This morning we are super excited to announce the launch of the Zapier developer platform. Service providers already building on the platform include HubSpot, Podio and 12 others (see below).
The Zapier developer platform lets users and vendors easily add their own apps to Zapier instead of waiting on us to build them out. App developers can instantly hook into the 60+ apps we already support plus any new ones added by building one integration rather than building out all those integrations themselves.
This saves app developers weeks to months in developer time building integrations and lets an app developer spend more time focusing on their own apps.
If you are a developer and your name isn't Patrick McKenzie, odds are marketing isn't your cup of tea.
Most developers I talk to feel like SEO is scammy, social media is snake oil, and generating targetted traffic that will actually convert and pay to use a web app is down right impossible.
For any software business or startup trying to promote their software/app/widget/etc this can be quite disheartening.
So what's a developer to do?
An interesting thing we discovered early on when building Zapier is that lots of companies have products that do one thing great, but could use some help in other areas. If your product can help that company do other things great and in turn help their customers be more awesome, then said company has a vested interest in promoting you.
Usually that means blog posts, announcements on email newsletters, mentions on twitter, and generally all that marketing voodoo that developers aren't nearly as good at when compared to writing code and making useful products.
So the easy thing to do is pick out a company that likes to promote other services and aligns closely with the product you are building and make something that would be both useful to your customers and their customers.
Typically an integration won't send you nearly as much traffic as a front page Hacker News link, but the traffic tends to be much higher quality since the visitor is already using a product that now plays well with your product. In fact, bounce rates from integration links tend to be half of what you see from Twitter, Facebook, Hacker News and the sort and time on site is way higher.
Below is an actually screenshot of our site referrers and you can see the ones labeled integration perform much higher for those two key stats which are generally signs of better traffic.
Other people have found this strategy works well too.
Ruben Gamez mentioned his integration with Highrise as one of the top things he did to increase revenue for BidSketch and in this podcast from minutes 28 to 32 Rob Walling talks about how well integration marketing has worked with his products.
Keep in mind this isn't a magic strategy either. Sometimes getting a marketing or biz dev persons attention can be pretty tricky. Promoting 3rd party apps doesn't always get a lot of attention and tips@company_name.com isn't the most frequently checked email address.
Instead try getting a developers attention. Ask them a question about their API. Propose a new endpoint. Get a conversation going.
Then by the time your integration is good and ready you can simply ask the developer if they'd be willing to put you in touch with someone in charge of promoting 3rd party apps and usually they give you a nice warm juicy intro.
If you are interested in testing the integration waters with Zapier we'd be thrilled to have you as an integration partner. Fill out this quick form and we'll make sure to get in touch with you quickly about how to get started with an integration.
Final Note: We haven't had much luck with integration funds. Instead building something the end users want has helped us out the most. If anyone has had better luck with integration funds and found that a viable strategy leave a note in the comments.
Building a product from scratch that will support you, a co-founder and your collective families is hard. Really hard.
One of the most comprehensive guides I have seen for doing this is the Thoughtbot Playbook which covers building and growing a product from start to finish.
But after reading a playbook like that you can easily be overwhelmed. After all the playbook has 60+ steps and each step is quite easy to simply not do at all.
So the instinct is to pick and choose articles you see on HN and imitate the darling tech companies we know. Eventually ours brains are stuffed with things like:
All good things. But if you're a two or three man startup with zero customers none of this matters.
So how do you get to a point where these things matter?
This advice has been beaten like a dead horse, but I still see startups every day trying to over optimize their startup in the beginning for scenarios that may or may not ever exist.
[Sidenote: Are we really sure that the process we are trying to optimize can't scale? Zappos managed to scale personalized customer service which I never would have thought to be possible. So maybe some things that feel like they can't be scaled actually can?]
Instead do things that help you learn more about your market. Learn about your customers. Learn about how your business might actually work.
At Zapier we had a guess based on building our own web apps and conversations with a few people who used multiple SaaS apps that integrations might be a pain point. Past that we didn't know much.
It would have been easy to build our version of the ultimate integrations machine. But from the very beginning we insisted customers be a part of the conversation.
So we added Olark to our site and we started chatting with users who somehow stumbled across our site. We had one conversation, then ten conversations, then a hundred conversations and we started realizing that our version of the ultimate integration machine isn't what was needed.
The conversations were so valuable that we ended up sending over 25,000 messages to users before we launched while trying to get feedback by iterating on problems and features, and taking conversations to Skype where we could hand build integrations for first time users.
Our vision of the ultimate integrations machine turned into a simple way for businesses to create an integration between 48+ web apps and automate their businesses.
We might have eventually figured it out ourselves, but thousands of conversations with users made it way easier.
So for us doing things that seem to not scale was the most efficient way to build our product. Maybe it will be for you too.
When building software at a startup speed is the name of the game. And with Pivotal Tracker building better software, faster is their motto.
Sometimes getting data into and out of Pivotal Tracker though can be sluggish. So here's some of our favorite Zaps for supercharging productivity with Pivotal Tracker.
The last thing you want is to spend extra time tracking time. With Pivotal Tracker Toggl integration you can sync your Pivotal Tracker stories automatically to Toggl and use Toggl to keep track of time as you build new features and squish bugs.
It's pretty common for the business team to operate outside of Pivotal Tracker. As a results lots of tasks and todo items get created in other apps for the development team to follow up on.
If you don't have a heavy support load it can seem like overkill to setup something like Zendesk or Desk.com to do support. Instead try using a simple Wufoo form.
Wufoo is a great form building tool. You can easily create a short bug report form and then use Zapier to send those Wufoo form entries to Pivotal Tracker so that you can keep track of all your customer requests.
With these integrations you can create a company feed to Pivotal Tracker activity all inside a chat room so that you can quickly discuss issues as they come in.
Of course there's lots of other tips and tricks to supercharging Pivotal Tracker. Check out the Zapbook to see what others are doing or share in the comments your favorite Pivotal Tracker integrations.
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