Building your integrations roadmap

If you’re a B2B app, integrations is how you stay connected to your customer’s daily workflows. This keeps you relevant in a world where there is increasing competition. A well-integrated product is always active, without needing your customer to login. It becomes important to figure out which integrations are high-value for you and rolling them out quickly with an integrations roadmap.

There are a whole bunch of reasons why integrations make sense for your customers and how they help in retention. We’ll dedicate a blog post to that in the future. There are different types of integrations, some make sense to build in-house and some make sense to outsource. Let’s take a deep dive into these.

Find Adjacent Apps

Depending upon the type of software you’re making, it would make sense to provide integrations with certain category of apps first. For example, if you have a document handling service for signing, or merging, or collaborating, you would want to provide integrations with storage apps like Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, OneDrive etc.

“An Adjacent App is a natural
complement to your app”

Having integrations like these help your users get up and running quickly without requiring them to put a lot of investment before getting value from your app.

So, figure out what are great “adjacent” services for your app. Here’s another example: if you are a CRM, it makes sense to integrate with email services like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, SendGrid etc. What are adjacents to your app?

Adjacent Apps For Customer Acquisition

Suppose you make a great Form Builder tool which can save each form to a Google Spreadsheet. Of course, Google has a ton of customers. If you make a nice, tight integration, you can market to Google Spreadsheet users about your awesome service. These users already know how to use Google Spreadsheets, having a nice way to collect data into it would be a no-brainer.

“Figure out which Adjacent App has a large, relevant audience for your app. Cross-promote to that audience”

You can derive further value from such an integration by getting into a co-marketing campaign with your integrated app by cross-posting blog posts, have them tweet your integration. An integration is a great win-win scenario for both apps and it makes sense for both parties to cross-promote each other. This exposes each of you to the other’s audience which is great both for startups breaking new ground and for existing companies launching new products. Not to mention having a well-known partner tweet about you adds trust to your service.

Figure out Build vs Buy

Great, so now you have a prioritized list of integrations you want to for your app (adjacent apps, sorted by audience size). You want to pick the most efficient path where you can get to market quickly and have a large number of integrations or partners onboard. More importantly, you want to do this without sacrificing your development team’s time on your product.

Native Integration Platforms

A great place to start is with a 3rd party integration platform such as our service Integry. The key idea is that you pick pre-made apps from a catalog, customize your specific integration flows and drop these integrations right inside your app. This way, your users never have to leave your app and these integrations are native, in-app. We usually help integrate your app with Integry for free, please get in touch if you would like to chat about this.

“3rd Party Integration Platforms are a great way to rollout 100s of integrations quickly and cheaply.”

External Integration platforms

Then there are 3rd party integration platforms for power users. These include Zapier, Integromat, Microsoft Flow etc. If you have expert users who are using a number of apps, they might want to string together your app with other apps to build-out their own workflow. Most of these services charge the end user who is setting up the integration and require some degree of technical know-how.

The above services will open up your app to 800+ apps in a very short amount of time. If you’re starting out, this is a great beginning. Consider this as your “Buy” decision.

Building your own

However, there are some integrations that 3rd party platforms will not perform because they are very specific to you and there is no reusability. A 3rd party integration platform like us (Integry) or Zapier etc are designed to connect your app with 100s of others. However, sometimes, you may need something that is very unique to you. A great example is Marvel’s Jira integration.

“If you must write your own integration, do an embeddable integration which other platforms don’t provide”

Marvel helps you build app designs and prototypes and Jira helps keep track of development work. So integrating both is a great bridge between design and engineering. The Marvel integration does this by working inside Jira where you can embed a Marvel link so it renders in rich, interactive designs and prototypes inside Marvel. It looks great and it’s a really great example of how a well done integration adds value to both tools. Have a look yourself below:

Marvel for JIRA – Marvel

Most of these integrations are in the “embedding” category. For this to work, the target plaform you want to integrate to needs to be able to support embedding complex apps. Jira, Confluence, Trello, BitBucket, Dropbox Paper are a few platforms that allow you to create really nice embedded experiences which are worth looking into.

“Build or Buy but don’t miss out”

Embedded experiences will generally have to be built by your own teams – the “build” decision. If you have limited team bandwidth, we recommend putting them on integrations like these while moving non-embedded integrations to 3rd party integration platforms (the technical term for these is iPaaS: Integration Platform as a Service). Other integrations that only you can do are browser plugins, downloadable apps, or installable components. You can always hire a software consultancy to build these integrations for you but that’s usually the most expensive route.

Takeaways

It’s never to early to start work on integrations. Getting integrations becomes even more critical if you’re in the B2B space. The cost of integrating with other apps has now gone dramatically low. Here’s a quick summary on how to build out your integrations:

  • Figure out which apps make natural “adjacent” apps to yours where your users can get lots of great value (like a CRM+Email Newsletter, Document signing+file storage etc).
  • Prioritize larger adjacent apps first. These are apps which have a large user base.
  • Cross promote your app with the integration partner’s audience
  • Use 3rd party integration platforms to get 100s of integrations up and running quickly
  • If you must develop integrations on your own, build embeddable integrations
  • As a last resort, you may want to hire a software consultancy to build each integration for you but it’ll be the most expensive option.

Banner image designed by Vectorarte / Freepik

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