Simply put, an integration is something that connects multiple platforms together into a unified system.
Imagine for a moment that all your CRM data is written in a Filofax. The different inserts to organise your schedule and write your addresses and notes are the integrations, while the ring binders are the APIs keeping everything connected.
“In 2017, growth platform HubSpot carried out research revealing that 17% of salespeople cite lack of integration with other tools as the biggest challenge using their existing CRM.”
From increasing productivity and enhancing customer service to enabling a 360-degree view of customer interactions and effectively delivering client success through each stage of the flywheel, integrations are fundamental to helping your business grow.
If you aren’t tech-savvy and you’re experiencing some confusion over what integrations mean for your business, don’t worry. It can be challenging enough getting to grips with all the different systems and technologies your company uses, never mind how they might integrate with each other. We hope this article will help.
What are integrations?
To fully understand how integrations can complement your business activities, let’s look more closely at the definition. Integrations are connections between systems and applications that work together as a whole to share information and data.
Integrations are built on APIs (application programming interface) and allow for the flow of information between apps, connecting your software together so everything can be used in unison. These can either be cloud-based or on-premise business applications. They are a way of coordinating and automating business processes, allowing for improvement in productivity across the business.
“Integrations connect your software to third-party applications so they can share information with each other. They share data from one system to the next to provide you with more features and options while using your software.” HubSpot
If you have HubSpot, integrations can be found in the App Marketplace where you can browse through a variety of integration categories ranging from advertising and lead generation to content and email management. Within your HubSpot portal, you can search and learn about the different applications and how they address various business needs.
Custom vs. out-of-the-box solutions
Based on the needs of your business, there are two types of integrations to choose from, either custom or out-of-the-box. If luck is on your side, an out-of-the-box integration will do exactly what you need. These are user-friendly, easy to install and can be deployed almost instantly. They don’t require any custom configuration and typically fulfil your standard business needs.
However, if you find yourself in a situation where your business has more complex requirements, a tailor-made solution might be a better fit. These integrations require some engineering and coding and may therefore take longer to develop, but they open up the possibility of having a fully customised integration with all the features you need.
Needing help mapping and building your custom integration? Drop us a line!
Why are integrations important?
Using connections to third-party apps, integrations boost the functionality of your current system and provide features that allow you to automate and complete a wide range of tasks as well as enhance your business functions as a whole.
Not only does this help with productivity, but in an era of digital transformation, data, and near-endless technology solutions, integrations are a way of streamlining your systems and centralising the data your business needs to make informed, calculated decisions.
“As you get a 360-degree view of all customer interactions, you can then easily follow their journey throughout the flywheel.”
There is a reason we’re talking in terms of the whole business here. Integrations don’t simply meet the needs of one team or department, they serve multiple functions and can be valuable across many categories, from customer success and analytics to internal communication, content management, HR, and many more.
Find out more about why your technology needs to talk
How can integrations transform business operations?
Whether you’re a startup, mid-size business, or a large corporation, integrations can serve many purposes for businesses of all sizes. Depending on the type you choose, integrations can address customer needs quickly and efficiently, allowing you to access all of the information for each contact in your database.
With a clear view of each client’s activity, integrations enrich data to add value to interactions across each stage of the flywheel, whether it’s marketing to strangers, building relationships with prospects or delighting customers to turn them into advocates.
“Integrations facilitate data sharing and follow your client’s path from first time visitor to lifetime customer.”
Having your technology talk to each other not only improves data visibility and accessibility, but integrations can also complement the way your teams operate with each other to save time and allow for the business to run smoothly.
Connectivity and communication are key. If you aren’t sure whether your company has visibility over all of its customer data, ask yourself what data you do have on your customers and where it is. This can give you insight into how well integrated your tools are with one another and where communication needs to improve.
Integrations can also automate tasks that might otherwise be manual. For example, copying data to multiple platforms with spreadsheets. This reduces human error as well as any delays, enabling you to connect the dots across your tools to track, monitor, and manage data end-to-end.
Finding the right integrations with HubSpot
HubSpot recognises the importance of joined-up systems that talk with one another. In order to put those systems first and provide additional value to its users, HubSpot is continually expanding the already expansive list of apps and web services it integrates with, providing its valued customers with as seamless an experience as possible.
Using end-to-end customer data, HubSpot’s joined-up software tracks every touchpoint a visitor makes when visiting a website, providing visibility over the way they interact with your brand and revealing actionable insights into their interests, pain points and aspirations.
With currently over 300 integrations at your disposal ranging from lead generation and social media to advertising and webinar creation, the possibilities are endless when it comes to streamlining your business processes and transforming your day-to-day operations.
It’s time everyone in your business is working from the same ‘Filofax’. If you’re online and you have a CRM, the pages are probably all there. They likely just need a few inserts and ring binders to keep everything connected.
Need help getting your data into shape before you start integrating systems? Check out our data-driven marketing guide 'From Data to Insight to Action' for more.