6 Tips to Designing a Roadmap to Connect Your Marketing Apps

By Elyse Kent in SaaS Integration Posted Nov 23, 2016

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, automating once error-prone manual tasks. If your application is powering these automations, the more likely your churn rate will 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 & 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.

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.

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.
Tools and reading: The 7 Best Ways to Gather Customer Feedback

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 catalogue?
  • How are competitors currently offering integrations (marketplace, add-on, free)?

 

Tools and reading: G2Crowd, Owler and  25 other tools highlighted by Kissmetrics

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; and
  4. the cost of product support.
Further reading: The Marketing Integration Guide: 7 Things Every Product Manager Should Know

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
    • Implementing connections to a few identified elements that are crucial to keeping your customers happy.
  2. Power your go-to-market strategy
    • Implementing connections to key elements that can round-out your product.
  3.  Gain the competitive advantage
    • Implement 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 7 tips here.