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Integrations: Simple Marketing for Developers

By Wade Foster · July 29, 2012
A yellow rectangle with dotted lines running through it.

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?

Utilize other companies' marketing expertise and user base

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.

Just how well does this work?

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 actual 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.

Bounce Rates

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.

How to get another companies attention

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.

Good places to start

Some places that are great to do integrations with are MailChimp or Google Marketplace.

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.

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