Accessible pricing, easy onboarding, and reactive customer support are just a few of the reasons why people may use your SaaS product. But all these elements pale in comparison to one thing.
To answer this question, let’s imagine the typical workflow of your trial users or paying customers. Apart from using your product, they’ll also have to manage multiple applications, platforms, and software services to accomplish their tasks.
Think about the typical marketing workflow.
People need to create content, distribute it, build lead-nurturing campaigns, keep track of the pipeline, run website A/B testing experiments, design landing pages, launch ads, communicate with their team, and much more. All these tasks can’t be accomplished using just one platform. They have multiple tools and well-established protocols on how to use them within the teams. It’s an entire ecosystem that sustains the overall work effort of your users or customers.
Now, imagine that your users have started to use your SaaS product only to discover that their options are limited. They can’t integrate it into their daily routine because they can’t automate tasks within Slack or add their favorite payment system.
Although it may seem like a small detail, it may lead to a higher churn rate.
People will want to use your product along with the tools they’re already familiar with. Adding the right third-party integrations to your software may be one of the main reasons why people will want to use your SaaS product. Think about how many times you’ve had to switch from one tool to another to get your work done.
That being said, you’ll want to start working on your third-party integrations today. But first, read this article to get a clear idea of how you should proceed.
Understanding third-party integrations
According to HubSpot, “A third-party API integration is when a business uses a third-party’s API to power integration with another business’s app or web service. For instance, your business might use Google’s API to power a Google Ads integration with your own website. This is a third-party API integration.”
Jonathan Tarud, CEO and founder at Koombea, highlights, “Third-party integrations are becoming an essential ingredient to attract and retain customers. People are looking for more ways to streamline their work or lives, so they look for tools that integrate with what they already use.”
People are now experiencing “tool” fatigue from having so many options available to them. That’s why they’ll choose the apps and SaaS products that can easily be incorporated into what they currently use and create a suitable “Swiss Army knife” replacement.
As Tarud notes, “Just another standalone app might put them off, especially if they have to do any kind of manual work to incorporate data they need.”
In other words, apart from providing a strong platform that will help your users to achieve the expected results, you’ll also have to build a “familiar tools” ecosystem that will strengthen your target group’s workflow.
You can’t build for success without third-party integrations
These third-party integrations are essential if you want to build a beloved SaaS product. Here’s why:
- They help your customers increase their efficiency. There’s a job that needs to be done—that’s the main reason why people will want to use your product. But the moment they feel like your software is decreasing their efficiency by not providing a strong third-party app ecosystem, they’ll probably search for something better. So if you want to help your customers maintain or increase their efficiency, you’ll need to consider having third-party integrations that will help them do their jobs easily.
- They provide a seamless user experience. The last thing someone wants is to try and figure out how to integrate your tool into their workflow. Adding third-party integrations will improve people’s user experience and help them integrate your tool effortlessly and naturally, without disrupting the habits and the routines they already have.
- They maximize customer retention. If you want to keep your customers happy and paying, you’ll need to reduce their “tool fatigue” and provide everything they need within your platform. This will make them stay.
- They can differentiate you from your competition. As you probably know, different tools offer different third-party integrations. The only way to stand out and break through the competitive noise is by knowing what other tools your target group is using and building an entire ecosystem within your platform. This will make your brand much more valuable compared to a competitor that didn’t consider people’s needs.
- They complement and improve your SaaS product. Finally, you can’t build a platform that does everything. That’s not sustainable. Plus, it will become cluttered and less efficient. Third-party integrations will help you improve your product and make it one-of-a-kind on the market.
Now that we know why third-party integrations are crucial for your product, let’s see how you can incorporate them nicely.
How to introduce the third-party integrations the right way
Don’t rush to partner up with every company that provides an open and well-documented API. That’s not the way to go. Adding third-party integrations requires as much focus as building a product, so don’t get ahead of yourself.
Instead, take it step by step and make sure that your integrations will complement, not clutter, your SaaS platform. Here’s how:
Step 1. Identify the end goals your users want to achieve
There’s one rule you’ll want to remember: These third-party integrations are about your users, not your product. Let’s take, for example, an event technology platform that lets people set up the attendee registration process. One of their end goals is to have a high attendance rate (leading to good revenue). But you can’t force people to collect payments using your platform.
This may not work for both event organizers and their attendees. People may want to use certain payment systems—someone may need to use PayPal, someone else may want to use Stripe, etc. Always consider your users’ end goals. This way, you’ll know what third-party integrations to add, making sure that people will have access to the means and tools to do their job while using your product.
Step 2. Make a list of integrations that are aligned with your product
As we’ve mentioned before, you can’t just add random third-party integrations and expect users will be happy with them. On the contrary, integrations should be relevant to your industry and product. For example, if you’re offering a marketing automation product, you shouldn’t add a ticketing or sales integration option.
Instead, you may need something related to lead generation, live chat, or email management. Make sure to map your customers’ workflow along with the actions they need to take to achieve specific results. Then, ensure that every step is covered by a relevant integration that will complete and strengthen your product.
Step 3. Ask your users what integrations they prefer
If you’re not sure what third-party integrations are better aligned with your users’ interests and needs, then why guess? Listen to what your users are saying, especially if they’ve requested a specific integration when offering their feedback. Simply ask them what integrations they prefer.
Jonathan Tarud advises, “Try to survey your target audience and find out which apps they already use. Look for commonalities as those are your first clue for what might be considered valuable as an integration.” By doing so, you’ll have a clear picture of the app ecosystem you need to build within your platform.
Step 4. Choose the integrations that solve key challenges your product can’t
The last thing you want is to add third-party integrations that will overshadow your SaaS platform. So if your product provides a website builder you don’t have to integrate it with WordPress.
Select only those integrations that are providing solutions to the problems that your product can’t cover. Otherwise, you’ll weaken your software, and instead of using the tools you’ve created, people will do it via the third-party integrations you’re providing. And that’s something you want to avoid.
Step 5. Add a few third-part integrations per category
If you want to add a chatbot integration, don’t go for just one—add several. If you’ve added Intercom, add Drift and Front. If you’ve incorporated the Help Scout integration for customer support, add the Zendesk integration, too. One quick note, though: Avoid cluttering your product with too many integrations.
There are multiple email solutions out there, but you don’t have to have dozens of them on your platform. Just choose the essential ones, such as MailChimp and MonitorCampaign, and ignore the rest. Give people a few options per category, but also make sure to keep them limited by only adding the strongest tools.
Bonus step. Add the work on integrations to your product roadmap
One quick question: How will you work on adding the third-party integrations? Will you just ask your team to work on it whenever they have the time, or will you be specific and results-oriented? Building and improving your product is key, so your developers should obviously focus on it. However, third-party integrations are as important as your SaaS product.
So instead of just adding the integrations to your platform whenever you have time, make adding them a priority task on your product roadmap. As you realize by now, these third-party integrations are crucial to increase the efficiency of your users and help them streamline their workflow. So take it seriously and write it down on the product roadmap, or otherwise, it won’t get done.
Adding third-party integrations to your SaaS product can be tricky. What tools should you add? What brands should you consider? Which integrations will complement your product, and which may overshadow it?
Don’t just add some third-party integrations to your product and expect miracles—build an entire strategy around which integrations to use based on your users’ needs and preferences. If you’ll add third-party integrations the right way, you’ll reduce the churn rate and increase the satisfaction of your paying customers.
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