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6 Tips for Designing a Roadmap to Connect Your Marketing Apps

How is the methodology for prioritizing marketing integrations like refining a menu for an established restaurant? Read on for the answer.

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The methodology for prioritizing marketing integrations is like refining a menu for an established restaurant. At the foundation, you must understand what drives customer loyalty and improve upon it, all while attracting new customers. Without a thoughtful plan, you’ll wind up adding sushi, hamburgers, and fried chicken to the menu.

Today, marketers are expecting applications to work in sync to automate once error-prone manual tasks. If your application is powering these automations, your churn rate will likely decrease. Thus, your goal is to identify what integrations are crucial to your customers’ workflows to increase functionality and stickiness.

Integration Roadmap

This thoughtful plan, an integration roadmap analysis, starts with the customer, external inquiry, and ends with a cross-departmental collaboration, internal inquiry. Below are six steps to enhance the decision-making process.

1. Get to Know Your Customers and Potential Users

Of course, every new feature starts with the customer; but do you really know what your customers need? Start by considering common marketing integration use cases by breaking down the customer into three life cycles: past, present, and future. Here are a few examples:

  1. Past: Use customer data to understand customer behaviors and to determine successful marketing funnel programs. 
  2. Present: Automatically enroll new contacts to drip marketing campaigns from multiple sources.
  3. Future: Notify sales teams of potential opportunities based on subscriber behavior.

Secondly, tap your present customers for insight. Use a multi-touch approach to gain an accurate representation of their needs and interests. Begin by creating a standardized process for collecting and rating feedback. Next, consider the customer touch points you can employ to gain the intelligence needed to prioritize integrations. Here are some possible feedback touchpoints:

  1. Enlist your account executives to speak with your top customers.
  2. Include customer questions at the end of customer support calls.
  3. Employ the business development teams to document what features, competitor product gaps, and use cases prospects are mentioning.
  4. Consider adding an exit survey. This is a great way to build understanding about what workflows and features are missing, resulting in churn.

2. Research the Competition

One huge bonus of offering pre-built integrations is staying ahead in today’s competitive landscape. Consider what companies are leading the way in integrations and extract best practices.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What integrations are your competitors offering to their customers?
  • Can you glean information about their roadmap from their blog and product feature subpages?
  • If they’re offering integrations, can you identify gaps in their catalog?
  • How are competitors currently offering integrations (marketplace, add-on, free)?

3. Brainstorm With Those on the Frontline

New product integrations should never be validated in a silo. Once you have gathered a sizeable amount of customer feedback, collaborate with every department to paint an accurate picture of your users’ needs. Identify common themes to avoid the mistake of creating an integration for a sole customer.

4. Understand Internal and External Bandwidth 

Developing new product features impact every department, from marketing to DevOps. Fully vet the time needed to skillfully execute an integration strategy.

5. Crunch the Numbers

A true cost-analysis requires more than recognizing the immediate cost of a build. Essentially, implementing new integrations entails four degrees of costs and each demand time from nearly every department:

  1. The cost of building and continuously testing functionality.
  2. The cost of maintaining and adapting to changing APIs.
  3. The cost of marketing the new integrations to ensure usage.
  4. The cost of product support.

6. Determining the Integration Strategy

Once you’ve run through the analysis phase, there are a few directions you can take to implement an integration strategy.

  1. Build your integration marketplace gradually by implementing connections to a few identified elements that are crucial to keeping your customers happy.
  2. Power your go-to-market strategy by implementing connections to key elements that can round-out your product.
  3.  Gain the competitive advantage by implementing a suite of connections that will give your customers a robust, sticky user experience.

Want more? We asked two product experts for their take on the top takeaways every product manager should know about marketing integrations. Check out our guide with their top seven tips here

The Integration Zone is brought to you in partnership with Cloud Elements.  Are your customers demanding integrations? Learn the steps to designing API integrations and connecting SaaS apps in the 10 Step Guide to API Integrations.

Topics:
integration ,marketing ,integration strategy

Published at DZone with permission of Elyse Kent. See the original article here.

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