Track Your API Users to Gauge Integration Effectiveness

Adam DuVander
Adam DuVander / September 20, 2018

Your best customers probably use your API, even though they typically aren’t writing a single line of code. For SaaS applications, users have come to expect their software to interact with all their other tools. Integrations aren’t just for one-time co-promotion—they make both services more valuable. Just like you put tracking in place to measure the impact of your marketing efforts, you can track the users who consume your API and see how they might use your product differently than those who don't. You might be surprised what you learn.


"The earlier someone executes an integration, the more apt they are to be retained." - Tyler Huggins, Head of Growth at Acuity Scheduling


Follow the guidelines in this post and find out for yourself how important API integrations are to your business. Once you know the impact, you can make decisions that could help you see even more results from integrations.

Why Integration Users Make Better Customers

Every time we’ve looked at integrations data, we’ve found improved outcomes amongst the customers who have connected other services:
- Typeform users who connect to Zapier have a lower churn rate than those that just use Typeform.
- Autopilot, the visual marketing company, found that customers that connect to their Zapier integration are 17% more likely to upgrade to a higher plan.
- Freshbooks found users with integrations were three times as likely to convert to a paid account.
- Evernote also sees the power of an integration platform, tying it to a 50% increase in sales.

It makes sense that these connected users would make better customers. They’re more engaged and they’re already convinced in the value of your service.

Yes, these users with integrations probably like your service a lot. Many of them may be power users, at least compared to your typical signup. They are looking for ways to accomplish more, and that probably means stretching what’s possible using your app. An integration helps them do more.

Further, chances are someone engaged in your software is also engaged in countless other apps–the average modern worker uses more than nine. When they discover your service, they already have existing ways of working. They’re likely to be on the lookout for ways to fit you into their current processes.

It’s important not to get stuck in the correlation vs causation trap here. While we’re likely to find that users with integrations are better customers, this doesn’t mean we’ll see the same result if we convince any user to connect integrations. But you could look for early signs of engagement, such as more usage in the first two weeks than the usual signup, and seek to “lock that in” with opportunities to magnify the value your service provides.

First, let’s look at what data you’ll need to find your valuable users.

You Already Have the Data

Whether you’re just starting out with integrations or already have several built, you can gather the data to figure out how well these integrations are working. If you’ve recently built an integration (such as using the Zapier Platform to integrate with 1,000+ apps), now is the perfect time to put tracking in place. You’ll be able to see retention, upgrades, and more from the start.

Even if you’ve had integrations for a long time, it’s not too late. Integrations aren’t set it and forget it, but it can be tough to make the case for your team to carve out time for improvements and better discoverability. Establishing tracking can arm you with the data needed to prioritize integrations.

In order to gauge the effectiveness of your integrations strategy, you’ll only need to know a few things about your users:

  • Who has upgraded / converted
  • Who has downgraded / churned
  • Who has used an integration

You can get fancier, of course: how much did they spend, how many integrations did they use? These quantification questions can be useful, but we recommend starting simpler. Once you know whether your integrations are successful, you can explore the level of their success.

Presumably you have access to upgrade and downgrade data. At a minimum, you could pull a list of current paying customers and non-paying users, at least over a period of time. Now you want to compare the percentage of users with these actions who have connected integrations.

While other business-focused data like upgrades are often tracked, you might find that integration data isn’t making it into these same systems. Still, you likely have the data, and just need to expose it in the right places.

Every time your user sets up an integration from an outside service like Zapier, they need to provide some way to authenticate. Typically, the user will go through an OAuth flow where they’re redirected to your site to approve the app’s access. When the user authorizes, your system knows both the user and the external application requesting access.

If you don’t use OAuth, there are similar moments within other authentication schemes. Session authentication (username and password) typically exchanges the credentials for an access token. Another method would be to tap into your logs showing the presence of an API key, token, or other code that verifies an API call. Once you have unique codes, you’d need to trace those back to the user’s account (and optionally the application that made the API call).

Measure the Impact of Your Zapier Users

You can find your data, then mix and match to measure your integrations, regardless of whether your app is connected to Zapier. Naturally, we hope you build a Zapier integration (if you haven’t already), because that will allow your users to ensure your service works with all the other SaaS software they depend upon.

In addition to being a fabulous platform to connect with other SaaS apps, there are also a few technical advantages that help you better track your integration’s success:

  • Zapier sends a header with every request (User-Agent: Zapier)
  • Zapier lets you choose your authentication scheme
  • Zapier gives you complete access to API calls we make to your app

Add these options to the data mentioned in previous sections, and you have what you need to properly gauge the effectiveness of your integrations. That’s exactly what Acuity Scheduling did to chart non-Zapier users of Acuity against who had connected a Zapier integration:

This shows active users over the first month after signup. In yellow, we see users without an integration. And in blue, we see users who have connected to Zapier. In terms of engagement, there’s really no comparison: Acuity’s integrations are sticky.

Tyler Huggins joined Acuity Scheduling to lead growth. One of his first duties was to see how important integrations were to their scheduling software. Luckily, a lot of the data already existed in their business intelligence platform, Amplitude. Even when data is there, it sometimes takes a little effort to piece it together. Tyler’s most important segmentation was the two groups: who connected to Zapier and who didn’t.

Once he knew those that used Zapier and those that didn’t, he could make comparisons on any other data he had available. In the case above, he plotted usage in the first 30 days. As is common in freemium SaaS, most users drop off the day after signup. However, almost three-quarters of users who made an integration connection were active on that day after signup. For Acuity, this data gives their team a clear signal to highlight integrations early on in the user journey. "The earlier someone executes an integration, the more apt they are to be retained," says Huggins. "The earlier, the better." To better activate new users, Huggins plans to share integration recommendations as part of the onboarding email sequence to help new users find ways to make their work even easier.

Invest in Integrations

Acuity put in the work to show that integrations are important for their business. We’re never surprised by these findings, but it’s always good to understand the value so you can make the case to invest in integrations.

For you, that might mean investing more dev time to improve your API or add new features to an integration that your customers are asking for. Or it might mean investing in marketing efforts that help your users discover what's possible when they active integrations. That way, you'll be on a path toward creating even more of these sticky, integration-using customers.

Similarly, it’s always good to understand the costs. One of the reasons to integrate with Zapier is that native integrations increase technical debt. That is, every time you connect to a new API, that’s code you’ll need to maintain.

By looking at your own data and tracking integration effectiveness, you can make the decisions with where you put your engineering time (and marketing, partnership, and support time). And hopefully, you’ll be able to make a better product for your users.


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