I’ve had multiple conversations recently with customers who, despite being able to ship the integrations that were in their backlog for months in record time with Paragon, all ran into the same challenge. Lack of adoption.
When leveraging a proper integration prioritization framework that accounts for demand from both prospects and customers, it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing solely on shipping the integration and making the assumption that users will rush to enable the integration as soon as it goes live.
However, without a proper go-to-market and launch strategy for each integration your team builds, you’ll experience subpar usage which ultimately impacts the ROI of building the integration. And even in cases where the integration is easily discoverable, you can still suffer from low adoption if you don’t equip your users with the necessary resources and support to successfully set up the integration.
Launching an integration successfully will require cross-functional support across product, product marketing, customer success, sales, support, and engineering, and in this article, I’ll walk you through every component of our integration launch framework.
Short on time? Scroll to the bottom for our Integration Launch Checklist that summarizes everything you need to consider for a successful launch.
- Prior to launching your integration, map out your TAM and set up target rates for adoption, retention and task usage.
- Set measurable KPIs for adoption, across integration activation, retention, and usage
- Beyond marketing channels, every source of an integration request is a channel that you need to communicate the launch through - from sales, customer success
- Create the necessary core assets that will be distributed when the integration is launched, such as video tutorials, blog article, and support documentation
- Communicate the value through marketing, sales, customer success, and partner channels
- Train your support staff on how to use the integration and common issues that may come up
- Never stop optimizing your integration for adoption and retention.
Setting adoption and usage KPIs
Since it’s impossible to measure the success of your integration launch without setting a target, it’s essential for the whole team to align on KPIs right at the start of the launch planning process. Specifically, you need to consider the following:
- The total addressable market (TAM) of the integration
- Target adoption rate across different segments
TAM of the integration
The integration’s total addressable market (TAM) is the universe of possible users or companies that could hypothetically use your integration. At a high level, this would be all of your users and prospects that use the 3rd party product.
For example, if you are planning to build a HubSpot integration, the TAM for that integration would be any existing user that uses HubSpot for their CRM/marketing automation, as well as all prospects that use HubSpot.
Determining the TAM for the integration consists of three segments:
- Customers who have asked for the integration (via customer success/support)
- Users who use the 3rd party tool but have not expressed interest (via data enrichment using tools such as Crossbeam or Reveal)
- All new users who use the 3rd party tool (including prospects who have asked for the integration)
Target adoption rate
The next step is to set target adoption rates for the integration. For each segment, you should align on and set a goal in terms of % adoption of the integration.
Setting these goals with your cross-functional teams will translate into downstream initiatives to ensure that you can maximize the adoption of the integration, which we’ll dive deeper into later.
While getting users to enable an integration indicates you successfully communicated the launch of the integration to the targeted users, you also want to make sure that the integration is actually providing the expected value.
This brings us to the next KPI you need to track.
Integration deactivation rate
Of the users who adopt your integration, what percentage of those do you expect to keep the integration enabled, and over what timeframe?
It’s important to measure integration retention and usage over time for a few reasons, because it can serve as a warning sign that there are issues or opportunities to improve the integration.
If users deactivate an integration, it can be a signal that:
- The integration features you’ve built don’t address the use case they need (whether their use case is not covered at all, or the integration is not sufficiently configurable)
- The actual behavior did not match their expected behavior
- There are issues with the integration (errors)
You need to set a benchmark on the integration deactivation rate, as keeping track of this metric will help you measure true adoption levels, and get ahead of issues early on by providing better support or by shipping improvements for the integration feature.
Integration task usage
To take it to an even more granular level, you’ll want to know how frequently your users are leveraging the integration.
Even if an integration feature is enabled, if a customer is not actively using it, then it is not delivering any value, nor providing you the benefits that integrations have on product stickiness (as your customers will not build dependencies on your product).
For example, when Asana launched its integration with Slack, they tracked metrics such as the number of Slack channels that used the integration and the number of tasks created through the integration.
If you identify low integration task usage, the takeaways will be similar to the list above on integration deactivation rate, and will require you to dig deeper to identify the root cause(s).
Tracking adoption and usage KPIs
To track each of the metrics outlined above, your engineering team will need to build event based analytics for the integration, and use a 3rd party service like Segment to pass that data into your product analytics tools and your CRM.
If you’re building the integration on Paragon however, you’ll be able to easily identify adoption and activity at the user level with our Connected Users Dashboard, or perform deeper analysis by piping all usage data from our Task History API into any BI tool of your team’s choice.
Now that we’ve identified the KPIs you need to set for a successful integration launch, let’s get into everything you need to do to hit those KPIs.
Building the necessary resources
Messaging & Content
Work with your product marketing team to ensure that you highlight the pain points that each integration feature solves, and build consistent messaging around the integration that can be later used across all launch communications, as well as the actual configuration experience in your application.
If you want to maximize the chances of your customers adopting the integration, make sure your team writes a blog post that dives deeper into the challenges that the integration solves, why they should use it, and if possible, include testimonials from customers who have tried the integration in beta. Here’s an example of an article that Productboard published when they launched their Mixpanel and Heap integrations.
Support Docs/Knowledge Base
Additionally, you need to make sure that you have adequate resources in place to make it easy for your customers to enable and configure the integration, even if you have an intuitive setup experience.
Here’s an example from the support center from one of our customers, Bugherd.
You’ll notice in Bugherd’s support docs that they also provide a video walkthrough of the integration. The best way to showcase how an integration works and the improved experience your customers will achieve with the integration is to film a quick video walking through the integration, and I’d highly recommend including this in both your blog article as well as the docs.
Once you align on the resources and content you’ll have in place for the integration, you can begin planning how you will communicate the integration to your customers.
Distribution / Launch Communications
Earlier we provided a generalized segmentation of the different user segments that you should expect to adopt the integration (or specific features within the integration).
In this framework, we’ll group the communication methods into 2 categories: Launch and Evergreen
Launch: communications surround the integration during the initial launch of the integration
Evergreen: efforts that will drive future prospects and customers who research and/or try out your product
The first bucket are comms around the initial launch to consider is promoting the integration proactively. I’ll break this down by team and the audience.
Marketing will have the largest reach when it comes to communicating the launch, so it’s natural to start with them. Here is a table that contains the list of marketing opportunities to promote the integration, split up by the intended audience and the associated channels/tactics.
For many of the integrations on your roadmap, there are going to be deals that your sales team has lost in the past due to not having the integration, or prospects who are currently in the pipeline that have expressed that the integration is a requirement. This makes the launch of the integration the perfect opportunity for your sales team to re-engage those prospects. The prerequisite here is that your sales team can easily pull a list of lost opportunities in your CRM where the integration was a requirement.
If you don’t have that set up internally, have your sales operations team follow these steps.
If you have existing customers who have asked for this integration, informing them that the integration is available will be your customer success team’s responsibility.
Similar to the above, make sure that they have access to the list of your current customers who have requested the integration, so they can follow up as soon as the integration goes live.
If you have a tech partnership in place with the 3rd party company that you’re integrating with, it can serve as a multiplier across all of the efforts outlined above. We dive more into the joint go-to-market opportunities you can explore with partners in this article, but to give a few examples:
- Have the partner announce the integration to their customer/prospects via their newsletter or social media pages
- Incentivizing their sales teams to promote the integration
- Hosting a joint webinar showcasing the integration
The evergreen component consists of the things you need to have in place that will drive integration adoption perpetually even after the initial announcement.
Whether it’s for prospects who are doing research on your product, or users who will sign up, it’s important that you make it as easy as possible for them to discover that the integration exists.
Most B2B SaaS companies today have an /integrations page on their website that makes it easy for prospects to quickly identify what integrations their products offer.
If you don’t have one yet, make sure your marketing team gets to it. After all, integrations are one of the top evaluation criteria for buyers today when they evaluate SaaS products.
Assuming that’s in place, make sure that the integrations page is updated with the integration you are launching.
To take it a step further, ensure that you have a page dedicated to the integration that will provide your prospects more context on the features provided within the integration, and the value that it will add to their experience with your product.
Continuing with BugHerd’s example, their website is the perfect example of what should be included:
Bugherd’s integration page
Bugherd’s Jira-specific integration page
In-App Integration Marketplace
Along the same theme as the website, you also want to ensure that integrations are easily discoverable in your application.
I’ve written about the best practices for building an in-app integration marketplace in the past, but the high level requirements will be similar to the website.
If you want to maximize the odds of new users discovering the integration, you need to ensure that it is promoted as part of their product onboarding experience.
However, when you should introduce the integration in your users’ onboarding journey largely depends on how critical the integration is in getting them to the ‘aha’ moment. If the integration is core to your product and can help shorten your users’ time to value, then you want to drive your users towards enabling it as early on as possible, in the first session.
Integrations that help your customers understand how your product delivers value, or how it differentiates you from competitors, should be presented as early on as realistically possible.
For example, LeadIQ, a sales prospecting tool, relies heavily on their superior CRM and sales engagement integrations as a key differentiating feature against competitors in their crowded market. As a result, they present all the mission critical integrations they provide as early as the sign up form.
Additionally, certain integrations may be critical to present upon signup for one segment of your users, but not another. If you have firmographic or demographic data at your disposal, you may want to present the integration only to specific user segments during onboarding, as it may only be relevant to a subset of your users. Here’s one of our customers, tl;dv, that has set themselves up for success with this in mind.
This enables them to promote their Salesforce/HubSpot integrations to users in Marketing during onboarding, whereas they would promote their Jira integration to users in Engineering.
If the integration is additive, but not one of the key benefits you want users to take away from that first session, then you should introduce it further down the user onboarding journey.
This is especially true if you have a product-led growth model, in which every non-critical/differentiating benefit should be deferred until after the user reaches the initial ‘aha’ moment.
Instead, consider working with your product marketing team to promote the integration via:
- Post sign-up email automation nurturing flows
- In-app experiences that prompt users to try out the integration subsequent sessions (commonly built with tools like Appcues or Userpilot)
Internal training and support resources
So we’ve covered the meaty part of the launch planning, which is all the customer-facing assets and initiatives you need to have your cross-functional team prepare.
However, equipping your internal team with the right processes to support the integration cannot be overlooked.
Support team training
One crucial component of getting your internal operations ready for your integration launch is training your support team. While creating support articles will go a long way, inevitably, users will go to your support team for help, which is why they need to have a good understanding of:
- How users should configure the integration, especially if there are options such as field mapping or user-defined settings involved
- The common errors that users may encounter when setting up a new integration for the first time include auth errors and incorrect configurations.
- Potential error codes that your customers may encounter due to edge cases that can arise, such as outages with the 3rd party application, hitting API rate limits, or even pagination issues
Of the three items however, it’s nearly impossible to train your support team on an exhaustive list of potential errors that may arise with the integration, which brings us to the most important part of building the integration’s support process.
Escalation and triage process
One of the biggest expenses when it comes to shipping an integration is actually in its maintenance. And I’m not referring to the changes in the 3rd party application’s API - it’s the cost of your engineering team being constantly pulled into supporting customers on integration errors.
That’s why you need to equip your support team with the tools they need to help debug customer integration issues, such that only the tickets that require an engineering fix get passed onto your engineering team.
That’s why we built Paragon’s Connected Users Dashboard, which empowers our customers’ support teams to get full visibility into every end-user’s integration activity and even manage their integrations’ states.
As a result, their engineering teams can be focused on building new features and integrations, instead of maintaining existing integrations.
With all that, you’re now ready to launch the integration.
What to do if adoption is subpar
Even with the best-laid plans for launching the integration and supporting your users, it’s possible that adoption of the integration will be lower than expected. While the analytics you’ve put in place should give you a general sense as to where things are dropping off the most, the easiest way to address this issue is to reach out to eligible users to learn why they didn’t adopt the integration. Common objections we see include:
- The integration does not provide the functionality the user needs to achieve their use case - this could be due to a lack of sufficient configurability (such as custom field mapping) or users requiring a completely different use case
- The user is unable to successfully set up the integration - this can be due to a lack of sufficient documentation, or simply if the configuration experience is too confusing
- The integration does not behave the way users expect it to - this is either be due to bugs, or insufficient context on how the integration will work
Integration launch checklist
We’ve covered a lot in this article, so to make it easier on you, here’s a checklist you can refer to that summarizes all the things you need to have in place for a successful integration launch.
While every company will have a slightly different approach to their go-to-market strategies for each integration, depending on the audience, the product, and GTM motion (ie. product-led vs. sales led), this guide should serve you well as a template/starting point. Make sure that you have metrics in place to measure the success of your integration launches, work cross-functionally to maximize the adoption of the integration, and provide your customers the tools and resources to successfully leverage the integrations you build.
If you're looking for a scalable solution that will enable you to ship every integration your customers need without dedicating months of engineering every year on maintaining those integrations, book a demo with us today.