This article is a recap of “Growth Decoded” a show that investigates the relationship between the customer experience and business growth — one topic at a time. Register here and never miss an episode!

What do we mean by ‘integrations’ ?

Well, if you ask Merriam-Webster, you get something that looks like this:

  1. to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole : UNITE
  2. to incorporate into a larger unit
    2a. to unite with something else

But we’re not talking about integrating just anything, we’re talking about software integrations.

This is the idea of taking 2 pieces of software, and connecting them so they work together for your benefit. Software integrations make it possible for you to take your tools that are really good at what they do, and let them talk to each other.

This means:

  • Sharing important information
  • Enriching customer data
  • Getting a clearer understanding of a contact’s situation
  • Putting all your important info in one place.

The capability of software integration means you don’t need a clunky, complicated all-in-one. Instead, you can tie all of your tools together. You get to use the tools that work best for your business, and your situations — NOT the mediocre (at best) version of a tool provided by some all-in-one.

An integration is like a bridge between two places that are otherwise unreachable. The 2 places are your different software tools. Information crosses the bridge helping you get the data that you need, in the place that you need it.

Integrations let you take data from over here and move it over there — automatically. No human error, no manual actions, just two pieces of software talking to one another, sharing information.

Making your life and your customer experience better.

As Tim and Molly mentioned, There are many ways to connect the software platforms you use in your business. Integrations bring these tools together, to share important, actionable information between platforms.

Simplify the transfer of information so you can work seamlessly within your day. They touched on 3 types of integrations:

  • Native integrations
  • 3rd party integrations
  • Custom API integrations

With these 3 types of integrations, there are a lot of possibilities to link your tools together.

But how much should you actually care about integrations?

For example, if you’re a business owner that needs a new software tool — how much weight should you give to that tool’s ability to integrate?

If a tool doesn’t have integration capabilities, is that a deal breaker? Should it be?

Are integrations critical? Are you bypassing a big opportunity if you don’t use them?

“Enriched data is the soul of profitability in a connection rich and data rich world.” — Peter Coffee, VP for Strategic Research at Salesforce

Integrations provide more context through enriched information. And an analysis of this enriched customer information is the key to creating an integration that has an impact on your profitability.

But doesn’t more data mean more sifting? More data analysis? More time?

Shouldn’t integrations make us more efficient?

Do integrations actually make us more efficient? Or less? Is it a matter of what and how you integrate?

Integrations bring more actionable data together inside your platforms. They help you create a clearer and more complete picture of the different stages in your customer lifecycle, and you can bring new contacts into your platforms and engage with them as soon as possible through marketing and sales campaigns.

Connecting your tools will help to nurture contacts so they learn more about your business and begin to think about next steps.

But how should you think about this at the early stages? How can you foresee your problems?

You can achieve greater control of the customer journey when you gather the necessary customer info that exists in other sources into one central location.

Often, your sales CRM is the hub and destination that paints the complete picture of a given customer’s situation. Your CRM can show you all the conversations and interactions you’ve had with a particular customer, across all the different channels.

On average, there are over 3 dozen places where a business might have information about a customer.

That’s… a lot.

There are loads of options for you to choose from and integrate with your CRM. How do you choose which ones to tie together? How do you know which integrations will yield the biggest results?

I’s important to look at your processes and ask yourself some questions before you start integrating:

  • Where are the current hang ups in your processes?
  • Where in the process do you have to look for information in another tool?
  • Which information are you frequently bringing from one source to another?
  • What kinds of running spreadsheets or documents do you have that you’re continually adding data to?

Integrations are a great way to solve some of your biggest problems, but it’s important to remember that there may be some trial and error.

You might have to try a few different tools within 1 category before you get the one that works for you, and works with your existing system the way you want it to.

But what about using 2 of the same tools? Would you ever want to use similar tools that overlap in their capabilities? What about two pieces of software that seem to be competitors? Would that ever make sense?

It all comes back to the customer experience. You might find that one software tool is great for a certain team or task, and another software tool is better for another, even though the tools do basically the same thing.

Think about drills and how many different sized drill bits exist. The drill is the same, but there are countless different types and sizes of screws. Not only that, but each type of screw is specialized for a particular situation.

There’s a reason you have 15 different sizes of tupperware in your kitchen, and why there are so many different scented candles. Your situations change! Your preferences change!

Integrating 2 tools that do similar things, but do them differently can have a profound impact on the customer experience, as well as your business processes.

All this is well and good, but where do you go to find tools to integrate with?

Many such companies might have an App Store, or Exchange, or Marketplace where you can peruse the different integrations that are available to you.

But how do you navigate that — and how does an app store or marketplace or exchange or ecosystem change the way a given software company does business?

There seems to be a common thread through all of this — how do you help your customers? And if you’re thinking about it from a software company’s point of view, how do marketplaces help your customers help their customers?

Integrations help you get the data from various places — specifically, tools that are the best at what they do — and get that information where it needs to go.

Integrations streamline your processes, help you provide a cohesive and positive customer experience, and ultimately — help you grow your business.

If you’re an ActiveCampaign user, you might be wondering how all this applies to the platform, or where these features exist:

This article is a recap of “Growth Decoded” a show that investigates the relationship between the customer experience and business growth — one topic at a time. Register here and never miss an episode!