There are a number of things to consider when building a new app for your organization. We’re all aiming to create something which will be popular with customers and readily used.
Retention is arguably the most important part of the funnel for app owners. If you can retain customers, you’re able to truly grow without “leakage” and you’ve got real product validation; if they didn’t like it they wouldn’t stay.
Third-party API (application programming interface) 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 which integrate with what they already use.
This means if you haven’t got the right third-party integrations in place, you are at risk of higher churn. People are now experiencing “tool fatigue” from having so many app options available to them. This means they would prefer apps that easily work with what they currently use, or a suitable “Swiss army knife” replacement to handle multiple business processes. Just another standalone app might put them off, especially if they have to do any kind of manual work to incorporate data they need.
What Should You Consider with Third-party Integrations?
Who Are Your Customers?
When you consider what adding third-party integrations might do for your app, you’ve always got to start with who your ideal customers are and which third-party integrations would make your app more valuable to them.
For example, if your app is targeted at B2B users or people who use your app with remote work, you should consider the common web services and apps they’re already using, such as:
- Dropbox or other file storage/sharing app
- Marketing automation tools (Mailchimp for example)
- Social media tools
- Google maps
If your app is more B2C and used as more of a lifestyle aid, consider other common apps people use every day such as:
- Social media
Of course, before you even consider integrating a third-party API, you need to know that it will be possible to achieve your expected results. Programmable Web claims to have the largest API directory on the web and is a great place to check to see exactly what third-party integrations will work closely with your web app.
Ask Your Target Audience
If you’re not sure, try to survey your target audience to get more information 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.
If you already have a list of prospects or even users because you’ve already released a version, try a tool such as SurveyMonkey to craft a survey to send out to them.
What Specifically Complements Your App?
Third-party integrations offer many benefits to your app, including satisfying your customers, providing new features, and helping to save you money. You don’t need to develop a new feature for your app if there is already a great third-party provider offering API integration.
The thing is that whatever you choose to integrate should directly make sense in the context of your app. Just because the majority of your users are on Slack doesn’t mean it works as an integration if you are an eCommerce app, for example.
Make it logical and ensure it will be a seamless experience for users. We’ve seen several examples of apps which have some kind of API integration, but the experience is too disjointed to be helpful to users. Your aim is to boost the productivity of users, not create any annoying extra steps for them.
Do You Share an Audience?
Another consideration when choosing third-party integrations is whether that app has a similar target audience to your own such as business analysts or project managers. There are marketing advantages to finding apps which align well with your own, including that you may be able to set up partnerships with those apps, allowing you to tap into their audiences too.
If you are a new-to-market app, creating and publishing content which promotes both of you can be an important strategy for gaining some reciprocity. The third-party provider may be willing to promote, or at least endorse you, which could be a valuable source of social proof for potential customers.
Find Flexible Environments
When you integrate a third-party app, you want to make sure that the API is flexible and will evolve with you if you plan on keeping up with evolving technology. Simplicity is better for systems and programs and will allow your team to keep striving for continuous improvement.
Longevity might be another consideration for your final choices of third-party APIs. Have they been around for a while? Are they popular, and have they built a good reputation? Do they work on continuously improving and keeping up with technology advances?
As Programmable Web points out:
“Ultimately, a third-party API is only as good as its provider–and only as good as its provider is around… For example, you can be pretty sure that Salesforce and Google will be around if you run into problems with one of their APIs, but the same can’t be said for many smaller companies. If a service goes down and you can’t reach the provider for support, it could seriously compromise the functionality of your own app.”
Avoid Common Mistakes
Sometimes app developers try to be “the app that does everything” by integrating with a large number of third-party providers. This can lead to too many external dependencies for your core service, which can be difficult to manage, especially if any problems occur.
It’s better to be the app that does one or two valuable things very well than the one which tries to stuff many things in with mediocre success. The lesson is to limit your integrations to those which will provide the most “bang for buck” to your target customers and provide the least impact on your own latency time.
HTML Goodies discussed mistakes that are commonly made with integrating third-party APIs. One of those was not monitoring closely for client-side problems with the app. Under some conditions, the API integration might add large amounts of time onto load speeds, for example, which will only end up ruining the User Experience for the customer. Stay on top of that Customer Experience!
Have You Found the Right Integrations?
Using third-party integrations in your app can provide you with several advantages, including saving time and money.
For your customers, you can enhance their experience with you by providing them with seamless integrations with apps they are already using. Many don’t want just another app which runs independently from everything else they use. They are fatigued by the proliferation of tools and want easy options.
Look for integrations which:
- Are appealing to your target audience (they already use them).
- Are logical for your app.
- Will integrate seamlessly and maintain support.
- Add to your customer-side experience rather than cause problems.
If you need help determining which third-party APIs will work closely with your app, get help from an app development partner. A partner can help point you in the right direction, share industry experience, and lend you their technical expertise when you run into problems.