Integration Benefits for Developers: Choosing the Appropriate App Option
With scores of small-business platforms and hundreds of products that offer open APIs, it can be a challenge for developers to choose which ones to associate with and spend time integrating into their product. It's critical that developers choose a platform that helps them balance time invested for the potential for business reward.
Jun 2, 2012 5:00 AM PT
There is no debating that integrations with small business platforms are a great way for app developers to gain increased exposure and, ultimately, additional sales for their tool or service. Many established software providers in the space are opening their doors through APIs to make it easier for new app developers to access their functionality and potentially access their installed customer base.
Small businesses represent a tremendous opportunity for these new app developers who are looking to tap into a market that includes nearly 30 million small organizations and nonprofits. However, finding the right integration partner can oftentimes be a challenge for developers, especially those who are marketing a brand-new product.
Lots of Options
With scores of small-business platforms and hundreds of products that offer open APIs, it can be a challenge for developers to choose which ones to associate with, spend time integrating into their product, or develop solutions for. In addition, it takes time and resources to learn a product's integration capabilities and stay up-to-date with their new releases, so it is critical that developers choose a platform that helps them balance time invested for the potential for business reward. As a result, developers have myriad things to consider when choosing the right integration partner.
Among the items a developer should consider, the biggest questions seem to be: How big is the potential audience using or needing this product? Will this functionality add significant value to my product? How open is the platform and how quickly can I get up to speed? And perhaps most importantly, how committed is the software provider to promoting and providing a marketplace or app store for their customers to find the solution?
Identifying the answers to these questions can make the difference between an integration that lets your app thrive versus an integration that is a waste of time and resources.
What Are the Revenue Opportunities?
The end goal for any developer looking to integrate with an existing small-business platform should be to grow their business. This occurs by expanding the level of functionality in the product or making the product more desirable to new customers who are already using an existing service, or as a new front door to generate new leads. While revenue opportunities exist in different forms, many developers look at exposure to a large base of prospective customers as a main driver. However, it is important to look deeper into a small-business audience to determine if that exposure will ultimately lead to purchases of your solution.
For example, if the goal of an integration is to open new doors by joining their marketplace or app store, a key point to consider is the alignment of pricing models. If the service with which you are integrating charges US$30/month, and your service is $300/month, then you are likely not aligned with the value that their customers place on software. Conversely, if they charge $300 and you charge $10, you may be leaving money on the table. What works well is when an app in a marketplace offers a free version with an upgrade path, where the upgrade path does not exceed the monthly fees they are already paying for the service. They will spend up to, but not more than, the initial service.
Don't Forget the APIs
As a developer, you oftentimes don't have extra time or resources to navigate complexities that can be associated with APIs. For example, every app seems to handle contact information differently. How many different integration solutions can you reasonably manage?
This challenge is amplified when an integration partner doesn't offer code samples, clear documentation or SDKs in multiple languages. As a result, working with an integration partner that offers access to multiple, easy-to-use APIs and top-notch development tools is critical when it comes to executing against an easy integration.
Developers should also consider what API functionality is available before working with an organization that provides access to a large market of small-business owners. For example, does the API allow you to pull data out of the system as well as put it in? The most impactful integrations occur when you are able to combine data from multiple sources to generate an outcome that is time-consuming to do by hand.
Oftentimes this means you will want access to pull data out of system, as well as push data into one. Some of the best integrations we have seen are overlaying our campaign analytics with other sources such as websites or pay-per-click campaigns that deliver a level of insight the customer could not easily achieve.
Leveraging the Partner's Channel
A small-business owner is constantly looking for easy and unique ways to enhance their marketing efforts to generate additional sales and attract new customers. For this reason, developers have a major opportunity to tap into this growing market.
Integrations with established players can be a great channel for the new startups. When choosing an integration partner, this is something that developers should not overlook. Asking the partner about access to marketing channels for their integrations and apps will help determine how your app will be presented to perspective buyers. This helps developers reach an audience eager for new tools that will ultimately drive sales for the app.
Choosing the right integration partner that offers a platform to reach the small-business market is not an easy decision for developers. However, with the right decision comes with tremendous revenue opportunities by tapping into a market that is eager for new apps to help add value to their small business. All of these elements factor into the decision process for the developer so they are making the most out of their integration while also adding value to the existing small-business marketing platform.