
For situations when all you need is to map text or number inputs from a single form field to a single Salesforce field, start by experimenting with AppExchange integrations. For anything more complex – syncing between multiple apps, adding conditional steps, or filtering user inputs – skip straight to a Zapier or Make integration. A free Fillout account might be all you need to keep your Salesforce environment organized and growing.
Header photo by Denys Nevozhai
Ryan Farley

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Ryan Farley

Ryan Farley is a writer and co-founder of Pith and Pip. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand where he previously managed the editorial team of a web marketing agency.